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All About Pregnancy

Beauty Treatments During Pregnancy: What’s Safe, What’s Not

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Pregnancy can be a perfect time to indulge in a bit of luxurious pampering, whether you want to relieve your aching back or just relax. While most treatments are safe during pregnancy, there are some precautions you need to take now that you’re primping for two.

Facials

Facials can be a welcome way to unclog pores, clear up blemishes, or just give your skin a lift. Just remember that your skin can be especially sensitive during pregnancy, and some products can cause itching or rashes. It’s always a good idea to let the aesthetician know you’re pregnant (if it’s not obvious, of course).

Products containing glycolic, salicylic, or azelaic acids are safe to use during pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), but those containing retinoids aren’t—so skip them until the baby’s born.

Hair Removal

There’s no real information that shows electrolysis is safe for unborn babies. That’s why many practitioners tell their patients to skip this form of hair removal. If your provider gives you the go-ahead, avoid galvanic electrolysis, which sends a tiny current through your body, and opt for thermolysis (also known as radio waves) instead. Don’t use electrolysis to remove the hair around your nipples, belly, or bikini area.

Most doctors don’t recommend laser hair removal, either, because of the lack of definitive studies on its safety.

Waxing is considered safe, but your skin is extra sensitive so it could get irritated more than usual. To avoid the sting and a risk of infection, apply an antiseptic lotion before and after waxing.

Saunas, Steam Rooms, and Hot Tubs

You don’t want to raise your body temperature for more than 10 minutes, which is why it’s best to avoid any type of spa treatment that will cause you to overheat, from saunas and steam rooms to hot tubs and heated body wraps. Saunas and hot tubs have been linked to neural tube defects and may increase the risk of other birth defects. If you do indulge, make sure you stay in whirlpool or sauna for less than 10 minutes—and check with your healthcare provider before doing so.

Massages

Getting a massage can be the perfect way to soothe your pregnant body’s aches and pains. If possible, go to someone who specializes in prenatal massage. If not, make sure you’re in a pregnancy-friendly position rather than lying flat on your back: on your side, propped up by pillows, or on a table with an area cut out for your belly. Let your massage therapist know the amount of pressure that feels comfortable, and make sure the masseuse avoids acupressure points that could trigger contractions.

Many massage oils are perfectly safe during pregnancy, including lavender, chamomile, eucalyptus, orange, tea tree, neroli, and ylang ylang. Other oils may potentially prompt contractions and should be avoided. These are rosemary, tarragon, pennyroyal, basil, aniseed, and sage.

Aromatherapy Aromatherapy can be pleasant if you're not overly sensitive to the smell. Some aromas trigger nausea or vomiting, so let your nose be the guide. Essential oils that have been tested and found to be safe in pregnancy include rose, eucalyptus, lemon, mandarin, frankincense, sandalwood, and lavender.

Tanning Beds

Most practitioners take a dim view of tanning beds for moms-to-be. Not only can you overheat and put your baby at risk, but you increase your risk of developing skin cancer. There’s also a chance you could develop dark patches around your face and body—also known as melasma or the mask of pregnancy—or make them worse if you already have them. If you want to get a glow on, try a self-tanner (with your doctor’s okay).