Let’s be clear-- pregnancy is hard! As you encounter many changes during your pregnancy, both physically and emotionally, we don’t want you up at night unnecessarily Googling symptoms and issues. (See our post about it here). So instead we’re bringing to you the dermatological topics for moms-to-be and new moms.
We are thrilled to partner with Elizabeth Gaines-Cardone, MD, a board certified dermatologist who practices at Connecticut Dermatology Group in CT. She’s a graduate of the University of Virginia and received her medical degree at NYU. Dr. Gaines-Cardone is also the mom of three adorable children (ages 4, 6 and 8) and loves to spend time outside the office with her family, playing paddle and traveling.
Take notes! This Q&A is full of goodness!Here we get the derm scoop from her as it pertains to all those pesky pregnancy challenges.
What are the key takeaways about skin + pregnancy?
Basically, simplify your skin care routine. So many things change in pregnancy, and your skin is one of them. Often, we are using products that aren’t considered safe in pregnancy, or that can be too irritating. Every mom-to-be needs a gentle cleanser, a good sunscreen (look for ones with zinc or titanium as the active ingredient), and a moisturizer. If it sounds boring, it is. Your skin in pregnancy is super sensitive, and you need to treat it kindly. Don’t fret, your pregnancy will be so worth it! If you are less than impressed with this simplified skin routine, up the ante on other things. Get a blow-out. Swap out your old cosmetics for new ones (remember, use organic mineral based products when possible). Go for a mani/pedi (pick a salon that has good ventilation). Hydration is also key. Plenty of water to hydrate the skin from the inside out, to help maintain that pregnancy glow!
I’m going to the beach for my babymoon. What should I be aware of? In pregnancy, your skin is more sensitive to the sun. In order to avoid sunburn, and pesky rashes like melasma, strict sun avoidance is a must! Stick with the mineral based sunscreens that only have zinc or titanium as the active ingredient, like this or this. Be careful, a lot of “baby” and “organic” sunscreens have chemical blocks in them. So be a savvy consumer, and read the labels!
Can I get botox while pregnant? Use Retin-A?
Sadly, no. You should avoid all botulinum toxins and retinol products during pregnancy and while nursing.
Why does my stomach/skin itch so much? Favorite remedies?
Stretching skin is itchy skin! Keep your skin hydrated to minimize itch. Gentle soaps, short showers with warm, not hot, water and emmoliating moisturizers are key in pregnancy.
What are common skin conditions that happen with pregnancy + how to I manage?
Acne, melasma, stretch marks, oh my! The magic of pregnancy can take its toll on your skin. So, be prepared. Sunscreen and gentle skin care can help prevent these things. However, genetics also play a role! If your mom or sisters got bad stretch marks, you probably will, too. Using OTC products like shea butter and Vitamin E is never a bad idea. Remember, hydration is key in pregnancy. But don’t get discouraged if those pesky stretch marks appear. Your dermatologist has options for treatment post-pregnancy.
Melasma is very common in pregnant women which is why it's often called the "mask of pregnancy". It's brown/grey patches are brought on by changing hormones and emphasized with exposure to sun! Cover up and wear sunscreen! Other common skin changes in pregnancy include a variety of benign growths including angiomas (red bumps), skin tags, and something called linea nigra (that dark line that runs from your belly button to your lower abdomen) during pregnancy. Again, post-pregnancy, your dermatologist can offer you options for removal of any growths that don’t go away on their own. Lastly, I encourage all moms-to-be to wear compression stockings. Varicose veins typically appear in pregnancy. Prevention is key, and compression stockings (usually 15-20mmHg) daily can help. Plus, they will make your legs feel better after a long day on your feet.
What about postpartum? What are the key things to know?
Post-pregnancy your skin will start to return to normal. However, this change is gradual, so give your skin some time. Reintroduce products slowly. If you are nursing, stick with that you were doing in pregnancy to be safe.
How soon can I get botox/peels/lasers postpartum?
It is safe to resume botulinum injections immediately post-pregnancy or when you are finished nursing. I typically wait 3 months postpartum to do other peels and laser treatments, in order to give the skin a chance to get back to normal on its own.
What is your daily skin routine?
As a working mom of three, I try to keep it simple. I use a gentle cleanser in the AM, followed by an antioxidant Vitamin C serum to prevent sun damage and help brighten the skin. After that it’s sunscreen, everyday, rain or shine. Living in CT, I cut back to an spf 15-20 in the winter. In the summer it’s at least a 30, usually higher. At night, depending on how dry my skin feels I use either an OTC retinol or a prescription (stronger) retin-a. I always use a night moisturizer for both my face and under-eye. The skin around the eyes does not produce as much oil as the rest of the face, so investing in a good under-eye cream is important.
Hot Seat Questions!!
Favorite Vacation Spot? Bermuda
What's the baby Item you couldn’t live without? Breast pump! I only had 6 weeks off for each pregnancy, so I was pumping a lot! (It was also my most favorite baby item to get rid of!
Best Book You’ve Read Recently? The Alice Network
What was your best (worst!?) “Oh Sh*t Parenting Moment” I “accidentally” took my youngest on a party bus when she was just a few weeks old! I was so over being pregnant and a close friend was celebrating her engagement, so I brought my newborn with me to her party. I didn’t realize that the “van” we were taking to get to and from the party was actually a party bus, complete with pounding music and dance pole! It was the longest van ride of my life (I was certain my baby would be deaf). Now, she’s 4 years old and the life of the party. Go figure.
Celebrity Crush? Ugh, I feel out of the celebrity loop. Josh from Clueless? Richard Gere 20 years ago from Pretty Woman.
If you have an hour to yourself…what do you do? Go for a long (slow) run. It helps me completely reset!
Last one! What Superkin piece would you choose first or give to your BFF?
The jana top... but honestly if I were pregnant I'd probably first buy the leggings for days... I love nothing more than an elastic waistband!