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Pregnant at the Spa: Do's and Don'ts

I always tell women, don't stop living just because you're pregnant.

It's advice I find myself repeating every time a woman comes in for her first visit after she tests positive for pregnancy.

There are common questions about diet and exercise, and even more specific questions about using beauty products. There is a rule of thumb that, with the exception of medications, anything that will not alter or kill you can make you stronger during pregnancy.

That advice definitely applies to most spa services. If you did something before you were pregnant that helps you deal with the daily stress of life and work, be it going to the salon or drinking diet soda, then don't alter that pattern just because you're pregnant.

Women should always check with the doctors if they have a specific condition, but here are the basics of spas do's and don'ts if you're expecting.

Hair Coloring — Despite a lot of confusion, hair dyes are fine. If you can, use natural dyes. Hair dyes used to contain formaldehyde, but they don't anymore - so go ahead and keep your color fresh while you're carrying a baby.

Waxing — Any waxing or laser hair removal is no problem at all during pregnancy. Well-shaped brows will not disturb your fetus.

Manicures and Pedicures — Nail treatments are definitely fine. Just as you should be careful when you're not expecting, you should make sure you are patronizing a salon that properly sterilizes their equipment. Hepatitis B and nail fungus should be a concern at any time, so make sure to ask about sterilization techniques.

Hot Tubs — I'm not particularly fond of hot tubs because they can raise your body temperature. If the hot tub is 102 or 103 degrees, that's going to raise your body temperature after only a few minutes. The same goes for saunas. It can cause vasodilation, which can be bad for the unborn child. Warm baths are totally fine and can be very relaxing, but very hot environments that alter your body temperature above 98 degrees should be avoided.

Facials — Most facial treatments are totally fine during pregnancy. Women can continue with their usual facial regimen, except for Retin-A. Orally administered Retin-A should not be taken during pregnancy, although there is no clear evidence that topical Retin-A is harmful. You should speak to your doctor about topical Retin-A, but it is best to avoid it all together if possible. Benzoyl peroxide treatments are fine. Different salons usually have a range of facials, so speak to the esthetician you the products he or she will be using on your face.

Massages — Getting a massage is not only fine, I actually recommend it to almost all my patients. Many spas specialize in prenatal massage. It is a great way to relieve discomfort and treat your body. If you have the resources, a massage every two weeks can be great for the mind and body during pregnancy.

Tanning — Spray-on tans and self-tanners are totally fine. Tanning pills should be avoided, but there are plenty of great topical tanners on the market today. Tanning salons are just bad for you if you're carrying a baby or not, so pregnancy is as good a time as any to kick that habit.

Aromatherapy — Aromatherapy can be very beneficial during pregnancy if used properly. There is a lot of contradictory advice about using essential oils, and some oils such as juniper are not recommended. Jasmine, spearmint and chamomile are just a few of the scents that can offer stress release and relaxation. You should speak with your doctor, as well as an experienced aromatherapy practitioner before using any essential oils.

Body Wraps — There are just so many kinds of body wraps at different spas it is hard to comment on them all. Most of them are absolutely fine, but any treatment that involves being wrapped in a hot environment for an extended period of time should be avoided.

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time to discover the pampering environment of a well-run spa. If you can plan an entire spa vacation during pregnancy, take advantage of the great exercise classes that many facilities offer. Try SpaFinder.com to locate a spa that specializes in prenatal services.

But you do not have to go far for a little rest and relaxation. You do not have to look beyond your favorite salon for many of these services. Many exercise studios have Pilates and yoga classes specifically designed for pregnant women. Swimming is also great exercise during pregnancy, and being in the water can relieve some of the stress on the body.

Although you are preparing to care for someone else, sometimes the best way to do that is to start caring for your own health and well-being.


Dr. Manny Alvarez is the managing editor of health news at FOXNews.com, and is a regular medical contributor on the FOX News Channel. He is chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Additionally, Alvarez is Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News. Prior to this position, Alvarez was a FNC medical contributor.
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