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Skin Changes During Pregnancy

Daddy Alert!

Your partner's face isn't the only thing that will be changing color. The lips of her vagina (the labia) change color, too. They get darker and more engorged with blood. If you notice this change, don't get alarmed. It doesn't cause pain or soreness and will be gone after the baby is born.

Because skin is the body's largest organ, it's probably no surprise that it can be drastically affected by your pregnancy.

You might be one of the women who wear the "mask of pregnancy." This is a scary sounding name for a change in the pigmentation of the skin on the face, particularly the forehead, nose, upper lip, and cheeks. As a result of the high levels of hormones in your body, patches of darkened skin sometimes appear on the face (light patches might appear on dark-skinned women). Don't get upset—this is most likely a temporary condition that will disappear when the baby is born.

You might also notice that your moles or beauty marks are getting darker and bigger during pregnancy. As if that's not enough, 60 percent of women will get "vascular spiders," which are red blotches on the face, upper chest, and arms. Fortunately, these skin changes disappear when pregnancy ends.

You can try to lighten skin discoloration with cosmetic creams used to lighten birthmarks, but you'll have better luck using makeup to blend the skin colors. You can also keep skin discoloration, such as the mask of pregnancy, from darkening or getting worse, by staying out of the sun and wearing a sunscreen. Whether it's spring, summer, fall, or winter, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 every morning.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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