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How to Recover After Giving Birth

Young woman lying on her bed, healing from giving birthGiving birth is one of the most remarkable things your body will ever do. No matter whether you had a cesarean birth (C-section) or vaginal delivery, your body has been through trauma just the same. As a result, it is going to need some time to recover after giving birth.
 
Fully recovering from pregnancy and childbirth can take months. And while many women feel mostly back to normal by six to eight weeks postpartum, it may take longer for you to feel like yourself again. If you chose to place your baby for adoption, feelings of loss can be a big part of your experience.
 
As you recover, you may feel like your body has turned against you. But try not to get frustrated. Recognize that your body is not conscious of your expectations and timelines. The best thing you can do for your body is rest, eat well, and give yourself a break.
 
During your postpartum time, your hormones also will be shifting. As a result, you may find you’re more emotional or can’t think clearly. Again, give yourself time for this to pass.
 
To help you through your recovery, we have put together some tips to make things simpler. We share guidelines, but it is important to check in with your medical professional if you are experiencing anything that worries you. And if at any time you think about hurting yourself or your baby, make sure to tell someone.
 

Recovery from a Cesarean Section

  1. Follow all instructions given by physicians, nurses, or midwives in regards to keeping the incision site clean.
  2. Expect that vaginal bleeding should continue for approximately three to ten days. Use pads, not tampons.
  3. Mild, cramp-like pains in your lower abdomen are normal and are the result of your uterus contracting back to its normal size.
  4. Your incision site will likely be sore for a few weeks. Use pain relievers as prescribed by your doctor and do not lift anything for a few weeks.
  5. Breast engorgement will occur three to four days after delivery. Use of ice packs, a supportive bra, and mild pain relievers can help with this. Avoid hot showers during this time as it will stimulate milk production.
  6. Watch for signs of infection, including a fever, red and hot areas at the incision site, oozing from the incision, and an increase in pain and tenderness. Report any suspicions to your doctor immediately.
  7. Take it easy! You’ve had major surgery and recovery will take time.
  8. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up office visit in about six weeks. It is important to keep this appointment!

Recovery from a Vaginal Delivery

  1. Follow all instructions given by physicians, nurses, or midwives in regard to keeping your perineum area clean.
  2. Expect that vaginal bleeding should continue for approximately three to ten days. Use pads, not tampons.
  3. Mild cramp-like pains in your lower abdomen are normal and are the result of your uterus contracting back to its normal size. Ask your physician about pain relievers if needed.
  4. Your perineum and vaginal area will likely be sore. Use ice and warm compresses, and wear loose-fitting clothing to allow air to flow.
  5. Breast engorgement will occur three to four days after delivery. Use of ice packs, a supportive bra, and mild pain relievers can help with this. Avoid hot showers during this time as it will stimulate milk production.
  6. Watch for signs of infection, including a fever, foul-smelling thick vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, and an increase in pain and tenderness. Report any suspicions to your doctor immediately.
  7. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up office visit in about 6 weeks. It is important to keep this appointment!

Your Emotions as You Recover After Giving Birth

  • It is completely normal to experience feelings of loss after delivering your baby and seeing them go home with the adoptive parents you chose. This does not mean that you made the wrong decision to place your baby for adoption.
  • Try to identify the feelings you are having and put them in words through journaling.
  • Take care of yourself! Sleep, cry, be happy, ask for help, relax, and give yourself some time to bounce back into a routine.
  • Learn more about the Lifetime Adoption Foundation Birth Mother Scholarship program by visiting LifetimeFoundation.org. Making plans for your future will help you focus and move forward.
  • Never hesitate to call your doctor for advice. If you feel something is “off” emotionally or physically, reach out for help. Trust your instincts.

As you recover after giving birth, know that Lifetime Adoption has an amazing network of assistance for our birth mothers, including referrals, counseling, and support from peers. You can even chat with another woman who placed her child for adoption. As you recover from delivery, take the time to seek out the help and support you need. Call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784.

Your Guide to Pregnancy-Safe Foundations

A woman tests pregnancy-safe foundations on her handThere are a lot of things to take into account when you’re pregnant. Besides physical changes, you also have to be mindful of what you put on your body, including everything from your sunscreen, shampoo, face wash, and more. So while you may already be enjoying that pregnancy glow, you may also want to look at the makeup you wear every day, like your favorite foundation, to make sure it’s pregnancy-safe.
 
As a major part of many women’s beauty regimens, finding a pregnancy-safe foundation is a must. Your body can absorb substances through the skin, so expectant moms need to be careful about the ingredients in their makeup. For example, parabens are common ingredients found in lipsticks and foundations to preserve their shelf-life. But parabens are also linked to developmental issues in fetuses and neurological and reproductive disruptions during pregnancy.
 
Besides avoiding parabens, you should also avoid products that include fragrances, phthalates, BPA, triclosan, and DEP. To check if your foundation is pregnancy-safe, you can look at its ingredient list either on the bottle or online.
 
You may want to try a non-comedogenic foundation, which means they are products that are said not to clog pores. Other pore-clogging ingredients to steer clear of include coconut oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil. If you haven’t tried a BB or CC cream yet, this may be the time to. BB and CC creams are gentler on your skin and provide it moisturize at the same time. In addition, all-natural BB or CC creams usually have fewer and less harsh ingredients than the typical foundation.
 
With all that said, if you have concerns or questions, speak with your health care provider. To help you find a pregnancy-safe foundation, we’ve gathered eight that you might want to try:
 

Best Pregnancy-Safe Foundations

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15
The first pregnancy-safe foundation on our list is super lightweight and provides medium coverage to make your skin look fresh all day long. Plus, it provides you with some additional sun protection. it’s water-based and free of mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and triclosan. Since it’s available in 42 shades, pregnant women of all races can find a match.
 
Tarte High-Performance Naturals Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation
Tarte’s vegan foundation has a water-based formula that works to hydrate your skin while providing coverage. It contains vitamin E and marine plants to smooth and nourish your skin. Free of parabens and phthalates, Tarte’s foundation also has broad-spectrum SPF 15 sunscreen.
 
One reviewer of Tarte’s Rainforest of the Sea foundation says, “I have combination skin, and this wears great. It’s blendable and buildable. Lasts all day yet very lightweight.”
 
Supergoop! CC Screen SPF 50
You may have heard of Supergoop! sunscreen, but did you know that they make CC screen too? It provides SPF 50 that’s formulated with only clean ingredients and is reef-safe. Supergoop’s CC screen is 100% mineral, non-comedogenic, and available in 15 different shades to help even out a variety of skin tones. If you’re looking for a lightweight, tinted sunscreen that provides light coverage and doesn’t make your face feel greasy, you’ll want to give this one a try!
 
Maybelline Dream Fresh Skin Hydrating BB cream
Maybelline’s BB cream is on the more affordable end, with a price point under $7. Containing SPF 30, it provides light coverage and brightens, hydrates, and smoothes. Available in five different shades, Maybelline’s BB cream is oil-free and non-comedogenic.
 
IT Cosmetics CC Matte Cream
IT Cosmetics CC cream was developed alongside plastic surgeons and has an oil-free, full-coverage matte formula with SPF 40. The product also does more than just even out your skin tone. It contains charcoal to help detoxify, tea tree extract to handle blemishes, and an anti-aging serum made with peptides and antioxidants to make you glow!
 
Physicians Formula Super CC Color-Correction + Care CC Cream SPF 30
This CC cream is another multi-tasker — it protects from the sun, color corrects, moisturizes, AND has anti-aging properties! Like most products from Physicians Formula, it’s hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin, as well as oil-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic.
 
Says one reviewer, “This is my go-to, daily foundation. It’s a lifesaver for someone who wants a product that can do a little bit of everything.”
 
COOLA Organic Rosilliance BB+ Cream SPF 30
Active mamas-to-be will appreciate that COOLA’s BB cream is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and has mineral broad-spectrum SPF 30. Not only that, but it’s also reef-friendly, non-comedogenic, and made with 70% certified organic ingredients. Included super ingredients are acai fruit oil, rose stem cell extracts, and plankton extract to smooth and restore your skin.
 
bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30
The final pregnancy-safe foundation on our list comes from bareMinerals. Their clean, water-based tinted moisturizer is designed to keep your skin hydrated and has buildable coverage for those times where your skin needs to be evened out. You can apply one layer for very sheet coverage like a tinted moisturizer provides, or add more for when you want more coverage. “A few layers does really provide nice coverage. It has a nice hybrid gel-slash-lotion texture that allows you to layer it,” shares one reviewer of bareMinerals’ product. In addition, it’s non-comedogenic, free of parabens and synthetic fragrances, and is 98% naturally derived.
 
For more ideas to change up your daily beauty routine so that it’s safe for your growing baby, check out our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products!

Your Guide to Pregnancy-Safe Shampoos

Pregnant woman in her bathroom after a shower, wondering about pregnancy-safe shampoosShampoos and conditioners are generally considered safe for everyone, including pregnant women. But even though shampoos go through testing before they hit the shelves, healthcare, hygiene, and cosmetic products are not tested on pregnant women.
 
Last time, in our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, we talked about pregnancy-safe sunscreens. We’ve also shared about pregnancy-safe skincare ingredients, along with dermatologist-recommended products to help you out. We hope that you’ve been finding this info to be valuable!
 
It’s doubtful that the shampoo you use will affect your baby. However, some products are a better choice than others. Today, we’ll cover all the things you need to know about the best pregnancy-safe shampoos!
 
The best shampoos for pregnant women are ones you can find in the “clean” or “conscious” beauty departments. These departments are getting easier to find nowadays, as everyone from Ulta to Sephora to Target is focusing on “clean” beauty. And it’s for a good reason— no one wants to feed their body ingredients that are possibly dangerous.
 
It’s been shown that parabens, phthalates, and sulfates are not good for us, so it’s become even more clear that using products with those ingredients while pregnant is definitely not safe. This means hair products, sunscreen, body wash, skincare products, and deodorants all need a closer look when you’re pregnant.
 
According to dermatologist Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, “There have been several studies showing that essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil have hormone-disrupting effects. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using undiluted essential oils if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive.”
 
Switching to a “clean” shampoo has never been easier—many of your favorite stores have already researched and are demanding the best in safe ingredients.
 
A good method for finding a pregnancy-safe shampoo is to look for clean, non-toxic, and nourishing products. Use products made with natural ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter. It’s crucial, though, to eliminate the toxic ingredients first. You don’t want to use products with some beneficial ingredients and some bad ones since you’d be defeating the purpose.
 
To help you determine what’s safe during pregnancy, we’ve curated the best shampoos that are both effective and smell fabulous! And you can easily find all of these shampoos at an affordable price point at your local drug store or on Amazon.
 

Best Pregnancy-Safe Shampoos:

It’s A 10 Miracle Shampoo Plus Keratin
It’s A 10 Miracle Shampoo has added Keratin, which protects your color and shields hair from heat and environmental damage. Reviewers love that this gentle, moisturizing shampoo has a great scent and works for all hair types.
 
SheaMoisture Intensive Hydration Shampoo & Conditioner
Manuka honey and Mafura oil provide rich, intensive hydration— which most moms-to-be desperately need. People love SheaMoisture’s shampoo and conditioning set, and this product has almost 5,000 Amazon reviews and a 4.6 star rating to show for it! The certified organic raw shea butter and African Rock Fig repairs hair, making it soft, shiny, and free of frizz.
 
Pacifica Power Strong and Long Moisturizing Shampoo
Pacifica is known for its gentle and effective ingredients that are both vegan and cruelty-free. This shampoo is also free of parabens and phthalates. Pacifia’s Strong and Long shampoo hydrates and strengthens hair, making it the perfect shampoo for after you give birth too. Check for Pacifica’s other varieties from this line, including Pineapple Curls (for curl-defining) and Rosemary Purify (with rosemary and mint to stimulate the scalp and clear excess build-up).
 
Love Beauty and Planet – Volume and Bounty Thickening Set
Love Beauty and Planet is a favorite in the clean beauty category, and they sell for reasonable prices. This volumizing shampoo/conditioner set with Coconut Water and Mimosa Flower provides volume. In addition, it works to help rejuvenate and hydrate fine, flat hair. One reviewer posted, “Not only is my hair softer and shinier than ever, but my scalp is also calmer and much less flaky!”
 
TRESemmé Pro Pure Shampoo
TRESemmé Pro Pure has zero sulfates, parabens, or dyes. Made for dehydrated and dull hair, Pro Pure revitalizes your hair without stripping it of its natural, healthy oils.
 
Baby Bum Shampoo & Body Wash
If it’s safe enough for babies, you know it’s safe enough for mamas too. This ultra-gentle, multi-use shampoo and body wash was made with a baby’s sensitive skin in mind. Baby Bum’s products are dermatologist and pediatrician-tested and lightly scented with a bit of sweet banana. Natural, moisturizing ingredients include aloe, monoi coconut oil, and white ginger. You can follow this shampoo with Baby Bum’s Conditioning Detangler, which is also very light and pregnancy-safe.
 
Herbal Essences BioRenew
This affordable shampoo is dye-, paraben-, and sulfate-free, and scented with honey, jasmine, and creamy vanilla. It’s made without sulfates to cleanse and moisturize gently and is safe on color-treated hair. Snap up the matching conditioner for the whole experience!
 
At the end of the day, clean beauty that’s pregnancy-safe is more than just shampoo. Check out our other doctor-approved beauty finds for sunscreen and skincare products!

Your Guide to Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreens

Pregnant woman relaxing on the beach, applying a pregnancy-safe sunscreenWhen you’re expecting, you have a lot of things to think about, from shopping for maternity clothes and creating a birth plan to stocking up on baby essentials and deciding on your baby’s name. Choosing a pregnancy-safe sunscreen shouldn’t have to be one of the many things on your mind! So today we are breaking down everything expectant moms should know about choosing a safe sunscreen that will be healthy for both you and your baby.
 
Last week in our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, we talked about pregnancy-safe skincare ingredients, along with dermatologist-recommended products to help you out. We’ve also shared about skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. We hope that you’ve been finding this info helpful!
 
Dr. Lisa Zhang, a dermatologist at DermSurgery Associates in Houston, shares that you don’t necessarily need to use more sunscreen, but you do need to reapply it because of the increased risk of developing melasma. Melasma is a skin-discoloring condition caused by pregnancy hormones.
 
Pregnant women should apply sunscreen daily in the morning with their normal moisturizer. If you’re going to be outside for long periods of time, plan to reapply sunscreen every two hours. That might mean setting a timer on your phone that goes off every two hours, especially if you’re planning things like an all-day hike or a long day at the beach.
 

Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreens

Dr. Zhang recommends pregnant women use mineral sunscreens (also known as “physical sunscreens”) over chemical sunscreens. Ingredients in mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide provide a better shield against the sun. Mineral sunscreens have minerals which sit on top of your skin, reflecting away damaging UV rays.

Chemicals like oxybenzone, which are found in chemical sunscreens, absorb into the skin and create a chemical reaction that absorbs UV rays, preventing them from penetrating your skin. Research has shown that chemicals like oxybenzone have hormone-disrupting qualities, irritate sensitive skin, and cause photosensitization.

Oxybenzone can be harmful to your growing baby, so you’ll want to watch out for oxybenzone in the ingredients list of sunscreens. Finally, it’s best to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Here are the best sunscreens for pregnant women, along with links to learn more!

La Roche Posay Anthelios Sunscreen SPF 60

This mineral option from La Roche Posay has an ultra-light texture that quickly absorbs into the skin. It has a slightly higher SPF of 60 and contains a plan extract called senna alata, which is an antioxidant that helps to protect your skin from free radicals. https://amzn.to/3zdeIbI

Earth Mama Lady Face Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 40

This facial sunscreen comes in stick form, making it super-easy to apply. Get blendable, sheer coverage in a light/medium tint. Earth Mama’s sunscreen stick provides both UVA and UVB protection and non-nano zinc with no white residue. Plus, it’s been dermatologist-tested and clinically tested for irritation!

Isdin Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion Sunscreen SPF 50+

Isdin Eryfotona’s sunscreen contains enzymes that help repair any existing sun damage. With a serum-like consistency, this sunscreen goes on sheer, so it’s darker skin-tone friendly.

EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47

This brand is widely beloved by dermatologists, so you can believe the hype! EltaMD’s mineral-based formula is fragrance-free, oil-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free, dye-free, non-comedogenic & water-resistant, while still protecting you against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.

Babo Botanicals Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, Clear

A fast-absorbing, non-whitening & lightweight sunblock formulated for very sensitive skin, Babo Botanicals’ sunscreen is also water resistant and perfect for babies. Specially formulated with skin-soothing organic oils like sunflower, it’s free of Oxybenzone and Octinoxate.

Isdin Isdinceutics Mineral Brush

Perfect for re-applying sunscreen throughout the day without ruining your makeup, this powdered sunscreen is applied with a makeup brush. The product goes on like a clear powder that leaves you less shiny and oily feeling. It’s formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for sun protection.

Thinkbaby Sunscreen Natural Sunblock, SPF 50+

This Thinksport sunscreen provides effective SPF 50+ sun protection for children and adults alike. The broad-spectrum UVA & UVB sunblock offers gentle defense against the sun’s rays. Quick and easy to apply, the fast-absorbing lotion won’t leave skin feeling oily or sticky and has no unpleasant chemical scent.

Badger SPF 35 Clear Zinc Sport Natural Mineral Sunscreen

This broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen has just five simple ingredients: clear zinc oxide, organic sunflower oil, organic beeswax, organic jojoba oil, & sunflower vitamin E. Hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic & fragrance-free this, all-natural sports sunscreen is perfect for sensitive skin. It will blend in clear so that it can be used by pregnant women with most skin tones.

You can rest assured that you are protecting both your skin and your baby with these pregnancy-safe sunscreens. Join us for the next installment of our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, when we’ll talk about the best shampoos to use during pregnancy!

Your Guide to Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products

Expectant mother applying pregnancy-safe skincare products in her bathroomChances are, you’ve heard of “pregnancy glow,” when a pregnant woman’s face looks naturally bright and healthy due to all the hormones her body is churning out. But we often don’t talk about other skin-related side effects of pregnancy, such as acne, sensitivity, and skin discoloration (known as melasma).

With all the changes happening to your body during pregnancy, who has time to deal with skin changes too? But what if your regular skincare routine isn’t working now that you’re pregnant? Or if you’re worried whether your pre-pregnancy products might no longer be safe? Fortunately, there are many products out there that are not only safe to use while you’re pregnant, they’re also budget-friendly. Plus, they don’t require you to add a ton of time to your morning and evening routines.

Last week in our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, we talked about which skincare ingredients you’ll want to avoid during pregnancy. Today, we’ll share ingredients that are pregnancy-safe, along with dermatologist-recommended products to help you out.

Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

Try not to let that list of ingredients to avoid stop you from following a solid skincare routine that’s still safe for pregnancy. There are still plenty of skin care products available that will help you combat dryness and breakouts and dryness while keeping your skin clean and healthy:

  • Hyaluronic acid (this moisturizer has pregnancy-safe anti-aging properties)
  • Gentle, fragrance-free moisturizers and cleansers
  • Benzoyl Peroxide (this is safe in small amounts, but make sure to check in with your dermatologist first)
  • Vitamin C serum (used for its anti-aging, brightening, and antioxidant qualities)
  • Salicylic acid in low doses (like those found in over-the-counter face washes)
  • Azelaic acid (comes from a wheat plant and is a natural pigmentation regulator)

Dermatologist-Recommended Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

These doctor-recommended skin care products and treatments address common concerns without harming you or your growing baby.

Cleansers

Cetaphil Skin Cleanser (Unscented)
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Glytone Mild Gel Cleanser
Neutrogena Skin Balancing Gel Cleanser

Vitamin C Products

Derma-E Vitamin C Serum
Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum Brightening Skin Corrector

Acne-fighting Products

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Masque
Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch

Anti-aging Products

Caudalie Glycolic Peel Mask
SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
Promise Radiant Glow Hydrating Face Cream

Moisturizers

For Normal/Dry Skin: Cerave Moisturizing Cream
For Dry Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid
For Extra-Dry Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
For Normal/Oily Skin: Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 15
For Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion

Solutions for Stretch Marks

Bio-Oil
Glow Organics Body Butter
Mambino Oh Baby! Anti-Stretch Body Oil, Omega + 7 Super Plants
 
 

We hope that you found this list of dermatologist-recommended skincare products helpful. Join us for the next installment of our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, when we’ll talk about the best sunscreens to use during pregnancy!

Pregnancy-Safe Skincare: Ingredients to Avoid

Young woman inspecting her skin in front of the bathroom mirror and wondering about pregnancy-safe skincareAs soon as you find out you’re pregnant, your whole world changes. And that includes your line-up of beauty products like shampoo, cosmetics, and skincare products. While you probably know that you need to shelve your favorite wine during pregnancy, having to stop using your trusted skincare and beauty products may come as a shock.
 
But it’s for a good reason: certain ingredients can be absorbed into your body, and therefore, your baby’s body, too. For example, some face washes, body lotions, skin care products, and makeup has ingredients that have been proven to pose a threat to a developing fetus.
 
You can rest assured that most over-the-counter (OTC) body products are totally safe, but there are a few key ingredients that could be harmful to your growing baby. However, it can be difficult to find out exactly which ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy. For example, can you use salicylic acid? What about benzoyl peroxide? And what’s the deal with that hyaluronic acid that’s been so popular lately? The good news is that you can find a balance between maintaining your pregnancy glow and shielding your baby.
 
That’s why Pregnancy Help Online is launching a blog series all about pregnancy-safe beauty products. We’ll go over the safest beauty products to use during pregnancy, including sunscreen, shampoo, cosmetics, and skincare products. We’ll start today by listing skincare ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy. In the next installment of our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, we’ll share links to the best pregnancy-safe skincare products.
 
Whether you’re looking for a pregnancy-safe product to remedy an unwelcome skin change or you’re checking up on the safety of your current routine, this breakdown of the specific ingredients to avoid is for you.
 

Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy – and a Few Alternatives

So before we get started, we must point out that’s limited evidence-based data on the safety of specific products in pregnancy. But studies on animals have shown a few common skincare ingredients have serious effects on a fetus, so we’ve based our recommendations on these.
 
Currently, cosmetic products don’t need FDA approval to be sold on the market. So most experts will err on the side of caution about pregnancy-safe skincare products. When in doubt, discuss with your physician.
 
Avoid: Retinoids
Some anti-aging skincare products use retinoids, which have become a holy grail because they have been proven to reduce fine lines AND help reverse acne. Retinoids do this by boosting collagen production to rejuvenate skin and helping surface-level skin cells exfoliate more quickly.
 
Products you can buy over-the-counter have lower levels of retinoids, but prescription medications like Retin-A and Accutane contain much higher doses. The amount of retinoids you absorb from topical products is probably low, but experts have linked birth defects with higher doses of retinoids. So, experts advise against using retinoids during pregnancy.
 
Prescription retinoids like Accutane have been shown in studies to pose a 20 to 35% risk of severe congenital disabilities, with up to 60% of children having neurocognitive problems with exposure in utero.
 
What to Use Instead of Retinoids
If you’re breakout-prone, there are some safer alternatives to retinoid-based products when you’re pregnant. One of the most effective alternatives is glycolic acid.
 
Experts do not recommend using glycolic acid in large amounts during pregnancy, but it is likely safe in over-the-counter beauty products. Glycolic acid and azelaic acid can also help with brightening skin, diminishing fine lines, and reducing skin pigmentation. In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AGOC) recommends glycolic and azelaic acid as being safe to treat acne during pregnancy, in addition to topical salicylic acid and topical benzoyl peroxide.
 
Avoid: High-dose Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a common ingredient used in treating acne because it has anti-inflammatory capabilities, like aspirin. But this study found that pregnant women should avoid products with a high dose of salicylic acid (like medications and peels). However, lower-dose topical products with salicylic acid purchased over the counter have been reported safe by the ACOG.
 
Avoid: Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone is a prescription product to decrease skin pigmentation from chloasma and melasma caused by pregnancy. Even though there isn’t a proven link between birth defects and hydroquinone, our bodies absorb more hydroquinone than other ingredients. According to this article in the Canadian Family Physician Journal, our bodies absorb 25 to 35% of hydroquinone. So, it’s best to limit exposure during pregnancy.
 
Avoid: Phthalates
Phthalates are an endocrine-disrupting chemical and can be found in many beauty products. In animal studies, phthalate exposure has been linked to serious reproductive and hormone dysfunction.
 
The FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics are studying endocrine disruptors for their possible negative effect on congenital reproductive health. Cosmetics are the primary source of phthalate exposure. The most common phthalate you’ll see listed in beauty product ingredient lists is diethylphthalate (DEP).
 
Avoid: Chemical Sunscreens
Oxybenzone and its derivatives are the most commonly used ultraviolet (UV) filters in sunscreens. They’ve been proven effective for skin protection, but there are potentially unfavorable health and environmental effects of oxybenzone.
 
Since oxybenzone is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, it could disrupt hormones and cause lasting damage to mother and baby. For example, this 2018 animal study found that oxybenzone exposure during pregnancy made permanent changes to lactation and mammary glands. Other animal studies have linked oxybenzone to permanent fetal damage, even possibly associating it with neurological conditions in adulthood, like Alzheimer’s.
 
Pregnancy-Safe Sun Protection
Protecting your skin from the sun is one of the most important things you can do for long-term wrinkle and skin cancer protection. Try a mineral-based sunscreen–these protect you by forcing UV rays to bounce off your skin entirely. You can find ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in mineral-based sunscreens.
 
 

We hope that you found this pregnancy-safe skincare list of ingredients to avoid during pregnancy helpful. Join us for the next installment of our series on pregnancy-safe beauty products, where we’ll list links to the best pregnancy-safe skincare products!

How Could Adoption Benefit My Baby?

Pregnant woman standing outside, looking down at her belly wondering, "how could adoption benefit my baby?" It’s safe to say that every parent wants what is best for their child. For some, adoption is the most caring choice they could make. Placing a child for adoption is not selfish or a decision that is made casually. Birth parents decide on adoption because they want the best possible life for their child.
 
Deciding whether to parent or place your baby for adoption can be a difficult, emotional time in your life. And sadly, there are still misunderstandings about how adoption actually works. So if you are thinking about adoption, it may not be clear how adoption could benefit your baby. You might be grappling with questions like, “Could giving up my baby really be what is best for her?” or, “How can I be sure my baby will be safe and happy?”
 
However, once you learn the true face of modern, open adoption, it’s easy to see the many benefits adoption offers your baby:
 

1. Your baby will have loving, stable adoptive parents.

At Lifetime Adoption Agency, adoptive couples must complete a home study that includes background checks, interviews, and home inspections before they can adopt. All of Lifetime Adoption’s hopeful adoptive parents are qualified and excited to provide a loving home for your baby. So, any adoptive couple you see on their website has already passed a screening process to ensure they can provide the best life possible for your baby.
 
The process of adopting can be long and expensive for adoptive couples. So their investment in the adoption process shows their commitment to you and your baby. It also shows that they have enough financial security to give your baby a comfortable life.
 

2. Your child will have financial security.

The adoption home study also includes an assessment of the adoptive couple’s finances. So you can rest assured that any adoptive parents you choose for your baby can afford the costs that come with raising a child.
 
Financial security can provide your child with opportunities they may not have had otherwise. And your child won’t feel the stress that comes with housing or food insecurity. Instead, she will benefit from a healthy lifestyle that comes from access to regular healthcare and being able to afford better nutrition. With her basic needs met, your child has a chance to thrive. In addition, she may have the opportunity to attend college, grad school, or even travel the world.
 

3. You put your child on track for a bright future.

With open adoption, you’re able to choose adoptive parents that you feel would be a perfect fit for your child. Lifetime Adoption Agency works with hopeful adoptive parents all across the US. So whether you prefer a family who lives a busy, active city life or family from a quiet, rural town, you’re in control over the environment you want for your child.
 
The adoptive parents have the time and resources to nurture your child’s talents and interests. Many hopeful adoptive couples have plans for the adoptive mother-to-be to become a stay-at-home mom since they’re financially stable enough to live off one income. Children with a stay-at-home parent who regularly talks and reads to them benefit by developing vocabulary and social skills more quickly than children who don’t have that foundation. So, your child will have a running start on her schooling. As your child grows older and gets interested in music, sports, or other activities, her adoptive parents will have the time, finances, and energy to support her.
 

4. You can still be in your child’s life.

Many people don’t realize that you can remain a part of your child’s life when you choose an open adoption plan. The amount of contact you keep with the adoptive parents and your child is up to you. Open adoption will benefit your child by providing this special relationship. Since you’ll remain a part of your child’s life, you’ll never have to wonder if she is safe and happy.
 
Your child will know how she came to be adopted from day one, so there won’t be any secrets or mysteries about her birth family. She will know that she is loved both by her adoptive family and her birth family.
 
Multiple studies have shown that adoptees with positive relationships with their birth families have a more positive self-identity and are more well-adjusted. Since open adoption allows you to stay in touch, you’ll be able to help your child understand her birth history and medical history. If you choose adoptive parents of another race, you can further help your child build a positive cultural identity.
 

Lifetime Adoption Agency has been helping women with adoption since 1986. So if you’re wondering, “How could adoption benefit my baby?”, call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784 to speak with a caring adoption coordinator today.

How to Soothe Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

Woman at home on her sofa suffering from leg cramps during pregnancyPregnancy is full of weird aches and pains, from morning sickness and nausea to fatigue and bloating. Unfortunately, leg cramps (otherwise known as Charley horses) are no exception.
 
Leg cramps can come out of nowhere, or even wake you up in the middle of the night. Here’s why you might be experiencing leg cramps, what you can do to soothe your pain, and how to reduce the chances you’ll have to deal with them again in the future.
 

Are Leg Cramps During Pregnancy Normal?

Yes, nearly 50% of all women endure leg cramps during pregnancy at some point, according to the American Pregnancy Association, and they tend to come up at night.
 
Even though many moms-to-be have leg cramps, the level of discomfort can vary, from annoying to outright crippling. Leg cramps can cause women to lose sleep, which affects their work capacity and well-being.
 

What Causes Leg Cramps During Pregnancy?

While you can actually face them at any point during your pregnancy, leg cramps are more common in the second and third trimesters. The cause, however, is unclear. Some experts say that leg cramps happen due to a build-up of lactic and pyruvic acid, causing your muscles to involuntarily contract and leading to painful cramps. Pregnancy weight gain can also increase your risk of cramping since it puts more work on your legs than when you’re not pregnant.
 
Also, since you’re at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated when you’re pregnant, this is also a factor in leg cramps during pregnancy. If your body doesn’t have enough water or sodium, your muscles can contract and provoke that cramping feeling.
 

At-Home Treatments for Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

You’re probably wondering what you can do when that familiar pain strikes. Here are a few easy ways to help ease your leg cramps:

  • Walk it out. Movement can help work it out, but this can be a little tricky if you’re having an intense cramp.
  • Flex your foot when you feel the cramp coming on. Point your toes up as far as you can bring them. To do this, you might envision trying to bring your toes to your shin. Then, hold this position until the cramp calms down.
  • Stretch, then elevate your leg. Try these steps after you flex your foot to help move things along.
  • Massage the cramp. Rubbing the effected muscle can help relieve the tension and cramping.

Call your doctor if you’re having any of these symptoms along with leg cramps during pregnancy:

  • Incessant throbbing in one leg
  • Redness in your leg
  • Leg swelling
  • Your leg is warm to the touch

These could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in your legs. That DVT can travel and cause a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that travels up to your lungs and blocks a portion of them. This is a life-threatening emergency, so call your doctor right away.
 

How to Avoid Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

While leg cramps are very common during pregnancy, here are a few things you can do to lower your chances of having them:

  • Stay active. Moving around by taking a quick walk can help work out the acids that can build up in your leg muscles.
  • Stretch your calves. Stretching them out a few times a day can help relieve tension in this area which can lead to cramping.
  • Before bed, take a warm shower or bath. Doing so can help soothe and relax your muscles. Add Epsom salt to your bath for an extra boost in muscle soothing.
  • Drink plenty of water. You probably already know that making sure to drink enough water is important during pregnancy. Staying hydrated can also help lower your risk of cramping.

If you suffer from leg cramps regularly, make sure to talk to your doctor. They should be able to help guide you on the next steps.

Am I Pregnant?! Common Symptoms of Pregnancy

A young, stressed-out woman seated, wondering, 'am I pregnant?'If you’ve missed a period, you might be wondering, “Am I pregnant?!” The only way to know for sure is by taking a pregnancy test. The early signs of pregnancy tend to show up around the time you’ve missed a period. For some women, pregnancy symptoms show up a week or two before or after their missed period.
 
If you start to feel some of the early pregnancy symptoms listed below and you haven’t gotten your period, you may be pregnant.
 

5 Common Pregnancy Symptoms

The 5 most typical early signs of pregnancy include:

  1. A missed period.
  2. If a week or more has passed without the start of your period, you might be pregnant. If your cycle is pretty regular and you now have missed your period, you may decide to do a pregnancy test before noticing other symptoms. However, if you’re not regular or you’re not keeping track of your cycle, symptoms like nausea and breast tenderness may signal that you’re pregnant before you realize you didn’t get your period.

  3. Sore breasts.
  4. One common early pregnancy symptom is sensitive, swollen breasts caused by rising hormones levels in your body. The swelling and soreness may feel like an exaggerated version of how your breasts feel just before you get your period. As your body adjusts to these changing hormones, your discomfort will probably decrease after a few weeks.

  5. Nausea and/or vomiting.
  6. Pregnancy-related nausea (with or without vomiting) can be a problem morning, noon, or night, making the term “morning sickness” misleading! Some women start having morning sickness about a month or two after conception. But, some pregnant women feel nauseous earlier, as early as two weeks. A few lucky ones never experience it.

    Most women with nausea or morning sickness feel complete relief by the start of the second trimester. It takes another month or so for the queasiness to ease up for most other women.

  7. Needing to pee all the time.
  8. You might find that you need to pee more often than usual. Shortly after you get pregnant, hormonal changes prompt a chain of events that raise the blood flow rate through your kidneys. This causes your bladder to fill up more quickly, so you need to pee more often.

    Frequent urination will probably continue (and even intensify) as you progress through your pregnancy. This is because your blood volume rises dramatically during pregnancy, leading to extra fluid being processed and ending up in your bladder. The problem is intensified as your growing baby puts more pressure on your bladder.

  9. Exhaustion.
  10. Fatigue is another common early pregnancy symptom. No one knows for sure what causes early pregnancy fatigue. Rapidly increasing levels of the hormone progesterone may be adding to your sleepiness. Of course, morning sickness and having to pee often during the night can add to your fatigue, too.

    You should start to feel more energetic after entering your second trimester. However, fatigue usually returns late in pregnancy because you’re carrying a lot more weight. Plus, the common discomforts of pregnancy tend to make it more challenging to get a good night’s sleep.

Other Signs of Pregnancy

Some lesser-known symptoms of pregnancy that you might experience are:

  • Moodiness. Mood swings, weepiness, and being really emotional in early pregnancy is caused by the surge of hormones in your body.
  • Light spotting. For some women, a bit of light spotting is one of the first signs they’re pregnant. This is called “implantation bleeding,” and it happens about 10-14 days after conception when the fertilized egg adheres to the lining of the uterus. This bleeding happens about the time of a period.
  • Cramps. Some pregnant women feel mild uterine cramping early on.
  • Constipation. A pregnant woman’s digestive system can slow down, once again due to hormonal changes.
  • Food sensitivities. If you’re pregnant, you might get grossed out by certain foods, and your sense of taste might change.
  • Stuffy nose. Rising levels of hormones and blood production may cause your nose to swell, dry out and bleed easily, causing you to get a stuffy or runny nose.

Am I Pregnant?

Unfortunately, lots of these symptoms aren’t unique to pregnancy. Some of the signs may mean you’re getting sick or that you’re about to start your period. And, some pregnant women don’t experience any of these symptoms.

If you’ve experienced a missed period and have some of the above symptoms, take a home pregnancy test.  If you get a positive pregnancy test, make an appointment with your doctor right away. The earlier your pregnancy is confirmed, the earlier you can start prenatal care.
 

Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Unplanned Pregnancy? Help Is Available

If you are experiencing early pregnancy symptoms and unplanned pregnancy, resources are available to help you. You can always contact Lifetime Adoption, even if you do not know what you want to do. You can still have access to helpful resources and emotional support during this difficult time. They also have an online pregnancy due date calculator you can use, at www.LifetimeAdoption.com.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 6, 2017, and has since been updated. 

How to Save Money on Maternity Clothes

 pregnant woman shopping, looking to save money on maternity clothesWhen you first found you’re pregnant, you probably had about a million thoughts going through your mind. One such thought might be, “What am I going to wear for the next nine months?” Preparing for a baby can sometimes mean creating the longest shopping list of your life. So, having to also shop for yourself can really put a ding in your bank account balance. Plus, you’ll only wear maternity clothes for a short time.
 
The good news is, there are many ways you can save money when outfitting for your growing pregnant body. Who knows, you might even find that you enjoy shopping for cute maternity clothes on a budget. With these six tips, you can save money on maternity clothes AND look great during your pregnancy:
 

1. Get thrifty

Thrift stores, Goodwill, and Salvation Army stores can have lots of great maternity clothes; you just have to have the patience to search through everything. Thrift stores have tons of gently used maternity clothes marked down an incredible amount from their original price! Moms who are done having children are usually so eager to get rid of their maternity clothes that they list them at very low prices.
 

2. Plan ahead

While every woman’s body and pregnancy are different, it’s possible that you won’t need maternity clothes until your second trimester. You may not even really rely on maternity clothes until the third. So until then, you might find that you don’t need to shop for “maternity” clothing. Tunics, dresses, and leggings may fit all the way up until you deliver!
 

3. Get a “belly band”

You can keep wearing your pre-pregnancy jeans and pants by using a belly band. A belly band is a piece of stretchy fabric that fits over your un-zipped pre-pregnancy pants. Check out Belly Bandit’s 2-in-1 Maternity Band, which works with your body to give you a double dose of support and comfort.
 

4. Borrow

Do you have a friend or family members who’s about your size and recently had a baby? You might ask if you can borrow her maternity clothes for a few months. If your friend is done having children, they may give you the clothes to keep.
 
If they want the clothes back for future pregnancies, you could add a few new pieces and pass the stash back and forth as you both need them. If there’s no one you can borrow from, check out the website Mine for Nine, which lets you borrow or buy maternity clothes.
 

5. Shop at maternity “outlets” online

Lots of maternity stores (such as Motherhood Maternity) also have online outlets where you can find special deals and sales. If there’s a Motherhood Maternity store near you, you could even go in to try stuff on, then order it online on sale!
 

6. Use Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay

Don’t forget to browse online thrift shops, like Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace. Look through online “clothing lots” to find groupings of maternity clothes that work for you. eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Poshmark are all great places to find moms who are selling all of their maternity clothes for a set price. Try bartering with them on the price; this will help you save lots of money.