So you’ve found out you’re pregnant.
Now the questions begin…
As you begin the first crucial steps of taking care of your baby during your pregnancy, you are confronted with a multitude of decisions. What to eat, what not to eat, what vitamins to take, what doctor or midwife to choose, what exercise to keep you both healthy, what chemicals and toxins to be wary of, how to adjust your normal routine to accommodate your baby’s development, and what you will need consider once baby is born and you breastfeed. There is a lot of information out there and it’s all in your hands to decide.
Here is some information to get you started.
What should I eat and what should I avoid?
Eat the rainbow! When you are pregnant or breastfeeding you have a higher requirement of vitamins and minerals, a diet rich in a large variety of fruits and vegetables is the best foundation. Make sure to thoroughly wash all produce to remove any pesticides and harmful bacteria. A mild solution of soap or a commercial produce wash followed by a clear water rinse is recommended. Buy organic fruits and vegetables when possible. Conventionally grown produce, when organic is not an option, is best when grown in the U.S., as food produced in other countries may be grown with pesticides banned here.
The “Dirty Dozen” – fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated when grown using pesticides, and the “Clean 15” – the least affected by pesticides.
- Be very careful with food safety, refrigerate all foods as required and meticulously wash food preparation surfaces before and after cooking.
- Avoid larger fish, such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, sea bass, tuna steaks and king mackerel, as they are more likely to contain mercury. Limit canned tuna to once per week and other fish to 12 ounces per week of smaller fish species such as salmon and tilapia.
- Say sayonara to sushi, no raw fish or eggs while pregnant!
- Bisphenol-A (BPA) can be found in plastic containers and lining cans in canned food. So don’t microwave unless you are using a glass vessel and avoid canned foods.
- Make sure any pottery, crystal or ceramic dishes you use don’t contain lead.
Are you exposing you and your baby to dangerous chemical contaminates in the everyday products you use?
Household cleansers, garden and pest products, and cosmetics all contain chemicals to be aware of and many to avoid.
These chemicals can be absorbed into your system and affect your pregnancy or your breastmilk. So do some research before you buy or use.
“When I was pregnant, I let my nose be my guide when it came to environmental exposures. A woman’s sense of smell is heightened during pregnancy, so I used that to my advantage.” — Sara DuMond, MD, FAAP
- Avoid all-purpose household, window, and cabinet cleaners that contain ammonia. The fumes can cause birth defects.
- Do not use drain and oven cleaners that contain lye or sulfuric acid. Inhaling those chemical fumes can cause respiratory problems and chemicals can be absorbed by the skin.
- Fungicides in mold and mildew cleaners can cause problems in your nervous and respiratory systems and are eye irritants.
- Don’t mix cleansers, toxic combinations can result.
Green household cleaning products made with non-toxic formulas are readily available, with companies such as Seventh Generation and Vermont Soapworks creating environmentally friendly product lines. There are many online recipes for homemade cleaning products using baking soda, vinegar, and citrus based formulas to replace harmful cleansers.
Make sure any products you use or make do not contain Borax, sometimes used in “Green” products, which is dangerous for pregnant women to be exposed to. Borax can cross the placenta during pregnancy and cause birth defects.
If you garden, replace chemical fertilizers with organic products, preferably applied by someone else (dust from any fertilizer can be inhaled and isn’t good for you). Pesticide use is off limits during your pregnancy. There are links to pesticide exposure during pregnancy and childhood cancer. Start a pest control program using diatomaceous earth, natural deterrents such as mint, lemon & rosemary oil, and nontoxic bug traps.
The solvent perchloroethylene (PERC) is frequently used in dry-cleaning, which some studies link to an increased miscarriage risk. Put those delicates away for the rest of your term or start hand-washing.
And one more! If you have a cat get someone else to change the litterbox. Cat feces contain the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause a serious blood infection, toxoplasmosis.
Cosmetics – The Treasure Trove of Chemicals
Surveys conducted by the Environmental Workers Group revealed that the average woman uses 12 personal care products daily containing up to 168 different chemicals. I just went through my morning routine and realized I use 13! Not only can you inhale the ingredients in these products while using them, your skin absorbs them into your bloodstream and can cross the placenta to your unborn child or affect your breastmilk after birth.
It’s best to go as natural as possible while carrying baby, let your motherly glow be your beauty enhancement! For the products you just can’t do without, be sure to avoid these 12 chemicals regularly found in personal care products:
- Aluminum chloride hexahydrate:Found in antiperspirant; check for aluminum chloride hexahydrate and aluminum chlorohydrate.
- Beta hydroxy acids:Salicylic acid, 3-hydroxypropionic acid, trethocanic acid and tropic acid.
- Chemical sunscreens:Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, menthyl anthranilate and oxtocrylene.
- Diethanolamine (DEA):Found in hair and body products; stay clear of diethanolamine, oleamide DEA, lauramide DEA and cocamide DEA.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA):Found in spray self-tanners; could be harmful if inhaled.
- Formaldehyde:Found in hair straightening treatments, nail polishes and eyelash glue; look for formaldehyde, quaternium-15, dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM), hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol).
- Hydroquinone:A lightening agent; abstain from hydroquinone, idrochinone and quinol/1-4 dihydroxy benzene/1-4 hydroxy benzene.
- Parabens:Keep away from propyl, butyl, isopropyl, isobutyl and methyl parabens.
- Phthalates:Found in products with synthetic fragrances and nail polishes; avoid diethyl and dibutyl especially.
- Retinol:Vitamin A, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene and isotretinoin.
- Thioglycolic acid:Found in chemical hair removers; can also be labeled acetyl mercaptan, mercaptoacetate, mercaptoacetic acid and thiovanic acid.
- Toluene:Found in nail polishes; skip methylbenzene, toluol and antisal 1a.
Did you know toothpaste is considered a cosmetic?
The Food and Drug Administration oversees regulating cosmetic and personal care products. You would think that these products would be tested prior to being released on the market but they are not. The personal care products industry is one of the least regulated in the U.S. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) has 1 page dedicated to cosmetics and 112 to food and drugs.
These are some of the chemicals you can find in commercial toothpaste:
- Fluoride: Over 95% of the toothpaste sold in the U.S. contain fluoride. They all contain this warning – “Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.” because fluoride is poisonous. There are approximately 23,000 reports of fluoride poisoning annually in the United States. It is more toxic than lead and slightly less toxic than arsenic.
- DEA (diethanolamine): Is the foaming agent you’ll find it in lots of brands of toothpaste. DEA exposure has been linked to liver cancer and thyroid problems in mice and it is banned in the European Union.
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are used in many cosmetics, including toothpaste. Also found in embalming fluid, these preservatives continuously give off small quantities of this carcinogen.
- Parabens: Can cause hormone problems. Commonly used preservatives (such as methylparaben) can mimic estrogen and are linked to cancer as well as developmental problems in children.
- Triclosan: Triclosan was recently banned by the FDA for use in soap, but unbelievably not toothpaste! This chemical has been found to affect hormones, including those that regulate our reproductive system and thyroid function. It is an antibacterial agent and also the major problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
And you put this in your mouth twice a day!! The tissues of the mouth lining and gums are extremely effective at absorbing anything and everything into the bloodstream. This is why many medicines are administered under the tongue. This makes what you put in your mouth even more significant, even if you don’t swallow it.
Good-Gums is a non-toxic tooth powder that contains none of the ingredients above.
Not only is it very effective in cleaning your teeth and fighting bacteria it promotes healing and contains nutrients that are absorbed by your mouth tissues.
None of the ingredients can contaminate you, your baby, or your breastmilk.
These are the all-natural, pure ingredients:
▪Vitamin C & Bioflavonoids aid the gum linings to stay healthy despite the bacteria that inhabit the mouth. Vitamin C is key to the processes of cell growth, healing and tissue repair. It’s required for the production of collagen, that makes up gum tissue and periodontal ligaments that keep the gums tight to the teeth and the teeth tight to the jawbone. Bioflavonoids significantly enhance the absorption of Vitamin C.
▪Cinnamon is antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal and slightly anaesthetic, which aids sore mouth tissues.
▪Cranberry prevents the biological adhesion of microbes to the gums. It contains super antioxidants and a unique structure not found in most other fruits and vegetables. This anti-adhesion property is what makes cranberry so effective for urinary tract infections. Called a “super fruit” because of its high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C, and other trace elements.
▪Myrrh is deemed to be one of the most effective oral treatments since ancient times. It is renowned for its astringent and antiseptic properties. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in myrrh oil help relieve toothache, gingivitis, and mouth ulcers, and also freshen breath. Myrrh prevents infection, helps to clear toxins, and promotes tissue repair.
▪ Peppermint has a calming and numbing effect from a high menthol content. It inhibits the growth of some strains of bacteria and viruses. It’s high in vitamins C and A, and contains numerous nutrient trace elements, such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and copper. It has the ability to be absorbed by the skin, accounting for reports of pain relief from headaches and insect bites after topical application of its oil. Absorption takes place even more readily through mucous membranes, such as the absorptive tissues of the gums
▪ French Grey Sea Salt once dissolved, allows liquids to pass through the body’s membranes and blood vessels’ walls. Trace mineral elements are required for cells to control their ion equilibrium, which is necessary for the cells’ functioning, growth and regeneration. Refined salt does not allow the proper passage of fluids and minerals, leading to a buildup on one side of a membrane and to a lack on the other and to cells becoming out of balance. Good-Gums uses mineral rich Organic Grey Celtic sea salt harvested in Brittany from a section of the Atlantic Ocean that’s considered particularly pristine.
▪Baking soda is an excellent natural dental care product that neutralizes acids, cleans and deodorizes. It is one of the least abrasive cleansers for tooth enamel, it is nontoxic and mild enough for the soft mouth tissues. Baking soda neutralizes highly toxic Volatile Sulfur Compounds, which are primarily responsible for bad breath. It also has a buffering action that helps maintain a stable pH balance in the mouth.
Did you know that Gum Disease is linked Premature Birth?
Periodontal or Gum Disease has been linked to Preterm or Premature Birth. Obviously, something any mother wants to avoid. So book an appointment with your dentist if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
Make sure you have a good oral health regime with regular brushing and flossing, and dental cleanings to avoid and gingivitis or gum disease. You can read more about pregnancy and your gum health here. Keep those gums pretty and pink!
I know it sounds like a lot to consider. Once you determine what products to use and omit, and decide what is right for you, it will get easier.
Remember the most important thing you have going, a mother’s intuition.
Sometimes the hardest one to trust is the most important, yourself!