Coronavirus, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients from ACOG

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How to Perfect Your Pregnancy Skincare Routine

When you first learn of your pregnancy news, adjusting your skincare routine may not come to top of mind. However, perfecting your pregnancy skincare routine is a lifestyle change that should be discussed. It’s important to be knowledgeable about which ingredients to avoid during these nine months. Additionally, your skin will likely change due to the new pregnancy hormones. 

You’ll need to learn how to craft a pregnancy-safe skincare routine and target new skin concerns that may arise during pregnancy. At City of Oaks Midwifery, our certified-nurse midwives can be your go-to resource for all things pregnancy. Learn more about how to safely and effectively care for your skin while pregnant. 

How Does Skin Change During Pregnancy?

If you’re noticing changes to your skin during pregnancy, there’s usually no cause for concern. It is typical to experience skin changes while your body adjusts to the new life growing inside of it.

Some common skin changes while pregnant include dry skin, dark spots (melasma), stretch marks, and acne. 

Depending on your skin type, you may already experience issues with your skin. Pregnancy may worsen those symptoms or introduce complications you have not faced before. Either way, you’ll want to be prepared for how to best manage and treat your skin problems. 

It’s no secret that stretch marks, striae gravidarum, occur while your baby grows inside you. It is inevitable during pregnancy for up to 90% of women. Many topical treatments are recommended to combat these marks, but nothing can completely prevent them. Studies show that most striae fade during postpartum. Once you have given birth, you can reintroduce skincare ingredients that were not safe to use while pregnant. 

Staying hydrated also improves the elasticity and moisture of the skin. Be sure to drink lots of water while also lathering your face and body with hydrating, pregnancy-safe products. 

Ingredients to Avoid in Pregnancy Skincare Routine

1. Retinol (Vitamin A)

Vitamin A is a popular ingredient for anti-aging and fighting against acne, fine lines, and wrinkles. Once this nutrient is absorbed into your skin, it turns into retinol. Unfortunately, high retinol levels have led to babies developing birth defects in the womb. Therefore, we advise avoiding all retinol or vitamin A products during pregnancy. 

Prescription retinoids, Accutane (isotretinoin), has shown a 20-35% risk of severe congenital disabilities if taken while pregnant. While taking this medication, it is required for women of reproductive age to be on two forms of birth control, take monthly blood tests, and consult their doctor regularly. If you’ve recently been on Accutane and are hoping to start a family, be sure to be off the medication for at least a month or two. 

2. Salicylic Acid

Another common ingredient for fighting acne is salicylic acid. This ingredient can be used topically and orally. High doses of salicylic acid, especially in oral form, are not recommended during pregnancy. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been compared to the effects of aspirin. If taken while pregnant, it can increase the risk of intracranial bleeding

Some pregnancy-safe alternatives for acne-fighting agents are glycolic acid and azelaic acid. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists approves of those two chemical exfoliants for treating acne during pregnancy. 

3. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a preservative in skincare and cosmetic products. Luckily for our health, it is no longer seen as commonly in products. The CDC has linked formaldehyde to an increased risk of infertility and miscarriage. This chemical is also linked to higher chances of developing cancer. It’s best to eliminate any exposure to formaldehyde or related chemicals during this time.    

4. Chemical Sunscreens

SPF is arguably the most critical step in a skincare routine, whether you’re pregnant or not. However, not all sunscreens are considered pregnancy-safe. Sun exposure can increase hyperpigmentation or dark spots, especially if your pregnancy occurs in the summer months. Be sure to avoid chemical sunscreens, as they contain oxybenzone. This ingredient can damage both the baby’s and mother’s hormones during fetal development. 

Finding a pregnancy-safe sunscreen is not as challenging as it used to be. Look for a mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, allowing UV rays to bounce off the skin.

Curating Your Pregnancy Skincare Routine

  1. Find a gentle cleanser to use morning and night.
  2. Use a pregnancy-safe topical treatment if applicable. Popular pregnancy-safe acne ingredients include hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, and azelaic acid.
  3. Use a generous amount of hydrating moisturizer on your face and baby bump. 
  4. Follow with a mineral sunscreen in the morning. 

Consult with a Midwife

Navigating the world of pregnancy can be overwhelming on your own. There may be adjustments you have not expected, including curating a pregnancy skincare routine. For further guidance on how to best care for yourself, your skin, and your baby, consult with a certified-nurse midwife. Contact us at (919) 351-8253 for more information.

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