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Dear Duchess Catherine: Here are 6 things nobody tells you about how pregnancy changes your looks

Some of the unfamiliar beauty challenges that may lie ahead.

By Glamour Magazine Feb 26, 2013 3:56PM
by Petra Guglielmetti

Hello, Duchess Catherine--you are looking every bit the radiant pregnant lady, and I hope your morning-sickness days are finally in the past. However, I do feel the need to share a little insight I've gained recently, after giving birth to two babies in less than two years. You see, there are some things nobody really tells you about how pregnancy changes your looks. The following tidbits aren't pretty, but at least you'll be more prepared for some of the unfamiliar beauty challenges that may lie ahead.Duchess Catherine \\ Photo: Getty Images

What they tell you: Your hair will get thicker and shinier while you're pregnant.

What they don't tell you: Your hair actually stops falling out. At all. There will be hardly any hairs in your brush or shower drain, and it's so weird!

Part of the reason your hair gets so thick is that at some point during pregnancy (for me it was around 4/5 months) you stop shedding hair as you usually would. You'll shampoo and condition and then will realize with shock that there is no knot of hair to fish out of your shower drain (although, do Duchesses even do things like this? I'm sure you have someone to handle shower-drain hair for you. Actually, do you even wash your own hair, or do you get a professional blowout every morning? Meanwhile, is it even possible for your hair to get thicker and shinier? There are so many questions.)

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What they tell you: Once the baby comes, the thick gorgeous hair goes buh-bye.

What they don't tell you: You might even get a receding hairline and bald patches--and then when the hair starts growing back in, things only get sketchier.

So, about the hair that doesn't fall out during pregnancy: It allll falls out afterward, plus much more--often in amounts so copious that you will feel genuine shock and horror. You will wonder if you are going completely bald and will Google hair replacement options. But the fun doesn't stop when the shedding slows down (it does, I promise). I'm 10 months post-delivery right now; the shedding is over and I have new baby hair coming in around my hairline. These fine, short strands are absolutely impossible to tame with any sort of hair tool or product. Forget styling my hair in any sort of cute way--I can't even wear my lazy mom ponytail without a halo of crazy flyaways bending in every direction. Headbands, hairpins--nothing really helps. Meanwhile, I have friends who have had their hair texture change during/after pregnancy, going from oily and straight to wavy and dry, or vice versa. It's all so sci fi. Be prepared. And feel lucky that you live in such a hat-oriented country.

What they tell you: Your skin will be glowing while you're pregnant.

What they don't tell you: Or it might just get pimply. Or rashy, or bumpy.

Your skin might get all kinds of uppity in response to pregnancy hormones. Strange stuff happens. One example: During my second pregnancy, my upper thighs developed this subtle (but all-over) red-bumpy texture; you would think it was razor burn, but who are we kidding--there was no above-the-knee shaving going on once that baby bump started to grow. Turned out, it was keratosis pilaris, which I had never experienced before. Thankfully this cleared up a month or two post-baby.

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What they tell you: You might get stretch marks.

What they don't tell you: You might get a brown line down the center of your belly that doesn't disappear right away.

This line, called a linea nigra, stretches straight down the middle of your abdominals, and it can hang around for months and months after you have your baby. It's not a big deal, but it is a weird thing nobody ever told me about. There's not much you can do to speed its disappearance--you gotta wait it out.

What they tell you: Shaving your legs when you have a huge belly is quite a challenge.

What they don't tell you: Other grooming tasks are going to present a much more serious and potentially mortifying challenge.

Forget the fact that your feet are swollen yet you can't even see them or reach them or get a pedicure without guilt (you're technically supposed to avoid them because of the infection risk). There are more awkward grooming challenges that will present themselves. But how do I phrase this in a ladylike fashion befitting Your Duchess-ness? How about you just click over to the previous post I did on this embarrassing issue that arises during pregnancy.

What they tell you: "You're all belly!"

What they don't tell you: It all becomes muffin top as soon as that baby's outta there. (Even though you went into this with rock-hard abs.)

I was one of those "all belly" pregnant ladies both times--no swelling in my face, no major weight gain in my legs or arms or butt. So I can tell you from experience: Take the "all belly" compliments with a major grain of salt, and don't let them be your license to slack on the prenatal yoga or healthy diet. Once I had my babies, the additional fat I did gain (about 7 pounds) shifted around in strange ways, and for the first time ever I had a muffin top. (My unscientific analysis is that having a big belly stretches out the skin all around your abdomen, so chub can sneak into places it never hid before.) It's not just about weight gain. It's also about swelling, and hormones, and lack of sleep + stress seriously messing with your metabolism. You'll feel like a stranger in your skin for a while--even if you're one of those women who look stick-thin again right away, which let's be honest, you probably will be. But just in case you're not, don't be hard on yourself--it's a tough road getting back into shape. It's no joke, and it's hard to understand the challenge until you go through it. (I always thought, oh big deal, I'll do Pilates videos while the baby naps, run with a jogging stroller, and eat healthy all the time. HAHAHA! Let's just say the second time around I was a little more realistic.)

Anyway, Kate, I'm sure if anyone is going to manage to sail right through pregnancy enveloped in an impenetrable halo of glowy gorgeousness, it is you--so feel free to ignore the disturbing insight I have shared here. The rest of us are going to continue to discuss this topic below, though: Ladies who've been there--what surprised you about how pregnancy affected your looks?

Photo: Getty Images

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