You’ve been through labor, holding the new life you’ve brought forth in your arms. You couldn’t be happier! But as the days go by and you adjust to being a mother, you’re exhausted. With the new little life brightening your own, birthing life does take its toll on so many levels, as new moms can attest. Part of the toll pregnancy and childbirth take is on mom’s skin. Acne, dark spots, and melasma (the “pregnancy mask”) are all part of having a baby. Hair loss may also occur several months after the baby’s birth.
This post will examine how to maintain healthy postpartum skin and what new mothers need to know about recovering from the arduous work of childbirth with some healthy habits and tips. Busy new moms don’t have a lot of time on their hands, so what you’ll read here will take that into account.
Time to Heal
While the new baby needs you and that’s what you signed up for, you need you, too. You’re not sleeping well and when you do, that 3:00 am feeding puts a dent in your nightly rest.
New mothers are healing, not just from the physical trauma of labor but from 9 months of feeding, nurturing and carrying a growing life within them. Rest is difficult to come by in the time immediately following the birth of your baby. That lack of sleep can manifest in the appearance of your skin. Be aware that limited rest affects your healing, and get support from family and friends, when needed. Your healing is crucial, so get all the rest you need.
Postpartum Hair Loss
Telogen effluvium is hair loss caused by a stressful event (including childbirth) in which hair follicles go dormant and then fall out. But the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and iron deficiency are other potential causes. There are several ways to manage postpartum hair loss effectively, including taking iron supplements. But hair loss usually resolves with lost hair being restored in several months to a year following delivery.
A healthy pregnancy means added weight. While it’s completely normal (and desirable) to gain weight while carrying a child, that extra weight can mean cracked heels. Your body compensates in various ways to its new reality. For one, your gait adjusts to the additional weight and changing shape your body is experiencing. Add some nourishing home remedies for your feet to add a touch of TLC to your skincare routines.
Melasma and Dark Spots
Melanin (a naturally occurring chemical which results in darker skin and makes us tan in the sun) production is increased during pregnancy. A concentration of melanin during pregnancy can result in the “pregnancy mask” (melasma) which is brownish skin on the cheek, nose, and eye area. Depending on genetic and hormonal factors, melasma and dark spots may affect some women more than others.
While melasma resolves naturally as your body chemistry slowly returns to normal, you can reduce its manifestation by using sunscreen during pregnancy and following the birth of your baby. But be aware of ingredients in some skin care products. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid any product containing tretinoin or hydroquinone.
During pregnancy and after childbirth, acne is a very common challenge for women. Your body has undergone huge chemical changes, especially with respect to hormonal activity. We’ve already read how your genes and those hyperactive hormones can cause melasma and dark spots but they can also provoke unpleasant acne outbreaks.
Androgens are the hormones responsible for pregnancy acne, provoking the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, an oily wax that clogs pores. Good skin care, including regularly washing your hair and keeping it off your face as much as possible, is your best bet for containing pregnancy acne. Reducing stress is also a huge factor in limiting its prevalence.
Citrus fruit, especially lime, is a top natural resource for fighting acne. With both antibacterial and astringent properties (deriving from alpha hydroxy acid), the juice of a lime on a cotton ball applied directly to the affected area, will reduce the production of oil. Leave lime juice on your skin until dry, then rinse it off with warm water and moisturize, twice daily. Always remember that your hormones will return to normal (probably after your first menstrual cycle). When that happens, the acne will resolve on its own.
Mom Needs Love Too
New mothers are usually so wrapped up in the needs of their babies that they lose themselves. But self-care and self-love are critical for every mother. You’ve just lived one of the most amazing (and exhausting) human experiences.
Drink abundant water, especially if breastfeeding. Your skin has been through the pregnancy and birthing mill, so feed it what it needs: fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and all manner of good, fresh food. Nourish your skin from the inside out, as your hormonal balance normalizes over the coming months.
Get the help you need to ensure you’re sleeping enough. Let the people around you help. Be consistent and intentional in your self-care and before you know it, you’ll be feeling like yourself again. Remember: you just ran the equivalent of a 40-week marathon, concluding with a phenomenal feat of strength. Give yourself the love you need to recover.
Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.