What's "The Pregnancy Glow"?

You’re glowing! It’s probably the one compliment you’ll hear more than any other during your pregnancy. Everyone loves praising a pregnant person’s “glow,” even if they don’t quite know what they mean by the word. The famed pregnancy glow is a term for the flushed, hydrated (bordering on oily), healthy-looking skin that many women start sporting while pregnant. It’s often listed as one of the main “blessings” of pregnancy  — behind, you know, creating a brand-new baby you’ll love more than you thought possible.

Though it sounds like another old wives’ tale about pregnancy, the glow is indeed real. In decades and centuries past, people liked to say that the glow was caused by an expecting mother’s joy of being pregnant. Now, we know there’s a little more to it.

Let’s dig into what actually causes the pregnancy glow!

What’s the science behind the pregnancy glow?

The pregnancy glow may seem magical, but it’s actually caused by a few different biological processes. First, there’s the influx of pregnancy hormones. Your body releases a lot of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin, to help support your pregnancy. A side effect of these hormones? Flushed skin and increased oil production in your sebum glands. For some, the extra oil may cause acne breakouts. For others, it can lead to more hydrated — dare we say glowing — skin.

Increased blood circulation also plays a part in giving you that beautiful pregnancy glow. During pregnancy, your body produces more blood, and it works hard to circulate that blood through both your body and your baby’s. This increased blood flow can make your skin look bright and flushed.

There’s no set pregnancy milestone that signals the start of your pregnancy glow, but many start noticing it around the second trimester. This is (hopefully) when some of the less-exciting side effects of pregnancy have started easing up — looking at you, fatigue, and morning sickness. And, of course, all good things must come to an end. For pregnancy glow, this is after your delivery, when your hormones and blood flow start returning to normal.

The pregnancy glow (along with stronger nails and thicker hair) can be one of the best “side effects” of carrying a child.

Enjoy your pregnancy glow! 

Now that you know your glow is perfectly natural, it’s time to take all the pregnancy photos and document your shine! And, if things get a little too shiny, it may be time to bust out some oil-free face cleansers. Sometimes, your sebum glands can go a little overboard with the oil production, leading to oily skin and the dreaded pregnancy acne — especially if you had oily or combination skin before you got pregnant. Washing your face twice a day and switching to a cleanser made for oily skin should help!

The pregnancy glow (along with stronger nails and thicker hair) can be one of the best “side effects” of carrying a child. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to experience the mystical glow during their pregnancy. If you’re one of the lucky ones, let yourself enjoy it! 

Despite what old wives’ tales may say, your glow can’t tell you anything about the gender of your baby. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until your second-trimester ultrasound to know your baby’s sex!

Learn about our at-home Juno Birch™ Fetal Gender Test, and subscribe to the Juno newsletter to receive pregnancy tips, special offers, updates from our community, and more!

JunoDx.com and the materials and information it contains are not intended to be and do not constitute medical advice, other health advice, or diagnosis.  Do not use JunoDx.com or the materials and information published at JunoDx.com as a substitute for medical care and treatment. You should always consult with a qualified physician or healthcare provider about your specific circumstances. 

September 30, 2022 — Stephanie McClintock