Birthing Ayurveda: Week 20—How To Care For Your Stretching Belly
Welcome to Birthing Ayurveda, where we follow one woman's pregnancy experience week by week—from a positive home pregnancy test all the way to delivery.
I shifted into the twentieth week this week, and I can say that my belly is noticeably getting larger. After yoga class one day, my brother and sister-in-law looked at my belly and exclaimed, “Woah! Your belly grew over night!” It really did seem to be so, since over the week several people, including my brother-in-law, my husband, and yoga teacher all commented on how much bigger my belly is.
This was a bit of a relief to me since many people barely noticed that I was pregnant until the last few weeks, unless I wore a tighter shirt. But Charlie (what we call the baby) is right on point and will grow at an even faster rate over the next several weeks.
Charlie is just about three-fourths of a pound (300 grams or so) now, but despite how tiny that may seem, the amniotic fluid around Charlie and the uterus is significantly larger. The uterus now reaches about the level of my belly button (a landmark week for uterine size).
It makes my belly itchy and uncomfortable. Nourishing the skin and its tone with daily abhyanga certainly helps, and the moisture eases the itch.
But that began to be barely enough for me, so over the last several weeks I started using Beauty Balm on my belly. This balm is made with a nourishing and moisturizing base of ghee, olive oil, and beeswax. It also has herbs that really rejuvenate and support natural tissue rejuvenation, like ashwagandha, shatavari, and vidari. I had heard many other moms loving the ritual of spreading this on their belly when pregnant, so I decided to give it a try. So far my skin has the same look and feel as my non-pregnant belly (except being a bit more taut). It also is not itchy throughout the day, and I love being more in touch with this part of my body.
Here are more tips for your skin while you are pregnant.
- Try using the same Beauty Balm under your eyes—and on your bottom and thighs if that is also a growing area for you while you are pregnant.
- You may be noticing some darker spots on your skin (perhaps down the center between your belly button and pubic bone or on your face). These are normal changes to the hormones circulating in your body and you should not be concerned. You should slowly see a reverse back to your normal skin color after delivery. See it as a natural part of your pregnancy and embrace some of these changes. If you choose to use make-up, be sure that it is made from natural ingredients, as many products are filled with chemicals that are easily and rapidly absorbed by your skin (which means your baby will also get his or her dose, as well!).
- Acne is also very common during all parts of the pregnancy. Acne is a sign of toxins (ama) from your environment and food, or from poor digestion (tend to your digestive fire, or your agni). With pregnancy, there is the additional kapha and hormonal load that your digestive fire has to work through and less frequent bowel movements. To that end, make sure you are having a bowel movement every day. If you are not, try drinking a cup of warm milk with organic ghee (from cows that have been grass fed) before you sleep. Triphala is not advised (unless you are directed by your practitioner) during pregnancy because of the stimulating downward movement of energy. Make sure you are not going crazy with sweets, fried and oily foods, and processed or leftover foods. Try eating cooked foods with some spices to support your digestive fire—cumin, fennel, cinnamon, and clove (for more information, read this guide).
- Be sure to hydrate! This alone can work wonders for acne as well as overall skin nutrition. You should be drinking well over eight glasses of water a day. Your baby and your skin will thank you for it.
Most women (especially the vata folks out there) will enjoy overall healthier skin during this time because of the nurturing qualities of Kapha that is so dominant during pregnancy. But as blood and hormones continue to build, some pitta type skin reactions may develop, particularly during the third trimester. We will explore those a bit more when I get there. Until then, enjoy and relish your pregnant beauty and support your natural glow with these recommendations.