by Maggie Mahboubian, Founder of Lalun Naturals and Waldorf Mother of two
Pregnancy is a time of rapid change for a woman’s body so that a newly formed embryo can implant, grow and be nourished. These changes are not only visible with a growing belly but in other ways as well. Hair grows thicker (actually fewer hairs fall out), nails get harder and the skin takes on that famous “glow”.
Much of this has to do with the doubling of blood volume which expands capillaries close to the surface of the skin as oxygen carrying blood surges through the body (lung capacity is expanded as well). It might even appear as though one has rosacea, a disease that causes blood vessels to expand, but the glow of pregnancy reverses soon after the baby is born. However, recommendations for rosacea also benefit a pregnant woman’s skin such as avoiding temperature extremes, sun and wind exposure, hot showers/baths, products that can scratch or irritate the skin, alcohol, spicy foods and stress. Basically, pregnant skin is SENSITIVE skin and should be treated as such.
In addition, hormonal fluctuations can cause oily break outs, acne and rashes. While one would be inclined to reach for oil controlling products, it’s important to note that anything containing salicylic acid, retinoids, soy and most acne lotions should be avoided during pregnancy, and could even aggravate the condition if used. It’s best to fight like with like and embrace the use of cold pressed oils to cleanse and condition the skin. Contrary to common belief, plant based oils do not make the skin oilier but rather help dissolve and remove dirt and bacteria that cause breakouts without disrupting sebum balance. Scrubs and excessive washing will only signal the body to compensate by creating more oil leading to even more breakouts and flare ups. Cleansing with oils helps stop that cycle. Breakouts can be treated topically by applying a few dabs of raw honey or propolis tincture. Raw honey is anti-microbial, healing and a potent humectant, plus it tastes good! Another pregnancy safe acne remedy is to dab on raw apple cider vinegar. The acids help adjust skin pH levels so that bad bacteria cannot flourish. In addition, the probiotics help feed the healthy bacterial colonies that inhabit the surface of the skin. A 10% solution of raw apple cider vinegar can be placed in a spray bottle and used throughout the day as a refreshing toner.
The skin absorbs about 60% of that which is applied topically. With that in mind, many skincare products on the market contain active ingredients, preservatives, synthetics, chemicals and extracts should be avoided since they could cross the dermal barrier, enter the blood stream and affect the mother’s metabolism and possibly interfere with the growth of the developing baby. Everything from body washes to lotions, cleansers, toners, moisturizers, treatments, serums, and facials should be considered. If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body!
Pregnancy is a time for women to simplify their routine. Cleanse the face with a cold pressed plant oil. Wash the body with an unscented castille soap. Moisturize face and body with organic virgin coconut oil. Rub the belly with pure cocoa butter. Mash overripe fruits and mix with honey for an enzyme rich facial. Wash hair weekly to reduce exposure to shampoos and conditioners. Avoid nail salons and mani/pedi products; scrub cuticles with salt instead. Consider avoiding deodorants, even natural ones. Dissolve a 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a 10% vinegar solution and spray that on. Eschew depilatories and shaving of legs/underarms since they can break the skin and introduce bacteria. Avoid synthetic perfumes and even most essential oils and incense. Drink plenty of water to help the body metabolize and flush out that which is not beneficial. These guidelines should continue during breastfeeding as well.
While pregnant it’s best to reduce the overall load the body has to metabolize and focus on the things that can help keep one healthy and which do not interfere with the developing baby. It’s a tall order, but can be accomplished for a very worthy cause!
photo credit: www.mahu.co.nz