Gel Polish or Just a Bit of Buffing When Pregnant?

Should you get mani-pedi's when pregnant. As a delivering obstetrician and a mom I can tell you that getting a pedicure in the third trimester can be the most luxurious feeling; and to the extent that you get a bit of massage of your feet, calves and ankles, the benefits on reducing swelling are terrific as well. 

Hormonal factors and growth hormones will help hair, nails, and skin. With the addition of prenatal vitamins and the extra hydration you make sure to get, most moms are excited to see they can truly glow with minimal effort! Your nails will grow when you are pregnant, and this may be your best time to just buff and shape and your hands will look beautiful. But if the new lengths are making you want just a bit more flash, one of the most common questions gynos get ask is: it is safe to get manicures when you are pregnant? Quick answer is yes, but there are several factors to take into consideration when deciding to more than just the manicure and get into the discussion of all the ranges of polish colors and type, specifically getting a gel manicure during pregnancy.  Polishes are full of chemicals, and many are unidentified.  Chemical absorption through skin and nail beds is always going to be an issue when selecting a polish type. Generally you don't get information on every chemical, but organic polishes have the fewest chemicals in them, and may be worth the slight extra costs for at least while you are pregnant or nursing.  

Pregnant women experience an expansion of not only blood volume, but an increase in blood vessels as well.  Just as a pregnant woman may be more prone to bleeding gums while brushing teeth, cuticles must be treated with extra care during this time.  Pregnancy also makes the skin itself more light sensitive, and prone to pigmentation and damage. So inquire about the kind of lamps used to dry the polish.  LED lamps are generally considered safe, whereas UV lamps slightly increase the risk of skin abnormalities such as discoloration, mole changes and induction of precancerous lesions. You can either use a UV-blocking sunscreen or request latex or (latex free if you are allergic) gloves with the tips cut off so the technician can work on your nails while the rest of your hand remains covered.  And thus fans are safest without the UV lamps on if you have polish that doesn't need specifically to be set with the light.

The removal process for gel manicures typically requires soaking the fingers in the harsh chemical acetone, which can damage skin and make nails brittle.  You can request that a cotton ball be soaked in the removal chemical and  or carefully wrapped avoiding skin contact, rather than dipping your fingers in a bath of it. 

Inhalation of chemicals can be a consideration if you are at a nail salon rather than at home.  As with any time you are going to get your nails done, you want to ensure that there is proper ventilation where you are applying the polish. If you can smell strong fumes when you walk in, you are potentially exposing the baby as well, select a salon with better ventilation. 

Pregnant women are more susceptible to getting varicose veins and deep vein clots. The former is merely unsightly, but it's potentially a very serious situation to get a clot. Exercise and movement are the best safeguards against a deep vein clot. So it also important that pregnant women not sit with their legs in the same position for extended periods of time.  Make sure to take breaks, wiggle your legs and ankles a bit, and get up and walk if your appointment reaches the one-hour mark. Too much ankle swelling after a manicure would mean you sat for too long.  A gel manicure would be best used in moderation, or consider it just for special occasions.   

Prenatal vitamins, and the growth hormones of pregnancy, already improve the quality of hair and nails; so if you’re still wary, back to what I said at the start, you may just want to get a gentle shaping and buffing for naturally gorgeous nails. But don't necessarily skip an occasional mani-pedi, the me time is important for moms!


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