Natural beauty in pregnancy: from bump to babe

In addition to the excitement, pregnancy can bring all sorts of beauty dilemmas that may not have cropped up before – not just for yourself but also for your newborn. Changing skin complexions, stretch marks, nappy rash, you name it! Jen Marsden provides some top natural tips to combat them.

It's never more important to keep a clean, natural beauty regime than when carrying a baby. This is because many of the usual chemical nasties have far less desirable effects, from allergies and skin irritation, affecting breast milk and at worst, causing birth defects.

Disclaimer: Skin type and effects vary depending on the individual, and you should contact your GP or a dermatologist for expert medical advice.


Pregnancy

Photo credit: Brian Fox

Go organic

Your health is also your baby's future. You know to avoid caffeine, raw fish and unpasteurised cheeses, but pregnancy is also the perfect time to switch over from the conventional to organic and natural beauty products. The French government has moved to a labelling system that states whether a product is fit for pregnant women or not after an Imperial College London report detailed hormone disruption caused by chemicals in hairspray.

Petroleum based products (petrolatum, propylene glycol, paraffin, isopropyl alcohol and mineral oil) are known to cause irritation to skin during pregnancy. Parabens, usually identified in the ingredients list with a precursor such as methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, are absorbed through the skin and have been found in breast tissue through studies at the University of Reading; while phthalates are thought to interfere with the sexual development of a foetus or baby. 

Plus, there's limited research about the effects of a cocktail of ingredients that can be absorbed into the bloodstream, which is another reason for keeping your beauty regime natural and to a minimum.

Look at the ingredients label if you are unsure and look at BigGreenSmile.com's Green Glossary for more information and also Symbol Savvy: organic certification explained to find symbols that will guarantee safer products.

Fresh food

Try to avoid processed foods as these can be laden with chemicals that preserve, flavour or colour them. Instead, go for the home-cooked option. 

Pregnancy and breastfeeding is a thirsty time –so quench that thirst by drinking as much water as your body can contain. This will always be beneficial to your skin too.

Skin routines

With hormonal changes that last the duration of your pregnancy come changes to your skin complexion.

Skin cells have a higher turnover during pregnancy so keep moisturising your skin to prevent dull skin, particularly after showering or bathing. Pure cocoa or shea butter is a particularly rich moisturiser.

Your skin may become flaky or dry – which is perfect normal. To deal with this use a gentle natural mechanical (rather than chemical) exfoliator to gently rub off dead skin. Before bed, use an unscented, night cream or facial oil. Pouring some milk and oatmeal into your bath will help soothe your skin naturally too.

If you have received a little too much of that pregnancy glow and encountered oily skin, then ensure you use a good quality organic facial cleanser in the morning or a natural face mask.

If your skin gets an unfortunate dose of spots, avoid acne products that contain cortisone or hydrocortisone. Similarly, avoid anti-ageing products that contain retinoids as these may harm your unborn baby. Seek professional guidance prior to using essential oils too.

Massage and moisturise your bump, particularly in the third trimester, as this will help reduce stretch marks. For centuries, Indians have used body products with extracts of wheat germ, cold pressed sesame, jojoba, grapefruit and walnut oils as a means to naturally prevent cellulite formation.

You may experience tired and aching feet, so utilise a foot lotion and give yourself a warm foot bath. And, when taking a relaxing bath, keep it warm rather than hot so as to not dry out your skin.

Don't overexert yourself

It sounds obvious but do allow yourself to relax. As you rush around nesting, temptation can override common sense. 

Opt for natural fabrics (cotton, cashmere, silk) and rather than stealing your partner's – choose loose maternity wear that gives your bump support without rubbing it too much. There are an increasing number of ethical options.

Avoid the lure of painting your nursery and exposing yourself to the paint's toxic fumes – and if you must, opt for eco considerate, low VOC paints.


0-3 months

Photo credit: Libertinus

As a baby grows, so will its resilience. However, keep a mindful watch on the goods that you use, and continue to follow the above pregnancy skincare guidance until you stop nursing. Consider organic bedding options and more natural washing detergents for use on your baby's clothes.

Breastfeeding

What you feed yourself is what you feed your baby, so a continued healthy diet and exercise does help.

Prior to and while you are breastfeeding you should be particularly wary of parfum and the cocktail of artificial fragrances, including artificial musk which has been found in breast milk. Nursing pads are available which are free from plastics, synthetics and super absorbents made from petrochemicals.

Baby's own moisturiser

When a baby is first born its skin contains its own marvellous nature's moisturiser called vernix, which also helps its passage through the birth canal. In the first few weeks, your baby's skin requires little else but water and vernix helps your baby's skin retain moisture. If you do choose to use anything, go for a high quality, organic olive oil.

Toilet time

When it comes to nappy changing, opt for organic, biodegradable and chlorine free baby wipes and organic cotton wool to avoid unnecessary contact with chemicals. 

It will take time to find the right nappies for your baby and you can trial your local NCT Real Nappy Library before buying, or opt for biodegradable nappies that are kinder to the environment and your baby's skin. You can buy natural nappy ointments for cases of nappy rash.


Photo credit: Robert Whitehead

3 months to little tots

By the time your baby reaches six months, you can begin to regularly use mild and baby sensitive natural lotions on your baby's skin, or give your little tot some additional fun in the tub with the treat of a bubble bath!

Protect your baby's skin from the sunshine and dress your little ones in fabrics of light shades and a sunhat - and ensure you splodge plenty of sun block on them!

As your child's playfulness comes out, take advantage of the many natural wooden toys on the market rather than plastic to reduce your child being exposed to chemicals.

With many options on offer, there's more reason than not to rear a natural baby!

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