Sarah Tolan: Keeping mums’ best while pregnant

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Some women bloom but others boak; it’s fair to say pregnancy can be a challenging time for women.

Take the Duchess of Cambridge who has been spotted out at various royal engagements since announcing she was expecting her second child. Like her first pregnancy, Kate has once again been suffering from severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum) which left her cancelling a string of engagements and housebound in the first few weeks.

During my own pregnancy, I found the first trimester particularly hard going. But as my midwife said, it’s important to try and keep fit and healthy when pregnant but not to put yourself under too much pressure. And if you are ill or feeling under the weather talk to your GP, midwife or health professional. But aside from morning sickness, a woman’s body also faces other challenges when pregnant.

This is not least the growing baby bump which can put strain on various parts of your body including skin. The result can be found in stretch marks which can affect between as many as 75 and 90 per cent of expectant mums. These tend to develop later in pregnancy although this is not always the case. The marks are usually on the tummy but can also appear on thighs, breasts and buttocks. They begin as narrow, red lines and over time change colour to a more silvery hue and can fade post pregnancy.

Eating well and drinking lots of water is a great way to keep skin hydrated, and you and your baby healthy. And whilst there is little evidence that creams can help remove them, some studies suggest massaging skin and using creams and oils can help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Neal’s Yard’s mother care range includes two great moisturising products – Mothers Balm, £19.75 and Mothers Massage Oil, £19.50. I found both to be great for moisturising skin and leaving it smooth and soft. And for those looking to treat mums-to-be there is the Mother Gift Box, £35, a lovely little gift set of three products.

Dr. Hauschka’s Blackthorn Body Oil, £20 is another great way to keep skin strong and supple. Safe to use during pregnancy, it contains blackthorn blossom and birch leaf extracts to enhance the elasticity of skin.

Thanks to all those hormones, skin can become much more sensitive during pregnancy, in particular in sunlight. So if you are planning time in the sun during your pregnancy, be sure to protect your skin and in particular the face, décolletage and forearms with a high SPF such as Clarins Body & Hair Spray SPF 30, £19. And where possible, I would also recommend sitting in the shade. Staying with skin, acne is the bane of the lives of some pregnant ladies with spots erupting on cheeks, chin and on the forehead. Keep skin clean, and as always, avoid picking and squeezing spots.

For some expectant mums, pigmentation can be an issue with skin appearing darker in patches.

This is particularly common on parts on the face such as the upper lip and is sometimes referred to as the mask of pregnancy. If you are suffering from this avoid doing anything about this until post pregnancy when you can book in for a consultation with a reputable skin clinic such as the Beyond MediSpa in Edinburgh’s Harvey Nichols and they can suggest treatment. However, if you have any concerns about treatment or product suitability always discuss with the spa and/or your doctor, midwife or health professional.

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