Anyone would think I was trying to put people off getting pregnant with this article and my previous one on postpartum hair loss. I promise I'm not - I've said it before and I'll say it again; the end result is more than worth any of the unpleasant parts of pregnancy and beyond. But whereas the hair loss was something I was aware of in advance, I'd had no warning about the dry skin post pregnancy and so it came as a bit of a shock.
Similarly to the hair loss, the dry skin is linked to hormones. Oestrogen levels are high during pregnancy and drop suddenly when you give birth, resulting in skin that is drier and less supple than it was during pregnancy.
In addition, all that extra fluid that was retained during pregnancy (leading to those delightful swollen feet and ankles) is now lost - a real bonus when it comes to putting on shoes, but not so good for the condition of your skin.
And of course on top of all this, looking after a new baby means you're a lot less likely to have the time to moisturise religiously after every shower (if you even manage to shower!), so that doesn't help things.
My skin has always tended towards dryness, but the dryness after giving birth was something new. My face felt tight and uncomfortable and I actually developed rough, flaky patches for the first time. My body didn't escape either - I itched all over, my upper arms started to peel in a delightfully reptilian manner and my poor shrinking tummy left a trail of white flakes on whatever clothes I wore.
Luckily, this is usually just a passing phase and things will improve within a few weeks as your hormones regulate. In the meantime, there are a few things you can try:
- Use a gentle, non-drying bodywash in the shower - try something like La Roche-Posay Lipikar Surgras
- If you can find the time, always apply a rich lotion (again the Lipikar range is a good bet) or body oil after showering - I find it helps to shower in the evening when someone else is home to look after the baby!
- Cleanse your face with a gentle cleansing cream like Trilogy's Very Gentle Cleansing Cream and moisturise afterwards with a rich, hydrating cream - I found Trilogy's Ultra Hydrating Cream had an overnight effect on the rough dry patches I was suffering with
- Having the heating on all day at this time of year can result in even drier skin, so remember to leave bowls of water out by radiators to help with humidity levels