The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Pregnancy brain is widely acknowledged to render otherwise brilliant minds incapable of recalling where the car keys are, when the staff meeting is or how, exactly, to do single-digit addition. Another symptom is a sudden susceptibility to old wives’ tales. Here’s a classic: Any pregnant woman who looks good must be having a boy because girls rob their mothers of beauty. (Though we hate to dignify such absurdity with a response, consider the legions of Fit Pregnancy cover models who’ve given birth to girls.) To keep you from falling prey to other pregnancy beauty myths, we’ve compiled and refuted the top five. Read on, then let the truth set you free … to highlight your hair, take baths and more.
The MYTH } You’re sure to have
40 weeks of a gorgeous glow
THE Reality } First, let us clarify: The glow itself is far from mythic. “Increased blood volume can give you rosy cheeks, slight swollenness can soften your features, and an abundance of estrogen can lengthen your hair’s growth phase so you don’t shed as quickly,” explains Robin Ashinoff, M.D., head of cosmetic dermatology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. “The fact that you’re probably happier than usual doesn’t hurt, either,” she adds.
But the same hormone surge that gives one woman a full, glossy mane may give someone else morning sickness and an attendant queasy look. The good news is that the glow is easy to fake. New York makeup artist Barbara Fazio suggests an all-over dusting of bronzer or a dot of rosy blush blended into the apples of your cheeks, plus a hint of shimmering shadow applied to the inner corners of your eyes.
The MYTH } You have to grin and bear
breakouts for the next nine months
The Reality } While certain acne medications are unsafe for pregnant women (Accutane causes birth defects, as may its vitamin A-derived cohorts Retin-A and Renova), other remedies are fine, says New York dermatologist Arielle Kauvar, M.D. “Regular use of an extremely gentle facial scrub can help with blackheads and whiteheads,” she says, “as can pore strips.” Doctors may sanction other treatments on a case-by-case basis, but with caution.
“Besides what we know about Accutane-associated birth defects, there’s not much information on the safety of acne treatments during pregnancy,” says Beth Conover, M.S., an Omaha, Neb., genetics counselor and nurse practitioner who is a board member of the Organization of Teratology Information Services. “And while we believe that the sparing application of certain low-dose, low-absorption acne preparations is OK for pregnant women, there’s no way to say that it’s 100 percent risk-free.” The bottom line: If you’ve got mild, occasional acne, wait it out. But if the breakouts reach an uncomfortable level, ask your doctor about the supervised use of low-risk topical treatments (salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or erythromycin, to name a few).