In my first trimester, my face and back broke out into a hundred pimples, my hair became lank and oily and–throwing up all the time–I was pale and tired. Everyone noticed and seemed to tell me with pleasure: “Oh, you’re having a boy. You’re so ugly!” You don’t tell a tired, hungry, hormonal woman that she’s ugly, people!
So, as soon as the first trimester was over, I went off to my dermatologist who told me that a lot of procedures and topical treatments are actually safe after the first trimester. But, to be safe, she advised me to:
- Stay away from anything with retinol and hydroquinone, which can cause birth defects when consumed in large doses. The word is “consume,” meaning you’ll have to drink the stuff. These aren’t really harmful when applied on the skin–the skin is a barrier–but if you put it on every day, well, the skin just might absorb a good amount so, to be safe, just avoid it.
- Another thing I was told to avoid is whitening products. You’ll be tempted to use these because hormones will darken skin. Don’t worry–skin will return to their regular color after pregnancy.
- The skin may be more sensitive when pregnant–all those hormones! So take care of your skin with gentle products. You’ll just have to try and test everything. For example, a friend of mine got really itchy with Palmer’s Cocoa Butter while my skin loved it. She had a better time with Indigo Baby’s Stretch Mark Oil but I got allergic to that one.
I also am very lucky to have a husband (hi, Vince!) who encouraged me to look good. Pregnant women (and mommies, too) know very well that beauty is the last thing on our minds because all we want to do is sleep! So we need to be prodded by our partners to take a shower, run a brush through our hair, apply the stretch mark lotion and buy nice new clothes. With an encouraging hubby and fabulous gorgeous friends who helped me by giving me beauty products and accompanying me to salons, getting pretty soon became easy!
However, I noticed–to my puzzlement and annoyance–that people always said, “You look so nice… for a pregnant woman.” And when I ask, “Why do you say it like it’s a strange thing?”, I always get this reply: “Well, pregnant women and mommies never really look good.”
To my fellow preggies and mommies, this should upset you! Are they saying that we are ugly??? Is that why when husbands cheat on their wives, everyone’s so understanding and they put the blame squarely on our shoulders because we’re moms and are ugly?
I have two reasons why I want to be as pretty as can be, especially now that I’m a mommy:
- I want people to know that marriage and motherhood are fantastic! But I won’t be able to show them that if I look horrible.
- My mother was the most beautiful thing that walked this planet. If you knew her, “vain” and “shallow” are the last words to describe her because all she cared about was serving God. But she made sure she took care of herself because, as she said, “God gave me this body and it is His temple. He lives in me.” So that’s the example I follow, folks!
- Let a dermatologist care for your skin. You’ll usually feel better about the stuff you use on your hair and skin if a good doctor gave you a go signal.Ask your OBG, too. My OBG is very conservative–she doesn’t like it whenever I beg to have my hair colored, for example. But she allowed me to have manicures and foot spas (although she cautioned me to make sure the therapist doesn’t massage my feet–pressing on the heels and ankles may trigger labor.)
- Waxing is perfectly safe. And when one of your preggy symptoms is extra hair in alarming places, get thee to a waxing salon! You do not want people staring at your mustache!
- Some women are lucky to have all that lush hair growth on just their head. If pregnancy makes your hair oily and lifeless like mine, a regular trim and a good shampoo for oily hair will do wonders.
- Apply those lotions! Pregnancy can make your face and scalp oily and the rest of you extra dry. To prevent stretch marks and cracked skin, diligently apply those deliciously rich creams and oils!
- Take your prenatal vitamins and eat healthy food. Yup, at the end of the day, it all boils down to your nutrition! My nails have never been stronger, for example. And my hair grows two inches a month.