Pregnancy can be an amazing journey, but let's face it - it can also have some pretty weird and uncomfortable symptoms. One of the most common complaints we hear from pregnant women is about itching on their stomachs. So why does this happen? And more importantly, what can you do to soothe that scratchy sensation? Let's dive in!
The Science Behind Pregnancy-Related Itching
First things first, let's talk about why your stomach might be feeling a little extra "itchy" during pregnancy. There are actually several reasons for this phenomenon:
As if growing a tiny human inside you weren't enough, your body is also going through some serious hormonal changes during pregnancy. These changes can affect the way your skin behaves -- making it dry, sensitive or more prone to irritation.
Of course as your baby grows so does your belly and stretching skin is no picnic. This stretching may cause small tears which makes sense why scratching could seem like such an appealing option at times...but beware! Scratching too hard may lead to more issues than answers...
Increased Blood Volume
Your body produces up to 50% extra blood while pregnant (crazy right?) and all that increased volume has got to go somewhere. Swelling of veins under the surface of our skin will increase itchiness further down the line.
Now we know what causes this dreaded symptom...onto how one combats getting their claws out!
How To Relieve That Insatiable Urge To Scratch
We asked around town (just kidding), here are five mom-tested methods against pregnancy-related itching:
Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps ensure adequate hydration for both mother and fetus plus it may help balanced hydration levels in your skin.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
Moisturizing regularly with a high-quality lotion or cream can help soothe dry skin and fend off that persistent itch for longer amounts of time. Aloe vera gel also works wonders!
Ditch The Hot Water
High temperatures are hard on already sensitive skin so take cooler showers using tepid water versus hot to relieve itching caused by high heat.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes
Wearing loose-fitting clothes made of breathable fabrics like cotton will reduce sweating which along the line reduces the chance of forming fungi and yeast infections (common culprits behind belly irritation)
Know When To Seek Help
If these remedies do not work out it is always better to discontinue their use as prolonged scratching may lead to more serious health concerns (skin infections, allergic reactions etcetera). If you are feeling constant itchy sensations contact your OB-GYN.
But Wait... There's More! Complications May Arise...
There are some underlying conditions related to pregnancy that may cause even worse types of itching:
Cholestasis Of Pregnancy / Intrahepatic Cholestasis
Though rare cholestasis occurs when bile does not flow properly within liver leading symptoms like severe itching all over body accompanied by dark urine or light feces this should be taken quite seriously (as should any symptoms while pregnant).
Pruritic Urticarial Papules And Plaques Of Pregnancy / PUPPPs
This is one mouthful but try saying pruritic urticarial papules three times fast (we dare you!). This condition usually appears around 35 weeks active causing its victim extreme itchiness located mainly on stomach arms thighs and chest areas; luckily however it isn't harmful towards baby after delivery reports say victims get much relief shortly post-birth.
Itching during pregnancy is normal; however, we advice using the preventative measures mentioned above to carefully take care of your skin. If these measures do not work and you are experiencing constant itchiness it is best to check with a doctor who cares for pregnant women.