Many of you may have noticed that with pregnancy or after the birth of your baby, women usually sweat more, and body odor changes compared to how it was before pregnancy. Not to mention that you will notice that your ability to perceive certain odors increases during this period of time. This often makes you look for ways to contain that odor with deodorants, either to feel more comfortable or to avoid making the people around you uncomfortable.
This is when you may start to wonder if you can use deodorants while breastfeeding or during pregnancy. So, in this article, we will try to answer some questions.
How does bad body odor appear?
First of all, let’s start with the basics: Why does bad body odor appear when you sweat, and how do deodorants work? Bad body odor appears as a result of the action of bacteria that are naturally present on our skin in combination with sweat. Many ingredients are often used to achieve more or less effective deodorant products; here is how they work.
How do deodorants work?
Two types of substances are normally used: bactericides and antiperspirants. Bactericides are those delaying or preventing odor, and those famous antiperspirants are ingredients that reduce sweating to slow down this process. In addition to this, cosmetic products usually contain many other ingredients that add color, texture, and smell to make them easier to apply, more pleasing to look at, and so on. Some of these substances seem to reach our body beyond the skin area where we apply them; therefore, you may wonder if they are safe during breastfeeding or pregnancy.
On this issue, we invite you to take a look at this page of E-lactancia.org.
Which substances are best to avoid?
Here are some of the most controversial substances commonly found in deodorants:
- Aluminum salts: You can identify them under the names Aluminum chlorohydrate or Aluminum sesquichlorohydrate, for example. As quoted by the organization E-lactancia, small amounts have been found in breast milk in some studies. All deodorants where it says “antiperspirant” on the label will almost certainly contain aluminum salts.
- Perfumes: Some of the most common are suspected of having undesirable effects on the hormonal system (hormone disruptor or endocrine disruptor), but they could also interfere with breastfeeding at the beginning of lactation. Remember that at the beginning of breastfeeding, babies use their mother’s body odor to guide them to the breast, to bond and recognize their mother’s smell, and any perfume (whether from deodorants, fragrances, or creams) can interfere with this delicate process. On the other hand, the armpits are very close to the breast, which increases the risk that part of the product may end up on the breast, and the baby may ingest it accidentally.
- Triclosan: This ingredient is used as a bactericide in deodorants and other cosmetic products to reduce the effect of odor-causing bacteria, and several studies have shown that it can reach breast milk.
- Parabens: They are preservatives that are commonly used in cosmetics (creams, shampoos, and, of course, also in deodorants); you have probably heard the name as there is a lot of controversy about their use as evidence suggests that they can act as endocrine disruptors in our hormonal system. At the moment, they are still commonly used in many cosmetic products due to their low cost, and doses that are usually used are very low, so they are considered safe. Even so, it has emerged that small parts can reach the milk, as you can read on the E-lactancia page that we mentioned above.
Maybe all this has left you a bit worried… let’s see if we can help you by answering some common questions:
So, does this mean it’s better not to use deodorants while breastfeeding?
No. Even if you use deodorants that contain all these substances mentioned, it is unlikely that they will ever pose a health problem to you or your baby. So yes, of course, you can use deodorants if you want to. But also keep in mind that there are many different deodorants with very different ingredients.
Still, as with other things in life, it’s about reducing risk.
Ultimately, this can make you reflect on the rest of the products you use on a daily basis. You may be surprised, but getting informed will always help you to make a better choice.
Is there any danger for my baby?
No. But as mentioned before, either because of the smell of perfumes that may interfere with the initiation of breastfeeding or even disturb your baby, or because some of the substances in deodorants can reach into breastmilk (or the baby in the womb during pregnancy) in small quantities, it may be a good idea to look for alternatives.
Will it affect breastfeeding?
Probably not, but it’s a good idea to be aware of anything that might help you to get a better start in your breastfeeding journey.
What about during pregnancy?
There are studies that have shown that some ingredients, such as parabens, can cross the placental barrier and reach the baby in the womb, so during pregnancy, it may be a good idea to find alternatives to products that contain these types of substances.
So what can I do?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer; it completely depends on what you want to do. To summarize, you can choose to:
- Continue using the same old products.
- If you feel like it, do a little more research and look for products that do not contain these substances. This may take some time if you are unfamiliar with the subject, but finding products that avoid these substances in their ingredients is becoming easier.
- Opt for eco-labeled products, which, by law, do not contain most of these substances in their ingredients. If you find it difficult to identify the ingredients, this will probably be the easiest option for you.
- Not using deodorants for a while can also be an option for many people, or they opt to use other methods to keep body odor in check, such as wearing natural fabrics, changing clothes more often, washing more frequently, etc.
There is more information about beauty treatments in the LactApp app and in this post. To discuss beauty topics or other issues during breastfeeding, you can make an appointment with our English speaking IBCLC expert, Alicia, at this link.