Health and Beauty

It's okay to take a time out.

The world feels really scary for so many people right now. The news, social media, they're reporting things that can be hard to read, especially when you have a new baby or are expecting to bring one into the world soon. When we are carrying a baby, if we're already parents, we all eventually have the realization that the world's children are our children. We uncover new depths of empathy. This can make the news very hard to watch. It's totally normal for new parents to experience grief and feelings of anxiety during times like these. 

It's okay to take a minute to just breathe. Find serenity and peace where you can. Please don't forget to take time for self care right now. It's okay to do that for yourself and for your baby. The world will be here when you get back.

 Doula support for Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and Los Angeles parents, helping with stress relief and support during your pregnancy. 

April is National Stress Awareness Month

Relaxation during pregnancy is so important and sometimes it seems so hard to achieve. Whether you are feeling anxiety over your birth, just busy getting ready for your new little one, or running around after older siblings, there's always something that seems to get in the way.  Here are a few ways to lower your stress level during your pregnancy so you can all rest a little bit easier. 
 

Massage and chiropractic care.
 

Pregnancy massage and chiropractic care, when appropriate and approved by your provider, are great ways to lower your stress levels and deal with some of the physical discomforts of your changing body. Finding a massage therapist who is trained and certified in pregnancy massage is important, as they've been taught special techniques to safely work with the pregnant body.  If you can combine this with some friends and a spa day (current recommendations say that saunas and hot tubs are out during pregnancy, as are many essential oils, sorry!) all the better. Pamper yourself with a mani pedi. Get a facial. Enjoy the soothing atmosphere.  I particularly love the Glen Ivy Hot Springs and Spa in Corona, CA. It's a bit of a drive, but between the delicious and healthy dishes in the cafe, the sparkling pools, the Grotto and the array of spa services, you will emerge feeling rested and rejuvenated and you won't even miss the hot tub. 



Don't be afraid to put your feet up! 

 

I know, you may be busy, but try to find a few minutes every day to just put your feet up for a minute. Make a cup of tea or some sparkling water if it's too hot, and close your eyes. Some soothing music, a good book, whatever you need. It's important to take these moments in our busy daily lives. Your growing baby needs all the rest you can get. Consciously relax your body. Focus on your breathing. When I can carve out a few minutes to relax I like to pop on a short, soothing, guided meditation from the Buddify app. 
 

 Rest and stress reduction during pregnancy both help keep you and your baby healthy. A visibly pregnant caucasian woman in a blue dress relaxes on a patio chair. 

Get close to the water.

 

Even stepping into a warm shower can help you relax when you're in a state of stress. Got a few extra minutes? Take a bubble bath with something relaxing, like lavender bath salts (if you're ok with the smell). Here in LA it's generally not a terribly long drive to the beach, depending on the time of day. Just walking along the sand listening to the sound of the water can heighten your calm and promote a sense of well being. If you've got older kids, letting them run off some steam in the sand and play in the water can also contribute to everyone's relaxation later on! 

 

Get your body moving.
 

Everybody knows that exercise is good for you, but exercise also helps you deal with your stress levels a little more effectively. A gentle walk, stretching, a pregnancy yoga or tai chi class, or going swimming are all great forms of exercise for pregnancy. Bonus, they help keep your heart and body flexible, strong, and healthy for your upcoming labor and delivery. 

 Gentle exercise such as walking, stretching or pregnancy yoga are important for a healthy baby and a healthy body. Exercise can help your delivery go more smoothly. 

It's important to take time for self care during your pregnancy and to consciously manage your stress levels. You deserve to be the most relaxed you that you can be, and so does your baby!  If you're still overwhelmed and need a hand, consider hiring an antepartum doula to help you out before your baby comes. From handling light housekeeping and meal preparation, providing informational and emotional support, helping with comfort measures for advanced pregnancy, an antepartum doula can be a great tool in your stress management toolbox. 

Perioral Dermatitis and Pregnancy - Pt. 2 - Food Triggers

We know that what you put IN your body is as important as what you put ON it. The only way to learn your personal triggers is to pay attention to what you are putting on and in your body and then notice how your symptoms respond.

  • Spicy foods. This is a common one to watch. If you notice an increase in tingling, redness, painful new blisters or a spread of affected areas after a Thai curry with extra chilies or Taco Tuesday, then spicy food may be a trigger for you.

  • Caffeine. For the latte lover, this one is tragic. Caffeine appears to be a perioral dermatitis trigger for some people. While you're probably already limiting your caffeine intake during pregnancy, this is one to pay attention to. 

  • Salt, oil, acids.  These 3 triggers can all fall under the umbrella of things that go “ON” the skin in addition to “IN” the body. Greasy foods like fries and chips, acidic things like citrus and vinegar, salty things. All worth paying attention to when you're keeping a food diary. 

    Goodbye, shoestring french fries. It’s only for a little while.

  • Is there a yeast connection? There has been some discussion about whether or not perioral dermatitis is linked to candida. If you have a lot of yeast infections, thrush, or have previously dealt with candida overgrowth, it may be something you want to check out with your doctor, midwife or a nutritionist.


If you suspect there’s a link between your PD and certain foods, it is really worth investigating!


Which leads me to a couple of helpful suggestions.

  • Food based sources of probiotics*.  We know that the gut is linked to skin issues. You can get probiotic benefits from eating yogurt with active cultures, kefir, miso soup, pickled foods, and dark chocolate.
     
  • Food based sources of zinc*. Allergies allowing, you might add pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, spinach, chickpeas, shitaki mushrooms, and fresh green peas to your diet. Plus? Throw in some organic dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao. Shave some over a midnight snack of antioxidant rich strawberries, what’s not to love?

If you are struggling with perioral dermatitis and skin outbreaks during your pregnancy, it can really help to pay close attention to food-based triggers and increase foods that promote gut health.

Perioral dermatitis can be healed.

*Always run any dietary supplements past your midwife or doctor first. Some things can be toxic for you and/or baby at elevated levels.



 

Perioral Dermatitis and Pregnancy - Pt. 1

You wake up one morning and discover a strange, bumpy rash on your face.

 Perioral dermatitis during pregnancy affects many women. It can feel unsightly and lead to feelings of depression and unhappiness. Managing perioral dermatitis is possible. 

Maybe it’s next to your mouth or between your lips and nose. It might extend down to your chin or even around your eyes. You’re not sure what it is, but you dab a little steroid cream on it and it goes away, only to return when you stop. Except this time it’s worse. SO much worse. It might burn, it itches, and it seems like every single thing you do just makes it worse.

Perioral dermatitis is a skin condition - a kissing cousin to rosacea and eczema - affecting primarily women of childbearing age, though you can also see it in children. Most often it just starts flaring up for unknown reasons, very often during pregnancy or other times of hormonal fluctuation. While non-contagious in nature, perioral dermatitis can be unsightly and it is very stressful. The last thing you want to deal with - ever - is a painful, bright red, bumpy face rash, right?


Let me validate you, here. Perioral dermatitis can feel like the end of the world.  

I had my first bout with this in 1991, while pregnant with my first daughter. My midwife mis-diagnosed it, and the treatment she recommended made it oh, so much worse. Once it cleared up, I was so happy. But just like the Cat in the Hat, perioral dermatitis comes back. It came back with a vengeance during my second pregnancy, and I’ve experienced several more bouts over the years.  The first, and most important thing I learned was this: 

While steroid creams are the cure of choice for many forms of dermatitis, perioral dermatitis is not one of them.

Using steroids will make it go away for a short period, and then it will come back 3x worse than before. Just don’t use them. 

It's really important to let your dermatologist and/or primary care doctor know that you are pregnant, as tetracycline antibiotics are contra-indicated for  the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.  The most common treatment for this condition is to prescribe tetracycline antibiotics for a period of several months. Obviously, you are going to want to ask your doctor to help you find alternative treatments that are safe for both you and baby. 

In my own personal journey with perioral dermatitis, I have found a few things to be helpful and I'm listing them here as things you might want to explore or talk about with your doctor. 

  1. Skip the cover up. 
    I know you want to cover it up with makeup. Don’t. Go clean-faced for a while. Makeup can just irritate it more. 

  2. Read the labels on all of your skincare products. 
    There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), glycols, fluoride, and parabens can irritate and worsen PD.  You might want to eliminate them. Look for SLS free products that have been formulated for skin conditions like eczema, acne and rosacea. Whatever you use, you want to find something gentle and non-irritating. 

  3. Toothpaste, especially whitening toothpaste, is a suspected trigger for PD.  
    During pregnancy, great dental hygiene is super important, so don't stop brushing your teeth! There are some great non SLS/fluoride free toothpastes available on the market.  Talk to your dentist and make sure your choice of alternative products are supporting your best dental health. 

  4.  Shampoo can affect PD. 
    Consider going to a gentle, SLS and sulfate free, no-poo regimen while your skin heals and even after. There are some fantastic options available now, thanks to all the curly girls out there. 

  5. Perioral dermatitis likes to be left alone.
    Don’t touch it or rub it. It just makes it hurt, and look, worse. Plus, it spreads faster.

  6. Food can be a trigger for some people. 
    You know your body best, so if you feel like something you are eating is having an adverse effect on your PD, make a note and try eliminating it. Obviously, if a suspected trigger food is an important source of something you need during pregnancy, you will want to find an alternative. Look for a second blog post on common food triggers, coming next week! 

  7. Pay close attention. 
    Keep a product and food diary. You will begin to see patterns. 

Perioral dermatitis can take several months to fully heal, but once you've eliminated your triggers, it does go away. With the right care, you can soothe the burn and keep it from being too angry looking while you’re in the healing phase. It’s important to treat yourself with patience, compassion and care while you’re healing. With perseverance, I promise you will get through this!

You aren't alone.

A quick word of warning:


Google wisely! 

Supplements: There are some supplements that are commonly recommended to treat perioral dermatitis. They can be very toxic for your baby and for you too, at the wrong dosage - or at all. ALWAYS double and triple check these with your doctor before you take anything. 

Essential oils: EO's are powerful chemicals. Please don't ingest or put EO's directly on your skin or your child's skin. You can set yourself up for lifelong problems, including sensitization, allergies and organ failure. If you are considering essential oil use, please talk to your physician or midwife and also seek a consultation with a qualified professional - a certified or clinical aromatherapist - who has trained through a reputable and accredited program, not a random "wellness advocate" from an MLM company. 

Your health, and that of your baby are too important to risk. 

(Originally posted at Great Valley Doula.)