Among many of the wonderful and not-so-wonderful symptoms of being pregnant, is the in-famous pregnancy glow that women sometimes get during their pregnancy. If you are expecting, a well-wisher may have told you that you are glowing or others may have commented on how great you look, despite how you might actually be feeling.
It is understandable that your appearance will change in response to the new hormones surging through your body along with the physical changes it will experience.
However, do you really glow during pregnancy, and what is the cause of this sudden radiant appearance? There are a few reasons why a pregnant woman may appear to glow which we will discover below.
Pregnancy Glow: #1 Additional Blood Flow
Within the first few weeks of pregnancy, the volume of blood in your body increases dramatically. During those initial weeks of gestation, your body can produce between 30 – 50% more blood and plasma, and it is this additional blood flow that contributes to that radiant appearance.
This additional blood can make your cheeks and face plumper and look more flushed and the extra blood will increase your circulation making your skin look brighter.
Your lips can also look plumper and your overall appearance can start to look healthier thanks to the extra blood flow.
#2 Rounder figure
Thanks to the increase in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, you will see an increase in your breast size during the course of your pregnancy.
For some women, this is a welcome pregnancy symptom, while for others it can cause discomfort and back issues.
As you get closer to the end of your pregnancy your breasts will swell up as they prepare to produce milk for your newborn and in some cases, women’s breasts can double in size. To avoid any discomfort invest in a maternity bra that is not underwired but offers plenty of support to your growing chest.
Many maternity bras also double up as breastfeeding bras so they are useful if you intend to breastfeed.
#3 Thick and Shiny Hair
Another reason that you may be noticing a positive change in your appearance may be due to your hair looking thicker and shinier than before, and again it is your pregnancy hormones that you have to thank for this.
The pregnancy hormone progesterone increases the amount of oil your skin produces and this additional oil in your hair follicles can make your hair look more glossy and shiny.
Your body also sheds less hair while you are pregnant and you retain hair your body would have naturally shed. This can make your hair look more voluminous and thicker and contribute to that glowing effect.
Pregnancy Glow: #4 Stronger nails
You may also notice that your nails become stronger and grow faster during your pregnancy which is also down to your hormones. As many doctors advise pregnant women to eat healthily and to take prenatal vitamins, the results of these diet changes and supplements can contribute to healthier, stronger, and longer nails. Although not all women experience this, and some women can experience the opposite with weaker nails that are more brittle. If you do notice a negative change to your body, always check with a healthcare provider and check if there is anything you can change in your diet to improve this. If you are lucky enough to have beautiful nails during pregnancy, enjoy it as long as possible.
Pregnancy Glow: #5 Skin Conditions Improve
As before your pregnancy hormones control many of the changes you see in your body during pregnancy. Additional levels of the progesterone hormone create an increase in the amount of oil your skin produces, and depending on your skin type before pregnancy this can either be great for your skin or it can cause breakouts. If your skin does break out during pregnancy, know that your skin will calm down as your pregnancy progresses as your hormone levels fluctuate.
For women with dry skin, however, additional oil can create that envious glowing effect as your skin becomes more hydrated. Dry skin conditions such as eczema can appear to improve due to the excess oil secreted from your skin and you may start to receive compliments on your complexion.
How long does the pregnancy glow last?
Every person is different and whether a woman glows or not during her pregnancy is dependent on her hormone levels and how they affect her body.
Some women experience a radiant glow throughout the entire duration of their pregnancy, while others may only see a noticeable change to their looks in their first and second trimesters.
As described above, many of the symptoms of having a pregnancy glow are controlled by the hormones released during pregnancy in order to develop a healthy baby.
Once your baby is born your hormones will return to their pre-pregnancy levels and your blood volume will decrease. The positive side-effects of pregnancy such as thick hair and strong nails may also reverse and you may notice some hair loss after giving birth, which is perfectly normal and your hair will grow back.
Do all pregnant women glow?
Although all women will experience hormone surges and increased blood flow, not all women will experience a pregnancy glow in the same way.
Depending on your skin type, and complexion you may only notice subtle changes to the way you look or unfortunately the pregnancy hormones may unbalance your skin and cause breakouts.
It is not expected for women to glow during pregnancy, so if you are not noticing any changes to your skin or hair don’t be disheartened. For those women who do experience a glow, it is unlikely to last beyond the pregnancy, as your body returns to its pre-pregnancy state.
Pregnancy Glow: Final thoughts
Whether you experience a glow or not during your pregnancy, making sure you are taking good care of yourself and your body is vital when you are expecting.
Many women take prenatal vitamins such as folic acid and dietary supplements to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need to sustain a healthy pregnancy and so that their baby gets everything they need to develop.
Glowing during pregnancy is just one perk that will quickly be forgotten when your beautiful baby arrives.
Estelle Thomson Photography – based in Fawkham Green – specialises in newborn, baby and maternity photography for families in and around Sevenoaks, Kent.