The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Get the right rub
“Pregnancy massage should be gentle, and you should always ask for a licensed massage therapist with prenatal experience,” says Marie Scalogna, L.M.T., president of Mama Spa in New York, which provides in-home spa treatments. Before you book this or any treatment, get your doctor’s OK—particularly during your first trimester. More guidelines from Scalogna:
>> Don’t assume a cut-out table is best for you; despite accommodating your belly, it may strain your abdomen or lower back. Lying on your side with pillow supports may be better.
>> Unless your therapist is a pregnancy reflexology expert, avoid this type of massage right now: Stimulating certain points on your heels, ankles or inner leg is believed to cause contractions.
>> Tell your therapist if you’re especially scent-sensitive so she can avoid using pungent oils. Even if you’re not sensitive to smells, certain essential oils, such as peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus, are off-limits during pregnancy. When in doubt, go with an unscented oil.
From pedicures to facials, what’s pregnancy-friendly on the spa menu—and what isn’t
MANICURE AND PEDICURE
Safe—if you take your own instruments or have the aesthetician use a fresh set, says Victoria Koonce, spa director at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Huntington, in Pasadena, Calif. Though the chances of equipment-borne infection are low, now’s no time to risk it. Other no-nos: cuticle cutting, acrylics and phthalate-containing polishes (phthalate-free options: L’Oréal Jet Set Nail Enamel and Urban Decay polishes).
Unsafe. “Mud and seaweed wraps, hydrotherapy and any other heat-involving treatments are not advised during pregnancy,” says Karen Nordahl, M.D., a family physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the author of Fit to Deliver (Fit to Deliver Press, 2002). An over-elevated body temperature has been linked to miscarriage and certain birth defects.
Safe—if your aesthetician keeps it simple, says Marie Scalogna, L.M.T., of Mama Spa in New York. Cleansing, massaging and moisturizing are fine, but avoid anything beyond these basics (such as peels, electronic stimulation or invasive extraction).