What is a manicure?

A manicure is taking care of the hands ("mani" stands for hands) while a pedicure is taking care of feet ("pedi" stands for feet)

For many people, a manicure is just painting nails. But it is much more. It is a cosmetic beauty treatment for the fingernails and hands. A manicure can be performed at home or in a nail salon. A typical manicure consists of:

  • filing and shaping the free edge of nails,
  • pushing and clipping any nonliving tissue,
  • treatments with various liquids,
  • massage of the hand, and
  • the application of fingernail polish.

Obviously at the time of COVID-19 close contacts have become a whole different issue. In a nail salon, there is close contact between the person getting and the person doing the manicure. So this is an issue that everyone should be aware of.

Are manicures safe during pregnancy?

Manicures are considered safe during pregnancy to a certain point. The manicurist uses tools that have been sterilized between clients. Some pregnant women choose to bring their own manicure supplies to the salon in order to reduce the risk of infection. A manicure involves soaking, cutting, filing, and buffing nails. In most cases, nail polish is applied to nails after the manicure is complete. While manicures are considered safe during pregnancy, there is some evidence that nail polish may not be so safe.

Some nail polishes include phthalate. Phthalate has been associated with brain defects in animal fetuses, but no human trials have produced the same effect. The reaction in animal fetuses could be associated with the concentration of nail polish fumes used during the study. That said, when choosing to have a manicure during pregnancy, it is important to visit a salon with good ventilation. Fumes from manicures and pedicures can cause headaches and nausea in some pregnant women. There is also concern regarding the use of toluene or formaldehyde-based nail products. Toluene and formaldehyde are not considered safe to use during pregnancy and should be avoided whenever possible. If the manicurist does not know whether these ingredients are included in the manicure products, it may be best to choose a manicurist who does.

Do your own manicure at home

At-home manicures are a healthy alternative to salon-based services. Home manicures can be completed by a friend, family member, or partner. Combining a home manicure with a home pedicure is a great way for a partner to provide a much-needed service while making a pregnant woman feel more beautiful.

If you experience nail changes during pregnancy, such as weak and brittle nails, it may be best to trim nails at home and apply a clear strengthening polish in a well-ventilated area. Acrylic nails are not typically advised during pregnancy, mainly due to all the chemicals used during their application.

Safety precautions

It’s no secret that babies love to explore the world with their mouths. As they are learning to grasp and explore, they will feel compelled to put anything and everything in their mouths. By this point, you should have already baby-proofed your home. No drawer should be left unlocked and no small object should be left unhidden. If your baby can reach it, it’s food. However, there might be a few things you left out of your baby-proofing rampage. If you are or any of your family members are wearing nail polish, your baby could easily ingest some.

Nail polish contains a myriad of harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde. For a baby’s sensitive system, it can be dangerous to ingest even just a little bit. When your baby starts to grasp and explore, he or she will get into the habit of grabbing peoples’ hands and chewing or sucking on them. If you’re wearing nail polish, chips might come off and make their way into your baby’s system.

If you’re a new mom, you don’t have to completely avoid nail polish. After treating yourself to a manicure, make sure each nail is fully dry before handling your baby. You could also consider purchasing natural nail polish that contains fewer chemicals than the brand names. Once your nails are painted, be extra diligent about keeping your hands out of the baby’s mouth. If he or she starts to teeth on your hands, remove them promptly and hand over a teething toy.

Should you paint your baby's nails?

Similarly, you should never paint your baby’s nails for the same reason. If you feel the need to do so, you can actually buy a nail polish that is safe for babies. Regular nail polish contains too many chemicals. Your baby will almost certainly end up with those pretty fingers in her mouth. Even if you paint your baby’s toenails, she’ll be at risk for swallowing the chips. Your baby is agile, and toenails are no strangers to their curious mouth.

Technically, you should avoid wearing regular nail polish as a new mom because there’s a good chance it’ll end up in the baby’s mouth. At the same time, I certainly understand the need for new moms to feel pampered and cute. It is acceptable, and recent studies support the decision of any exhausted new parent to get that manicure, as long as she promises to be extra careful about contact with baby.

Read More:
Are Pedicures Safe During Pregnancy
Nail Polish & Painting
Beauty Treatments During Pregnancy

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