In fiction it's as common as dirt to hear "you're glowing" as a response to news that someone is pregnant or an indication of it without it being said.

This doesn't seem to be limited to just reactions upon hearing the news. It seems fairly common for people to believe that pregnant women exhibit some visual cues about their pregnancy, sometimes before the woman even knows she's pregnant.

Explanations include things such as hormonal changes to skin, increased blood flow, or even just general happiness.

Is there any evidence that this is true or is it just one of those clichés (or compliments) which has gone into common usage without any basis to it?

Are there actual visual cues related to coloration that are noticeable even before the woman is showing more obvious signs?

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    It's probably worth double-checking we all have a common understanding of the term. We aren't talking about literal incandescence. Dictionary.com defines it as "to exhibit a healthy, warm, ruddy color".
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 24, 2014 at 2:24
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    I am sincerely dumbstruck by this question... are you really 'sceptical' about the fact that when somebody is excited that they are 'blushing'? Jun 24, 2014 at 4:23
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    Here is a reference that claims the "glow" is a result of the hormone progesterone and increased blood flow: babycentre.co.uk/a222/skin-changes-during-pregnancy#section5
    – Twinkles
    Jun 24, 2014 at 12:19
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    @DavidMulder I don't interpret it to mean that the person who found out that someone else is pregnant "glows". Rather, the person who is pregnant is the one who supposedly glows. And this is a fairly common trope that isn't limited to only the times the news is shared. I agree the question could use some rephrasing to clarify. I'll look for some references to possibly add in, and possibly make an edit.
    – Beofett
    Jun 25, 2014 at 14:36
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    To be clear: the claim that pregnant women have a better skin tone is a very common claim where I come from. It has nothing to do with blushing.
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 26, 2014 at 8:10

1 Answer 1


Pregnancy can cause skin to darken in the face, nipples, and even in a line from the belly button to the pubic region. This darkening can sometimes be referred to as a "glow", similar to someone with a tan might be considered to glow.

In the second trimester (13-28 weeks) a woman begins to look noticeably pregnant and the enlarged uterus is easy to feel. The nipples get bigger and darker, skin may darken, and some women may feel flushed and warm.

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/pregnancy https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NY209Le027I

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