Some women get a gorgeous natural glow to their complexion during pregnancy, and others (me, included) get nine months of breakouts and pregnancy induced acne. Lucky us.
If you're wondering why your skin has become a war-zone of spots, blocked pores, pimples, blackheads and redness; then take peace in knowing you're not alone and there's a reason why you're skin is now resembling that of a 14 year old.
Why Have I Got Acne During My Pregnancy?
There are two main reasons why pregnant women gain angry breakouts:
(1) HORMONES! Your hormone levels surge (usually around the 6 week mark), and in this case; high levels of Progesterone are produced; which causes increased oil production (called Sebum) leading to blocked pores, redness and cystic-type pimples and bacterial infections in the skin.
and (2) your pregnant body is more likely to retain a lot of fluid, which leads to toxins being stored in your skin for longer periods of time, causing blockages and breakouts.
Some women experience acne on parts of their body they don't normally get breakouts, such as their chest, neck or upper back areas. This can be very distressing and a confidence-killer to women who normally have clear skin and an even complexion. It is a normal part of pregnancy though and your body's way of dealing with all these hormones and changes.
How Do I Treat Acne When Pregnant?
- Unlike acne outside of pregnancy there are many limitations with what products/treatments you can use to cure or ease your breakouts.
- Firstly, don't pick, squeeze, aggressively scrub or touch your pimples (although tempting). This can cause scarring but also can allow more bacteria to get in resulting in more infection, pain and swelling and a higher chance of the breakouts growing instead of clearing.
- A lot of potent acne treatments are not safe to use during pregnancy as they involve ingesting tablets, chemicals or hormone-altering ingredients. Steer clear of these as they can harm your baby, hormone balance and expanding uterus.
- You're best option is to have a conversation with your Doctor and/or Pharmacist, or if you are really concerned see a Dermatologist. Only use washes, scrubs, lotions that are safe for pregnancy use, and try to stick to natural products as much as possible. (Some women swear by diluted apple cider vinegar as an acne treatment and coconut oil as an antibacterial 'skin clearing' moisturiser.)
-Avoid wearing makeup where possible and ensure your products are water based, oil-free and/or of a mineral form.
- Drink PLENTY of water! This flushes out your insides as well as your skin. Dehydrated skin is more likely to breakout.
- Eat a wholesome, fresh and nutritious diet. We wrote more about healthy eating here. Leafy green vegetables, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, some fruits, nuts, protein and iron can all help your skin glow. Avoid high sugary foods, greasy options, high quantities of processed wheats and dairy, as they can cause havoc on your skin.
- Sweat! Don't overdo it during pregnancy, but movement and gentle exercise is very important. Start your workouts with freshly cleaned skin and rinse again afterwards to wash away any sweat, dirt or oils. Sweating can push toxins out of blocked pores, which eventually will lead to clearer skin.
Try not to let it get you down too much. Many women experience acne during their pregnancies - it's just part of the journey as we grow our little miracles inside. Once your baby is born and your hormones settle, there is a good chance your skin will calm and clear. Until then, do what you can to treat the problem breakouts, but put your energy and thoughts into the positive changes you're experiencing as you nourish and grow your baby.
You may also like:
- - Nutrition in Pregnancy - -
- - Folate Acid in Pregnancy - -
- - Aches and Pain in Pregnancy - -
- - Treating and Preventing Stretch Marks - -
All women are tested for Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy to ensure this common complication is monitored, treated and kept under control.
Some women are at a higher risk of developing Gestational Diabetes than others, such as women who have had previous complications with this diagnosis in prior pregnancies, over 30's, a family history of the disease, certain cultural backgrounds, in an overweight category, particular ovarian complications and hormonal imbalances. However many women develop this diagnosis and do not fall into any of these above mentioned categories.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational Diabetes usually develops around 24+ weeks and occurs when a women's body is not producing enough insulin to regulate and maintain the blood glucose levels for herself and her growing baby.
Maintaining normal glucose levels are vital in pregnancy and ensure the safety and health of both mother and baby. The placenta produces a range of hormones which provide the baby' ability to grow and develop healthily. Although these hormones are important for the baby, they can sometimes deprive and block the mother's insulation levels. This is called Insulin Resistance, and leads to Gestational Diabetes when the mother is not producing the doubled amounts of insulin required.
Around the 24 week mark, you will be required to do a Glucose Tolerance Test (sometimes referred to as GTT) to determine your levels and make any necessary diagnostics. Some women (those at a higher risk rate) may be required to do this test earlier on in their pregnancy.
Your Doctor will talk you through the process, but it is basically a series of blood collection samples over a period of time (within a few hours). You will be required to fast (which means no food or drink, except plain water) overnight (prior to your GTT appointment) and is usually done at a hospital, pathology centre or blood collection agency. A blood sample is taken on your arrival to test your 'fasting blood glucose' levels, and then you are required to drink a glucose drink (a very sweet tasting 'juice') where more blood samples are taken after periodically waited times (usually after one hour and then again after two hours).
The results are sent to Dr Chong (or your referring Doctor) to be analysed and discussed with you.
If you are diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, Dr Chong along with other specialists will educate, support and assist you in maintaing and treating this diagnosis. If GD is left untreated, major health concerns and issues are more common to occur in both mother and baby during both the pregnancy and the birth. Treatment varies from patient to patient depending on the levels and lifestyle. Sometimes some simple changes in diet and exercise are the answer, and other times injections of insulin are needed. Your Doctor will guide you through all of this.
In most cases, the mother does not have Diabetes once given birth (you will be tested at the hospital and post-birth) and this pregnancy-induced condition does not mean the baby will be born with Diabetes (unless it is left untreated during the gestational period).
If you are not diagnosed with GD, you will continue your pregnancy as is, ensuring you are making healthy choices that positively affect you and your growing baby. Full-term pregnancy rates are more likely in non GD patients.
Preventing Gestational Diabetes:
For some women (as mentioned above) Gestational Diabetes is more likely to occur no matter how healthy, happy or balanced they are. A GD diagnosis is not always a bad reflection of your choices towards poor health, so don't for a second beat yourself up about this manageable condition.
However there are ways to protect yourself from a higher chance of diagnosis, such as:
- healthy, nourishing and mindful eating // read our post here about nutrition during pregnancy
- regular (but safe) exercise
- weight control (before and during) pregnancy
- a healthy lifestyle (sufficient sleep, rest, movement, happy relationships)
If you have any concerns or questions, please talk to Dr Chong at your next appointment.
You may also like:
- Dealing with Aches & Pains During Pregnancy
- Green Smoothies to Drink During Pregnancy
- Sleeping Well During Pregnancy
- Avoiding and Treating Stretch Marks
So you're into the third trimester now and heading into that exciting yet daunting final phase of pregnancy.
What now? Get organised, that's what.
It's time to head to the shops to stock up on some birth and baby essentials and get your hospital bag/s packed.
You may have already bought (or been given) a lot of baby things, but it can be quite overwhelming to work out what needs to be stored in the nursery, what needs to be stored away for the future and what needs to be left out for the impending birth and your baby's first moments and days.
Like a holiday, you don't want to over-pack, but you don't want to under-pack either. So to help you during this exciting but confusing time, we've put together a checklist of what you need to pack for the big event.
Simply CLICK HERE to download our free checklist. Print it or save it to your phone so you can take it shopping and have it easily accessible while you get ready for your upcoming trip to the hospital. Once your bag is packed, have it in an obvious spot in the house (and tell your partner where it is) so it can be grabbed on the go, when labour begins (or when you're heading to your c-section appointment.) Some people keep it in the car boot from 36 weeks, to ensure they always have it on hand for unexpected situations.
I still remember the exciting time of packing my hospital bag for my first birth. I bought everything new (including the underwear and pyjamas - affordably of course as I knew they would most probably get soiled, stained and grown out of) and enjoyed the process of sorting, organising, packing and ticking off the list. It truly was a special time.
Just don't leave it to the last minute - it's better to be prepared than rushed, especially when you don't have complete control on the when, how and where of child birth.
Feel free to share this list with your friends and family. Simply send them over here to our blog to grab their own copy for free.
Happy packing ladies :)