Alright let’s be honest here – most of us tree huggers may find the entire notion of having an ‘all green pregnancy’ a bit of an oxymoron. For most eco-minded people that I have come across, the best way of having a green pregnancy is that of not having one at all for the sake of the environment and population control. However, the fact of the matter is that although the addition of new life in this world adds to one’s carbon footprint, it can also be an amazing step towards introducing one’s self to eco issues.
Apart from that, pregnancy is usually the first time that some women actually consider what they are eating and drinking and the effects that it can lead to. For this reason, pregnancy can actually help women take their first step into the ‘green’ notion of things. So, if you are pregnant and want to go green, here’s what you need to do:
7 #: Start eating right
To begin with, you need to start eating right in order to have an all green pregnancy. For starters, you should eat organic vegetables and fruits so that your exposure to pesticides remains limited. Also, you should only consume grass-fed and organically raised cattle together with free-range organic chicken and eggs so that hormones can be avoided. In terms of fish, it should only be low-mercury fish like sardines, tilapia and trout.
Believe it or not, but both you and your developing baby will benefit from an organic diet. Research suggests that women who consume organic foods get to acquire 25% more nutrition from it. The best part is these do not contain any pesticides at all. Just so you know, most pesticides, heavy metals and artificial growth hormones that are found in conventional food have the potential to cross the placenta and reach your developing fetus. Babies do not have the ability to detoxify their bodies until they are about 6 months of age, which means that even the slightest exposure can leave hazardous impacts over their organs and bodily systems.
In terms of conventional produce, these are known to use over 400 chemical pesticides, and the downside is that these are known to remain on the food even after it is washed. Research shows that these can then lead to early puberty, birth defects, asthma, breast cancer and many other forms of cancer too. On the other hand, when it comes to meat, it isn’t just pesticide residue that you need to worry about – there are artificial growth hormones as well that are a cause for concern. Also, it is normal for non-organic animal products to be exposed to radiation, which can lead to several health issues.
Now, there is actually a list of the most important foods that must definitely be consumed organic, particularly during pregnancy:
- Animal products, which include beef, pork, dairy, eggs, and chicken etc.
- Concentrated foods like fruit juice and tomato paste etc. as these can have concentrated levels of pesticide as well
- Fruits and vegetables including tree fruits and leafy greens in particular as these are highly contaminated
6 #: Read the product labels on your skincare products
Yes, when it comes to skincare products, it is necessary for you to read the fine print. This is because beauty products are particularly said to be packed full of ‘known’ endocrine disruptors. What this means is that their ingredients have the potential to affect your hormonal system. These are also stock full of carcinogens and neurotoxins. The worst part is that even the most costly products out there that say “natural” are known to be loaded with toxins and are one of the worst offenders when it comes to your well-being.
There are plenty of reasons why you need to be extremely careful in terms of the beauty products that you use. Amongst them all, one that truly stands out is that much of these are capable of passing through your blood-brain barrier, and can easily make their way through to your placenta, and hence, to your developing baby. Just so you know, independent research shows that in just a day, it is normal for women to apply over 126 unique chemicals on to their bodies and what’s most devastating is that most of these have actually never been tested for human safety. So before purchasing any skin care products during pregnancy, it is necessary for you to read out the labels and see what ingredients they consist of.
In order to guarantee yours and your baby’s well-being, it is necessary for you to carry out a bit of research and work out which ingredients you should completely avoid in a skincare product. Here’s a list of a few of them:
- Parabens (including methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben)
- Formaldehyde releasing preservatives
- 2-BROMO-2-NITROPROPANE-1,3-DIOL; and DMDM HYDANTOIN
- Coal tar dyes
- Sodium laureth (or lauryl) sulfate
If possible, whenever you head out to purchase skin and hair care products, take a print out of this list with you. Also, you need to trust yourself when buying these products – in case a product smells strongly perfumed, make sure that you refrain from buying it as it is bound to be anything but natural.
5 #: Consider your plastics
In order to have an all green pregnancy, it is highly recommended for you to forego plastics in your kitchen. What this means is that you must not use plastic cooking pans and utensils, plastic lined food and beverage cans, to-go containers considering that these are made of Styrofoam, which is one of the most dangerous plastics, tea or coffee pots and left-over containers made of plastic.
For those who don’t know, the utilization of plastics and plastic by-products has been associated through research with several health complications. This includes neurological disorders, cancer, reproductive issues (estrogen mimickers) and birth defects. Some of the worst plastics that you must definitely stay away from are inclusive of vinyl (it consists of lead and phthalates), BPA (it acts as an estrogen mimicker), phthalates (suspected human carcinogens and estrogen mimicker) and Styrene (possible human carcinogen). Just so you know, plastic NEVER biodegrades and its molecules are said to be found in every single drop of seawater.
Honestly speaking, no matter if you refrain from consuming alcohol and having sushi, you will still be putting yourself and your developing baby at risk each time that you eat your vegetable out of a can or drink water from a plastic bottle. Research conducted at Harvard shows that baby girls who are exposed to a BPA called bisphenol (found in a number of plastics) before birth have the potential to exhibit behavioral problems by 3 years of age. When the mothers were tested, girls whose mothers had the highest levels of BPA in their urine were believed to be most anxious, aggressive and hyperactive with extremely poor emotional control. The worst part is that BPA happens to be everywhere around us from cash register receipts to can lining and even water bottles. In the Harvard study, only 3% of the mothers’ urine was found to be BPA-free, which goes on to show that BPA cannot be avoided entirely.
However, this in no way means that you cannot minimize your exposure to BPA. For instance, instead of eating canned vegetable and fruits, eat them fresh or frozen. Also, instead of using plastic water bottles, you should use stainless steel water bottles!
4 #: Forget home improvement for a while
In order to guarantee a safe, healthy and ‘green’ pregnancy, it is necessary for you to forego home improvement projects for a while for the simple reason that these can prove to be truly toxic. This particularly holds true to all home improvement projects that expose you to chemicals, specifically in the first trimester of your pregnancy. Also, you need to avoid home improvement projects later on in your pregnancy too because even if the chemical risks associated with them decrease, the risk o falling from ladders or injuring yourself tends to increase with time.
To begin with, it is highly recommended for you to stay away from painting related projects. It is highly recommended for you to avoid constant or long-term exposure to paint and spray paint must also be avoided. The thing with paint is that it contains solvents and a number of other organic compounds that are known to be associated with miscarriages, birth defects, low birth weight, childhood cancer and developmental disabilities.
Woodwork and art related projects should be avoided as well if you plan on having a completely safe and all green pregnancy. Yes, the early stages of woodworking projects such as sanding, carving and cutting etc. are safe, but make sure that you don’t use solvents like varnishes, thinners or lacquer as these are known to contain several harmful VOCs. You should also refrain from the utilization sprayers as these lead to the inhalation of airborne particles. Also, if you have a malfunctioning furnace or other HVAC unit around your place, don’t try to fix it yourself and leave it to a professional as these are a major source of carbon monoxide – and CO has the potential to cause infant brain development issues.
Now, during pregnancy, gardening is a bit of a concern as well. This is because it involves the utilization of chemical pesticides and herbicides. See bug killers basically attach the nervous systems of insects and research suggests that it may have the effect on a developing fetus, particularly in the first trimester. In case gardening is an absolute must, just ask someone else to manage it for you during pregnancy. If you still want to do it yourself, you must wear long sleeves, gloves, and long pants while working with pesticide-treated plants.
3 #: Air fresheners are a major no-no
Pregnant women interested in having a green pregnancy should refrain from the utilization of commercial air fresheners too. The reason for this is simple – it tends to trigger intense headaches in mother. For this reason, it is highly recommended by experts for pregnant women to avoid using air fresheners and aerosols all through the nine months of their pregnancy. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and artificial fragrances have been proved to be fairly harmful for pregnant women and their developing babies.
The thing with air fresheners and VOCs is that if you use them on a regular basis, these tend to lead to a buildup of VOCs around your place. Just so you know. VOCs are known to trigger intense bouts of diarrhea, headache, vomiting and pain in the ears. With that, there is a common concern amidst experts pertaining to how aerosols and air fresheners can impact your baby after delivery. Their research suggests that pregnant women who are regularly exposed to VOCs tend to have children who develop wheezing after birth. The reason for this is simple – these chemicals have the ability to enter your body and impact the developing lungs and other organs of your baby in the womb. Yes, these are an important part of your home cleaning routine, but seriously speaking, nothing is more important than your health and well-being along with that of your developing baby.
In order to ensure your baby’s safety along with yours, it is recommended for you to:
- Use natural instead of chemical based cleaning products all through your pregnancy
- Wear gloves in case it is a must for you to use aerosols indoors
- Cut down on the number of aerosol based products that you use around the house
- In case using aerosols is totally necessary, keep the windows around your place open when doing so
Instead of relying on chemical air fresheners, there are plenty of natural options for you to use in this regard too. For instance, you could use baking soda for strong odors to get absorbed or just let fresh air in by keeping a window open.
2 #: Refuse to eat canned food
Like it or not, but pregnant women are highly susceptible to food poisoning. For this reason, it is extremely important for you to forego the consumption of canned foods. See in case canned foods are not properly closed or jarred, these become easily accessible for bacteria that can lead to several bacterial diseases like botulism. The worst part is that canned foods barely contain any nutrients or enzymes considering that these are heated to an extremely high temperature for the sake of processing and killing the micro-organisms present in them before canning. For this reason, they end up becoming nothing more than junk food or a slow poison.
Apart from that, a compound found in all canned foods including soda, canned vegetable and fruits is known to trigger birth defects. This compound is known as BPA or Bisphenol A. BPA is basically present in plastics and epoxy resins that are used to line food cans. The worst part is that just a single serving of canned food has the potential to expose pregnant women to an extremely high level of BPA. And just so you know, the highest levels of BPA are found in canned soup, pasta and infant formula. Apart from birth defects, this compound is also known to cause fertility issues, cancer, liver problems and heart diseases etc.
Now, in order to save yourself against the hazards of BPA, it is best for you to eat food available in glass jars. As an alternate, you could also look around for canned food that does not use BPA based can liners. If need be, you could consider washing canned fruits and vegetables before consumption so as to lower the risks associated with eating it, particularly during pregnancy. Pregnant women should also refrain from eating canned tuna and tuna salads. Along with BPA, these also come with the risk of high mercury levels that can truly turn poisonous. Canned tuna, for the record, is believed to have as much mercury as white tuna and in case the mercury found in it makes its way to the placenta, it may harm the overall development of your baby’ nervous system.
1 #: Go green – like literally
Yes, I just told you to refrain from gardening considering that it involves the utilization of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Particularly in case of pesticides, these are meant to kill living organism and surely they aren’t the sort of thing you would want around yourself when pregnant, right? But even with that, you should have a few plants and flowers around yourself for the benefits that they have to offer. So what should you do? Well, the best thing for you to do in this regard is to use nontoxic solutions and natural fertilizers that are so commonly available these days.
Yes, using natural alternatives to harsh chemicals is the way to go about things for you. There are quite a few places, both conventional and online, where you can purchase eco-friendly gardening materials from, so just look into them to get started with gardening. Also, green pest control can be practiced in your garden by paying close attention to the onset of pests on a daily basis so that you can pick them off instantly. Now, if you find that your plants are already infested with, let’s say, aphids, then it is recommended for you to choose a solution that will have the lowest environment impact.
If truth be told, this may even include something as basic as a strong blast of water. However, in case it is necessary for you to spray something, then mix vegetable oil, water and liquid ivory soap for the said purpose. Also, if you have indoor plants, then you must prevent indoor infestations by making sure that your rooms are clean at all times, and that showers and sinks are caulked.
For the greenest possible option, it is best for you to just plant organic or heirloom seeds. Believe it or not, heirloom seeds actually produce some of the most nutritious and tastiest peppers, herbs and tomatoes. These seeds have been saved typically for generations and are the open-pollinated sort so the best varieties are guaranteed to be grown over and over again. Refrain from using hybrid or genetically engineered seeds that are so commonly available these days.