The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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The MYTH } Applying the right
product can prevent stretch marks
The Reality } Here’s the entire list of things that can prevent stretch marks: enviable genes. Not that we’re discouraging the use of stretch-mark creams—they tend to be great moisturizers and belly-itch relievers. “But if you’re genetically predisposed to get stretch marks, there’s no scientific data suggesting that anything you put on your skin will change that outcome,” says Ashinoff.
The only other factor that might help prevent the stripes in question? “Avoiding excessive weight gain so that your abdominal wall doesn’t stretch as much,” says OB-GYN Connie L. Agnew, M.D. “Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done—and it’s still no guarantee against stretch marks.”
The MYTH } You shouldn’t take baths during pregnancy
The Reality } Hyperthermia—an unusually high body temperature—can be caused by prolonged exposure to heat and has been associated with miscarriage and certain birth defects. So the ban on bathing during pregnancy didn’t come out of left field. But avoiding hyperthermia and other pregnancy-related bath dangers is easy, says OB-GYN Connie L. Agnew, M.D.
In fact, she recommends that pregnant women spend more time in the tub. “A warm bath is great at easing the aching backs and joints—not to mention the stress—that pregnant women commonly experience,” she says. Her precautions:
> If the water makes you perspire, it’s too hot to soak in. Anything cooler is fine.
> Don’t use thick bath oils—they can make the tub dangerously slippery. Also avoid detergent-heavy bubble baths, as they can parch your already sensitive—and probably itchy—skin. The happy medium: a gentle,
moisturizing foaming bath.
> Once your belly starts to get big and unwieldy and your center of gravity shifts, have something or someone to grab onto when you exit the tub.
The MYTH } Hair color is off-limits until delivery
The Reality } Most OBs will tell you that highlights, which are painted on and unlikely to be absorbed into your scalp, are perfectly safe. And many doctors, including Connie L. Agnew, M.D., director of maternal-fetal medicine at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., say that temporary, semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes are safe as well. “The concerns were related to older, harsher and now defunct colorants,” Agnew says. Still, without concrete proof that all hair-color products are 100-percent safe, conservative doctors tell expectant moms to avoid anything but highlights.