Do you remember the moment you learned you were pregnant? After the period of awe passes, pregnancy is the perfect time to commit to eliminating harmful chemicals from your food, home, and personal care products.
Making your daily routines as healthy as possible during pregnancy will not only make you feel better, it will go a long way toward protecting your growing baby from BPA, mercury, phthalates and more—all of which have been found in the bodies of pregnant women.
Cleaning up your daily routines now is good practice for creating a healthy home environment for your newborn, who will be vulnerable to the harmful substances found in everyday products. Over the years, Healthy Child has gathered some excellent pregnancy advice from our experts and friends. Consider these tips for a greener, healthier pregnancy:
1. Avoid pesticides
Studies have shown that a pregnant woman’s exposure to pesticides poses risks similar to those associated with smoking. Minimize exposure to pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables by reading up on the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 before heading to the market. When gardening or dealing with things like insects or mice indoors, opt for organic or natural pesticides.
2. Watch your intake of animal fats
Harmful substances like PCBs as well as pesticide residue accumulate in fat tissue. This means when you eat seafood, meat, and poultry you’re also ingesting these chemicals.
To minimize intake, choose seafood known to be low in contaminants and low-fat options (trimming the fat from fish and meat helps). Organic or pastured meat and wild seafood are best bets whenever possible.
3. Be smart about plastics
Plastics can be harmful, especially when it comes to developing babies. The worst is vinyl (PVC), which contains hormone disrupting chemicals called phthalates to make it soft and flexible. PVC is used for everything from shower curtain liners to cling wrap.
Thankfully it’s fairly easy to avoid when pregnant—and beyond.
Minimizing exposure to plastics containing another hormone disrupter, bisphenol A (BPA), is also a good idea. BPA is found in some water bottles—keep an eye out for the number 7 in the recycling arrows on the bottoms of plastic containers. BPA can also be found in cash register receipts and canned foods.
4. Ditch the toxic cleaners
Newsflash: scouring your counters, tubs, and floors with toxic chemicals doesn’t make them cleaner. It just covers them with nasty chemical residues.
Cleaning product formulas are currently government protected as trade secrets so it’s hard to read labels to know what you’re getting.
Generally speaking, it’s common sense to avoid products with warnings labels like “hazardous” “poison” and “danger.”
Instead, choose plant-based cleaners from companies that disclose their natural ingredients. It’s also easy to make DIY tub scrubs and more. All you need is hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, plant-based dish soap, and some elbow grease.
5. Choose safer cosmetics
How many personal care products do you use on your body daily? Don’t know? According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), it’s likely to be 10 products containing as many as 126 unique chemicals!
Lotions, creams, shampoos, soaps, lip balms, and more can contain chemicals that interfere with baby’s development. Pregnancy is the perfect time to start a new personal care regime with safer products. Read labels to avoid harmful chemicals like phthalates, parabens, and triclosan.
Look to EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database or Healthy Child Healthy World’s Trusted Partner list to shop healthy.
About the author
Gigi Lee Chang is CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, a nonprofit that empowers parents to protect their children from harmful chemicals. She is a frequent speaker on topics including children’s health, food and nutrition, and socially conscious/sustainable business practices. Visit healthychild.org to learn more.