Just in time for a new generation of arrivals: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” 4th edition. This cover-to-cover revision of America’s pregnancy bible is bigger, better, and more invaluable than ever, giving moms- (and dads!)-to-be information they can count on and advice that works — all shared with empathy, humor and a friendlier-than-ever voice. Here's an excerpt:
Your pampered pregnancy
Talk about extreme makeovers. Pregnancy is a radical full-body transformation that may have you feeling your most beautiful (you glow, girl!), your least attractive (those zits! those chin hairs!), or both (in the same day).
But it’s also a time when your usual beauty regimen might need a makeover, too. Before you reach into your medicine cabinet for the acne cream you’ve been using since junior high or head to your favorite spa for a bikini wax and a facial, you’ll need to know what’s a beauty do — and what’s a beauty don’t — when you’re expecting. Here’s the lowdown from tip (highlights) to toes (pedicure) on how you can pamper your pregnant self beautifully — and safely.
When you’re expecting, your hair can take a turn for the better (when lackluster hair suddenly sports a brilliant shine) or for the worse (when once-bouncy hair goes limp). One thing’s for sure: Thanks to hormones, you’ll have more of it than ever before (and sadly, not just on your head).
Here’s the heads-up on hair treatments:
Coloring. Here’s the root of the problem when it comes to hiding your roots during pregnancy. Even though no evidence suggests the small amount of chemicals absorbed through the skin during hair coloring is harmful when you’re expecting, some experts still advise waiting out the first trimester before heading back to the salon for retouching. Others maintain that it’s safe to dye throughout pregnancy.
Check with your practitioner — you’ll likely get the green light on color. If you’re uncomfortable with a full dye job, consider highlights instead of single-process color. This way the chemicals don’t touch your scalp at all, plus highlights tend to last longer than all-over color, enabling you to revisit the salon fewer times during your pregnancy.
You can also ask your colorist about less harsh processing (an ammonia-free base or an all-vegetable dye, for instance). Just keep in mind that hormonal changes can make your hair react strangely — so you might not get what you expect, even from your regular formula. Before you do your whole head, try a test strand so you don’t wind up with punk purple instead of that ravishing red you were hoping for.
Straightening treatments or relaxers. Thinking about a straightening treatment to calm those curls? Though there’s no evidence that hair relaxers are dangerous during pregnancy (the amount of chemicals that enter the body through the scalp is probably minimal), there’s no proof they’re completely safe, either. So check with your practitioner; you may hear that it’s safest to let your hair do what comes naturally, especially during the first trimester.
If you do decide to go straight, keep in mind that there’s a possibility that your hormone-infused locks may respond oddly to the chemicals (you might end up with a helmet of frizz instead of ramrod-straight tresses). Plus, your hair will grow faster during pregnancy, making those curls reappear at your roots sooner than you’d like. Thermal reconditioning processes that involve different — and often gentler — chemicals to tame your frizz may be a safer option (again, ask first). Or just buy a flat iron of your own, and coax your hair into smooth submission.
Permanents or body waves. So your hair’s not as full as your figure’s becoming? Ordinarily, a permanent or a body wave might be the answer for hair that’s limping, but it probably isn’t during pregnancy. Not because it isn’t safe (it probably is, though check with your practitioner), but because hair responds unpredictably under the influence of pregnancy hormones. A permanent might not take at all — or might result in frizz instead of waves.
Hair removal and lightening treatments. If pregnancy has you looking like a resident of the planet of the apes, stay calm — this hairy situation is only temporary. Your armpits, bikini line, upper lip, even your belly may be fuzzier than usual due to all those raging hormones. But think twice and check with your practitioner before you turn to lasers, electrolysis, depilatories (and perhaps bleaching). No reliable studies have been done to determine for sure whether these popular hair-removal and lightening treatments are completely safe, but it’s probably best to skip them until after you give birth (though some practitioners give the go-ahead after the first trimester). Don’t worry about any electrolysis or laser treatments you’ve already had, because any risk is purely theoretical.
Shaving, plucking, and waxing. Unwanted hair can appear almost anywhere when you’re expecting. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can pluck, shave, and wax it away safely when you’re expecting. even bikini waxing (including full-on Brazilian) is fine, but proceed with caution — pregnant skin can be extra-sensitive and easily irritated. if you’re heading to the salon, let the esthetician know that you’re expecting so she can be extra-gentle.
Your pregnancy may not be showing in your belly yet, but it’s almost certainly showing on your face. Here’s the good, bad, and the ugly about face care when you’re expecting.
Facials. Face facts: Not every mom-to-be is blessed with that expectant radiance you’ve always read about. If your glow decides not to show, a facial might be just the ticket, working wonders when it comes to clearing pores clogged by extra oil (thanks to extra hormones). Most facials are absolutely safe during pregnancy, though some abrasive treatments (like microdermabrasion or glycolic peels) may do more harm than good, as they might be especially irritating to skin made supersensitive by pregnancy hormones. Facials that use an electrical microcurrent are off limits during pregnancy. Discuss with the esthetician which preparations might be most soothing and least likely to provoke a reaction. If you’re unsure about a particular treatment’s safety, check with your practitioner before signing up.
Antiwrinkle treatments. A wrinkly baby is cute; a wrinkly mommy, not so much. But before you stop by your dermatologist’s office to treat those fine lines (or fill those lips), consider this: The safety of injectable fillers (such as collagen, Restylane, or Juvederm) during pregnancy hasn’t been established through studies yet.
The same goes for Botox, which means you’re better off staying unfilled (and uninjected) for now. As for antiwrinkle creams, it’s best to read the fine print (and check with your practitioner). You’ll likely be advised to bid a temporary farewell to products that contain vitamin A (in any of its many retinoid forms), vitamin K, or BHA (beta-hydroxy acid or salicylic acid). Check with your practitioner about other ingredients you’re unsure about, too. Most practitioners will green-light products containing AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) or fruit acids, but get the all-clear first. On the bright side, you may find that normal pregnancy fluid retention plumps up your face nicely, leaving your wrinkles less noticeable without the help of cosmetic procedures.
Acne treatments. Got more pimples than a high school marching band? You can blame pregnancy hormones for that. But before you march to the medicine cabinet for your usual zit zappers, check them out with your practitioner. Accutane (which causes serious birth defects) is definitely off-limits. So is Retin-A (ask your practitioner and dermatologist about over-the-counter products that contain retinol).
Laser treatments and chemical peels for acne should also probably wait until after the baby is born. Two common topical acne medications, beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and salicylic acid, have not been studied in pregnant women and may be absorbed through the skin. Ask your practitioner about the safety of products that contain these medications and those that contain benzoyl peroxide, another ingredient that’s often not green-lighted. Glycolic acid and exfoliating scrubs, as well as azelaic and topical antibiotics like erythromycin, are probably safe to use (check first), though watch out for irritation.
You can also try to tame eruptions naturally by drinking plenty of water, eating well, and keeping your face clean. And no popping or picking.
You’ve got plenty to smile about now that you’re expecting, but will your teeth be up to the task? Cosmetic dentistry’s popular, but not always pregnancy approved.
Whitening products. Eager to flash your pearly whites? While there are no proven risks to tooth whitening during pregnancy, it’s a procedure that probably falls into the better-safe-than-sorry category (so you’ll be wise to wait a few months to debut that new million-dollar smile). Be sure to keep your teeth clean and well flossed, though. Your pregnancy-sensitive gums will thank you for the attention.
Veneers. Here’s one more for the better-safe-than-sorry side, even though there are no proven risks to adding veneers to your teeth during pregnancy. There’s another reason why you might consider waiting until you’re postpartum before you veneer your teeth: Your gums might be extra-sensitive when you’ve got a baby on board, making any dental procedure — including veneers and whitening — more uncomfortable than usual.
Your body definitely pays for the privilege of pregnancy — in ways you probably never imagined. So more than any body, it deserves some pampering. Here’s how to give it what it needs — safely.
Massage. Aching for some relief from that nagging backache — or from that nagging anxiety that’s keeping you up at night? There’s nothing like a massage to rub away the aches and pains of pregnancy, as well as the stress and strain. But though a massage may be just what the feel-good doctor ordered, you’ll need to follow some guidelines to ensure your pregnancy massages are not only relaxing but also safe:
- Get rubbed by the right hands. Make sure your massage therapist is licensed and well versed in the dos and don’ts of prenatal massage.
- Wait for your rub. Avoid massage during the first three months of pregnancy because it may trigger dizziness and add to morning sickness early on. But don’t worry if you’ve already had a massage during your first trimester. There’s no danger, just the potential for being uncomfortable.
- Relax in the right position. It’s best to avoid spending a lot of time on your back after the fourth month, so ask your massage therapist to use a table that’s equipped with a cutout for your belly, special pillows designed for pregnancy use, or a cushioned foam padding that conforms to your body, or to position you on your side.
- Try some nonscents. Ask for an unscented lotion or oil, not only because your pregnancy-sharpened sniffer might be offended by strong fragrances, but also because some aromatherapy oils can stimulate contractions; see below.
- Rub the right spots (and stay away from the wrong ones). Direct pressure on the area between the anklebone and heel can trigger contractions, so be sure your therapist stays away from there (another good reason to choose a massage therapist with prenatal training). He or she should also probably stay away from the abdomen area for comfort’s sake. And if your therapist is working too deeply or if the massage is too intense, speak up. This is about you feeling good, after all.
Aromatherapy. When it comes to scents during pregnancy, it’s good to use some common sense. Because the effects of many plant oils in pregnancy are unknown and some may be harmful, approach any kind of aromatherapy with caution.
The following essential oils are considered safe for prenatal massage, though experts recommend that the oils be mixed at a concentration that’s half the standard usage: rose, lavender, chamomile, jasmine, tangerine, neroli, and ylang-ylang. Pregnant women should particularly avoid the following oils because some of them can trigger uterine contractions: basil, juniper, rosemary, sage, peppermint, pennyroyal, oregano, and thyme. (Midwives often use these oils during labor precisely because they trigger contractions.)
If you’ve had an aromatherapy massage with these oils (or used them in home baths or treatments), don’t worry. The absorption of the oil is very low, especially because the skin on your back is pretty thick. Just steer clear of them in future treatments. Scented lotions or beauty products sold at bath and beauty shops (like peppermint foot lotion, for instance) are fine since the scents aren’t concentrated.
Excerpted from "What to Expect When You're Expecting" by Heidi Murkoff. Copyright 2008 Heidi Murkoff. Reprinted with permission of Workman Publishing. All rights reserved.