Being pregnant is one of the most thrilling, yet frustrating experiences for any woman. The frustration comes from the many physical changes during the nine months. The ever-expanding tummy, lower back pain, and shortness of breath, significant skin changes, stretch marks, acne, and swollen face, legs, and feet.
According to Dr Keisha Buchanan, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, acne is also common on the chest and back, while stretch marks occur on the abdomen and thighs.
Buchanan told Flair that stretch marks are caused by the rapid stretching of the skin due to sudden growth or weight gain. This stretching causes the dermis (middle layer of skin) to tear, allowing the deeper skin layers to show through, forming stretch marks.
Here are some tips on how to deal with these skin changes:
Add moisturiser and sunscreen (at least SPF 15) to your daily beauty routine. Buchanan told Flair that for acne Clindamycin Gel can be prescribed along with a facial wash that has Benzoic acid. "Most over-the-counter acne facial washes are safe during pregnancy. Make-up can also be applied to lessen the appearance of acne," Buchanan explained.
"Acne treatments that contain Vitamin A, whether topical or oral, are not safe in pregnancy," she added.
Treating stretch marks
Buchanan noted that the predisposition to stretch marks is based on the person's genes. "Hence, if a woman's mother had stretch marks in her pregnancy, she is more likely to have stretch marks also. Based on a study conducted by Professor Horace Fletcher and I, at University Hospital of the West Indies, cocoa butter will not prevent stretch marks. Creams with collagen and elastin may also be ineffective," Buchanan explained.
Buchanan said that after pregnancy, the appearance of stretch marks will naturally lessen. "There are dermatological treatments such as laser treatments that can be done after the pregnancy to (further) lessen the appearance of stretch marks," Buchanan noted.
Avoiding stretch marks
• Do low-impact exercises
• Pay attention to your weight
• Practise dry brushing
• Stay away from chemicals
• Apply natural oils
Buchanan told Flair that women decrease the chances of swelling with graduated compression stockings. "This can be prescribed by an obstetrician to ease the swelling and discomfort in the legs and feet. It can also help to reduce the risk of blood clots in the deep veins of the legs and thighs. These blood clots are rare, but life-threatening," Buchanan noted.
Maintain a diet high
in vegetable and fruits
A diet high in vegetable and fruits will improve the appearance of your skin. Focus on foods rich in vitamin A, which can help keep your skin healthy. These include fish, carrots, milk, and eggs. Also foods rich in vitamins C, E, and rich in antioxidants can reduce the skin's ageing process. Good sources of vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, lemons, and broccoli.
Increase the amount of water you drink
Water is an essential element to a any beauty routine to maintain good health and flawless skin.
Foods to avoid
Pregnancy can leave you feeling extra tired. Unfortunately, caffeine can seep into the placenta, so it's best to avoid or limit the amount of caffeine you drink.
Alcohol can be damaging to your baby's tiny developing organs including the brain, and can lead to a host of disorders called foetal alcohol spectrum disorders. It's better to be safe than sorry, so eliminate all alcohol intake while pregnant.
Other foods to avoid include:
• Seafood high in mercury, such as mackerel.
• All raw or undercooked meats or poultry, hot dogs and lunch meat. Cook eggs completely until firm.
• Pates and meat spreads, unless canned.
• All unpasteurised cheese products such as feta, and blue cheese, unless they are clearly labelled as pasteurised. This also includes any unpasteurised juice, cider, or milk.
Rest and relax whenever possible
Pregnant women need eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. Plenty of rest will give you more energy during the day and will help thwart bags and dark circles that can mar your appearance during pregnancy.
Avoid harsh soaps, as they can remove the natural oil of your skin. Instead, switch to a moisturising body wash or facial cleanser for your pregnancy beauty routine.
Dr Keisha Buchanan
Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
23 Tangerine Place, Kingston 10
And Icon Medical Centre
34 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston 6,