Becoming a mother is no excuse for slacking off on your grooming routine. Find out how childbirth can affect your appearance and what you can do to regain your pre-pregnancy gorgeousness.
1. Weight Gain
Pregnancy can result in an average weight gain of between 11kg and 16kg, of which your baby accounts for about 3.5kg. The rest of it is due to the amniotic fluid, your expanded uterus and stored fat for breastfeeding, among other physical changes that come with being pregnant. And while you're hopeful that all those extra kilos will vanish post-delivery, many women still struggle to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight.
If you are considering professional help, Slim Couture offers a holistic weight-loss programme that's based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles. It does not involve medication and is generally believed to be safer and healthier than crash dieting and consuming slimming supplements. To give your body sufficient time to recover, it is recommended that you start the programme two months after a natural delivery, or three months if you've had a caesarean section.
Childbirth speeds up your metabolic rate and consumes energy, a process which is known as dispersing of qi in TCM theory. This can make you prone to dizziness, shortness of breath and other ailments, says Dr Colin Chan Peng Chong, a TCM practitioner who works with Slim Couture and has 24 years of experience in internal medicine and acupuncture.
"A weakened constitution may affect gastrointestinal functions like appetite and absorption. This is known in TCM as the spleen yang deficiency. It becomes important to strengthen the yang and nourish the yin, boosting the spleen yang to improve the digestive system."
To achieve a desired weight, however, the TCM doctor will identify the cause of the weight gain. A screening for the patient will be conducted before each treatment so the plan can be better personalised to suit her constitution and health needs.
Slim Couture is at #02-06 China Square Central, tel: 6536-8586; #05-29 Singapore Shopping Centre, tel: 6336-8665, www.slim-couture.com.
2. Hair Loss
Increased levels of oestrogen during pregnancy can cause hair to remain in the resting phase of its growth cycle. After childbirth, as oestrogen levels plummet, hair will start falling out. Although this hair loss typically stops six months post-delivery, it can continue for up to a year for some women. Even actress Selma Blair, who delivered her son in 2011, laments: "I need to take longer showers so I can collect the hair that falls out and throw it away so I don't clog the drain."
What you can do is switch to haircare products with thickening properties and styling products that volumise. And be gentle when handling your hair - for instance, don't pull it back too tightly into a ponytail. If this hair loss persists, it may be a sign of other post-partum conditions like hypothyroidism, so do consult a doctor.
The spike in oestrogen levels during pregnancy gives your complexion a rosy glow. However, post-delivery, as oestrogen levels drop and stress levels go up (due to insuffi cient sleep), breakouts are common. Besides switching to skincare with milder formulations, choose products that boost moisture levels and fight acne. Ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid are safe if you are nursing, but steer clear of salicylic acid until you stop breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, dark patches may appear on the forehead, cheeks and upper lips, otherwise known as chloasma or the mask of pregnancy. A result of increased melanin production, it usually fades after you stop breastfeeding. For the moment, try using a concealer that's a shade lighter than the dark patches, then apply another in a shade that matches your skin tone around it, and blend. You could also take more active measures - and prevent the patches from becoming permanent - by being diligent about sun protection and wearing a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 daily.
5. Dark Eye Circles
Even a glamour puss like Victoria Beckham had under-eye circles months after delivering daughter Harper. "I'm not getting much sleep at all... I'm up with Harper, as all mums are, and I wouldn't have it any other way," defends the fashion designer. What you can do: In the morning, place a chilled spoon over each eye until the spoon turns warm, then remove. In the evening, place a slice of cucumber over each eye for several minutes, then remove.
6. Brittle Nails
Changes in hormones postpregnancy can leave your nails weak, dry and thin. Apply a moisturiser on your nails and cuticles often, and keep your nails short to avoid them snagging and breaking. Avoid solvent-based formulations that are very drying, and products with acetone as these strip away natural oils.
7. Stretch Marks
Years - that's how long stretch marks take to become less visible. Weight gain during pregnancy causes collagen tissue to expand and tear, leading to skin discolouration. They initially appear like thin scars on the stomach, hips, breasts and butt, but will lighten over time. The earlier they are treated, the likelier they are to fade.
Slimming 101 combines a TCM acupressure massage with state-of-the-art technology to hasten weight loss healthily. Women seeking postnatal weight loss treatments account for 30 per cent of the company's clients. Those who've delivered naturally can begin treatment a month after childbirth while those who've had a caesarean section can do so after two months.
A body analysis lets the therapist assess problem areas and recommend the most suitable treatments. This is followed by 101 Signature Meridian Therapy, an acupressure massage that supposedly helps improve the breakdown of fat cells. It is also said to up drainage in lymphatic nodes, minimising water retention and eliminating toxins and waste from the body.
To further target specific spots such as the tummy and thighs, the V Power Slender Slim & Tone supposedly tightens and firms skin, and diminishes the visibility of stretch marks and cellulite. Also available is Speed Pro Drainage, which stimulates pressure points on your palms and soles to boost toxin removal. Prices start at $200 for a session of 101 Signature Meridian Therapy.
Slimming 101 is at #04-07 Funan Digitalife Mall, tel: 6737-3101, www.slim101.com.sg.
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