This content reflects the views of the individual blogger and is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.
We all know psoriasis can be painful, uncomfortable and it can make daily living a little harder. Couple that, with being pregnant and your body can suddenly feel like it is against you. Being pregnant comes with its own physical, emotional and mental challenges. Your body goes through daily changes for nearly 40 weeks or more and it is a testing time of uncertainty with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and anticipation. Even if the pregnancy was planned and it is all you have ever dreamed of, this blessing can still be fraught with worry from the minute the test delivers the good news.
Please don’t panic though if psoriasis is on your mind and you are pregnant or you are trying to conceive. The good news is that for most female sufferers, nearly 60%, will see an improvement in their skin during pregnancy thanks to all the hormones in your body. Bad news, for those unlucky enough to be in the minority, is that they may see no improvement or their psoriasis actually flares during pregnancy, thanks to all the hormones in your body. Mother nature eh, what a joker!
If your skin has improved, you can find out a little more about Leanne’s positive pregnancy and psoriasis post here.
If like me, you peed on the stick and shared your good news, only for psoriasis to wade in on your parade then keep reading; I have some top tips for looking after yourself and your precious cargo, while trying to keep your psoriasis at bay. As always, speak to your midwife or GP about your skin. Share your concerns about your psoriasis and ensure you are using a safe treatment option that won’t harm baby; there are options suitable for pregnancy and beyond so find something that suits you and your lifestyle.
One of the key factors to manage your psoriasis is to reduce stress and look after your mental wellbeing as well as your body.
Gentle exercise does wonders
I have found ante-natal yoga once a week has helped me tremendously to switch off from work and give me some much needed me-time. It works on 3 levels;
1. It ensures you are still looking after your body with some gentle exercise at your own pace and ability.
2. You are meeting other women going through similar changes to you whether they have psoriasis or not so a support network to vent to and share with is wonderful.
3. Each class finishes with the most relaxing wind down which can help to centre you and help you focus more on your needs and on baby’s needs, taking your mind off your skin.
I always had the best sleep after I had been to my yoga class. Check your local area for classes; you can always go along for a taster session first to see if it’s for you.
Keep the itch at bay
One of the symptoms of being pregnant is itchy skin – something we sufferers are all too familiar with anyway. Rubbing emollients or moisturiser on your skin daily or as often as needed, will help look after your psoriasis and also alleviate the itch that comes from your skin stretching as your body changes shape. This itch is certainly more noticeable in the last trimester as your skin is pushed to the limits as your bump grows. Whether daily moisturising also helps to keep stretch marks at bay is questionable but surely it can’t hurt to try and keep your skin nice and supple.
Candles, salts and relax
Another relaxation tip, which I have indulged in more frequently since being pregnant, is salt baths. Adding Dead Sea salts to a bath and winding down with a good book will help to ease the itching and soften your skin. After 16 weeks, lying back in the bath is also a great time to start to feel those earliest flutters of baby kicks so it’s well worth doing for the magical bond alone. Light your favourite candles, get your baby books out (I highly recommend The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill and How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out by Clemmie Hooper for informative and positive bath reads to prepare for baby). Salt baths will also be beneficial post-partum to help care for your nether regions or C-section scarring.
“Sleep while you can, you’ll miss it when you can’t”Sleep is crucial in helping look after yourself and we all know that lack of sleep causes mental upset which can flare your psoriasis. With a newborn sleep becomes a distant memory, and pregnancy can often feel like it is preparing your body for surviving on zero hours of sleep with heartburn, constant trips to the loo and perlvic discomfort. From early on you are told to get into the habit of sleeping on your side when pregnant, preferably your left, as it reduces heartburn. Further down the line when bump is much bigger, sleeping on your back isn’t recommended and front sleeping becomes impossible, your side is your only option. As a lifelong tummy sleeper I invested in a pregnancy pillow to get the best sleep possible. This Langria pillow was reasonably priced and lasted well throughout the 9 months and beyond. The pillow helped to keep me on my side throughout the night and as my bump got bigger, it added as a prop to relieve the weight at the front.
Pregnant bumps are so on trendBeing comfortable is very important when it comes to psoriasis. In pregnancy, clothing and underwear become a bit of a minefield. Your body changes shape and size but it can be different for everyone; for some these changes may mean going up 1 size in regular clothes but to others it can mean a whole new wardrobe of maternity wear to accommodate growing bumps, hips and boobs! You can still be fashionable and on trend and be comfortable too. The one thing to always look out for is comfortable material which lets your skin breathe. You can get away with large, swing, baggy tops and dresses which hide bump but also give your skin some much needed rest. However if like me, you want to show off bump with tighter fitting clothes, ensure that underwear is well fitting and preferably cotton and that way skin is looked after underneath without anything rubbing against your psoriasis or aggravating it. You are recommended that from your second trimester to stop wearing underwired bras so it is a good idea to get re-measured and find comfortable sports bras which offer support and let your boobs grow.
This last tip is a very personal one depending on how comfortable you are showing your skin, but pregnancy massage is another great way to get some me-time and help you relax your body and mind at a time of huge transition. Massage helps to ease tension and help you to switch off from the outside world, maybe help you to forget about your psoriasis for an hour or so. Well-trained professionals in salons and spas are educated in skin conditions. Letting them know about your psoriasis when you book can put you at ease and also allows them to pick a therapist best suited to your needs. I had a super pregnancy massage in my first trimester and the therapist actually had psoriasis herself and was happy to discuss my skin and any particular areas I wanted her to focus on and also to avoid. It doesn’t need to be a regular thing but even one massage in each trimester can feel like a real luxury and ensures you are pampering yourself. Your body is creating a miracle, you deserve it.
If baring your skin fills you with dread instead of relaxing you, you could ask a family member or close friend if they wouldn’t even mind giving you a quick foot rub or a hand massage using olive oil or coconut oil. Or massage is still possible with your clothes on, gently rubbing your shoulders and back with a tennis ball can help to de-stress after a busy day.
Do whatever you need to do throughout your pregnancy to allow yourself some me-time and ensure that you look after your body, your mind and your gorgeous bundle. Psoriasis can be managed. Focus on the wonderful marvel your body is creating, reduce your stress and make sure you are as comfortable as possible. It is a great time to remember how amazing your body is! Your psoriasis may feel like your body is failing you but going through pregnancy and delivering a beautiful baby will definitely restore your faith in how amazing the female body is!
UK/IE MAT-12767. Date of Preparation: October 2017
Blog post developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.