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The Truth About the Pregnancy Glow

Throughout pregnancy it’s common to hear the compliment that you’re “glowing,” but is there truth to that?

In short, yes.

According to, the pregnancy glow is defined as “the appearance of radiant, glowing skin on your face during pregnancy. It's a real pregnancy symptom that leaves some moms-to-be with a flush-faced and "glowing" appearance.”

Various cultures have their own stories that date back centuries, that all have the same conclusion – pregnancy glow is caused by happiness.

According to Healthline, while the term itself sounds like a myth, “pregnancy glow” actually has several medical explanations:

  • Hormone changes and increased blood flow

  • Increased oil in your skin

  • Skin stretching

  • Heat rashes

  • Worsening of preexisting skin conditions

While every woman experiences hormone fluctuations naturally from pregnancy, this doesn’t mean everyone will experience pregnancy glow.

As with most things pregnancy-related, every pregnant body is different. Some women get flawless and glowing skin, others may not notice a difference, and many will experience significant acne instead.

In addition to glowing skin in pregnancy, many women experience a variety of visual changes. According to, Pregnancy hormones and some of the vitamins and minerals in prenatal supplements can also cause changes in your appearance.

Face and skin

Your face and skin may look flushed and shiny. Increased blood flow gives you a rosier appearance, and extra progesterone increases oil production.

For women with naturally oily skin, the extra oil may cause breakouts and pimples. Women who experience acne flare-ups prior to menstruation may be especially vulnerable to pregnancy acne breakouts. Check with your doctor about a pregnancy-friendly cleanser and topical creams that can reduce breakouts.

About 50 percent of women also experience something called the “mask of pregnancy.” The scientific name for this condition is melasma and chloasma. The increase in hormones during pregnancy can increase the levels of pigmentation in your skin, causing darker splotches on your face, usually on the forehead and cheeks.


Many women notice that their breasts get larger during pregnancy, even as early as the first trimester. Your breasts are preparing to produce milk. As they grow and change, they might feel tender and extra sensitive. The milk ducts in your breasts are growing in anticipation of the birth, and that stretching can cause soreness.

Hair and nails

Longer, shinier hair and stronger, faster-growing nails are a side effect of pregnancy that many women enjoy. Taking folic acid, usually recommended by OB-GYNs, often promotes faster hair growth. In addition, pregnancy hormones reduce the natural shedding of hair during pregnancy, making your hair look thicker and fuller. After childbirth, all that extra growth may fall out, though, as your hormone levels shift back to normal.

Changes in your nails are also part of pregnancy. While some women enjoy stronger, broader nails, others notice that their nails are more brittle, flaky, or break more easily. Your individual hormones control whether your nails change and to what degree. If your nails are more brittle, consider wearing gloves when cleaning or washing dishes.

All these changes can happen at different stages of your pregnancy. All in all, pregnancy is a great experience in a woman’s life that creates a multitude of changes in her body-good or bad. Your care team will help you adjust to these changes and make sure your pregnancy is progressing safely through regular prenatal visits.

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