Mairead O’ Donoghue Wilkinson, beauty therapist at Pastels Salon
Can I have massages throughout pregnancy?
To minimise the risk of miscarriage, during the first trimester it is recommended women avoid massages. Once you have passed the second trimester of pregnancy without any complications, then having a massage should be perfectly safe. That said, I would recommend finding a massage therapist who is certified in pre-natal massage as she or he will know what massages are best suited, the safest and most comfortable positions, as well as which areas to concentrate on and avoid.
Are massage oils safe?
Essential oils are highly concentrated and are usually 100 per cent aromatherapy and 100 per cent natural. They always need to be mixed with a carrier oil such as grape seed or almond, using only two drops of essential oil for every five millilitres of carrier. Essential oils also contain chemicals which are absorbed into the body and the blood stream – most are safe to use as long as your pregnancy is going well and your doctor says it is OK for you to use them. There are, however, certain oils that should be avoided completely: nutmeg and rosemary, which are thought to increase blood pressure, clary sage and jasmine, which can trigger contractions, and juniper, which may affect kidneys. In some cases it may best to stay clear of essential oils altogether. You should not use essential oils if you have a history of miscarriage, vaginal bleeding, epilepsy, heart problems, diabetes, blood clotting, thyroid, liver or kidney disease.
What about waxing?
Yes, it’s safe to have waxing as long as it doesn’t start to irritate you, so stop immediately if you get a rash. Sometimes clients find it is more sensitive when they are pregnant, but to make it as painless as possible, have a hot shower or bath as this will open the pores. During pregnancy, areas such as the tummy, legs and bikini will be sore because of hormonal changes and an increased blood flow to the skin, which also makes the hair grow faster. Before any waxing treatment, make sure you tell your therapist that you are pregnant.
Good hair days
Louise Fuller, salon owner and manager, Style and Class London
Is it safe to dye my hair?
These days, there is no evidence of side effects for pregnant women exposed to any products from hairdressers, and evidence suggests there is minimal absorption of hair products. In 1980, research was carried out on hair dyes in which a number of chemicals were removed so they’re now considered safe to use in pregnancy. The myth dates back to when bleach and the strongest peroxide were placed directly onto the scalp and left to bake. It caused blisters and the strong peroxide could then get into the blood stream.
Are there any hair treatments that pregnant women should not do?
For permanent straightening, use only the Brazilian keratin treatment which is formaldehyde-free. Since keratin should not come into contact with the scalp (always applied 2cm away from scalp) it cannot be absorbed into the body. Always ask for a facemask if not offered to be protected from fumes of the keratin as this can be very strong. Pure henna is safe to be used in pregnancy but when it comes in different colours, or with fast-acting results, these are not pure and may contain synthetic chemicals or potentially risky metallic compounds, such as lead or copper. Many henna hair dye producers do NOT provide accurate and complete labelling on their products, either.
What’s the reality about hair loss after pregnancy?
Normally the average head loses 100 hairs a day, but not all at once, so you don’t notice. Your pregnancy hormones keep many of those hairs from falling out (which is why your hair looks so thick). But all good things must come to an end. When those hormones drop back to normal, the extra hairs drop, too.
Amy Saunders, Director & Lead Fitness Instructor, Urban Energy
Are there any exercises that are unsafe to continue during pregnancy?
Horse riding, downhill skiing, surfing, water skiing and scuba diving contact sports can be very dangerous. The risk of falling increases with certain yoga positions and bike riding as belly grows. After the first trimester, lying on your back for too long can decrease blood flow to uterus which can make you feel dizzy. Also, high impact exercises like jumping, bouncing, leaping, jarring and sudden change in direction should be avoided as well as full sit-ups, waist twisting movements and double leg lowers which can cause trauma on the abdominals.
Are there any strange myths that you’ve heard?
MYTH 1: If I exercise during pregnancy, I will bounce back into shape faster? This is true, if you exercise during pregnancy you will recover much quicker than someone that hasn’t exercised.
MYTH 2: I don’t have to worry about my pregnancy weight gain until after the baby? This is false, if you have spent 9 months doing nothing then you will have a lot more hard work to do than someone who has exercised during pregnancy.
MYTH 3: Abdominal exercises are not appropriate during pregnancy? This is false. It is important that you work the abdominals, you just have have to modify how you do it. General abdominal exercises should be avoided but there are many core exercises you can do sitting, standing or on all fours.
Can you do any exercise after a caesarian?
Yes of course, you can begin pelvic floor exercises straight away then first and most important thing is to go for your six-week check up with your doctor. They will check you out and tell you if you are safe to exercise. Remember a caesarian is a major operation so don’t push yourself too hard straight away, ease into things gently and not do anything too strenuous or heavy lifting for
the first few months. Always seek advice from a trained and certified post-natal instructor.