Recently a number of emails were sent regarding weight loss and breast-feeding. It is possible to lose weight while breast feeding. Immediately after birth there is a dramatic weight loss because of the weight of the fetal-placental unit, involution of the uterus and fluid changes. Patients in the hospital however are usually disappointed that this immediate weight loss is not more! Further along fat stores can be decreased by a program of healthy eating and exercise. Weight loss should always be a gradual process and individualized based on one's health and ideal body weight. A gradual weight reduction program should not affect breast-feeding.
It is common and normal during pregnancy for increased pigmentation to develop over the face, abdomen and nipples. The pigmentation that occurs is due to higher circulating blood levels of melatonin, estrogen and progesterone. When this appears around the face it is called the "mask" of pregnancy or melasma. Melasma is also sometimes seen in women that take birth control pills. The extra estrogen from the oral contraceptives causes the skin to be more sensitive to the sun.
The term linea nigra is given to the darkened line that typically develops during pregnancy between the pubic hair and the navel. This also occurs because of the increased circulating hormone levels.
Areas already dark on the skin such as moles or nevi will darken even more. If the mole grows rapidly or rapid color changes occur notify your physician to exclude skin cancer (melanoma).
The skin changes noted above generally regress within several weeks of giving birth. Using a proper sun block while in the sun is also helpful.