The recent picture of a pregnant Anne Hathaway removing the cap from her newly dyed hair must have sent the no-dye during pregnancy protagonists into a melt down, as they were indeed some vocal voices who came out to condemn her actions, saying dyeing one’s hair during pregnancy could harm the baby, as there are some chemicals in the hair dye, which are detrimental to the development of a foetus. True, but how much?
Before I state my perspective on this matter, let’s go through the first trimester of the average pregnant woman. Some women’s first symptom of pregnancy is nausea, which can go on for the entire first 12 weeks, during which time she is barfing her insides out, every morning, during the day, and sometimes even at night. She is on a strict no taste diet, probably going around with a spit cup, and still worrying about how much nutrients the baby inside her is getting.
And if she is a first time mom-to-be, she is probably wondering and gaping at every new change in her body. Do you think beauty routines will rank high at those times? No, I don’t. She’s most lilely more likely to do the barest minimum, so people don’t keep asking her if she is okay, because she actually looks like death warmed over.
But by the second trimester, the nausea would have eased off, and then you can begin to enjoy your pregnancy, if there are no complications. For me, at this stage, I’m often aware of my blossoming boobs, so I take advantage of it. That is the time to do shakara, and paint all the paintables, even though my face becomes rounder and more oily. My new-found boobs are my main succour, and I let nothing stand in my way when I want to get a beauty treatment, like a pedicure, which is a luxury at this stage, when you can no longer see your feet standing, as the bump is in the way.
Well, with the issue of hair dye, there are women who like to play around with their hair colour at this time, but not as many as those who opt to retain their existing hair colour. When I checked for scientific reasons for the outcry against hair dye, I found conflicting studies on the subject matter; some mostly okayed it, but a few concluded that it was no good, and that even a small amount of the dye could enter into the body via the scalp, and find its way to the baby in the womb. However, there was a general consensus as to when, it can be used. Moderate hair colouring and highlights can be done from the second trimester.
Apart from the hair dye matter, below are some beauty practices that should not be done while pregnant, and some you can do in moderation:
1. Aromatherapy/Chemical peels: While basic facials are a great way to pamper your skin when pregnant, it is even more so, as your hormone levels change during pregnancy, and a facial could definitely come in as a soothing relief. However, not all treatments are safe for a mom-to-be. Treatments like Aromatherapy should be avoided, because essential oils are the key ingredients in the treatments, and experts recommend not using essential oils in the first trimester, as these oils could cause uterine contractions, or adversely affect the baby in early developmental stages.
For chemical peels, as the name implies, it is a no go area, as the skin is extra sensitive during pregnancy, and anything done to it easily seeps through the pores to the blood stream, which ultimately gets to the baby. So, it is best to avoid them.
Steam therapies: While massages come highly recommended for pregnant women, who are often prone to back ache and other twinges, a pregnant mom’s visit to the spa should, under no circumstance, include body wraps, which involve placing heated towels and wraps on specific areas of the body, to melt away fat. The process is not considered safe during pregnancy, because it can raise a mother’s body temperature to dangerous levels for the baby. According to experts, the core temperature of a pregnant woman should not go above 102.2ºF. I think that’s hot enough.
Another spa treatment to be avoided is the sauna, and it is purely for the same reason as avoiding the body wrap; it raises the pregnant mom’s temperature to unbearable limits, which can lead to an increased risk of birth defects, especially during the first trimester.
3. Makeup: No, don’t bother raising your eyebrows, we are in this together. Nothing can separate me from my war paint, just yet. This where moderation is called for, and the avoidance of certain chemicals is necessary. The components of most cosmetics that we use for make-up, like foundation, concealers, bronzers and powders, not to mention sprays, have access to the inner layers of the skin, close to the blood stream, and from there, these components can reach the placenta. Through this channel, both toxic and non toxic matter enter the body, blood stream, and, unavoidably, the baby
To minimise effects, it is best to avoid products promising dual functions; like concealers with acne fighting powers. What that means is simply that the chemical composition of the product is higher. It could be an excellent product, but not when you are pregnant. Make sure that it is not composed of Beta hydroxy acids, BHA, Salicylic Acid, Retinoids, etc. Try products that are more natural, organic or mineral-based.
And don’t forget about the long, lustrous nails. A nice manicure or pedicure does wonders for boosting morale during pregnancy, I tell you, but are the chemicals toxic to baby? Well, there’s good and bad news, but more good news. A standard manicure or pedicure should be just fine after the first trimester, when the risk to the developing baby is lower. In this case, it is about the inhaled toxins, but if the salon where you get your nails done is well ventilated, then there should be no problem.
While you are at it, make sure instruments are sterilized, and ask your nail technician not to cut the cuticles so you are not exposed to infection. The bad news is, doctors say to avoid acrylic nails altogether. The chemicals and adhesives may contain cyanoacrylate, which can be harmful.
Doing without some of these practices, one can still have a beautiful and, importantly, a healthy pregnancy. After all, being pregnant is not a disease.
So stay pretty, and enjoy your pregnancy.
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