As a professional, you need to be prepared for when your client receives news of her pregnancy. Of course you’ll want to offer the customary congrats and warm wishes, but you’ll also want to be ready to answer her plethora of questions regarding her nail services.

Especially if she is a first-time mom, she will ask questions hoping you can give her the answers (and the assurance) she needs to continue her nail enhancement services and pedicures. She will read numerous articles, have endless conversations, and search the Internet until exhaustion trying to learn as much as she can about the precautions to take for the benefit of her baby.

And there’s plenty out there that says her artificial nails, polish with formaldehyde, aromatherapy, and massage can be dangerous. Calm her fears and gain her trust by having answers to those concerns.

Common Concerns

“Are artificial nails dangerous during pregnancy? Should I take my nails off?” Many of the chemicals used during nail appointments are listed as allergens, including acrylic liquid, nail glue, formaldehyde, and polish remover. Because of this, it is possible for clients to develop a reaction when their skin comes into contact with products used in a salon. When a woman is pregnant, and her body is experiencing dramatic changes, she could be more sensitive than normal to exposure to these products.

Additionally, studies have linked exposure to formaldehyde with birth defects, early term births, and fetal difficulties. The amount of exposure in these studies was significantly higher than is possible in the salon; nonetheless, salons should exercise caution and offer pregnant clients nail polish that is formaldehyde- and toluene-free.

While there is no research that suggests removing artificial nails is necessary during pregnancy, techs should be vigilant about avoiding skin contact during the application process of a nail appointment. This is especially true during the first trimester when the baby’s organs are being formed.

Another precaution to take once you have learned your client is pregnant is to reduce her exposure to fumes. The smell could make pregnant women feel nauseous or faint. To avoid this reaction, open a window or perform her appointment in an airy, well-ventilated area, and seal bottles immediately after use.

“I heard I shouldn’t get a massage during my pregnancy, does that include a foot massage during a pedicure?” Dawn Bierschwal, owner of Becoming Mom, a specialty spa for pregnant women in Mason, Ohio, says pedicure massages are absolutely safe, but warns of reflex points on the feet that could activate labor. Because of this, techs should avoid massaging a pregnant client’s feet during the first trimester unless the tech has received specific training on massage and reflex points. Sharon Horesh, an internal medicine doctor with Altanta’s Emory University’s department of medicine, says to avoid applying pressure between the ankle and heels even during the second and third trimester.

Blood clots are more common in pregnant woman, and for this reason, it is important to be careful about the amount of pressure used during the foot and leg massage. Bierschwal says she has her clients fill out a form informing the salon of any history with blood clots so techs can watch to ensure they don’t dislodge the clots.

A final consideration is the temperature of the foot bath. The temperature should be comfortable, but not warm enough to “elevate the temperature of a pregnant woman,” advises Bierschwal.

“I read essential oils can be harmful. Is that true?” Some essential oils are known as “emmenagogues,” which means they could affect (or bring on) menstruation. Oils in this category include chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, jasmine, juniper, myrrh, peppermint, rose, sage, eucalyptus, and rosemary, any of which may be used in products for manicure and pedicure services. It is unlikely that the amount of exposure a woman would experience during a pedicure would have an affect on her and the baby, but for liability and safety reasons, emmenagogues should be avoided, especially during the first trimester. To be perfectly safe, avoid these oils during the entire pregnancy.

Once you’ve learned ways to address the concerns of the client, it’s time to increase her comfort. This way, instead of playing defense during a client’s pregnancy, you can go on the offense. Make her appointments the most relaxing hours of her month. By offering her a few extra-special touches during her regular appointments, you’ll let her know you are here not only to answer her questions and give her beautiful nails but also to provide a place where she is well-cared for — even spoiled.

Small Comforts

Many women are waiting longer to have children and being pregnant is the first time they lose control over the size of their bodies. Some may experience mild depression or fear because of weight gain, lack of energy or daily aches and pains. The first place you can offer comfort is with your conversation. If a client complains she hates seeing herself gain weight — even though she knows it’s perfectly normal, even necessary — don’t tell her she shouldn’t feel that way. Empathize with her by agreeing it’s odd to be out of control of your own body. Listen with acceptance to her complaints about the unfamiliar changes; she’s confiding in you feelings she can’t share with many people.

In addition to being her safe place, you can offer her these small comforts that will make a world of difference:

1. Support her back. Her poor, achy back! No need to get an ergonomically correct, lumbar pillow from the chiropractor, which could push her forward in the seat and cause discomfort. A simple solution is a tightly rolled towel placed behind her lower back. This is especially helpful if the chair used for her appointment is an office-type chair with space between the seat and back cushion.

2. Elevate her legs. Her poor, swollen legs! A little foot rest that gently elevates her feet could ease the pressure she’s felt all day in her lower legs. Offer her this small luxury during nail appointments by purchasing an under-the-desk foot rest at an office supply store or online. (This comfort is naturally addressed during pedicure appointments.)

3. Quiet her world. Her poor, tired body! Children and cell phones in the salon can be difficult issues to resolve, but a no-noise policy is often welcomed by pregnant women choosing salon services to relax and escape. Offering moms-to-be a place in the salon where they can receive enhancement services and/or pedicures in a kid-free/phone-free zone could be the extra touch that separates your salon from the competition.

4. Shave her legs. This extra service is the talk of the town among women at International Techniques, a salon in Endicott, N.Y. “I could hardly see my toes, so I appreciated someone shaving my legs for me,” remembers Trisha Socash, a mother of three who visited the salon during her pregnancies. “I loved leaving with smooth legs.”

(Check with your state board before offering to shave the legs. Regulations vary from state to state and may depend on whether you hold a nail technician or a cosmetologist license. Most industry experts warn clients against shaving their legs before a pedicure so they don’t get an infection. If you do offer to shave her legs, make sure to leave this for the end of the service.)

Long after the baby is born, and long after the discomfort of pregnancy has vanished, the memory of your special, thoughtful attention will remain with the new mom.

Mom’s Day Services

Catering to customers doesn’t stop once the baby’s born! Here are five services (named after the birth order of their little angels) for you to offer clients whose wait is over — just in time for Mother’s Day. We’ve written the services so you can easily add them to your Mother’s Day service menu once you’ve determined pricing.

Oldest Child: Responsible, possessing a desire to have things done right, the oldest child is about function without frills. Our Oldest Child manicure or pedicure offers moms all the necessities. Clients will leave the salon with well-groomed hands or feet and perfectly polished nails within 30 minutes.

Middle Child: Raised with fewer restrictions and regulations, the middle child looks for something extra in the ordinary. We extend that idea into our Middle Child manicure or pedicure by adding relaxation to the service with a warm towel wrap and 10-minute massage with warm lotion.

Youngest Child: With the expectation of indulgence and attention, the youngest child is willing to sample all life offers. If it’s fun, it must be done. Our Youngest Child manicure or pedicure includes a warm towel wrap, a 10-minute massage with botanical oils, and a gift bag containing a buffer, file, and bottle of polish for at-home touch ups. (The youngest child loves gifts.)

Twins: Never alone, twins are used to experiencing life as a pair. Our Twins service offers moms the manicure and pedicure of their choice, and leaves them refreshed and recharged, ready to go back to being Mommy.

Only Child: The only child knows the world is her playground, and our Only Child service delivers. This dual manicure and pedicure service makes mom feel like an only child with all the personal attention she’ll receive. We include a heated rice pillow for your achy neck and shoulders, the drink of your choice to sip and savor during your Me Moments, a massage extending to the knees and elbows, and the guarantee that you won’t hear any little voices needing attention.

Michelle Pratt is a freelance writer and licensed nail tech based in Johnson City, N.Y.

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