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How pregnancy might affect your looks - and what to do about it

How pregnancy might affect your looks - and what to do about it

  Vanity and pregnancy don't go well together. You swell up. You get stretch marks. Your body will be permanently altered by pregnancy, even if you have a termination instead of giving birth. If you're more worried about your looks than the idea of looking after a little one, then motherhood might not be for you! Not yet, at any rate. However, many of women seeking pregnancy and breastfeeding advice are understandably curious about what changes they might experience, so here are a few examples, and the best ways to deal with them.   Stretch marks These aren't just a pregnancy phenomenon; some women, and men, have had them since reaching puberty. There really isn't anything that gets rid of them, no matter what the marketing people say. The best thing you can do is guard against them, by moisturising your skin regularly with almond and vitamin E oil, and making sure you eat a healthy diet. This is because the primary cause of stretch marks is rapid weight gain - you will be swelling up fairly slowly over the nine months of your pregnancy, but piling on extra pounds from that pizza craving might be too much for your skin to handle. Eat plenty of lean protein (like fish, chicken and tofu), along with lots of vegetables, whole grains, and water. Foods which contain vitamin E, like avocado, flax seed and oily fish (salmon, mackerel etc) should also help to keep your skin flexible.   Skin changes Because your hormone balance shifts, when you get pregnant and again when you give birth, you may experience breakouts of acne and spots. These should settle down by themselves after a few months. In the meantime, avoid using harsh cleansers like soap, or anything designed for teenage skin - these will actually end up drying out your skin and forcing it to produce more oil.   Avoid squeezing your spots and blackheads, however satisfying it is, as this pushes the infection further into the skin, and makes spots worse. Instead, wash your face twice a day by massaging a mild cleanser into your skin, covering your face with a warm, moist flannel or face-cloth, and relaxing for a couple of minutes. Then wipe off the cleanser and moisturise with a good natural moisturiser. Treat any red spots with tiny dabs of tea-tree oil, which is safe to use during pregnancy, providing it's on the skin and not taken internally.       How breastfeeding affects your bust Many women are afraid that breastfeeding will "drain" their breasts, and make them sag. This simply isn't true. Breast tissue loses its strength when you gain & lose weight too fast, and also simply because you're getting older. Smoking doesn't help either - not that you'd be doing that while pregnant, but if you need a reason to quit, protecting your looks is a useful motivation. Breastfeeding can affect your appearance - breast milk can sometimes leak and mark your clothing, and maternity bras don't exactly boost your cleavage - but there's no reason for it to permanently change your breasts themselves.

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