Pregnancy is the perfect time to relax and unwind, and many expectant moms take advantage of this special point in their lives to give themselves luxurious pampering treats. But while the temptation may be to indulge yourself as much as possible with massages, facials and other spa treatments, make sure you only go for ones that are particularly recommended for pregnant women.
Your skin may be a lot more sensitive when pregnant, and you may be more sensitive to pain as well. Having your legs waxed, for example, may sound like a great idea – but turn out to be excruciatingly painful, even though it’s been relatively painless the last 10 times you’ve had it done.
The vast majority of pregnant women suffer from pregnancy-related physical complaints, such as backache, muscle tension, bloating and even foot cramps. While there are numerous medical spa treatments out there which can relieve such problems, some are not recommended for moms-to-be, and can even be downright dangerous to the unborn child.
If you feel like you could benefit from a spot of pregnancy pampering, don’t leave your health, and that of your baby’s, to chance. While the vast majority of medical spas are aware of what’s safe for expectant mothers, not all are. Remember, when it comes down to brass tacks, the responsibility for playing it safe is in your hands.
Steer Straight Ahead
Here is a list of treatments suitable for pregnant women:
* Facials. Facials that are not too invasive or don’t use harsh chemicals or peels are considered safe. Try an Elemis Spa facial or or one from your favorite skincare specialist, such as Decleor or Clarins. Products that are natural and organic without any strong chemicals are the best if you’re pregnant.
* Massages. Most massages are good for pregnancy, although some women may find it too uncomfortable to lie on their back. See if you can find a med spa that has a special massage table that has a bump cut out to fit your own bump! Be aware, however, that some massage oils are not recommended for use during pregnancy, including juniper, clary sage and even, surprisingly, peppermint.
* Hair removal involving waxing. You might find this more painful than normal as most women have an increased sensitivity to pain when pregnant (see below). But leg waxing, underarm waxing and even getting rid of that bristly bikini line is considered fine during pregnancy. You wouldn’t want your obstetrician to see you with hairy legs, would you? And try doing it yourself in your eighth month…
* Pedicure or manicure. A basic mani or pedi is fine. Some people, however, believe that having artificial nails or extensions can be dangerous to the unborn child because of the chemicals used.
* Reflexology. This form of foot massage can be of great relief to some women, but it’s important to let your reflexologist know you’re pregnant. Rule of thumb is not to have treatments during the first trimester, or if you have placenta previa (low-lying placenta) or hydroaminos, or an excess of amniotic fluid after 32 weeks’ gestation. Also not good for women at a risk of deep-vein thrombosis or pre-eclampsia, or those who have gone into pre-term labor.
* Acupuncture. This ancient needle art is widely used to treat morning sickness and make expectant mothers feel more comfortable overall. It is considered safe throughout the three trimesters but you should let your acupuncturist know you are pregnant nonetheless. Some acupuncturists like to wait past the first six weeks.
Here are treatments NOT suitable for pregnant women:
* Hair removal involving bleaches or other kinds of hair removing cream. Not recommended as the chemicals can be absorbed into your body.
* Electrolysis. While most practitioners agree it’s safe to have this hair removal procedure carried out on your face during pregnancy, avoid having it done on your body – and especially the nipple area during the last few weeks! Remember, also, that you may have excess hair growth during pregnancy that will go away once the baby is born.
* Chemical peels and dermabrasion. It’s assumed that the strong chemicals used can enter your bloodstream, and cause harm to the unborn child.
* Tooth whitening/permanent make-up application. Nobody knows whether these are completely safe or not as not enough research has been carried out, so it’s best to avoid them.
* Saunas, steam rooms and very hot Jacuzzis. Stay away from the heat when you’re pregnant – these types of spa treatments may sound enticing but they’re thought to be potentially harmful to your unborn child, as they can raise your body temperature to dangerously high levels. Ditto for hot mud or seaweed wraps etc.
* Treatments involving any type of injections, such as dermal fillers etc. This are dangerous as there is a chance the substance can actually reach – and harm – the fetus.
* Laser treatments. Stay away from lasers while pregnant – just in case. Most spas that offer laser therapy of any kind do not accept pregnant women anyway.
* Tanning beds. Apart fro the risk of getting overheated; a melanoma can spread to the placenta, and thus affect your unborn child.
* Tattooing. As your skin will change during your pregnancy, once you’ve delivered you might not recognize the tattoo you got while pregnant! Also, the risk of unsterilized needles makes this a no-no.
* Hair dyes or chemical straightening techniques etc. Best to wait until you’ve given birth.
* Keep in mind that your skin may be a lot more sensitive when pregnant, and you may be more sensitive to pain as well. Having your legs waxed, for example, may sound like a great idea – but turn out to be excruciatingly painful, even though it’s been relatively painless the last 10 times you’ve had it done.
* Many spas choose to play it safe when catering to pregnant women. Some suggest that women don’t have treatments until they are at least in their 12th week of pregnancy, and others restrict treatments to women who are more than 32 weeks’ pregnant. If you need a bit of pampering in your first trimester, opt for a simple manicure or facial and have the massage later.
* If it’s not obvious you’re pregnant, tell your practitioner, instructor or beauty therapist. It’s better that they may the decision about what is safe for you, as they know everything that is involved within a specific treatment or procedure.
Being pregnant is a fantastic time to concentrate on yourself and your changing body. It’s also a great time to indulge in pampering treatments, especially as you won’t have time to take advantage of a quiet, peaceful spa once little Junior makes his or her entrance into the world, kicking and screaming his or her little head off. So enjoy it while you can – but play it safe!
by S Matthews