Hygiene is not always a topic people like to discuss. It can make people uneasy, awkward, and just-plain weirded out. From topics focused on physical appearances to bodily functions, no wonder so many people would rather avoid the topic altogether.
But when you’re pregnant or in the postpartum stage, these discussions are inevitable.
When a woman becomes pregnant, changes start happening immediately. Some of these changes may not seem extremely noticeable from the start, but they are happening nonetheless. On top of those changes, Mom must start making decisions involving her hygiene and cleanliness even if it is not on the top of her "To-Do" list.
A woman’s body may not react the same as it did before now that she has to protect both her own person and the little one (or ones) inside of her. This could mean using different deodorants, cleansers, hair products, and putting herself on a skin-care regimen.
For some mamas-to-be, these big, noticeable changes in hygiene may not happen or impact her as it could another. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t start having to make certain decisions or having to alter their personal routine. Once that belly starts growing, Moms have no choice but to make some changes.
And once that baby is out – let the real “Hygienic Fun” begin.
21 Before Pregnancy: You Can Experiment With Cleansers
There so many cleansers and personal washes out on the shelves these days. Between the “go-to” cleansers such as Neutrogena and Aveeno to upper-scale products such as Rodin and Glossier, women have many options to choose from. When you have the freedom to choose products that work best for you, you are more likely to get the result you are seeking.
This is terrific because no skin type is the same. Oily skin needs different products than dry skin. Freckled, fair skin may need different cleansers than tan, darker skin. Dermatologists and specialists can often recommend products that may work best for you, but if those don’t work – you also have the freedom to choose and experiment as you like (to an extent, of course).
20 During Pregnancy: Shaving Your Legs Becomes A Workout
Before pregnancy, shaving is a hassle. During pregnancy, that hassle is quadrupled (and then some). When that baby bump starts growing and your feet are viewed less and less, your legs (and other parts) become the same way.
Shaving your legs with a razor or hair-removal cream can become a sweat-inducing activity. You may think reaching below your knees is tough, but not leaving patches here-and-there above the knee? That’s almost impossible. Sometimes, as embarrassing as some women may find it, asking your significant other for support during this beloved activity may be helpful. If you are an independent, hard-headed individual who is dedicated to staying hair-free – you will find a way.
However, during that third trimester, you may decide to get your “hippie’esque” vibe on and say “screw it.”
19 After Pregnancy: Your Hair May Do Weird Things
A woman’s body never stops changing once pregnancy hits. Right when they may think their pregnant self is shifting back toward pre-pregnancy mode, their hair starts doing some crazy, weird things. People often hear about hair shedding, excess hair growth, and hair texture changes, but they usually don’t expect these changes to happen to them.
According to Sejal Shah, M.D., pregnancy causes shifts in hormones that support hair growth. “They’re (hormones) actually preventing you from shedding – you shed every day. Everyone sheds every day. But if you really pay attention, typically during pregnancy, you don’t have that daily shedding.” This means that once that estrogen drops after pregnancy, your hair goes back to the shedding regimen you may have forgotten about during the pregnancy.
18 Before Pregnancy: Days Without Hair-Washing Is Socially Acceptable (Sort Of)
Many women do not wash their hair daily. It is often supported by cosmetologists and specialists not to wash your hair every single day depending on a person’s specific hair type. Medical News Today explains that “hair care is a highly personal choice. For some people, too-frequent washing can cause damaged hair and a dry, itchy scalp. For others, infrequent washing can make the hair look greasy and lifeless.”
It really depends on the person, their lifestyle, and their choices. Busy-bodies who are constantly on the go may go days without washing their hair because they either forgot, didn’t have time or didn’t make it a priority Some people who work-out constantly or like to keep their overall appearance looking a certain way may wash their hair on a daily basis. Whatever the personal choice may be, it’s up to what that person wants for themselves and no one else (because they are their primary focus).
17 During Pregnancy: Sweating Means More Deodorant Use (Everywhere)
Summer months are usually the worst months for everyone when it comes to sweating. For some, this struggle is a year-round concern and deodorants and sprays and extra showers just don’t seem to kick the sweat.
For pregnant mamas, kicking the constant sweat may seem impossibly (whether it be summertime or not).
According to What To Expect, “by the third trimester, your little bun is heating up the oven of your body as part of the growth process like never before. But While he or she will stay perfectly comfortable, you’ll be the one feeling the heat.” Since sweating may be inevitable for pregnant women, it is often recommended to look into antiperspirants that are aluminum-free and without parabens. These specific products will keep baby safe while keeping Mom a little less sweaty (fingers crossed).
16 After Pregnancy: A Squirt Bottle May Help Get In “Those Places”
No matter the type of delivery a mama has, their “area” will need a little extra attention and definitely some extra cleaning. Your body just grew and created a beautiful being and now it must flush out the supportive tissues that came with that creation. This means paying close attention to self-care “down there.”
Typical showers won’t always cut it and dabbing carefully with a washcloth may also not do the trick. To make sure those “parts” remain free of infection or irritation, a squirt bottle or spray bottle may be the best way to help. Parent Guide provides Moms with a helpful list of “Peri Bottles” (or spray bottles) that may help make sure the postpartum cleaning process a less frustrating one. Some of these include the Fridababy Fridet “Momwasher,” Brondell GoSpa Travel Bidet, and even a traditional cleansing bottle, such as one from Medline.
15 Before Pregnancy: Ice Packs Were Mainly For Sprains And Strains
Whether you are a runner, dancer, CrossFit enthusiast or just a clumsy human being, sprains and strains are bound to part of your life. You can be walking back from class or walking from the parking lot into your office, trip over the curb and be out-for-the-count for a couple of weeks due to a bruised ankle or foot.
For moments like this, ice packs are usually the first items grabbed. Sometimes specialists will recommend heat before ice (or ice and then heat), so it’s always important to consult with medical professionals if the injury really is that severe. Menstrual cramps may also be relieved by using an ice pack and, for some, a heat pack can also do the trick. It always depends on the injury or pain and the specific person’s overall body.
14 During Pregnancy: Pay Attention To Details When Taking Baths
Many women and medical professionals have mixed feelings when it comes to baths during pregnancy. Some may say they are “absolutely fine” while others may say “absolutely not.” Some specialists may recommend not using specific bubbles or products during the bath while others focus primarily on the heat of the water. Whatever the exact recommendations are you are following during your pregnancy, it’s important to pay attention to how your body is reacting and feeling when taking one – if you choose to do so.
Very Well Family states that most medical professionals say to “keep your bath water warm, not hot. 98.6 degrees is just perfect and feels great.” It’s also important to not take a bath if your water has broken. If those details are covered (after consulting with your specific doctor), baths should be okay. They may also help with backaches and cramping.
13 After Pregnancy: Pads Will Become Your Best Friend
Many women are strictly tampon-users. They may stray away from pads if they are a very active person or because of the bulky discomfort they bring. Once you enter the postpartum period, tampons don’t only feel like items you haven’t thought about in quite some time, but are also not going to be used anytime in the near future (and that’s not because your period may or may not return in the coming months).
The Department of Health and Social Care (NHS) states that “you shouldn’t use tampons until you’ve had your 6-week postnatal check. This is because you’ll still have a wound where the placenta joined with the wall of your womb.” Following these guidelines is incredibly important during the postpartum recovery process and consulting in your specific provider if something seems wrong is critical.
12 Before Pregnancy: Take All The Hot Showers You Want
When you are not pregnant, you have all the freedom you want when it comes to shower and bath temperature. If you like super-hot, steaming showers – you can stand under that showerhead for as long as you want without a worry in the world. If you prefer cold showers after a hot run or workout, you can let that the shower water turn into icicles (well, that may not be entirely safe… but cold showers are okay).
When you are pregnant, however, these types of choices aren’t always as easy. Though a hot shower may sooth muscles and allow pregnant joints to relax, BabyMed recommends not “elevating your body temperature beyond 102 degrees Fahrenheit, especially during the first trimester.” Some birth defects have been linked to abrupt body temperature changes and it’s important to pay attention to this.
But if you are not pregnant, you don’t have to pay extra attention to these details.
11 During Pregnancy: Boring Soaps May Be Best
Even though there are many safe-to-use, fancy pregnancy products out there, sometimes it’s best to stick to the “boring, standard soaps” during pregnancy. When you step out of your comfort zone too much when you’re expecting, your body may react in ways you didn’t see coming. That can cause infection or reactions that may impact not only the baby, but the mother as well.
Global News provides a list of ingredients some soaps may have that should be avoided during pregnancy. These ingredients may “be hazardous to pregnant women” and reaching out to your medical provider to “consult with them before introducing a new ingredient to your repertoire, even a natural one,” is important. Some of these ingredients include Retinol, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, hydroquinone, parabens, and aluminum chloride.
10 After Pregnancy: You May Obsess About Handwashing
Before having a baby, you may look at those new moms surrounding you and laugh when they obsess about using hand sanitizer or making sure to wash your hands not once, but twice before holding their little one. You may not think it’s necessary to go to the extent some parents do when it comes to cleanliness before cuddling with their infant and it may even be laughable to some.
Even though some people despise the cliché, it may hold true for some new moms: You don’t know until you are a parent yourself.
Newborns and infants do not have an immune system. They have not been confronted with any disease or illness besides what their mama was faced with during pregnancy. Therefore, their health is very fragile. Handwashing is important before being near a little one and some moms become obsessed with this – and it makes sense to be overly careful.
9 Before Pregnancy: The “Common Cold” Isn’t As Stressed About
No one likes being sick – even if the “sick” is a little cold. A little cold is never fun – aches, congestion, slight fever, sore throat. Even though the “common cold” isn’t a full-blown sinus infection or bronchitis, it’s still annoying to deal with.
But if you aren’t pregnant, you don’t have to worry about the symptoms of a “common cold” impacting your little one.
When you feel under the weather, you can focus on you and your recovery. You can take the day off from work or class if needed without worrying about saving up for maternity leave. You can take whatever medication you usually take without it impacting your growing baby (specifically medications like Excedrin).
8 During Pregnancy: Your Skin May Become Very Foreign To You
Hormones do crazy things to a woman’s skin and body during pregnancy. Not only is it hormones, a growing belly and changing body can make the skin of a mom-to-be an outer layer she barely recognizes. She may notice marks and scars and bumps she never saw before her pregnancy simply because, well, the pregnancy brought them on.
According to American Pregnancy, some popular skin changes many women are faced with are stretch marks, melasma, acne, varicose veins, spider veins, dry and itchy spots, skin tags, and linea nigra. Though these changes can leave new moms feeling unconfident with their transitioning body, some ways to help prevent these issues can involve adding more low-key exercise into your routine, wearing lotions with vitamin E and SPF 15, and elevating your legs as much as possible.
7 After Pregnancy: Fingernails May Be Tougher To Manage
New moms often don’t have time to worry about their nails. Between figuring out a new routine, new body, and a new baby – a broken nail is not a top priority (no matter how annoying). However, if their nails are causing discomfort or pain to Mom which is impacting how she cares for the baby and herself, it is something that needs attention.
What To Expect explains that during and after pregnancy, nails may grow quicker as well as more brittle and grooved. This may lead to the “separation of the nail from the end of the nail bed called onycholysis.” Weak, easy-to-break, and thin nails can also occur during the pregnancy and postpartum period and the best way to prepare for this is to “eat a balanced diet and make sure your pregnancy vitamins contain biotin, which is a B-complex vitamin.”
6 Before Pregnancy: Product Ingredients May Not Be Top Priority
Some people are very focused on what is in the cleansers, washes, makeup, and hair products they use. Perhaps they do not want any products with dyes or parabens. They may not want products that are tested on animals. Maybe they’re just someone who is into only using name-brand products.
However, some people could care less what the ingredients are on the back of their bottles – and that’s okay (to each their own).
When you are not pregnant, someone who suffers from specific allergies or someone with a heavy belief system when it comes to the product ingredients, you do not have a need to worry. Some may see it as one less thing to worry about in a world already filled with too many stressors and if that’s how your life works, there is nothing wrong with that.
5 During Pregnancy: Pay Closer Attention To Your Gums
Many people expect swollen ankles, swollen fingers, and even swollen lips during pregnancy. Typically they do not expect their gums to join this “swollen party” – but they may show up uninvited.
Those dang hormones are at it again when the gums of a pregnant woman start feeling swollen or sore. American Pregnancy states “pregnancy gingivitis is caused by the hormonal changes that increase the blood flow to the gum tissue and cause your gums to be more sensitive, irritable, and swollen.” This can make your gums change color, grow in size (sometimes as if an abscess has shown up) or just hurt more than usual. Staying constant with your dental visits is important – even during pregnancy.
4 After Pregnancy: Time Spent Shaving Becomes Less And Less
If you are someone who likes to keep your body neat, clean, and well put-together, you may find yourself slowly giving up these little traits once your baby has arrived. This doesn’t mean you have completely lost your sense of self-care, it means you are prioritizing and will soon find a way to mesh your original routine in with your new one.
Until then, sometimes shaving gets pushed to the side. Between figuring out if you want to breastfeed, formula-feed, or pump, you are also trying to understand the routine your little one is setting for you. On top of all this, you will need time to sleep, eat, shower, clean, and (yes) relax.
Shaving your legs just isn’t always up there on that priority list (and a few extra hairy days never killed anyone).
3 Before Pregnancy: Take All The Time You Want DIY’ing Scrubs And Soaps
Pinterest, craft parties, and nights YouTubing DIY’ers you admire are sometimes great ways to discover hidden talents and interests you may have. You may be someone who loves to decorate your world with homemade products that take time, planning, and preparation (all things you usually have some of before a little one enters your world).
Soap and scrub-making are creative activities that do take time to perfect, but can be helpful in the long-run from a hygienic viewpoint. They allow a person to have full control over what goes into their product and if they do not have any allergies (or maybe they have too many of them), they can include exactly what they need in these products to make them safe and efficient for personal use.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do all of these things once you become a parent. It just means it may take some time before you are able to get into a groove that gives you this kind of freedom.
2 During Pregnancy: If You Don't Hydrate, Your Body Will Be Sorry
Whether you are or aren’t pregnant, if the weather is hot – hydration is crucial. Summertime especially is a tough time for a woman to be pregnant and if they do not drink enough water, they could be directly impacted in some unhealthy ways.
Elizabeth Carraba, a western New York registered nurse, states, “Most providers will recommend 2 – 2.5 liters of water per day. Using an app on your phone can be helpful to keep track of your water intake throughout the day.” Whether it be through an app, an hourly alarm, or just carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go – both you and your baby need to stay hydrated. You do not want to find yourself being hooked up to an IV just to get liquids pumped into your system – stay smart and do it yourself (drink up).
1 After Pregnancy: Recovery Sometimes Means Smelling Funky
The shift from pregnancy to delivery is a full-body transformation on top of the transformation that just happened during pregnancy. A woman’s body never stops changing and that change doesn’t end with recovery. Recovering from delivery is a whole new monster that comes with some weird, uninvited adjustments a new mom must face – and smelling a little funky is sometimes one of them.
Whatever the delivery method was, each comes with a lineup of reasons why a woman may have a slight scent to her afterward. These smells can be from the cleansers and creams being used or from the bodily functions and healing going on “in those areas.” Also, if a woman is wearing sterile pads, gauze or tape from a c-section or stitches, those are most likely going to have a slight odor to them as well – even if they are changed appropriately.
The good thing is that those weird smells can easily be replaced by the “new baby” smell everyone can’t get enough of.
References: Sejal Shah, M.D./Fit Pregnancy, Medical News Today, What To Expect, Parent Guide, Very Well Family, The Department of Health and Social Care (NHS), BabyMed, Global News, American Pregnancy, Elizabeth Carraba RN