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Post-Pregnancy Changes in Your Body

Your skin may have gone through various changes during pregnancy. You may have developed acne, even if you never had it before. It's a way the body reacts to fluctuating hormones; your skin should begin to clear up now. Or you may develop acne after your baby is born. If this occurs, over-the-counter topical medication can help. If you don't breastfeed, your doctor may prescribe acne medication for you.

Freckles and moles sometimes darken and enlarge during pregnancy. You may have noticed darkened pigment, called chloasma or the mask of pregnancy, around your nose, cheekbones, forehead, upper lip and eyes. It usually fades within 6 months after delivery. Skin tags may have appeared during pregnancy, or they may appear after birth. These small growths of skin are easily removed by a physician.

Stretch marks are scars left where the skin stretched during pregnancy. Some women have few stretch marks caused by pregnancy. Others have severe stretch marks caused by weight gain and hormones that allow the skin's elastic fibers to relax and stretch. They are probably purple red at this time, but they will gradually fade to silver white lines in a year or so.

The areola, the area around the nipple, may darken and enlarge slightly. This may occur as a signal to the breastfeeding infant. Discoloration usually lightens a few months after the birth, although the areolas may be darker than before pregnancy.

If the linea nigra—the dark line of pigmentation that runs from your belly button down to the pubis symphysis—darkened, it will fade after a few months. But it may never disappear completely.

Your sense of smell may have been more acute during pregnancy. This heightened sensitivity usually begins to fade 6 or 8 weeks after the birth.

If your gums bled more easily during pregnancy, they should get better now. Keep flossing and brushing your teeth regularly. You might want to schedule a dental cleaning and an exam.

Swelling in your legs, hands or feet lessens or disappears within a couple of weeks. Varicose veins may disappear, but spider veins may be permanent.

If your fingernails and toenails grew rapidly during pregnancy, growth will probably return to normal within a couple of weeks. Nails may even become brittle after your baby's birth.

You may be disappointed if you're expecting to lose 30 or 40 pounds immediately after baby's birth. It takes awhile for things to get back to normal, so be patient.

After delivery, following a normal pregnancy, your body retains about 3 quarts (3 liters) of water. It can take several weeks to get rid of this extra fluid.

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