Marks of motherhood

Before the unfortunate blog strike a couple of weeks ago I’d had a post stored up in my head about rashes (again!) – I took the inability to do anything about it as a sign that our readers should not have any more musings about this subject inflicted on them. Therefore, I will not bore you with details about my arm or thigh rash, and I certainly won’t mention my unbearably itchy feet that lasted for a whole week and I think must have been something I picked up from the park…

However, never one to let a sleeping dog lie, I have been thinking about my body in general and how motherhood seems to have irrevocably changed the way it looks. I know it hasn’t been that long since I gave birth, but some things you just know are going to be permanent, unless I win the lottery and decide to invest in laser surgery or something. But even if I did have the cash, I’m not sure I would want to change the way I look now: this body carried and gave birth to Pip and each mark is a reminder of that. Although I didn’t choose them like I would a tattoo, they are part of me now!

Freckles

I’ve never been a freckly person. In fact, they used to be such a novelty that I remember writing a poem about a freckle on my finger while at school (yes, really – it included a line about the freckle being an eye observing the world. Such creative talent!)

frecklesThis all changed during pregnancy. Thanks to the dire spring and early summer we had, I spent maybe a handful of days absolute tops in the sun. Our babymoon was spent in the arctic conditions of France itself rather than a French Caribbean island. All my Vitamin D came from supplements! Which is why it was rather odd to discover one day that I suddenly had a sprinkling of small, dark freckles on my chest and back where before there were very few. It couldn’t possibly be sun damage… so must have been something to do with pregnancy?

Babycentre suggests that hormone changes are to blame for changes in skin pigmentation (hence the lovely linea nigra many women develop) and “pigmented areas, such as your moles and freckles, may darken… however, they will lighten with time.” This suggests that my freckles were already there, but I didn’t notice them until they darkened. Other sources such as Pregnancy Week by Week say that new freckles can often appear after week 12. I didn’t really notice them until quite a few months after that though – I guess they grew gradually.

I suppose they might fade one day but meanwhile I’m beginning to get used to my new skin… and am wondering whether Pip will get freckles!

Spider veins

While not the full-blown varicose version, during pregnancy I still developed a few splodges of what What to Expect charmingly describes as “a sunburst or spiderweb pattern”. These are on my thighs and calves and I’m sure are emphasised by my aforementioned lack of sun this year. Again, hormones are to blame, along with the increased blood flow around the body. Constipation and a lack of exercise can exacerbate the veins, along with being on your feet for a long time.

What to Expect says “spider veins usually improve within three or four months after giving birth.” However, the Daily Mail disagrees, suggesting that the veins “tend to become larger and increase in number over time.” Hmm. We’ll see! For now, I’m focusing on the concept of the joyful sunburst…

sunburst

Stretch marks

These struck very late on in pregnancy – around 38 weeks – and rapidly multiplied in the last few days when I was overdue. They are mostly clustered around my belly button, which is where I was biggest I guess, with a few bonus ones on my sides and just one of my thighs (not the other!) Not to be left out, there are some on a breast as well (again, just one… odd!)

Eventually these purple lines should fade to silver, but as I read on the NHS website at the time, “they won’t go away completely.”

Time will tell whether I will wear a bikini again – I expect that if Pip and I ever do get to partake in Water Babies I’ll prefer the comfort of my maternity tankini – but hopefully the stretch marks won’t hold me back. The jelly belly is another matter of course…

In the meantime I’ve found this quote helpful!

stretch marks

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