Glow For It
Getting rid of hair -- the unwanted variety, that is -- is of far less concern, says Dr. Reed. "I don't know of any contraindications to bleach, depilatory, laser hair removal, or electrolysis during pregnancy."
And there's no reason to go around with alabaster arms and legs this summer if you don't want to. Self-tanners, made of the active ingredient dihydroxyacetone, are basically dyes that stay on the skin's surface and are safe to use when you're expecting. "The available data do not support an association between its use and problems with the baby," says Dr. Reed.
Tanning is not advised: It can worsen melasma ("the mask of pregnancy"), patches of discolored skin that often appear on the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip during pregnancy, due to a woman's high hormone levels. And, of course, tanning increases your risk of skin cancer, whether or not you are pregnant.
Having a massage can be a great way to relieve the stress and discomforts of pregnancy -- and may even enhance your unborn child's well-being. "Massage reduces stress hormones, and because of that, it may lower the risk of premature birth," says Tiffany Field, Ph.D, director of the Touch Research Institutes, in Miami.
Pregnancy massage is usually performed while you're lying on your side, with the focus on your back and legs. It's important that a therapist avoids your feet, however, as stimulating the back of the ankle and the Achilles tendon can stimulate contractions, says Field. Most properly trained massage therapists know to avoid this area in pregnant women, but some treatments -- including pedicures -- may involve a foot rub by untrained personnel. Ask your cosmetician to avoid your ankles or skip this extra frill. If smells are bothering you, request unscented oils.
Even short stints in the sauna and hot tub can raise your temperature to unhealthy levels, so most experts advise avoiding them during pregnancy. A temperature above 101°F in early pregnancy can cause miscarriage and defects of the neural-tube system, according to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS). A safer way to get glowing: Stay hydrated and follow a regular pregnancy-safe exercise plan.
Wearing perfumes or fragrances requires another judgment call. According to Dr. Reed, "There are no reported incidents of fetal toxicity with fragrances." Yet, according to Houlihan, most contain phthalates. If you want to be 100-percent safe, avoid perfume until after childbirth.
Phthalates may also be present in lotions and deodorants. Curel Soothing Hands Moisturizing Hand Lotion, Vaseline Intensive Care Dry Skin Lotion, and Dove Powder Anti-Perspirant are on the EWG phthalate-free product list.