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Summertime Luxuries… But I’m Pregnant

Originally published in May of 2011

It’s that time of year.  The sun is out, the temperature is off of the charts, and for many women, summertime is synonymous with beach or lake vacations.

Let’s address the following hot topics: 

  • Hair removal
  • Tanning
  • Hot tubs
  • Booze

Do you want to get rid of unsightly hair growth during pregnancy?

Fortunately, mechanical hair removal with shaving, waxing, tweezing, or threading is considered safe.  In fact, laser and electrolysis are also considered safe, but some hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) may result.  

Chemical removal, with products such as Nair, is overall safe.  The chemicals are not absorbed.  However, many women, pregnant or not, have an irritating reaction to these products.  I would recommend testing a “not so sensitive” area of your body first.  Use caution in your “private” areas, especially if you are far enough along to not be able to see your bottom.  You do not want to leave the chemical in place too long as it can lead to serious burning. 

Can I get golden bronzed the easy way with self-tanning?

Most self tanners (ie Mystic Tan) use dihydroxyacetone (DHA).  This chemical, when sprayed onto the skin, give the appearance of a tan.  It has been used for over 50 years and is considered safe, as it does not penetrate the skin.  Make sure you do this in a well ventilated area. 

How about sun exposure? 

For those of you who like to tan the traditional way, take extra precaution with sun exposure.  Pregnant women are at higher risk of hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), leading to sun spots. 

When in the sun, make sure to stay well hydrated and get out of the sun if you become uncomfortable. 

Can I get in the hot tub?

This topic is not as clear.  Some studies show a potential increased risk of neural tube defects in women who had prolonged hot tub exposure early in pregnancy.  That being said, the neural tube is formed by 6 weeks gestational age and many women are not even aware they are pregnant at that time.  I usually recommend that once out of the first trimester, limit hot tube use to 10-15 minutes to be on the safe side.  Again, stay well hydrated.

How about alcoholic beverages?

The short answer is NO.  The US Surgeon General recommends abstinence in pregnancy.  There is no dose response known between amount of alcohol consumption and development of fetal alcohol syndrome or alcohol-related birth defects.  In addition, negative effects can be seen with alcohol consumption in all trimesters, not just the first.  

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