Kat’s Maternity Skincare Picks

maternity skincareA lot of women prefer to go organic with their skincare while pregnant — but finding the best lines can be a bit difficult. (My first OB/GYN advised me to just “go to Whole Foods and pick one out.” That’s an approach too!)  I’m not a doctor, but this is a list of the skincare lines that I liked.

Whatever you do: pay particular attention to sun protection during this time period — I always found I was particularly vulnerable to the effects (freckles, sunspots) and yet you may want to avoid your regular sunscreen because of chemicals. Don’t overlook physical protection, such as wearing a brimmed hat when you go on walks to shade your face. I’d also recommend a good rash guard if you’re going to the beach or spending a lot of time at an outdoor pool (you can get them at a variety of places including J.Crew and Land’s End — I’ve even seen them at Old Navy during certain seasons. Ain’t No Mom Jeans even wrote about how sexy the rashguard+bump look can be!) Anyway, these were the brands that I used for my own pregnancy skincare routine — like I’ve said before, I’m not a doctor — and while many of these brands are organic, some of the labels advise you to talk to your doctor if you plan to use them during pregnancy, so proceed with caution.

  • Belli Skincare – I didn’t even know this brand of pregnancy-specific skincare existed until I happened to see it in the One Step Ahead catalog in my second pregnancy. I was looking for a new face wash, so I bought the Complexion Protection Duo (with a face wash and separate sunscreen with SPF 25).
  • Burt’s Bees – This line is a oldie but a goodie. I used their Blemish Stick on the very occasional acne I had; I also used their Radiance Night Cream with Royal Jelly kind of all the time (my skin is super dry during pregnancy!), as well as their . (Not pregnancy-related, really, but I’m also a HUGE fan of their Coconut Foot Creme, their Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, and their Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Treatment (only if you have very dry hair!).)
  • St. Ives – I originally started with their classic Apricot Scrub for exfoliation, but because my skin is so dry in pregnancy I wound up switching to the (harder to find) Moisturizing Olive Scrub.
  • Yes to Carrots – I like a lot of products from this line; I used their Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 whenever I knew I might go out in sunlight.
  • Finally, a note on belly creams and lotions: I’m in the camp that believes that genes are more determinant of stretchmarks. (Also, my string bikini days are largely behind me ANYWAY.) So I didn’t worry about it too much, and came out without too many stretchmarks after my first pregnancy. I did use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Body Oil after my pregnancy because my belly was weirdly itchy as it deflated. I used it in my second pregnancy as well, but only when my belly was feeling particularly dry.

Note that even among these organic lines, many of them recommend that you talk to your doctor before switching to them for use during your pregnancy.

Readers, have your doctors or friends recommended any pregnancy-safe products? Do you have any organic or homemade products that you love in general?

(Another note: You’ll notice that most of the links here are Amazon affiliate links — I’m a HUGE FAN of Amazon, particularly for busy mamas. Amazon even has a whole pregnancy-specific skincare store. If you haven’t, yet, sign up for the Amazon Mom program — you get free 2-day shipping and other special deals. I didn’t sign up until my son was about 3 months old, and I wish I’d done it before then, if only because I wasted a ton of time running around town trying to find different specific things (particularly after he was born — the right sizes of flanges for breastfeeding, an SNS system that I never used, etc., etc.) and Amazon would have had them there in a day or two. We became so addicted to the quick, free shipping that we later became Prime members. (Amazon’s sister site, Diapers.com, may even deliver things to your house the same day, at least if you’re in NYC.)

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The Pregnancy Corridor

The Pregnancy Corridor | CorporetteMomsWelcome to what I like to call “the pregnancy corridor”! If you’re already pregnant, you’ve been here since you started trying to conceive (TTC) — and you’ll likely be here until your youngest child is weaned (if you’re planning to nurse). What does this mean? It means that your body is no longer your own, at least for a little while. It also means that these are going to be trying times to interview for new jobs or otherwise “lean in.” That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t interview for new jobs — or shouldn’t lean in — I’m just warning you, you need a plan of attack. Now, before the baby arrives, you may want to sit down and write out your own career plan for the next five years or so — what skills or accolades do you want to acquire? What salary do you want? Be specific, and try to be realistic — it’ll help guide you through the next few years. (It’s also fine, IMHO, to recline during this time period — it’s a really, really trying time for most women between the hormones, sleep deprivation, childcare commitments, and general life shifts.)

On the body side of things, you may want to talk with your doctor about some of the issues below. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m told Emily Oster’s book, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong, may be a great way to help you better evaluate the information and risks regarding pregnancy — the whole premise of her book is that much of general pregnancy wisdom (from doctors and the general public alike) is based on poorly-conducted studies. (A good counterpoint: this Motherlode article from the NYT (registration may be req’d).) You’re going to make your own choices here, but I would say that if you’re of the opinion that you’re too busy to MAKE a decision, the default might be to just “avoid until I’m not pregnant/nursing/in the corridor.” (Honestly, that’s been my own non-decision decision.)

A few things that you should talk with your doctor about:

  • Vitamins. Buy your prenatals in bulk — you’ll be taking them while pregnant, if you nurse, and while you’re TTC (if you want multiple children). Your doctor may ask you to stop taking other vitamins during this time period (or at least check ingredients, such as looking at the mercury content if you’re taking omega-3 pills).
  • Medicines. Some medicines (prescription and OTC) are considered harmful to a developing fetus; in a perfect world some doctors even suggest you stop months before you’re trying to conceive so that the drugs can clear your system. One doctor even told me that I should stop taking Advil a month or two before we started trying to get pregnant.
  • Topical skin treatments. Some topical treatments such as retinoids and salicylic acid are very harmful to the developing fetus — ask your doctor whether you should make any change in your skincare system (including sun protection). I’ll share my own pregnancy skincare routine in a later post, but I’m no expert — again, talk to your doctor.
  • X-rays and lasers. If you’re not yet pregnant, go to the dentist and get your yearly dental X-ray, because you probably won’t be able to do it when you’re pregnant (and may not want to when you’re nursing either). If you’ve been getting laser hair removal (or are in the habit of getting a yearly touch-up), try to finish your appointments before you get pregnant, or at least talk with your hair removal person about whether he or she can work on you while you’re pregnant or nursing. If you may be due for a mammogram (or might want a “baseline” one), try to get it done before you start trying to get pregnant.
  • Hair dyes and chemical treatments. Talk to your doctor about this — depending on what chemicals are in the dye (or a treatment like a Brazilian keratin treatment) your doctor may suggest you steer clear while you’re TTC, pregnant, or nursing. One good solution (if you’re not yet pregnant) is to dye your hair closer to its natural color, so it grows out more naturally.
  • Foods. The list of foods some people say you shouldn’t eat while pregnant is long and depressing (and your taste aversions may take care of the rest).  Things to talk about with your doctor if you eat frequently include: high-mercury foods, raw fish and meats, coffee, alcohol, deli meats, hot dogs, raw vegetables (some, like alfalfa sprouts and broccoli, aren’t recommended at all; others may be at risk for listeria if not washed properly), foods with BPAs (e.g., canned veggies and soups), foods made in a commercial blender (e.g., peanut butter, hummus, frozen yogurt, etc.).

Personally, I’ve been in the pregnancy corridor since mid-2010, when my husband and I started to seriously think about getting pregnant — and I’m still in it! Even though I stopped nursing my first child in August 2012 (after a year), I knew we wanted to get pregnant again soon, so I didn’t change my routine too much. I did get some laser hair touchups, dental X-rays, and a baseline mammogram in that brief window before we started trying again, though — who says mamas don’t have any fun?

Readers, how long have you been in the Pregnancy Corridor? What choices have you made (health or career-wise) while in this time period? If you’re out of the pregnancy corridor — what advice do you have for those still in it?

 (Pictured: Corridor – Telephoto Zoom Effect, originally uploaded to Flickr by Natesh Ramasamy.)

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N.B. PLEASE KEEP COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!