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Looking after the skin during pregnancy can make a tremendous difference to comfort levels and confidence as pregnancy hormones, rapid growth and a changing body shape take their toll. “The skin is the largest organ in the body and the most visible; its condition has a huge impact on the mother,” says Lynne Bluff, South Africa’s leading childbirth educator and editor of The Expectant Mother’s Guide.

According to dermatologist Dr Ayesha Moolla, some of the most common skin concerns during pregnancy are stretch marks, darkening of the skin, varicose veins and spider veins, reddening of the palms and acne.

Stretch Marks

Up to 90% of pregnant women develop stretch marks. According to Dr Moolla, “Stretch marks are a form of scar tissue. They are caused by rapid weight gain or expansion in body-shape that results in tiny tears in the dermal layer of skin, which subsequently results in scar formation or stretch marks.”

“Contrary to what you may expect, stretch marks don’t only occur in the later stage of pregnancy,” says gynaecologist Dr Jana Roussouw. “They can start developing as early as the first trimester due to high hormone levels. However they most commonly appear in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.”

According to Dr Roussouw “Stretch marks are most likely to form on the abdomen, but can also occur on the breasts, hips and thighs – any area that experiences rapid growth.”

Dr Moolla says anyone who has a rapid gain in weight is at risk of developing stretch marks. “There are of course, other factors that come into play including family history – if either parent has stretch marks then one would have a proclivity towards developing them.”

“It’s important to follow a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy and not gain too much weight. We aim at a weight gain of around 12kgs, bearing in mind that after 36 weeks the mother should be gaining around a kilo a week,” says Dr Roussouw.

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Dr Moolla says that as well as maintaining a healthy weight, there are other ways to help prevent stretch marks: “Eat a balanced diet rich in food and nutrients that are good for skin health. Drink plenty of water. Twice a day, massage areas that are prone to stretch marks using good quality oils like Bio-Oil, a moisturiser or even an emollient. The massaging action allows the skin to become more pliant and more hydrated. There are supplements that have been advocated for the prevention of stretch marks, such as vitamin C and vitamin E.”

Itchy Dry Skin

“Skin moisturizing is important as the skin can get very itchy and uncomfortable during pregnancy,” says Bluff. Many women experience itchy skin, particularly around the breasts and abdomen as the skin stretches to accommodate growth.

To relieve itching:

  • Massage Bio-Oil into the skin. It is safe to use during pregnancy on face and body.
  • Add a few drops of Bio-Oil to your bath for an all-over moisturising effect.
  • Use cool or lukewarm water to wash; hot water can dry out the skin.
  • Avoid the heat, rather stay inside or under shade during hot weather.
  • Wear cool, loose clothing.

“Massaging oil onto the breasts and tummy will moisturise the skin, soothe itchiness and help decrease the chance of stretch marks forming. It’s also a great way to start bonding with the little person inside,” says Bluff.

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Uneven Skin Tone

About half of pregnant women develop hyper-pigmentation, a darkening of the skin, as fluctuating hormone levels mean uneven melanin production.

According to Dr Moolla, “Melasma (the mask of pregnancy) can cause great distress, with darkening of the skin on the face, especially around the mouth, on the cheeks and forehead. Many women also develop linear nigra, a dark line running vertically down the abdomen to the pubic bone. It is also common for the areola, the area around the nipple, to darken. Pre-existing moles, freckles and even tissue can become darker.

Fortunately most of these changes in the skin will regress spontaneously following delivery. Pigmentation lasts for about three months, as hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels. However, for some people it may not disappear completely.

Gently massage Bio-Oil into the skin twice a day to improve skin tone, avoid sun exposure and wear a sunblock of at least SPF30 every day.

C-Section Scarring

Bio-Oil is effective for use in scar management, including post-operative Caesarean scars, working to maximise the elasticity of the skin, and providing relief from itching or other irritations. It restores the skin function and helps to improve the appearance of the scar, so that it is softened, flattened and normalised in its colour and texture. I really can attest to this as I used Bio-Oil on my C-section scar and 11 years later, it’s hardly visible.

Experts recommend taping with micro-pore tape as this supports the skin, reducing stress around the wound and thereby lessening the scar tissue that forms. Plastic surgeon Dr Dirk Lazarus recommends taping for up to a year after the birth of your baby!

Taping Tips

  • Taping a scar will help support and flatten it. Apply a wide Micropore™ tape along the scar. Use a flesh coloured tape if you want it to be less visible.
  • Leave the tape on for up to five days – you can bath, shower and swim as normal.
  • Change the tape once it starts to peel off.
  • Massage the scar with Bio-Oil whenever the tape is removed and changed. Gentle massage can improve moisture and increase blood flow in the area, and maintain scar elasticity.
  • Place a few drops of Bio-Oil on top of the tape daily; as it is porous, the tape will absorb the oil.
  • Regular, continued use of an oil such as Bio-Oil provides the best results.

Four tips for optimum healing of scar tissue:

  • Tape the wound (see above)
  • Massage the scar regularly with Bio-Oil
  • Follow a healthy diet that includes high levels of Vitamin C and zinc
  • Don’t smoke

Bio-Oil is available at pharmacies and select retail outlets nationwide in 60ml (R49.99), 125ml (R74.99) and 200ml (R104.99). For further information visit www.bio-oil.com.

GIVEAWAY

2015 Bio-Oil baby hamper

To celebrate Pregnancy Awareness Month, Bio-Oil has a gorgeous Bio-Oil baby hamper worth R1,000 to give-away. The prize includes a lovely wicker basket, 3 bottles of Bio-Oil (60ml, 125ml and 200ml), a hooded baby bath towel, fabric building blocks and a bunny rabbit, a muslin blanket, Bio-Oil’s Tips for Moms from Moms booklet and Bio-Oil’s Guide to Pregnancy Stretch Marks.

To enter, leave a comment below this post telling me your top pregnancy tip. It can be anything from caring for your skin, to eliminating nausea or tips on sleeping more soundly. I’ll announce the winner next week Friday 6 March.

21 comments

Good nutrition during pregnancy improves your chances of having a healthy baby.

Be sure to take a daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms folic acid until you replace it with a prescription prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement. Choose grains fortified with folic acid, including breakfast cereals, breads, rice, and pasta, every day too.and for a beautiful skin and to get rid of strech marks use BIO-OIL

Drink lots of water and eat healthy, dont forget to take your vitamins, visit your gynea for regular check ups relax stay carm talk to you unborn baby use your bio oil

Continue light exercises as far into your pregnancy as possible (with doctors advice of course)…to ensure suppleness and joint mobility. This also helps the weight fall off faster post baby.

Look after your nutrition and health. Rest often

Taking care of your skin is very important – some people are just lucky and have alot of elasticity.. others like me don’t 🙁 so moisurising your skin twice a day is a necessity. I used various creams and also bio-oil right through my pregnancy. It really helped me.. yip.. i still got stretch marks.. but i’m sure they would have been a lot worse if I didn’t use anything. And I still use it today.. 🙂

I’m currently pregnant with my first child (in my 3rd trimester now), I’ve been using Bio-oil for the past 10 years and even more so now. Aside from good nutrition and exercise my top tip is caring for your skin by applying bio-oil to your body – taking special care to gently massage it into your “problem areas” mine being my tummy, thighs and upper arms. This will not only assist in preventing stretch marks (which I’ve luckily not developed YET) it will also help you pamper yourself (even if it’s just twice a day for 15 minutes) and most importantly it’ll leave your skin looking radiant 🙂

Don’t laugh, but when I would get nauseous during pregnancy, I used to go and blow my nose, it really helped! But you do need to listen to your body, during my second trimester I got really really badly nauseous one day, and thought it was normal, it wasn’t and by the time I realised I really needed to go to a doctor I was dehydrated, it could have been so much worse If I decided to wait any longer! Listen to what your body tells you, if something doesn’t feel right and even when others are telling you it is normal, rather go and see a doctor, better safe than sorry!

Lovely giveaway!! Best advice is to Wear Sunscreen because Being pregnant makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you’re more prone to sunburn and chloasma, those dark, blotchy spots that sometimes appear on the face. I Applied a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (many brands now offer chemical-free formulas, if you prefer a green option) and wear a hat and sunglasses. Fingers crossed 😉

Ginger beer does the trick for heart burn and for that uncomfortable indigestion feeling.

Lovely prize! I would advise to those who struggle with morning sickness throughout their pregnancy to stay out of uncomfortably hot environments or restaurants with poor ventilation and cooling systems. With body temperatures already being higher than normal, exposing yourself to or enduring uncomfortable heat (especially during this heat wave) can aggravate and incite nausea. Stay refreshed and dont be afraid to request for seating outside in the cool breeze…

Follow a balanced diet, drinks a lot of fluids, exercise regularly and relax as much as possible.

Listen to your body. Don’t over eat. Eat healthy nutritious meals. You are NOT eating for two. Baby receives nutrients from what you eat. Rest lots. Keep yourself well hydrated. Look after your skin and your body. And remember, preggie moms can be stylish too 😉

Would be cool to win. We are expecting a surprise end June 🙂

Have lots of green leafy veggies to increase iron and folic acid levels

Eating healthy and taking pregnancy vitamins which should include folic acid, omega 3 and calcium are extremely important. For nausea pretzels helped me and getting enough rest was another top priority. I had severe back pain and a body pillow is my new BF.

I used to drink ginger tea, Ginger is very good for nausea, or just chew a piece works as well

Get a preggie pillow to relieve back pain!
If you have restless legs try drinking warm milk before bed time, then take a 10 minute soak in a warm bath and then get hubby to give u a massage until u fall asleep. Works wonders!
Drink lots and lots of water! So so important.
If u are tired, nap!
Cut down on caffeine.
Fruit will make u feel amazing.
Use bio oil from the very beginning or u will 1 day wake up with stripes lol

I’m pregnant with my first. I do Pilates twice a week & it really helps to destress, keep you limber & strong. I’ve loved using Mama Mio tummy butter. Asic tablets for pregnancy related nausea was a life saver in my first trimester! My biggest advice would be to listen to your body & drink lots of water!!

Currently 17 weeks pregnant, and I must say Im loving this journey so far, My top tip would be to look after yourself, make sure you take your vitamins, eat well, and stay active. Drink alot of water, make sure to take a bottle with when you in the car, and sip on it, I find I get so thirsty when driving. Wear comfortable clothes, but also enjoy this time to show off your growing bump 🙂

Cant wait to use bio oil in my second trimester. My skin loves it…will help prevent stretch marks.

Currently 15 weeks. Love carrying the baby. And controlling all my favorite food for my baby.

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