With over a decade experience in midwifery, advisor on BBC Radio Women's hour, ITV This Morning, expert speaker and author, Marie Louise also know as The Modern Midwife is the go to person for all the ins and outs of pregnancy, birth and beyond.
It was a pleasure to meet her in person a few years back to share our passion for safe skincare for mum and baby and catch up with her again this week after having enjoyed trialing some of our 'Top Picks For Mums' products. ML says: 'I love them! I use the Skincare Essential Set morning and night as part of my routine, my skin feels amazing and nourished like I am also getting a dose of aromatherapy. I am 8 months pregnant and love knowing that everything is safe as I always question putting anything directly on my skin. Great products.'
1) Skincare & pregnancy: your skin can become more sensitive and dry during pregnancy, can a regular skincare routine help with this?
There are many skin changes during pregnancy but the most common are pigmentation, dryness and stretch marks. There are no clinical guidelines for a skin care routine but anecdotally I think it makes a difference to the skin's appearance but also how mum feels. Taking time every day to yourself is very important at any time in life, but especially during pregnancy and the postnatal period. Many mums attend to everyone else before themselves but you can only be the best version of you when you spend time on you! So however you choose to do this make sure you do take time out. You deserve to feel good in your own skin.
2) In your opinion, is it important to try and choose natural and organic products during this precious time?
I always tell mums to be mindful of what they are putting into their body during pregnancy and I don’t just mean food and drink here. You need to protect yourself as much as possible from things like stress and chemical exposure. I tell mums to be, to try and draw an imaginary sacred circle around themselves. Cutting down on the things or even sometimes people that do not support their wellbeing. It’s also a good idea to opt for truly natural and organic products to reduce exposure to harsh chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. This may not be affordable to all women but, where possible, opt for organic.
3) Does massaging the bump/body help to bond pre birth?
Yes! Massaging and talking to your baby is great for bonding and has also been shown to enhance fetal brain development. Chat and stroke away!
4) Stretchmarks are common when your body is making space for your baby, in your opinion should mums use products to help their skin elasticity?
Stretch marks are normal for most women that have had babies. The problem is that we have all been sold the wrong idea of what is normal and then feel self conscious when we get things like stretch marks or cellulite. Looking after your skin and using the right products on your stretch marks (should they appear) can help improve the elasticity of the skin. Ensuring that you are really well hydrated can also help with this.
5) Water retention is common during pregnancy, especially in the last month's - is massage advised to help combat this? What kind?
Yes! Massage it great during pregnancy and it can really help with swollen ankles and feet. I tell all mamas to get their birth partner on the foot and leg massages in the evening. It’s also a great way of winding down before bed and also ensuring you are being looked after and cared for. Touch is a great comfort in labour too, so if you’ve been massaged throughout your pregnancy by your birth partner it will be even more of a comfort during labour as you associate it with down time and relaxation.
6) Are there certain aromas/oils you advise in using during labour to create a calming environment?
Not all hospitals advocate aromatherapy during labour but many are starting to and are also investing in training midwives to become competent in aromatherapy. Personally I have done the training and am a great believer in the power of smell to create a calmer atmosphere. I have been using essential oils during my pregnancy and will undoubtedly be using them throughout my own labour too.
7) as we know, baby's newborn skin does not need any products or soaps applied to it. Can you tell us a bit more why this is and when it is ok and actually beneficial to use things such as baby oils to moisturise? What products should we look out for?
In the womb a baby has been in a controlled environment in amniotic fluid and their skin is a product of that environment at birth. The skin is the human body’s largest organ and is a major defence mechanism. It regulates temperature, acts as a barrier to infection, balances water and electrolytes, stores fat and helps humans to stay warm in the cold. Newborn skin is around five times more absorbent than ours, so rubbing anything on your baby’s skin will be absorbed quickly. Babies are not born with mature skin that functions like ours; it takes at least four weeks to build up protective natural enzymes that help to develop a protective barrier. There after it is very important to consider what to use on a baby’s skin. When introducing moisturisers etc opting for truly natural and organic products is a good idea. To find certified organic products, there are five European certification bodies who’ve developed the Cosmetics Organic Standard (COSMOS) to try and standardise organic standards around the world. They have high standards, and to get a COSMOS certification for a product it has to meet strict criteria with guaranteed organic ingredients.
8) Being a new mum can be an emotional roller coaster - what are your 3 top tips for any new mum?
-Take 10 minutes a day to yourself after all the nurturer needs to be nurtured
-Ask for help and do not be afraid to ask visitors to do things or bring you food!
-Trust your mumstinct!
9) In your opinion, what are the best, practical gift for a new mum/new baby?
A hot meal for mum and her partner and a little box of self care goodies! Some hand cream, facial or hair oil. It is a good idea to get some little treats just for mum, new babies get lots of clothes, gifts, cuddles and cooing but mum needs recognition too!
Head over to themodernmidwife.com for more.