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When mirror turns enemy

With proper preparation,I am told,several beauty problems can be avoided during pregnancy.

“Jaya,your skin is glowing,any good news?” These were the opening lines of one of the first advertisements I had seen of the popular beauty soap,Dove. I was in school then. Though I have used it often,I don’t know if the product is true to its claims,but I do give credit to it for enlightening me about the fact that a woman’s skin is supposed to glow when she is expecting.

I was glowing too,till a few months ago. People would shower compliments and I thought this was going to stay. But I was wrong. Even no amount of make-up is doing the trick any more. The pregnancy ‘glow’ is gone,and the skin looks dull. Not only this,my hair is unmanageable as ever,and as far as the body weight is concerned,the less said the better. It’s a struggle to decide on what to wear while going out. I have had to discard even my loose-fitting tops and kurtas as they can no longer accommodate my belly.

Welcome to the third trimester.

As I begin my eighth month,the doctor has advised as much rest as possible. While she has okayed my going to office for some more time,provided there is no exhaustion,a trip to the beauty parlour seems too much of an effort. As a result,my eyebrows have been awaiting the touch of a thread for months now,blackheads around the nose look more prominent than the face,and the bush on my upper lip can put the maharajas of Mewar to shame.  

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The feet were in a bad shape and it was with great difficulty that I managed to scrub them the other day.

Not all pregnancies are same and not all women come across similar problems,but this period is very crucial for a woman’s skin due to hormonal changes,resulting in acne,dryness and stretch marks — not only on the abdomen,but on the face too. The skin becomes more sensitive and one should be wary of using over-the-counter cosmetic products,which can cause irritation.

With proper preparation,I am told,several beauty problems can be avoided. I guess I should have started early,but those in their early pregnancy should be careful from the beginning. To start with,eat a nourishing diet,with adequate intake of milk,fruits,vegetables; eggs,meat,fish or poultry for non-vegetarians; whole grain or bread,butter and vitamin-calcium supplements. It will help both the mother and the child. Constipation,which is very common during pregnancy,is the main culprit behind skin problems. Drink plenty of water to counter this,to remove toxins from the body and provide moisture to the skin.

You may feel like taking a long bath to beat the heat,but if you have a dry skin,don’t stay in the water for a long time. And make sure the soap you use is mild. Or,better use a shower gel,for soaps steal the moisture from the skin. If you are wearing make-up,use the minimum,and don’t forget to take it off before going to bed. It is better to avoid bleaching your facial hair. Though there has been no study to indicate that bleach is harmful to the baby,it is better to wait for a few months because there are chances of the chemicals seeping into the body. But do remember to use a good moisturiser — one that is suitable during pregnancy — after washing your face with lukewarm water twice a day. A pregnancy-safe mild cleansing lotion is a must for those with oily skin. According to experts,cosmetics that contain retinoids or salicylic acids should be avoided. It’s better to discuss any product you use with your doctor once.

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It is advised to avoid direct exposure to sun,as much as possible. And last,but not the least,you need to sleep well. I know it is easier said than done,given the aches and pains. Back home,my mother had arranged for a woman who used to give my sister a good massage when she was pregnant. I have had no such luck,but it is a good idea to get a foot massage done,as frequently as possible,to get some relief and for that elusive good sleep.

The fluctuating hormones can also wreak havoc on your hair,though some women are confronted with hair problems only after the delivery and once they stop breastfeeding. Some lucky ones find their hair shinier during pregnancy because of higher estrogen levels. But those who complain of a change in their hair texture can consider changing the shampoo and oil they use. Experts assure that your hair will get back its normal shape after the baby is born.

Just like bleaching,colouring and perming your hair during pregnancy should also be put off until after delivery because of the chemicals used in them. I have cut my hair shorter,so that it is easier to manage.

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And if you plan to go to a spa or a salon,opt for the facials and body treatments especially designed for pregnant women. Stay away from sauna and any treatment that requires high temperature.

I am less than two months away from the big day and am willing to put up with this weary look for some more time. Those who still have a long way to go can safely heed to the suggestions I have shared here,or log on to the web and check out the trusted websites for advice,at least till our super-celebrity counterpart,Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan comes out with her special tips. The way media is tracking her pregnancy,I am sure a beauty care guide for expecting women from the beauty queen is on the way. 

First published on: 04-07-2011 at 18:11 IST
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