Is it OK to Get a Pedicure While Pregnant?

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When you’re pregnant, you’re pretty much told not to do anything. If you have to ask whether it’s ok to do something while pregnant, the answer is almost always “nope!”

After all, you’re not only thinking about your health and well-being but also the health and wellbeing of your unborn child. Different people have all their beliefs about what pregnant women should and should not do. Prof. Emily Oster has written extensively about this, and her book Expecting Better is a must-read for all moms to be!

One of the arguable things that pregnant women are advised against is a pedicure or a manicure. Today, we’ll help you figure out if it’s ok to get a pedicure while pregnant (or a manicure), and how to mitigate your risks at the salon.


What Are Manicure And Pedicure?

Fingernail Paint

A manicure is a service that includes skincare, nail shaping, and filing, nail treatments, as well as nail enhancement procedures such as fake nails and silk wraps for the hands. Similarly, a pedicure is also the same service but is done on the nails of the feet. These procedures are usually done for both wellness and aesthetic reasons.

You or a nail technician can handle simple or minor skin conditions like dryness or callouses through the manicure or pedicure procedures. The nails are also improved through this procedure not only with regards to the appearance but also to the overall health of the nails. Split nails can be remedied and prevented from getting worse with the help of a manicure or pedicure procedure.

Mental Benefit Of Getting A Manicure And Pedicure

Aside from the two benefits mentioned above, manicures and pedicures also provide a mental benefit for clients. This may be the main reason why pregnant women want to get them. The changes in the body are all normal for pregnant women, but sometimes these changes can cause women to lose their confidence or feel stressed.

As a pregnant woman, it’s no surprise that you always base your decisions on the safety of your baby. Sometimes, you mostly focus on what your baby needs and forget about yourself or to do what you want.

If you used to get regular manicures and pedicures, not getting them while you are pregnant can be frustrating.

That can negatively affect a woman mentally.

Mental health may be the last thing you think of when making a manicure or pedicure appointment!

But let’s face it, manicures and pedicures can really help with your mental health. It is a great way to provide yourself with much-needed self-care. It helps you de-stress and take a break.

It’s okay to prioritize yourself even if you’re pregnant.

Having your nails done can help with relaxation. It can also help boost your confidence as it shows that even while pregnant, you still take care of yourself. You can show off your style and your preferences with the kind of nail designs you get. This positive feeling isn’t only good for you but also for your baby.

Some pregnant women may feel that they aren’t in control of their bodies. They can’t do anything about their growing belly and they don’t fit in their usual clothes. Although women understand that these changes are necessary and temporary, it can still feel depressing.

Having control of small parts like your hair or nails really does help women lessen that depression. You may want to get a pedicure a little less often than when you’re not pregnant (see how often should you get a pedicure for more info).

Risks Involved With Manicure and Pedicure When Pregnant

Pedicure While Pregnant

As we can see, there are many benefits to having a manicure or pedicure while pregnant. So why are there still pregnant women who are thinking twice about having them? Mainly because of hearsay.

Received wisdom says it’s best for pregnant women to avoid manicures and pedicures.

However, we’re not saying you should ignore the warnings and risks. That wisdom may be worth paying attention to, and there are real risks involved with getting a manicure or pedicure regardless of your pregnancy.

Pregnant women are more susceptible because there is a growing baby in them.

Here are some of the risks to consider when getting a pedicure or manicure.

Effect Of Acupressure On Labor

One of the main reasons why people warn pregnant women about pedicures is because some believe that it can induce labor. This is because of the belief that acupressure can stimulate labor. As we all know, most pedicures also include a foot massage. Even if it is only a short one, many will include this to further relax the foot.

Some people think that acupressure on the foot can stimulate labor but there isn’t evidence of such. There are acupressure practitioners that believe that acupressure on those points can induce labor by increasing the blood flow to the uterus, altering hormones, and even producing contractions.

Such beliefs are also not based on any evidence.

There are studies that show that using acupressure and acupuncture doesn’t induce labor but it could help in labor by making labor shorter and less painful for the mother.

Aside from the foot, it is also believed that there are pressure points on the hands and the back that could help induce labor. However, as we’ve said, there still isn’t much evidence to prove that acupressure can induce labor among pregnant women.

Possible Infections

A pedicure or manicure is meant to improve hygiene by cleaning the nails and cutting them. However, it can also cause an infection if it is not properly done.

Manicures and pedicures could involve removing some of the cuticles, hangnails, or loose skin. Many, including the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), advise against cutting the cuticles.

However, some salons still do it because they observe that it helps with a better nail polish application.

Chemical Exposure

Another common reason why many advise against having a manicure or pedicure is due to the mother’s exposure to various chemicals. There are some chemicals that can be very dangerous to a pregnant mother and her child.

This is especially true if they are exposed to them in large quantities and if they are regularly exposed to them in an enclosed space.

Chemicals can produce fumes that pregnant moms could breathe in or absorb through their skin, cuticles, or even the nails. There are different chemicals found on nail polishes and nail polish removers that could harm a pregnant woman.

Among the top 3 are as follows:


Nail polishes that are meant to harden the nails would usually contain formaldehyde. Such type of nail polish is a specialized product and not all nail polishes are nail hardeners as well. It is best to stay away from products containing formaldehyde as it is an irritant. Exposure to high levels of formaldehyde fumes in the long term could increase the risk of developing cancer.


Another chemical that could be present in nail polishes is toluene. This chemical is usually added to nail polishes because it helps improve the glide while the polish is applied to the nails. The downside is that it can be an irritant to the eyes, lungs, or throat.

At high levels, it can cause birth defects in unborn babies and nervous system damage. However, that is possible if you are directly inhaling the fumes of toluene on a regular basis. This could be the case with substance abuse or if you are a pregnant nail technician working on a lot of clients and using toluene-based products in a salon that isn’t well-ventilated.


Another chemical that could be dangerous upon exposure is phthalates. These are known as plasticizers as they make the nail polish more flexible so that it doesn’t easily crack or chip. The most common phthalate used in nail polishes is known as DnBP or dibutyl phthalate.

The great news is that such DnBP and other phthalates such as DEHP or diethylhexyl phthalate have already been banned for use when manufacturing cosmetic products such as nail polishes in Europe. However, such phthalates may still be used in US-produced products.

The reason why phthalates are dangerous is that they have a disrupting effect on the endocrine. The endocrine system works with the hormones and glands to enable the body to communicate well. If there is a disruption, it is possible that you can get a miscarriage or the baby might have birth defects.

Safety Tips For Pregnancy Manicure / Pedicure

Although there are risks involved in getting a manicure or a pedicure, there are ways to mitigate these risks. These will help you get the manicure and pedicure you want to have without risking your safety and the safety of your unborn child.

Here are a few tips you should follow:

Choose the nail salon carefully

When finding a salon for your manicure or pedicure, it is best to choose carefully. If you have your favorite nail salon and you know that they are hygienic, then go ahead and book them. If you don’t have one yet, then it’s best to research first. You can even visit the salon before booking an appointment to check it out first.

Book at a slow time

When booking an appointment, choose off-peak hours. This is to make sure that you are less likely to be exposed to people who can potentially carry viruses or bacteria. Remember that salons often have many clients and that could mean the greater potential to catch a contagious illness.

Also, it is best to book for early morning appointments as there are only a few clients who have already been in the salon as compared to afternoon sessions.

Opt for a home service

If you know of any nail technician who offers home service, is reputable and hygienic, then that would also be a good option. When you’re at home, you get to control the environment.

You are also less exposed to other people.

Most nail tools and products are portable and the service can easily be done anywhere. You may even want to use your own set of nail tools if you have some at home.

Home Nail Tools

Tell the nail tech that you’re pregnant

You can also tell your tech that you are pregnant so that they’ll know that they should be careful. Nail technicians would be extra careful and will make sure that you are always comfortable at your position while doing their work.

They may also refrain from pressing on the pressure points in your hands or feet that could induce labor.

Avoid eating at the salon

Some salons allow their clients to eat or drink while enjoying their pampering service. Although this is allowed, you should still avoid it as you may accidentally consume something that could make you sick.

Make sure the area is well ventilated

If possible, go for the seat near the window or the door and get some fresh air. You could also sit near a ventilation fan. Remember that you may not be the only client there at the moment, and a procedure being done on another client could contain chemicals that could be harmful.

A well-ventilated salon helps easily remove those fumes so that other clients won’t be affected.

Bring your own nail tools, or make sure the tools are sterilized

Nail tools can accidentally cause bad cuts even if your nail technician is careful. If the cut is made by a dirty tool, you can develop an infection. A good salon sanitizes their nail tools after using them on every client.

There are portable and affordable nail tool sanitizers that they can use and that you can also buy for yourself.

Nail Tool Sanitizer

If you’re unsure about your salon’s sterilization procedure, you can bring your own set of tools and ask them to use your tools. Just make sure that they are clean and of good quality so that the nail technicians can properly use them without accidentally hurting you.

Don’t have them cut your cuticles

You can request the nail technicians not to cut your cuticles. Instead, they can just push the cuticles back. That can lessen the risk of infection. It can also be more comfortable as there is less risk of having a bad cut.

There are even soft cuticle nail pushers with a rubber tip.

Cuticle nail pushers

Carefully select nail polish products

As we’ve said earlier, there are chemicals in various nail polishes that could be bad for pregnant women. However, there are now clean nail products that don’t contain any of them. These are safer nail products that are gentler and some are even safe to use on kids.

Kid-Safe Nail Polishes

Skip the Massage

Ask your nail technician not to give you any messages. Although there isn’t strong evidence to support that acupressure can induce labor, it doesn’t hurt to be careful and just avoid them.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).