Normal Body Changes in Pregnancy

MĀMĀ Zoe De Thierry
PHOTOGRAPHY Catherine Smith @catherinesmithphotography

Your physical appearance changes a lot as you grow your pēpi and that means you might notice your skin, hair, and nails look and feel different during pregnancy too.


Many pregnant people report having thicker, shinier, and healthier hair while hapū – if you have, lucky you! As with most things in pregnancy, everyone is different so if you notice a change in texture or that your hair is oilier or drier than usual, that’s normal too. It’s not unusual to notice hair growing in places that you haven’t had it before, like on your face, belly, or nipples.



The infamous pregnancy glow truly does exist for some people and it’s thought to be due to the increase in blood flow. On the other hand, your skin may be more sensitive or drier than usual.  Thanks (but really, no thanks!) to hormones that increase your oil and sweat production, you may also develop acne on your face, chest or back – most pregnant people find it clears once their pēpi is born.

Pigmentation can increase during pregnancy so you may notice your areola, nipples, and genitals darkening as a result. Some people develop more prominent patches of facial pigmentation, known as melasma or chloasma. To prevent skin pigmentation, stay out of the sun, and use a high SPF sunscreen all year round – even on cloudy days.

Some people develop a linea nigra, a thin, dark vertical line that appears down the abdomen in pregnancy. Despite the old wives’ tale that says otherwise, the length of your line and its position is not a predictor for the sex of your baby.


Stretch marks

Most pregnant people get stretch marks during pregnancy, commonly appearing on their belly, hips, thighs, or breasts. It’s understandable if you don’t like your stretch marks at first, but they will fade. If they don’t disappear completely, you can learn to love them in time and see them as a reminder of the beautiful pēpi you grew!

There are products to help improve the appearance of stretch marks that are available for purchase from pharmacies and supermarkets nationwide.


Another perk of pregnancy for many people is that their nails appear stronger, longer, and healthier! It’s generally regarded as safe to get a manicure or pedicure during pregnancy as there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Some pregnant people find the fumes of nail salons nauseating though, so if that’s the case for you be sure to get some fresh air.

Itching in pregnancy


Mild itching in pregnancy is common, especially as your skin stretches. But if you develop any extreme itching – with or without a rash – you should let your LMC know.


An itchy rash on your abdomen may be due to a pregnancy skin condition called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). PUPPP can be intensely uncomfortable but generally doesn’t cause any complications to your baby. If you feel itchy on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet and it’s typically worse at night, you may have obstetric cholestasis which is a rare liver condition in pregnancy. It often occurs without a rash and can also be very uncomfortable. Once the baby is born, itching symptoms should ease within a few days.