With Holi round the corner on Monday, doctors recommend some basic care so as not to let pregnancy mar the festive spirit. It is important to know that some colors, despite being branded “natural” or “organic” can still be harmful.
“Some colors termed natural are made from fruits and flowers, but their powder base could have harmful chemicals such as lead and mercury which can get absorbed and affect the fetus in a pregnant woman,” Anuradha Kapur, a gynecologist at Delhi’s Max Hospital, was quoted as telling to IANS.
“For example, natural henna is considered safe, but black henna with paraphenylenediamine (PPD) may cause allergic reactions. Colors containing either of these forms of henna will probably be labeled as natural. So pregnant women should only use homemade Holi colors,” she added.
Consultant gynecologist at Gurgaon’s Columbia Asia Hospital Chetna Jain agreed, saying that while the term “natural” may be used loosely, there are doubts over the regulation of the colors.
“The quality control may not be good and there is a huge possibility of contamination of colors which are labeled herbal and considered safe. And these can be harmful to the fetus as they can be inadvertently swallowed or get absorbed from the skin,” Jain said.
During pregnancy, the immunity level in women is reduced and they are more susceptible to illnesses and infections. Their skin is more sensitive as well. Therefore, reaction to colors that one may have played with before is not uncommon.
Doctors suggest playing with colors made at home to avoid harm. They say even new mums who are still breastfeeding their children should also note the warning. “Chemical colors are made of synthetic, industrial dyes or oxidised metals which can be dangerous and have harmful health effects on the baby through breast milk. Some colors are even carcinogenic. So lactating mothers should practice the same caution as pregnant women,” Kapur said.
According to doctors, home-made colors can be made by using turmeric, roli (sindoor), boiled beetroot and onions. Tradition, if it must be followed, can be respected by placing a sandalwood or saffron tika on the baby’s forehead.
Apart from the above caution with colors, doctors also listed a few guidelines to keep off harm during the festival.
Gynecologist Anjali Kumar of Paras Hospital said: “Be careful about what you eat. It is essential that you avoid heavy or exceptionally oily food that can cause indigestion or heartburn. Avoid drinks and stay hydrated”. One should also keep a count of caffeine intake which is present in tea and coffee and even chocolates.
Jain also recommended wearing well-fitting clothes, anti-skid shoes and goggles, as well as the support of an adult or even a wall since playing with water can increase one’s chances of slipping and falling. Applying moisturizer on the skin and oil on the hair will help washing off colors with greater ease.
“Mischief-mongers hurling water balloons during Holi is common and to avoid getting hurt, pregnant women must carry an umbrella while stepping out,” Kapur said. Washing oneself properly is especially important for lactating mothers who otherwise risk their baby ingesting colors.
“With a little caution, Holi can be enjoyed by all, including mothers-to-be and new mothers. Just don’t over-exert yourself,” Kapur advised.
So, follow the above safety guidelines and enjoy the festival of colors without worrying.