Itchy Belly in Pregnancy

Pregnant Woman Looking at her belly
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A question I hear a lot from my students and doula clients: What can I do about my pregnant belly itching?

What causes an itchy pregnant belly?

The cause of the itchy belly in pregnancy is usually just the skin expanding.You have to expand while expecting, so there is not a way to get out of that. This doesn't mean that everyone will experience itching, or to a level that is even noticeable. 

"I had horrible itching with my first baby," says April, mother of three.

"I was waiting for it to start up, bracing myself is more like it, but it never came. My doctor and midwife said I must have stretch it all out the first time."

Keeping Your Belly Moisturized

Having dry skin can make the itching worse and lead to scratching. Keeping yourself and your belly well hydrated will usually help tone down the itching, but not necessarily alleviate it. This is where the creams and oils come in handy.

A nice moisturizing lotion will go a long way with the itchiness. There isn't a specific formula that has some magic cure, so don't break the bank buying the most expensive lotion available. Just buy one you like. There are also special baths, like oatmeal baths designed to be safe and yet effective in taking care of itching.

"I found an oatmeal bath that I had leftover from when I had poison ivy," says Sharon. "I asked the nurse at my doctor's office and she said it was safe.

It was soothing to my belly, which felt like it was on fire. Though it did leave a mess in my tub which was hard to bend over. Later my doctor told me to put regular oatmeal, not instant or flavored, into an old pair of pantyhose (that prevents a mess), and use that on my skin. It was really helpful.

I always finished up with some simple lotion."

Staying well hydrated yourself is another way to improve the health of your skin. Though, honestly, some of it is seasonal, some of it is environmental. Can you alter the humidity in your home? That might help.

Don't Dry Out Your Skin

We also do a lot of things that dry our skin out without even thinking about it. One of the main culprits is hot water. While a bath is perfectly acceptable - how you take it may be drying out your skin. You might consider being sure that you don't use too hot of water on your stomach. This can further dry out the skin, particularly troublesome for some mothers in the winter months. In fact, when you get out of bath, gently towel off, not removing all of the water. This is the ideal time to add a moisturizer to your skin care plan. This can help seal in the water still on your skin.

When Itchy Goes Beyond Normal

Be sure to talk to your midwife or doctor before using any medicated creams or taking oral medications to alleviate itching.

There are some skin issues that can crop up in pregnancy that go beyond the normal issues. If your itching and scratching is accompanied by a rash or severe talk to your practitioner, you may have PUPPPs. They can help you determine what the best form of treatment is for scratching and itching that is driving you crazy and beyond normal dry skin.

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