If you’re an expectant mother, you may have heard people tell you you’re glowing. Or, if your partner is pregnant, you might have noticed that they’re extra shiny lately. The pregnancy glow is often talked about, but what is it?
If you’ve never experienced pregnancy before or seen someone who is pregnant, you may be thinking that this is something people say to make expectant mothers feel better. Maybe you think that it’s just a vibe that a pregnant woman gives. Interestingly, the pregnancy glow is an actual physical result of pregnancy.
How does pregnancy cause your skin to glow? It’s thought to be a result of a couple of factors, so let’s take a look.
What Causes Pregnancy Glow?
There are many possible skin changes that can occur during your pregnancy, and one of the most notable changes is the pregnancy glow. Why does your skin glow during pregnancy? Well, it’s usually for a couple of reasons.
When you’re pregnant, there are a lot of changes that happen to and occur within your body, like Braxton Hicks. While some of these things are primarily physical, other changes are usually hormonal, which then can affect your emotions and your appearance.
Part of the reason for the glow is your hormones. During your pregnancy, the increase in hormones actually causes glands in your skin to produce more oil. Since oil is kind of shiny, it gives your skin a nice glow.
Another contributing factor might be increased blood flow. Your body actually produces 50% more blood when you’re pregnant than when you’re not. Since your baby can’t breathe on their own yet and they’re still growing to the point where they can produce their own blood, your body needs more to support this new life.
With this increased blood flow, blood is circulating more around your body, which may be affecting your appearance. Some experts believe that this causes your face to look brighter and fuller, adding to the glowing effect of the extra oil.
Can the Pregnancy Glow Cause Any Issues?
For the most part, the pregnancy glow is just something to be enjoyed. It’s not a sign of any underlying health issues, and it doesn’t really cause any health problems. However, there are some possible cosmetic issues.
Since the primary cause of the pregnancy glow is increased oil production, it can potentially cause acne. Acne is typically the result of clogged pores and/or oily skin, so even if you’ve had your acne under control for years, the uptake in oil production during your pregnancy can trigger acne.
If this happens, all you need to do is wash your face, although it’s important to make sure you’re washing your face with an oil-free cleanser. You may also be able to find wipes made to specifically combat oily skin. Be aware of how often you use products like that since some oil is good for your skin.
There are some treatments for acne that you should avoid. If you have sensitive skin, you should probably avoid abrasive exfoliants or scrubs. They’ll irritate your skin, which will end up irritating you.
Experts typically recommend that expectant mothers avoid treatments containing tretinoin and isotretinoin. Although these are stronger and can be more effective for some people, they may affect a fetus. Generally, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider, midwife, or OBGYN before using acne treatments, whether prescription or over-the-counter.
What Are Some Other Skin Changes I Might Notice?
Pregnancy glow is probably the most well-known skin change that occurs during pregnancy. Even if you weren’t sure what it was, you’ve probably heard people mention it. In fact, there is a bundle of other potential skin changes that you may encounter during your pregnancy.
Not every pregnant mother experiences these changes. Some mothers may experience all of them, while others may not experience any. During some pregnancies, acne can even disappear altogether.
Some of these can be preventable. If you notice them, there usually isn’t a need to worry about them. There are exceptions, though. If you think something might be a cause for concern, it’s good to talk to your OBGYN or healthcare provider. It can ease anxiety, and they can help you figure out how to remove any potential issues.
If you pay attention to your moles during pregnancy, you may notice that they get larger or darker. Although it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them, usually it’s not really a big problem. However, those aren’t the dark spots that we’re talking about.
Some pregnant women experience something called chloasma. Yellowish or brownish spots appear on the face, which has earned it the title of the mask of pregnancy. You may notice hyperpigmentation of the skin, which is when your skin gets darker around your rear end, external genitalia, and nipples.
During your pregnancy, your hormones can cause an increase in pigmentation alongside the increase in oil production.
You may notice a dark line around the middle of your lower abdomen. This is called the linea nigra or negra.
All of these changes are perfectly natural. There’s not a whole lot you can do to prevent them.
It is helpful to avoid going out into the sun without sunscreen and a big hat. Sunlight tends to be most intense between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, so if you can avoid or at least limit the amount of time you spend outside during this time, the effects won’t be as marked.
Stretch marks are another common skin condition among pregnant mothers, although they can affect people outside of pregnancy. Although they typically appear on the stomach, you can also see them on your breasts, buttocks, and thighs.
They are usually pinkish or red streaks on the skin. Stretch marks occur because the skin in one area is rapidly stretched, and it can’t keep up with the growth of your little one. Like some of the other changes we’ve discussed, stretch marks aren’t really preventable. After your little one is born, you may be able to help them fade by using moisturizer.
You can’t really predict when they’ll appear or where. You might start to notice them a few weeks after your baby bump shows up. You may not see them until you reach your third trimester.
Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
Some pregnant women may notice that their veins are more visible during pregnancy. There are two possible types of highly visible veins.
Varicose veins are typically seen on the legs, and they’re usually blue lines. They occur as a result of the pressure and weight from the uterus compressing the veins, which in turn causes the blood flow from the lower body to decrease. Your legs will probably start to feel sore, they’ll start to swell, and, of course, you’ll notice the blue veins.
They can be found in other areas of the body. Although varicose veins are mostly cosmetic, you may want to wear compression socks to increase blood flow and to help alleviate the swelling. If you do notice swelling, you’ll want to talk to your healthcare provider since they can help you determine if you need a specific prescription or if you can buy some online.
Spider veins are typically red and appear on your arms, neck, and face. They’re a result of increased blood flow and hormones.
When Does the Glow Go?
Unfortunately, the pregnancy glow doesn’t last forever. On the bright side, some of the other skin changes will also disappear eventually.
Usually, once your adorable little one is born, many of these skin changes go away as your hormone and blood production decrease and the weight from your baby is alleviated. Stretch marks may take the longest to disappear, but with some moisturizer, you can help them fade away.
The pregnancy glow usually disappears soon after your baby is born, but now you get to bask in the glow of your adorable newborn.
Pregnant and Glowing
Although the pregnancy glow usually lasts only nine months, it is one of the nicer things about being pregnant. Of course, you have the cute baby bump and the expectation of an adorable baby, but it feels good to hear people telling you you’re glowing.
As an expectant mother, you have a lot to think about and prepare for. After all, you are growing a baby. While preparing for your baby is important, it’s also good to remember to enjoy the pregnancy itself. You can take the time to rest, think, and bond with your little one.
Taking care of yourself and making sure you have what you need also helps your baby. The pregnancy glow is something to bask in. You’ll want to take the time to enjoy it. If you’re looking for more information about some of the changes your body goes through during pregnancy, you can check out our pregnancy blog.
10 Things That Might Surprise You About Being Pregnant (for Parents) | Nemours KidsHealth
Pregnancy and Skin Changes | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Cardiovascular Physiology of Pregnancy | The American Heart Association