The skin is our largest organ and it serves a number of essential functions. During and after pregnancy a woman may experience changes in her skin. In order to protect herself and her baby, certain skincare ingredients need to be avoided during these periods while others need to be introduced to nourish and care for the skin’s new needs. When selecting skincare products for yourself during pregnancy, and for your baby after birth, it’s important to understand that our skin serves a vital function in our relationship with our babies.
What role does the skin play when it comes to mom’s relationship with baby?
Skin-to-skin contact is usually referred to as the practice where a baby is dried and laid directly on their mother’s bare chest after birth, both of them covered in a warm blanket and left for at least an hour or until after their first feed. Skin-to-skin contact provides an appropriate and affordable, yet high quality alternative to technology. There is a growing body of evidence that indicates skin-to-skin contact after the birth helps babies and their mothers in many ways:
- It calms and relaxes both mother and baby.
- It regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing, helping them to better adapt to life outside the womb.
- It stimulates digestion and an interest in feeding.
- It regulates temperature.
- It enables colonisation of the baby’s skin with the mother’s friendly bacteria, thus providing protection against infection and boosting baby’s immunity.
- It plays an important role to help prevent postpartum depression.
- It stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding and mothering.
- It stimulates the release of the oxytocin hormone (“cuddle” and pleasure hormone) in both mother and baby.
What makes human skin so special?
Human skin is a complex living material but in biomechanical tests it reveals its homogeneous nature. Our environment can directly influence who we are: the skin reacts immediately and directly to the outside environment. The skin is colonised by a diverse milieu of microorganisms, most of which are harmless and some very beneficial to their host.
The primary role of the skin is to serve as a physical barrier, protecting our bodies from potential assault by foreign organisms or toxic substances. The skin is also an interface with the outside environment and as such, is colonised by a diverse collection of microorganisms. Symbiotic microorganisms occupy a wide range of skin functions and protect against invasion by more pathogenic or harmful organisms and may play a role in educating T cells in the skin, priming them to respond to pathogenic counterparts.
In utero, foetal skin is sterile, but colonisation occurs immediately after birth. Microbial communities of the skin and other sites are established and stabilised during the first years of life especially with skin-to-skin contact with mommy or daddy as a newborn explores its environment and matures its immune system. During puberty, changes in sebum production parallel the levels of lipophilic bacteria on the skin. Physiological and anatomical differences between male and female cutaneous environments – such as sweat, sebum and hormone production – partially account for the microbial differences seen between the sexes. Environmental factors specific to the individual, including occupation, clothing, skincare regime and antibiotic usage may regulate colonisation by the skin microbiota.
The importance of using specific products on both mother and baby to sustain the effect of skin-to-skin contact
Mommy and baby care, hygiene and skincare products are potential factors contributing to the variation of skin microbiota. For example, the use of products that are not pH balanced will alter the conditions of the skin barrier and may either encourage healthy skin flora growth rates or cause it to deteriorate.
Understanding the ingredients in skincare products that may affect skin health
Particular compounds and molecules need to be applied to skin in order to assist and supplement a homeostatic balance at all times, even when the skin is exposed to the atmosphere with social and environmental stressors. A product with measurable quality, safety and efficacy standards should be considered. Bottom line: don’t settle for just anything when choosing a skincare brand and product, as not all products are created equally. Do your research and choose a product that proves its efficacy by using scientific evidence. Do some research on ingredients, and ensure the products you are using contain ingredients that are safe and effective.
Look for a product that understands this scientific rationale and will optimise your skin-to-skin contact with your baby
Offering a wide range of skincare solutions for the entire human race, with no exception to mommies-to-be and babies, Biomedical Emporium understands that skincare has to work both on a cellular and a molecular level. Their latest skincare range is the Maternology series for pre-conception and pregnancy, and the Biosimilar BioBaby series for baby.
During the process of trying to fall pregnant, IVF treatments and pregnancy itself it is important for a woman to change her skincare regime. The Maternology range helps prepare the mother’s skin for the skin-to-skin contact after baby is born.
Many biochemical changes take place during pregnancy. Some women get a beautiful glow during pregnancy due to the elevated hydration and skin moisture retention levels along with the amplified exposure to vitamins and minerals via placental fluid transport. Unfortunately, for other expecting mothers, the increased and fluctuating hormonal activity during the first trimester can have the opposite effect, and may result in an increase in sebum production that may lead to acne and the expression of pigmentation.
Skincare during pregnancy should be simple and easy due to the skin being much more sensitive and reactive. The following product ingredients should also be avoided during pregnancy:
- Retinoic acids.
- Beta Hydroxy Acids.
- Any peroxide-containing ingredients.
- Artificial colour-stained products and products containing fragrances.
- Skin-staining products (refrain from using self-tanning products during pregnancy).
- Avoid skin lightening or bleaching ingredients such as hydroquinone-containing products.
- Avoid mechanical exfoliation as this may deteriorate the skin’s barrier function.
The Biomedical Emporium Maternology range is simplistic, easy, and safe to use. The ingredients are rich in vitamins and minerals and covers a wide array of treating your skin optimally when trying to fall pregnant as well as being pregnant. Learn more about the range here
The Biomedical Emporium Biobaby range was inspired by award-winning product formulator Dr Judey Pretorius’s twin pregnancy. She has developed special care products for babies that provide the necessary care for sensitive skin, that boost immunity and that enhance the skin biodiversity. The BioBaby Series is free of allergens, irritants, phenoxyethanol, fragrances, dyes and parabens. Learn more about the range here.
The skin barriers of newborn babies are highly compromised and extremely sensitive. A baby’s skin is very vulnerable against external factors and environmental extremities. Because of this the compromised skin barrier may lead to problems such as moisture loss, dryness, and flaking.
There are various postpartum skin problems that may occur in babies if they lack the necessary microbiota. One of these problems is seborrheic dermatitis, which is expressed as redness and flaking of the skin. It causes severe itchiness and can make babies very uncomfortable. This can be due to a lack of fully developed microbiota on the skin, which would ordinarily protect against such an expression. For this reason, the BioBaby series was scientifically formulated with biosimilar microbiota to restore and balance the biodiversity of sensitive and compromised skin.
Looking after your skin before, during and after pregnancy is essential for a healthy and glowing complexion, but it is also essential for the health of your baby. Remember that skin-on-skin contact is the first way in which you will bond with your baby – ensure your skin is ready for this important moment.