It’s unlikely that you’ll get through nine months of pregnancy without at least one person remarking that ‘you’re positively glowing’. Unfortunately, for every plus, you may have a minus….
Your hair may look thicker during your pregnancy – not because you’ve actually got more hair, but because the increased hormones secreted by your body will cause your hair to grow faster and fall out less. Normally, between 85-95% of the hair on your head is growing, while the rest is in a ‘resting stage’, but, during pregnancy, higher levels of oestrogen make the growing stage longer, so fewer hairs are in the ‘resting stage’ and fewer are falling out each day. Result? Thicker, more luxuriant tresses!
Although there isn’t much known about hair loss during pregnancy at the moment, anecdotal evidence would seem to show that it does occur. It’s been suggested that women who have dry hair may find that, during pregnancy, their hair becomes drier as a result of high levels of progesterone: the female hormone produced in the ovaries. If you do have dry hair, then your hair may be more prone to crack and break, especially in later pregnancy. While it may look like hair loss, it actually isn’t: it’s simply the hair breaking off near the root. Try not to over brush your hair and treat it gently at this time. If the situation is upsetting you, then speak to your midwife or GP.
There’s no doubt that most women’s skin will, at some time during their pregnancy, have a ‘glow’ to it. This is due to the fact that the body experiences a 50 per cent increases in blood production during pregnancy, resulting in more blood circulation throughout the body. This increase in blood circulation means that blood vessels just below the surface of the skin will cause your cheeks to look a little extra rosy while you’re pregnant and, because the hormonal changes of pregnancy tend to send your oil glands into overdrive, your skin will be a little shinier than usual. The result? Glowing results!
During pregnancy, between 75-90% of women will develop stretch marks to some degree. These can appear anywhere on the body, but are most likely to appear on the abdomen (especially near the bellybutton), the breasts, upper arms and thighs. Post pregnancy, they will usually fade a little, but probably won’t disappear completely.
At your fingertips
Your nails can change considerably – and noticeably – during pregnancy. Once again, this is due to the extra hormones that can make them grow faster and become stronger.
The faster growth is often accompanied by brittleness, groove formation, or a separation of the nail from the end of the nail bed – a condition called onycholysis. To avoid this, eat a balanced diet and make sure your pregnancy vitamins contain biotin, which is a B-complex vitamin that has been shown to improve nail firmness, hardness and thickness.
And so to sleep….
During pregnancy, you’ll probably rest more than you normally would – mainly because knowing that you have a growing baby inside makes you more conscious of your own health and allows you to give yourself the time and rest that you need. Early nights and regular rest periods or naps are perfectly justifiable in pregnancy.
Tiredness in pregnancy can be totally overwhelming but, unfortunately, you may find that you’ll experience difficulty in sleeping during this period. The surge of hormones that’s needed for the development of the placenta can make the first trimester particularly exhausting, but, as your pregnancy develops, the frequent need to pass urine, anxiety about motherhood and eventually the large bump can all hinder a night’s sleep. Calcium is renowned for having a calming effect on the nervous system, so a bedtime snack of yogurt, almonds or seeds may help; to avoid regular trips to the toilet, avoid caffeine completely after around 6pm and try not to drink too much before bedtime.
Surgery not required!
Breasts usually become swollen and enlarged in the first trimester due to the increased levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Your bra size can also be affected by your rib cage, since, when you’re pregnant, your lung capacity increases, so you can take in extra oxygen for yourself and the baby, which may also result in a bigger chest size.
Unfortunately, your breasts aren’t the only bit of your body to get bigger since, like many women, you may find that your weight goes completely out of control during pregnancy! The simple fact is that many women are simply predisposed to putting on three or four stone during pregnancy, but remember something – pregnancy is the nicest type of weight gain you’ll ever experience and your baby will be the biggest plus you will ever have!