If you happen to find yourself pregnant, joining online mom groups can be one of the best things you can do. These communities are chockfull of great tips, most of them based from the personal experiences of fellow women just like you. From lactating treats to what to pack to the hospital or the best travel stroller, you’ll find plenty of information there.
Granted, you should always take the advice being dispensed online, no matter how authoritative these mom groups may seem, with a grain of salt. It’s still always best to consult a medical doctor or a licensed practitioner if it’s serious business. You can take Sam from Makati’s recommendation to buy an Aden + Anais swaddle, but it’s best to ask the nurse how to swaddle your newborn properly.
When it comes to beauty, I found that many members of mom groups prescribe a clean and all-or-nothing approach. Many give up dying their hair, getting gel manicures, wearing their non-clean (ie, not organic or natural-based) makeup, etc., all for the sake of helping ensure that nothing harms their progeny. It’s fine, I respect that approach, even if I personally didn’t. Not on all aspects anyway. You see, the problem with being pregnant or being a breast-feeding mom, is that there is both an enormous amount of information surrounding every single move they make, but at the same time there’s a lack of actual medical studies. You see, testing drugs and other procedures on a pregnant woman is one of medicine’s grey areas—it’s just not done. Take note that I’m taking a very simplistic way to explain why many expectant mothers and professionals practicing in the field tend to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach. There are no studies whether dying your hair or wearing drugstore lipstick or using silicones-laden shampoos can cause harm to you or your child. But recent studies have shown that, while safe, they’re not the best for us. So, would you risk it?
This is often why many modern pregnant women will find the next 9 months of pregnancy a challenge. I mean, it’s already a challenge in itself to grow a tiny human, carry it safely to term, and come to terms with the many emotional, physical, and cultural changes they present. In our modern age, many first-timers find themselves googling every little question that pops into their head. Type anything+pregnant and you will often find yourself reading too closely the dire results from the likes of WebMD.com. Or you stumble into a fake news website. That’s how many anti-vaxxers come to be.
In my case, I thought about each beauty conundrum as they came and consulted professionals whenever I was stumped. When it came to skincare, which I was going to apply daily, I asked my doctor. She replied that all skincare was fine, except for retinol, which is one of the few ingredients known to really cause possible harm to the fetus. With this info, I was able to keep most of my skincare routines. I did eventually switch to clean beauty, but it was more because I found the oils worked much, much better with my pregnant skin, and the clean beauty aesthetic, full of multi-tasking creamy products that gave a “natural glow” seemed suited to my mood.
When it came to aesthetic procedures—well, this is where most spoiled beauty editors probably feel the most at a lost. The Aivee Clinic only allows the most basic of facials to pregnant women. Even when I begged them for the Glass Facial, which didn’t have any lasers or retinol involved, they very nicely, but steadfastly refused. No lasers. No fancy creams or serums. No injection of any sort. No radio frequency, ultrasound, magnetic anything. Your best bet for firmer skin? Jade rollers. And if your pregnancy hormones happen to give you a nasty bout with acne, melasma and a host of other unwelcome skin issues, well, at least there’s the facial—and the hope that the next trimester will calm things down.
Physical exercise? My doctor, a triathlete, is more progressive when it comes to this area. Most doctors are. Gone are the good ol’ days of our mothers who were instructed to rest and eat all the pizza they could. Unless there are complications, you can safely keep on exercising, whether it’s running, pilates, boxing or weight lifting. Just listen to your body and stop and rest whenever you feel like it’s too much. Now is not the time to attempt a world record. Unless you’re Serena Williams. But she’s a special case. In my first pregnancy, I enjoyed daily walks, jogs and light weight lifting. Now, thanks to the pandemic keeping me home and the gyms unsanitary, I’ve switched to online yoga and pilates, gardening, house cleaning, and water exercises in our teeny tiny pool. If you can, please move. It will help with the rollercoaster of emotions, with keeping your body strong and ready for when you have to push your tiny human out of your even tinier hoo-ha.
Lastly, don’t forget your mental health. Pregnancy can often be summed up as the best of times and the worst of times. Reach out to someone receptive to your feelings and thoughts. It may not be your partner, your friends, or family. That’s fine. It can be your therapist, a random colleague or even a group of semi-anonymous people in an online mom group. I can’t tell you how many moms there will spill their guts out to find relief and a comfort with their fellow moms. Pregnancy and motherhood are extra special experiences, not necessarily positive ones, but they do create a bond that crosses many boundaries. You may not agree with Martha of Alabang and her insistence on gender reveal parties or Jessica of Pasig’s fascist approach to breastfeeding, but these same women will often be the first to give you a virtual hug when you complain about having cankles or feeling powerless or bemoan the feeling of not being yourself. Whether they’ll sling advice or simply let you rant, it’s enough to remember that you’re not alone.
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