Painted Nails and Childbirth: What You Should Know

Many women choose to give birth with painted nails. But is this the right thing to do? Or is it dangerous? Here's what you need to know.
Painted Nails and Childbirth: What You Should Know
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Written and verified by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 25 December, 2022

Pregnant women may consider different beauty routines before going to give birth, which may include makeup, doing their hair, or getting their nails done. But are painted nails safe during delivery? Perhaps you think this beauty gesture is somewhat harmless. That’s why, below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about manicures and childbirth.

Nail changes during pregnancy

During pregnancy, the increase in hormones can cause changes to develop in the skin, hair, and nails. In fact, the latter grow much faster than before you were pregnant. Other nail changes during pregnancy can include ridging, brittleness, and onycholysis (separation of the nail from the nail bed).

According to a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, the most common nail changes during pregnancy are complete white discoloration, ingrown nails, and brittle nails. The skin during pregnancy also undergoes changes that make it more sensitive and susceptible to external factors.

Is it a good idea to wear painted nails for childbirth?

Any surgical intervention requires the patient not to wear painted nails, as our nails are an important indicator of blood oxygenation levels. Although childbirth isn’t necessarily surgery, certain complications may arise that require knowledge and measurement of the pregnant woman’s vital signs. Therefore, painted nails may hinder the medical team.

Although nail polish is not contraindicated during pregnancy, it is better to avoid it during childbirth, because if surgery is necessary, the nails can provide important information about the state of health to the medical team.

The importance of monitoring nails

The color of fingernails, without polish, can provide important information about the health of the pregnant woman through the level of oxygen in the blood. That is, they may be pale or purple. In addition, an oximeter can be used, which is very useful for this. A study published by The Nigerian Postgraduate Medical Journal concluded that nail polish should be removed before using an oximeter to ensure that the readings of the values are reliable. Uses of oximetry include the following:

  • Evaluating if breathing assistance is required
  • Monitoring oxygen levels in surgical procedures using sedation
  • Determining the effectiveness of supplemental oxygen therapy
  • Detecting and evaluating apnea during a sleep study

In addition, many conditions produce alterations to the touch and appearance of the nails, so they may easily go undetected in the case of painted nails. Some of these include the following:

  • Stress
  • Melanoma or moles
  • Arthritis
  • Darier’s disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Kidney disease

Preparing your nails for childbirth

There’s no indication prohibiting nail polish while pregnant. However, at the time of delivery, the ideal is to wear them in a natural way. However, there are several beauty tips during pregnancy that can help you look more beautiful. In fact, they’re healthier and don’t put the health of the woman or the baby at risk.

There are some beauty procedures that aren’t recommended during pregnancy because of the likelihood of being aggressive to both mother and baby. Namely:

  • It’s not advisable to use products that contain solvents, such as nail polish removers, acrylic nails, or certain nail polishes. In addition to their strong odor, solvents can evaporate and cause nausea or headaches.
  • Phthalates are another product that should be avoided, as they can alter the endocrine system or cause damage. In turn, it’s essential to use gloves to protect the hands from ultraviolet light gel or acrylic nail procedures.

You may be interested in: A Pregnancy Beauty Guide to Keep You Looking Good!

A pregnant woman's belly.
It’s best to keep your nails unpainted when it comes time to give birth to your baby. With, a proper diet, you can keep them firm and strong.

How to protect your nails during pregnancy

As mentioned above, hormonal changes during pregnancy, stimulate faster nail growth, increased fragility, and the formation of grooves. Therefore, to strengthen nails during this stage, it’s best to follow a balanced diet and ensure the consumption of the necessary vitamins containing biotin (vitamin B complex).

Also, there’s evidence showing the benefits of biotin to improve the thickness, hardness, and firmness of nails. When you have artificial nails, pay attention to any green discoloration, as this could be a manifestation of a possible bacterial infection. Therefore, it’s always better to keep them natural.

It’s best to avoid painted nails during childbirth

In conclusion, it’s important to go through pregnancy in a safe and simple way to enjoy every moment and stage. Makeup may not even be required, as you look splendid and you can even avoid all those practices that may involve a possible risk for the baby. However, there are no studies that prove that nail polish is aggressive for the baby, even if they contain toxins such as toluene or formaldehyde. However, as we’ve explained in this article, it’s best to go natural when the time comes to give birth to your little one.

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  • Desalu I, Diakparomre OI, Salami AO, Abiola AO. The effect of nail polish and acrylic nails on pulse oximetry reading using the Lifebox oximeter in Nigeria. Niger Postgrad Med J. 2013 Dec;20(4):331-5. PMID: 24633278.
  • Lipner SR, Scher RK. Biotin for the treatment of nail disease: what is the evidence? J Dermatolog Treat. 2018 Jun;29(4):411-414. doi: 10.1080/09546634.2017.1395799. Epub 2017 Nov 9. PMID: 29057689.
  • Erpolat S, Eser A, Kaygusuz I, Balci H, Kosus A, Kosus N. Nail alterations during pregnancy: a clinical study. Int J Dermatol. 2016 Oct;55(10):1172-5. doi: 10.1111/ijd.13316. Epub 2016 Apr 20. PMID: 27097299.

The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.