You’ve all either heard it or said it: “You’re glowing!”
Always directed toward a pregnant woman, it’s basically a compliment for a mother-to-be that’s meant to mean that their skin is radiant and lustrous, the best it'll ever be. We even say it if we don’t see any discernible difference in the quality of a woman’s skin; it’s just polite at this point.
It’s not an illusion or your imagination, though -- some women really do “glow” due to the combination of a number of bodily changes during the second trimester of a pregnancy they’ll go through when they’re expecting.
The myth is that a new mom will glow because they’re just so happy and excited to meet their little one. While of course that's typically true, happiness alone can’t really cause any noticeable changes in one’s skin. If that were possible, I’d be working on my smile a lot more.
It’s also more than just hormones.
Of course, increased hormones do play a large part. Things like estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) go into overdrive when a woman is pregnant, giving their faces a naturally flushed look. The hormones also, infamously, increase oil production, so if they’re lucky, expectant mothers will achieve that dewy look all the products at Sephora promise. Or they’ll break out in acne like they never have before -- such will most likely be my luck.
At the same time, women experienced up to a 50 percent increase in blood volume and blood flow when they’ve got a bun in the oven (you know, to account for the extra human in there), so the extra blood pumping around their bodies makes their cheeks turn a bit rosy. That, and moisture retention gets a lot better during pregnancy and skin cells turn over more quickly, so new skin is being hydrated 24/7, decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and allowing the skin to stay smooth.
Dewy, rosy cheeks + high moisture levels = glow!
So, yes, pregnancy glow is indeed a biological thing and we’re not just trying to make moms-to-be feel better about their changing bodies (though I'm sure that doesn't hurt). Not all women will display these changes the same way, though, and if you don’t “glow,” don’t worry -- someone will tell you that you are, anyway.