Some lucky ladies may not notice much of a difference to their hygiene needs during pregnancy. It’s not like they are totally different people or anything.
Still, though, at least a couple things may seem… different.
See, the thing is, weight gain and extra blood flow – things like that – can make a gal run hotter than usual during the months she spends pregnant, especially noticeably pregnant, such as during that third and final trimester.
There might be more sweat to deal with, quite frankly, for one.
Then there are also matters related to, well, increased discharge. (More on that later.) It can mean another issue related to, well, moisture to take care of.
Some find themselves feeling oilier. Some think they are a bit stinkier. (There are, after all, hormonal changes at play here, kind of like during those wonder years of puberty.)
And some of the strategies you used for feeling clean before you were expecting might not be appropriate (or even safe) once there’s a baby onboard. That’s where some of these nifty little tricks might help you out…
From what you wear to how and where you wash and beyond, here are 20 things women might start doing to stay clean during pregnancy (with their doctors acting as their trusted source for all things health and hygiene, of course).
20 Pop In A Pantyliner
Where there are warmth and moisture, there can be bacteria living it up. Bacteria can mean… odor.
During pregnancy, there is a certain amount of normal vaginal discharge known as leukorrhea. It is thin-ish, whitish, and mild in scent, as explained at AmericanPregnancy.org.
Any questions on what’s normal, exactly? Talk to you doctor, who you’ll see very regularly starting early on in pregnancy, and can probably call any time you have a question in between visits, as well.
But for the standard stuff that many women experience throughout pregnancy, a handy trick can be to just start wearing a pantyliner.
It can simply be changed out throughout the day to keep expectant moms feeling more comfortable and clean.
19 Steer Clear Of Salicylic Acid
While most of the discussion included in this list is about things some women choose to try out to feel (and be) cleaner and healthier during their pregnancies, I wanted to be sure to mention an important point before I got too far along with all of these little tips.
While there are plenty of practices it may be helpful to take on, and certain products you may indeed want to use, there are some that it is important to avoid.
It was news to me, when I first got pregnant, that you should steer completely clear of any product containing salicylic acid while, well, with child.
I don’t see it mentioned all that often, but this acid that is commonly found in products marketed or prescribed to treat acne and wrinkles is a total no-go for pregnant women.
Large doses of the stuff taken orally have been shown to cause birth defects and complications, says BabyCenter.com, and so many docs say to avoid topical forms, too.
18 Fans = Friends
TheBump.com has an entire write-up about why in the world a gal might often feel hotter than usual while she’s pregnant.
It’s a common complaint, to be sure, no matter which season it is.
First of all, there’s increased blood circulating through the body during pregnancy.
“To better handle all that extra blood, your blood vessels dilate slightly, allowing the blood to come of the surface, which can make you feel hot,” TheBump.com says. “In the third trimester, your metabolic rate also increases, which can also add to that overheated feeling. You might find yourself sweating more too.”
How to deal?
I’d say invest now in one or two simple fans that can be used to bring in fresh air from outside or even point directly at you at your desk, on your couch, or wherever you happen to be.
17 Up The Showering Game
I mean, it may sound simple, but humans can tend to be creatures of habit, from what I’ve observed.
By the time you’re an adult of childbearing age, perhaps you’ve settled into a rather predictable routine of showering / washing up / cleansing in general.
I know I had!
These days, for example, I tend to wash my hair only every other day – that is simply about how often it seems to need it lately, compared to my younger years, in which I liked washing it more often.
But if you’re finding yourself sweatier, smellier, or just not feeling quite as fresh while pregnant, maybe it’s time to splurge on some additional showers.
Or, you could even do a more frequent spot-check of sorts, wiping down with a clean, wet cloth when and where needed.
16 Place Some Pads
The first substance to be expressed during breastfeeding, immediately following the birth of the baby, will be something called colostrum.
It is sort of thicker and looks and smells different than breast milk. I’d say it’s sort of more syrupy and less like, well, milk, than you might picture.
Well, this important early form of nutrition for a newborn may start to leak out even before the little one is even born, during the pregnancy itself.
As noted at WhatToExpect.com, late in pregnancy, the yellowish fluid that is the precursor to true milk may start to come out at times.
To keep dry and feel clean, you can start wearing breast pads inside your bra – which you will likely want to do while breastfeeding later, anyway.
15 The Hiding Place Called Hair
Body hair is a reality of adult life for humans. People make the choice to keep or shave some or all of it in the various areas it may grow – and that it indeed a very personal decision.
Not everyone removes the hair of their armpits or pubic area, but here’s something to consider, especially if various body odors happen to be plaguing you a bit more noticeably during that wondrous time called pregnancy:
Hairy areas may more easily become, well, quite frankly, stinky areas.
“The more hair you have, the more surface area bacteria has to cling to, which keeps the smell so pungent,” reads a quote from one expert in an entire article about body odor at Today.com.
And so, while washing and other tactics may do the trick, who knows? Shaving or otherwise removing body hair may help, too (if you can still see and reach it, that is…).
14 Wardrobe Change
So you wake up, put on fresh clothes, and head out the door (okay, and probably also have some other hygiene and beauty rituals you follow, too, such as brushing your teeth, applying makeup, and so on and so forth).
But the point is, one set of clothes is likely often considered adequate for any given stretch of time.
Sure, you may change to workout clothes to hit the gym or go for your daily walk, but you know what I mean.
Here’s the thing, though: If you are finding yourself sweatier or smellier while pregnant, maybe try out simply switching clothes a bit more often!
From changing your top to feel fresher to packing extra underpants, it can’t hurt to give it a try, right?
Something as simple as washing your jeans or pants more often might help, too.
13 Between The Sheets
Getting sweaty at night is kind of the worst, especially because it can wake you up, feeling hot and icky and then quickly cold because your sheets or blanket are all wet. Yuck.
Well seeing as pregnant women can tend to run hotter than usual (as we already discussed above), they can find themselves feeling overly warm at night, too.
I think when I was pregnant for the first time was the era in which we purchased and began regularly running multiple window fans, bringing in fresh, cool air that would flow directly at me (and my big ole baby bump).
But if you find that you still wake up just not feeling clean, or like you’re even already a bit smelly, try washing / cleaning that sheet or blanket (that probably spends a good amount of time tucked right up under your armpits) more often.
12 Don’t Forget The Feet
When I was pregnant – both times of two so far – I ended up finding like one pair of really comfortable flats and wearing them pretty much the entire time.
Sure, I put on really comfortable and supportive athletic shoes for walking and exercise, but for daily life, it was that certain pair of sandals that were so easy to slip on or those fairly comfortable slip-on sneakers.
The thing about wearing the same pair of shoes for many months in a row – while also possibly running hotter and generally being sweatier than usual – is that a funky foot smell may just start to become an issue.
I personally avoided this lovely occurrence by wearing little no-show socks with my favorite flats and changing them out each day.
But if foot funk’s got you down, simply get in there and wash your feet specifically – don’t forget the toes!
Airing shoes out outdoors might help, too – or simply investing in a new pair of your faves.
11 Mindful Of Makeup
While for some women, pregnancy truly is a time for their skin to look great and even seem to glow, others get to deal with the not-as-fun occurrence of acne and other skin problems.
Talk to you own doctor for professional advice on how to treat and generally deal with any such issues, including during pregnancy.
But I do know (as confirmed at Livestrong.com) that clogged pores can be involved in skin problems, and I would say that pregnancy might just be a good time to experiment with going more minimal (or simply different) with makeup.
I personally (never having been one to wear very much makeup at all, actually) started to really think about what sort of chemicals I was applying to that semipermeable layer of skin, too…
10 Try Not To Touch
Maybe to you, staying “clean” means simply feeling fresh and smelling good.
When I think “clean,” though I also think of being healthy and free of infection.
What is one really simple thing any doctor I’ve ever seen has said is a good way to prevent the spread of infection?
Simply try to avoid touching your face.
Some people, I’ve observed, simply seem to be in the habit of, say, rubbing their eyes, picking stuck food out of their teeth with their fingers, or even – you guessed it – “scratching” inside their noses.
Introducing bacteria into these openings is an easy way to, well, let it into your system, where it can sometimes then sort of run wild and lead to infection and illness.
9 Going Natural
As I mentioned earlier, during pregnancy and also actually especially during breastfeeding for the first time, I really started to ponder the types of products I was using on my own body more seriously.
Before, it was like, well, I want something to keep my armpits drier and smelling better longer, so I’m going to buy whichever antiperspirant / deodorant I like the scent of at the drugstore and apply it to my underarm area every single day.
While my own doctor found absolutely nothing wrong with using such stuff, I started to wonder if those intense chemicals (which sometimes even caused me skin irritation) were really necessary.
And so I’d just like to present that one option is to just try a more “natural” product.
Check out YouTube and the likes, and you’ll find some gals even making their own!
Others, though, simply switch to a deodorant like Toms, without aluminum.
8 A Good Sniffle
This one is sort of also crossing into the territory of feeling “well” along with “clean.”
But I know I don’t personally feel clean and generally happy if my nose feels all stuffed up.
As someone who’s pretty much always suffered from various environmental allergies, I know all about this, by now.
And during pregnancy, that swollen and stuffy feeling got worse. Bummer, right? I never saw it coming.
While I just wasn’t really into purchasing and popping another pill every day, my own doctor did say a certain type of over-the-counter allergy med was OK to use.
His other tip, though, which is quite nice, is to give a good hard nose blow or two in the steamy shower at least once a day, which can offer great relief and help to clear up that clogged-ear feeling, too.
7 Important Protection
Let’s talk about staying clean and healthy on a very basic and very important level – during intimacy.
What’s one important step toward preventing the spread of infection and disease during intercourse? Physical protection, as in barrier methods, as in rubbers.
Although for some partners, in exclusive relationships, using protection may not be a necessary step during pregnancy, there are certain times it is absolutely a wise choice.
“Exposure to STIs during pregnancy increases the risk of infections that can affect your pregnancy and your baby's health,” says MayoClinic.org.
And, of course, there’s the fact that you may not always know about a partner’s infection.
MayoClinic.org says to use a rubber if your relationship is not mutually monogamous or if you decide to be intimate with a new partner while pregnant.
6 Going Before And After
Again focusing on the idea of being “clean” as also literally being free of bacterial infection, let’s talk about a little something called a UTI.
It stands for urinary tract infection. You may know it by the name “bladder infection.”
These infections can be dangerous in general, so always take them seriously.
Going pee before and after being intimate is commonly suggested as a measure to try to prevent them.
If a UTI during pregnancy isn’t treated, “it may lead to a kidney infection. Kidney infections may cause early labor and low birth weight. If your doctor treats a urinary tract infection early and properly, the UTI will not cause harm to your baby,” according to AmericanPregnancy.org.
5 A Happy Habit
Let’s take it back to the basics – something you may not even think of all that much: washing your hands.
It is a very simple step to take in the ongoing effort to feeling and being clean and healthy.
It’s hygiene basics, and I just don’t think any article about being clean would be complete without it.
“Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and others from getting sick,” according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), at CDC.gov.
AmericanPregnancy.org (as well as any doctor I’ve ever seen) notes the importance of taking common-sense precautions.
First of all, there are the basics of prevention, such as taking good care of yourself and being healthy by eating well, sleeping enough, and getting some exercise – plus taking prenatal vitamins.
And the big one is the hand washing.
“Wash your hands regularly,” says AmericanPregnancy.org. “If you know you are around someone who is struggling with a cold, avoid touching their hands or eating after them. Take extra effort to wash your hands more frequently when you are around those who have a cold or cough.”
4 Dining With Due Diligence
From foot funk to smelly armpits and beyond, we’ve covered it all here today, along with some key matters of literally keeping harmful bacteria out of your system.
What’s one key way to avoid introducing those infection-causing bad boys? Don’t eat ’em.
Pregnancy can be a really important time to take extra care with food preparation.
One key consideration here, too, is to avoid eating at restaurants with less than pristine reputations in this department, and to be careful about not eating anything that is undercooked or improperly prepared.
Pay attention to expiration dates, wash your hands and prepare food in a sanitary way, and check with your doctor and / or USDA.gov for more details on the basics such as safe meat temps, which foods to avoid while pregnant, and so on.
3 Protecting Pearly Whites
Pregnancy can actually be sort of an intense or unusual time when it comes to oral care, too.
The gums might tend to bleed more easily, and the name of the game is about having good oral hygiene at the very start, and also maintaining it throughout the pregnancy.
First of all, there’s flossing, and second of all there’s brushing.
“It's important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums while pregnant,” according to WebMD.com, as well as any doctor or dentist I’ve ever spoken to on the subject. “Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease which, in turn, can affect the health of your baby.”
2 Say Yes To DDS
This step actually starts way back before you ever get pregnant, ideally.
It’s going to the dentist to have an exam and professional cleaning, and make sure that any dental issues are addressed, as is recommended at WebMD.com.
The same site also cautions that women should absolutely not skip regular dental appointments during pregnancy either. There’s just no reason to.
You’ll want to, of course, tell your dentist / staff about any medications that you are on, the fact that you are indeed pregnant, and any questions that you have about oral care during pregnancy.
Some women need recommendations for products that are better for use during spells of nausea or morning sickness, for example.
Extra precaution will be taken with X-rays, or they may still be postponed to a later time.
1 The Coolest Of Clothes
It might be as simple as what you choose to wear when it comes to feeling clean and fresh during pregnancy.
Clothes that are breathable and not overly tight allow air to circulate rather than trapping moisture against the body.
This can, in turn, mean less odor to deal with overall, as well as being cooler and more comfortable.
“Cotton fabric is breathable and transmits moisture away from the body and is absorbent and removes liquid from the skin, like a towel,” according to Livestrong.com. “Cotton allows you to remain comfortable as you exercise, keeping moisture from building up between your skin and clothing.”
From the panties to what’s covering the, well, pits and beyond, thinking breathable might just make all the difference.
References: Babycenter.com, Americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health, WhatToExpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms, Today.com, Livestrong.com, MayoClinic.org, AmericanPregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications, CDC.gov/features/handwashingl, WebMD.com/oral-health, Livestrong.com/cotton-clothing