I was always terrified of becoming pregnant. I had only heard horror stories from the women around me about how awful morning sickness was, how excruciatingly painful labor was, and how my body would never be the same.
As a yoga teacher and athlete, my body is part of my livelihood, and as vain as it sounds, I was worried that the physical changes of pregnancy would affect not only my self-confidence, but also my career. My skin in particular is very sensitive to injury or weight gain, meaning I both scar and acquire stretch marks easily.
I am currently seven months pregnant and the biggest surprise of my life is how much I love being pregnant and how incredibly beautiful and empowered I feel in my body right now. While I have made a sacred pact with myself to love and accept every change this pregnancy brings for my body, I have also made the commitment to practice radical self-care throughout this journey to help soften the edges of what can at times be an uncomfortable, albeit incredibly miraculous process.
Here are my top five self-care tips to help protect your skin as it goes through the rigors of pregnancy:
1) Drink LOTS of water! Keeping yourself well hydrated during pregnancy is crucial. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and when we’re dehydrated our skin (and overall health) can pay the price. Water also helps our body absorb and deliver essential nutrients to your growing baby, as well as helps prevent constipation and bladder infections during pregnancy.
2) Eat for glowing skin. Ditch highly processed, salty, sugary, and fried foods. Consume healthy fats during your pregnancy, which will not only boost brain health (both yours and baby’s!), but will help keep your skin moisturized and radiant. Adding foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids like fresh fish (or a quality fish oil supplement), walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds can help reduce inflammation while supporting your baby’s healthy cognitive development. I also love incorporating healthy fats like avocado and coconut meat into my daily smoothies.
Making mindful food choices will also help prevent rapid weight gain. While weight gain is uniquely different for each woman, gaining weight too quickly can lead to stretch marks. Your doctor can help you set healthy benchmarks during all three trimesters.
3) Slather on Bio-Oil! A proper skincare routine during pregnancy is an absolute must! Keeping your skin nourished and hydrated is one of the most effective ways to prevent stretch marks. My go-to moisturizing product is Bio-Oil, which is clinically proven to help improve the appearance of new or old scars, help improve the appearance of pigmentation marks and blemishes, and yes, help reduce stretch marks, as well as improve the appearance of existing stretch marks! Bio-Oil has won 223 skincare awards and is completely safe for pregnant mamas. It contains a unique blend of calendula oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, chamomile oil, vitamin A, vitamin E and other plant extracts to pamper and nourish your skin. It’s affordable and available at most local drugstores or online at www.biooilhealth.com. I apply it liberally twice a day to lock in hydration and my growing belly has never felt better!
4) Exercise regularly. While pregnancy is not the time to start taking up high impact sports, regular exercise is an important part of staying physically and mentally healthy while your body is creating new life! Exercise is not only great for your physical and mental health, it also supports healthy skin. Increased circulation and blood flow means more nutrients delivered to your skin.
5) Ditch harsh chemicals and super hot showers. Avoid using harsh soaps and beauty products that can harm or dry your skin. Choose products that are free of parabens and phthalates. Stay out of hot tubs (they can raise your maternal core temperature to levels that can adversely affect your growing baby) and avoid extremely hot showers. Hot water can dry out and irritate the skin, lead to itching and decrease levels in the skin’s moisture.
*Post created in partnership with Bio-Oil USA.