You’re glowing! 6 ways your skin changes during pregnancy

While you're busy building the miracle of life inside your body, you will likely deal with some side effects of pregnancy: morning sickness, gas, heartburn, increased urination. As decidedly unpleasant as these symptoms are, many women know to expect them. But what surprises many women are the number of ways their skin changes—and I'm not just talking about that mama-to-be glow.

As a dermatologist and a mom, I get a lot of questions about how pregnancy affects a woman's skin and hair, and about what remedies and treatments are effective and safe.

Here are 6 ways your skin might change while you're rocking that baby bump:

1. You might break out.

The deal: Some women are blessed with flawless, glowing skin during pregnancy, but others notice that they have more breakouts than they did as teenagers.

Unfortunately, the same androgenic hormones that are supporting the miracle of life lead to this acne. This flare tends to occur during the first trimester, when hormones surge the most, and is less common later in pregnancy. So if you don't develop acne during the first trimester, it may never become an issue. You may be likelier to develop pregnancy-related acne if you notice acne flares during your period.

Try this: Although many prescription and OTC acne medications are not safe to use during pregnancy, there are some pregnancy-safe ingredients, such as lactic acid, tea tree oil and sulfur. I often recommend the Belli line of products for my pregnant acne patients. If the OTC options aren't cutting it, there are a couple of prescription medications that are pregnancy category B and safe to use during pregnancy. Remember, retinoids and salicylic acid are no-no's during pregnancy. It's always best to discuss you pregnancy skin care routine with your dermatologist, especially if you are planning to use any acne medications.

2. You'll enjoy thicker, fuller hair (but be prepared for some to fall out later).

The deal: Your changing hormones can also affect you hair. Many women notice thicker, fuller hair on their heads during pregnancy. The increase in hormones, especially estrogen, causes your hair to remain in the growing phase so that it grows more and sheds less.

While you're admiring your luscious lucks, you might notice that you also happen to have more body hair, which is due to the increase in androgenic hormones. You can safely wax, tweeze or shave.

It's best to avoid chemicals (bleaches and depilatories) as they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and the effects on the growing fetus are unknown. I don't recommend laser or electrolysis, because the hormones that can cause excess pigment during pregnancy increase the risk of pigmentary issues after these type of cosmetic procedures. Although it is widely known that most women have thicker hair during pregnancy, some experience increased shedding or hair loss. This is likely related to hormones as well, but it's best to discuss it with your doctor because there are other potential causes, such as poor nutrition, medications and some diseases, like thyroid disease.

3. You can preempt those dark patches with sunscreen.

The deal: During pregnancy, many women notice new dark patches or existing brown spots, moles or scars getting darker.

The hyperpigmentation is due to an increase in estrogen levels that in turn stimulates an increase in melanin, or skin pigment. Sun exposure can further darken the pigment. One of the first changes often noticed is darkening of the skin around the nipples (areolae). The underarm and genital skin can also darken. The pigmented line running down the belly from the belly button is known as linea nigra. The most cosmetically concerning pigmentary issue associated with pregnancy is melasma, also known as chloasma or “mask of pregnancy." Up to 70% of women develop this condition during pregnancy. It appears as brown blotchy patches most commonly on the cheeks, forehead and upper lip, but can also affect the chin and nose. Often the increased pigment fades a few months after delivery, but in some women it does not.

Try this: Thankfully, there are treatment options available, but I recommend pursuing these after pregnancy. The most important thing you can do during the pregnancy is use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that contains physical blockers, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

4. Stretch marks are a normal part of pregnancy.

The deal: Stretch marks, or striae, are another skin issue that arises during pregnancy. They are caused by a combination of physical stretching and hormonal changes on the skin's elasticity that occur during pregnancy. Up to 90% of women develop them by the third trimester, most often on the abdomen and breasts, but also on the thighs, buttocks and arms. Initially they appear as pinkish-purple lines or bands, and although they may never disappear they do tend to fade and become less noticeable with time.

Try this: If you are bothered by the appearance of stretch marks, there are laser treatments available that can help improve their appearance after baby is born.

5. You'll notice some blood vessel changes.

The deal: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause blood vessels to dilate, proliferate and become congested, leading to a number of changes. Many women notice spider veins not just on the legs but also on the face, neck and arms. Redness of the palms, hemorrhoids, vulvar varicosities, swelling and facial flushing are just a few of the other changes.

Try this: Many of these vascular changes regress postpartum, so often no treatment is required.

6. Some women experience rashes + sensitive skin.

The deal: While some moms-to-be are dealing with acne, others are battling dry, sensitive skin or rashes. Oftentimes dry, sensitive skin can be managed at home with gentle skin care.

Try this: If you have a rash, it's best to get it checked out since there are specific rashes that can occur during pregnancy that may even put the baby at risk.

The miracle of life brings with it a number of skin changes. Thankfully, most are just nuisances and not serious, but be sure to bring up any skin concerns or questions you have about treatments with your doctor, especially if you're not sure about them. Whatever happens, just know: New motherhood looks gorgeous on you!

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.


Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.


Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.


Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.


BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Whether you breastfeed or not (because fed is definitely best), there's no denying that breast milk is just cool. It's basically the closest humans can come to producing a magic potion. It changes depending on the baby's needs, it helps fight allergies, beats back disease and promotes immune response. Even those of us who struggled to breastfeed can appreciate its punk-rock powers. In a word, breast milk is metal.

Breast milk is the human body's antibody-carrying magic potion and it is being studied right now because it could help in the fight against coronavirus.

Keep reading Show less