Safe skin care and beauty products during pregnancy…

Most women when they find out they are pregnant become hyper-aware about what they should and shouldn’t be putting into their bodies knowing full well whatever they consume will somehow affect their growing child but actually what you put on your skin can be just as important.  Not just what you eat but everything you apply or come into contact with may affect not only you but your unborn child.  I actually stumbled across this information when watching one of Caroline Hirons’ videos on YouTube (she is the skincare guru) and went on to do a lot of research about what beauty products were safe for my baby throughout pregnancy.


Retinoids are a type of vitamin A that speeds up cell division (quickening your skin’s renewal) and prevent skin collagen from breaking down.  They are usually found in anti-ageing products but it is recommended that expectant mothers stay away from them during pregnancy.  Some studies have shown that high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn child especially oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin (Accutane, an acne treatment), which are known to cause birth defects.  Best to leave the anti-ageing potions til after giving birth ladies!

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid can be found in a number of skincare products including cleansers and toners and is used to treat certain skin disorders including acne.  Again the emphasis is more on Oral consumption of this as it is known to cause birth defects and complications during pregnancy but there isn’t enough evidence to say whether topical use carries the same risks therefore it’s best avoided.

Essential oils

If you’re a fan of aromatherapy or looking for more natural methods to ease the symptoms of pregnancy it’s probably best to know that there are certain oils that should be avoided.

  • Nutmeg, which may have hallucinogenic effects and react with pain-relieving drugs in labour.
  • Rosemary, which is thought to increase blood pressure, and may cause contractions.
  • Basil, which is thought to contribute to abnormal cell development.
  • Jasmine and clary sage, which may trigger contractions.
  • Sage and rose, which may cause bleeding in your uterus (womb).
  • Juniper berry, which may affect your kidneys.

Hair dyes

When looking into whether dying your hair during pregnancy there’s limited research but from what there is it’s safe to dye your hair.  I would avoid it during the first trimester as some studies have found that very high doses of the chemicals in hair dyes may cause harm. However, these doses are massive compared with the very low amount of chemicals a woman is exposed to when colouring her hair.  Personally I’ve avoided dying my hair as I have read articles claiming the chemicals can be absorbed through the scalp and be absorbed into the bloodstream and anything that’s absorbed into the bloodstream can affect the fetus so unless it’s absolutely necessary, I’ve stayed away from anything that could potentially affect my baby.

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Pregnancy Freebies – Bounty…

I posted a little while back about how to get freebies throughout pregnancy from Emma’s diary so I thought why not post about Bounty aswell.  Bounty is a bit more well known as when you have your very first appointment with your midwife she will give you a Pregnancy Folder from Bounty which will contain your hospital notes.  I think there’s also a little box of Pregnacare vitamins and pen in there too.

The next pack you will be eligible for is the Mum to be pack pictured above.  I actually picked this up after downloading the Bounty app.  Once you’ve downloaded the app and filled in your personal information you will notice five little tabs along the bottom of the screen.  If you click on the middle tab aptly named free stuff depending on how far along you are the app will automatically tell you which packs are available to you while the other will just say coming soon.  I picked up the Mum to be pack from Asda which is why it contains the Asda Little Angels wipes.

The Pamper Gift box shown above can only be picked up from Boots hence the Boots essentials products inside.  It’s quite a nice little free treat for mums to be as it contains just things for you, no breast pads or nappy wipes, no nappy rash ointment, lots of little sample sized sachets of body creams and shampoos amongst other things.  This has been my favourite box so far for freebies and it’s a nice little pick me up to have a pamper evening especially in the colder months.

These are the only packs I’ve received from Bounty as the next one is only available from the hospital once you’ve had your baby.

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Pregnancy freebies – Emma’s Diary

Who doesn’t love a freebie, I know I certainly do and these are pretty cool I guess, amongst all the wasted paper in the form of leaflets you do get a few little bits for you and baby to try and even some money off coupons if you then wanted to go on and buy the full size products.  What I did was download the free Emma’s Diary app, filled it with my details and clicked onto the offers tab, and just claimed the ‘Mum to Be Gift Pack’ (shown above in the picture, the pink one) and the Bump to Baby Gift Pack (shown in the top picture, the purple one).  Now be warned you will have to sign up with your personal details such as name, address, email and details of your baby’s due date so expect some degree of spam to arrive in your inbox.  You will however also receive weekly update/progress emails which I quite look forward to.  They explain some of the things you may be experiencing during that particular week and how your baby will be developing and how big they might be.  I find I always looks forward to these emails but then I’ve loved tracking my baby’s progress since it was the size of a poppy seed!

So what do you actually get in these gift packs?  The pink Mum To Be pack contains everything you can see in the picture plus a shed load of leaflets and a Babies R Us brochure.

  • Boots trial pack of newborn nappies – 3 nappies.
  • Metanium everyday barrier ointment – 15g tube.
  • Lansinoh nursing breast pads – pack of 2 pads.
  • Palmers cocoa butter massage lotion for stretch marks – 50ml bottle.

I think these packs are available from either Boots or Argos but I would advise getting it from Boots.  I’ve heard the ones in Argos only contain the Lansinoh Breast pads so you’ll definitely get a few more freebies from Boots.

The Bump to Baby pack is a little bit more geared towards when you’ve had the baby but still has some useful little bits along with plenty more leaflets and coupons for your recycling bin.

  • Lansinoh breast milk storage bags – Pack of two
  • Lansinoh nursing breast pads – 2 Pads
  • Lifecake personalised new born baby bunting
  • Pampers Newborn nappy – 1 nappy
  • Metanium everyday barrier ointment – 15g tube.

The green lLabour Information’ pack pictured above you will only receive from your local GP or midwife and as it says on the pack it’s only available from 34 weeks but seeing as I just picked this up this week I thought I’d mention it in this post as you will eventually receive an email to say you are now eligible for this.  This has to be my favourite pack of the lot actually not because of the freebies but because of the Guide to Labour and Birth which comes inside.  It’s packed full of all the little bits of information you’ve probably been googling about with some of those big words explained and will take you right through from preparing for labour and a hospital bag checklist, pain relief options, signs of labour, to the actual stages of birth, possible complications and even covers after your baby is born and all the newborn checks.  I’ve really enjoyed having a read of this at bedtime, I’m one of those people that likes to be prepared for any sort of situation.

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Products that helped me through the first trimester…


It’s no secret that I haven’t had the smoothest or ‘glowiest’ of pregnancies, in fact so far I’ve pretty much hated every minute of it but there have been certain little gems that I’ve discovered along the way that have helped turn the not so nice bits into slightly more bearable bits.  Whether you’ve had a not so ideal pregnancy like mine or whether you’ve bloomed into impending motherhood floating on fluffy clouds, (I hate you!) these are my recommendations for products that have really helped.

Pregnancy vitamins – Probably the only thing I haven’t yet had to contend with is anaemia (low iron levels) and I do attribute that to taking my pregnancy vitamins regularly.  The GP will advise you take Folic acid regularly, I actually started taking this pre-conception as I’d read that it could help us to conceive but it’s also just a good supplement to have whilst trying for a baby and not just during pregnancy.  Folic acid is known to help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) – serious birth defects of the spinal cord (such as Spina Bifida) and the brain (such as Anencephaly). The neural tube is the part of the embryo from which your baby’s spine and brain develop.  I happened to pick mine up from Boots where there’s generally a good 3 for 2 deal going on and as you don’t really need to be taking them later on pregnancy you should only really need to pick them up one time.  Alternatively Vitabiotics Pregnacare supplements contain everything you need and more including your daily recommended dose of folic acid and I even got given a sample box of these from my midwife at the first meeting (I think these are what the NHS recommend for all new mum to be’s) obviously you don’t need to take a separate folic acid tablet if you’re taking the pregnacare.  As mentioned my iron levels haven’t been dangerously low so far and I actually attribute that to taking liquid Iron from Spatone,  again I get mine from Boots and I have the apple flavour because it tastes a lot less like you’re licking an Iron rod and doesn’t cause me to gag.  These are entirely your choice but I do believe they’ve helped me keep my energy levels up throughout pregnancy so far and will continue to take them as long as I can.

Support Pillow – I had always assumed that a body pillow or sleep support aid was for those last few fat, ‘I need a crane to turn over’ months but I suffered with horrendous pelvic pain from the very beginning, this has eased dramatically but I do believe that sleeping with a full body pillow similar this THIS one has helped with my pelvic alignment and posture.  It’s also much more comfortable to sleep in especially when you’re sensitive in certain areas and want to keep your partner out of your zone!  I’ve linked eBay because this is where I ordered mine from but I’m not sure if this is the exact seller I bought it from so I can’t recommend their services but there are lots of different version around to pick up if this one doesn’t take your fancy.  This article from The Independent gives you some more options.

BPA Free water bottle – Now this one isn’t a must have but it’s a good to have with you, unless you want to keep buying bottled water everyday a sports type bottle will come in handy for all that extra water you’ll be drinking.  Pregnant women should be drinking slightly more than your recommended 1.6 litres, I’ve been told to aim for 2 litres just to be sure myself and the little one are getting enough but with my hyperemesis and just being unable to keep anything in (yes even now!) getting my 2 litres is proving very hard at the moment so having a bottle in your bag does encourage regular sipping.

Dry as plasterboard food – I’ve had it exceptionally bad with the nausea and vomiting and have been hospitalized with my Hyperemesis but if you’re like the majority who only suffers the initial 12 weeks or so and then blooms into pregnancy (I hate you!) you should familiarize yourself with dry foods.  The dryer the better, try biscuits (ginger biscuits especially as they will help settle the nausea a bit), crackers,  toast.  Rich tea biscuits and Ryvita have been my faithful companions for many months now.

Peppermint – Again on the subject of nausea and vomiting I found that mint really helped, anything mint settled my stomach even if just temporarily, peppermint tea, mint leaves in a cup of hot lemon and honey, I even had a major thing for virgin mojitos in the first few months.

Panty Liners – This one may be a bit TMI but what’s a bit of discharge chat between friends.  I wish someone had told me that I would start excreting the world’s supply of vaginal discharge once I got pregnant because I would have invested in panty liners much sooner.  I keep them discreetly tucked away in my handbag for on the go changes, they don’t take up any space and let’s face it nobody wants to walk around with soggy knickers all day.  And on that lovely thought I shall leave this post right there.

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PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) or SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)

So as promised I’m going to tell you all about the joys of PGP (Pelvic Girdle Pain) or SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction).  If you are one of the lucky ones like me you will suffer from this and if you are even luckier, (also like me) you will start to experience this in your first trimester.

Now the good news is this is completely harmless to your baby but it is a pain in the ass (literally) for you!  Symptoms include:

  • pain over the pubic bone at the front in the centre
  • pain across one or both sides of your lower back
  • pain in the area between your vagina and anus (perineum) (Just picture that)
  • Pain can also radiate to your thighs, and some women feel or hear a clicking or grinding in the pelvic area.

These symptoms can be most noticeable when walking, going up/down stairs, standing on one leg or turning over in bed.  I find that my pain is worse after I’ve had a long day at work and even sitting or standing is painful. Unfortunately if you suffer with lower back pain, have previous pelvic injuries or are in a physically demanding job you are more likely to suffer from PGP/SPD.

If you do some research there are things that can alleviate these symptoms and my biggest piece of advice is to get yourself referred to see a physiotherapist asap.  Even if you’re not sure that your symptoms are PGP/SPD, the physiotherapist will be able to do a thorough assessment and let you know of ways to alleviate your symptoms.  now if your GP/Midwife is anything like mine you will need to make several trips and plead your case several times before anybody bothers with the moaning pregnant woman and puts through a referral but if your physiotherapist is anything like mine it will totally worth it!

Unfortunately there are no drugs apart from paracetamol that you can really take but there are plenty of stretches and simple exercises to strengthen the lower back, hips and pelvis that you can do everyday which will (speaking from personal experience) drastically help ease the symptoms.  If you have a tens machine that can help apparently and exercising in water takes the pressure of the joints.

When I started experiencing the excruciating pain radiating from my right hip and pelvis I naturally took to google to try and get some answers but I sort of wish I’d had an outlet for advise to turn to with some answers and hopefully I can be that outlet for other first time mothers to be, leave me a comment with your experiences.


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