Your beautiful belly is growing, but your skin is not. While skin does have remarkable elasticity, there is a limit to how much it can stretch comfortably, without complaint. The relatively fast pace at which the skin has to stretch can cause irritation. (I remember times during my pregnancies when I scratched my skin so hard I left claw marks across my own belly-- it felt worse than poison ivy!)
This itchiness doesn’t have to be isolated to the belly (I had it all over my torso and breasts), but the belly is the most common area.
This itchiness is completely normal, and can be eased by the following:
• Colloidal Oatmeal Bath. This oatmeal can be found at the drug store or grocery. This isn’t the same type that you eat, but it’s packaged in the same way. A small pouch of the oatmeal is emptied into a luke warm bath for a soothing soak. The oatmeal is ground into a fine powder, and when that powder mixes with the water, it creates a fine coating that is silky on your skin. It also helps restore the pH balance to your skin. (CAUTION: the oatmeal will make the tub slippery, so be very careful getting in and out of the tub!) You can take up to three of these 15-minute soaks a day.
• No hot water. Resist the urge to take a hot oatmeal bath, or use hot water for your shower. The hot water will strip your skin of its natural oils, making your skin even itchier.
• Moisturize. Take advantage of the moisture on your skin directly after an oatmeal bath or shower, and apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp. You probably have your own favorite, but if your usual moisturizer isn’t doing the trick, try something heavier, like coca butter, Eucerin or Aquaphor, or even straight Vaseline. Be sure to wear an old tee shirt, as these products are greasy.
• Avoid moisturizers with perfumes. These added perfumes can be irritating to already upset skin.
• Wear loosing fitting, natural fiber clothing. Tight clothing can chafe skin, and synthetic fabrics like polyester can irritate skin by trapping dirt and sweat next to the skin. Wear breathable fabric like cotton as much as possible.
• Don’t scratch. I know, you read at the beginning of this article how I used to scratch till it hurt. And guess what, it didn’t help. It left me bleeding in places, making it not only itchy, but also painful. Do your best to rub the area, not scratch it.
• Apply a paste of baking soda and water. This is hard to do on your whole belly, but if you have splotches of irritation, this works well to soothe the itch. Once the paste dries, you can just rub it off, and rinse.
• Drink plenty of water. That is the golden rule of pregnancy. It is good for you and your baby in so many ways, and it can even be dangerous for your baby if you become dehydrated. Moisturize from the inside out.