Whether you're soaking solo
No, your eyes don’t deceive you. We are giving you permission to indulge in that one-time pregnancy no-no: the bath. “As long as the water temperature doesn’t get too hot and you keep your soaks to approximately 10 minutes, you can bathe until the day you deliver,” says Taaly Silberstein, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist in Tarzana, Calif.
“Let’s face it: At the end of the day, when your back is killing you, a bath is just the best thing,” says Michelle Ornstein, an aromatherapist and owner of Enessa Aromatherapy Wellness Spa in Los Angeles. Of course, to make the experience truly pampering, turning on the tap isn’t enough; you’ve got to set the mood. (See the five steps for luxurious bathing, beginning at right.)
Bathing with your baby is another sublime pleasure — but make sure that another adult is home in case you need help getting in and out of the tub. You’ll love the sweet intimacy of it, and your baby will love the sensation of floating in the water. (Just don’t let go of him!)
1 Set the mood: Dim the lights, place a few lightly scented candles around the bathroom, put on a soothing CD and find a comfy neck pillow.
2 Draw the bath. For safety’s sake, make sure the water is warm, not hot. “Climbing into steamy water during the first trimester has been known to cause birth defects such as spina bifida,” explains Silberstein. Needless to say, hot tubs are out. But warm water — anything up to your normal body temperature of 98.6° F — is safe and, of course, indulgent.
3 Add your favorite bubble bath or oil to the water. While bath oils are permissible during pregnancy, they may make the tub slippery — so use caution when getting in and out. And beware of bath salts. “I don’t recommend anything with Dead Sea salts,” says Ornstein. “They have such a high mineral content that they can actually heat up the water and increase your heart rate.”
4 Massage your feet and ankles. (Or get someone else to do it!) To exfoliate your skin, use a granulated scrub.
5 Apply a rich body lotion after you towel off.
Bathing with baby
Bringing your baby into the tub with you can be a wonderful bonding experience. And once they get used to it, babies love to be cradled in the bath. An important caveat, however: Do not immerse your newborn in water until the umbilical-cord area is completely healed. (In fact, your baby really only needs a sponge bath every few days for the first six weeks.) Another tip: When you’re ready to bathe together, choose a time when you’re relaxed and unrushed so you can both enjoy it.
For your own happy (and safe) mommy-baby bath, follow these simple steps:
1 Place soap, a washcloth and towels on the edge of the tub or within easy reach. Draw the bath, making sure that the water is warm, not hot.
2 Use only sensitivity-tested, baby-specific products in the water and on your baby. “A baby’s skin is very effective at absorbing whatever is placed on it,” says Lawrence Frank Eichenfield, M.D., chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego.
3 Get in the tub with your baby or have someone hand him to you after you’re in. Cradle him in your arms while you wash and play with him. Sing and talk to him and make some faces.
4 Rinse him well (a crucial step), hand him out of the tub to your partner or another adult, towel yourself off and dry your baby. Lay your baby down on the bed or changing table and apply a light, moisturizing massage oil to his body.
5 Give him a simple, soothing massage. Warm up your hands with a cream, gel or oil. Use slow, gentle strokes as you work it into your baby’s skin. With any luck, your bundle of joy will be snoozing before you’re done.