GUEST BLOG: Just found out you’re pregnant?
Published 22 Sep 2018
Congrats! Maybe you are feeling a little sick? Overwhelmed? Excited but nervous? Well, fear not. You have plenty of time, we promise.
You will be able to set up your nursery, nest a bit, and even think of some names. But right now, it’s time to take care of yourself. At this point that is the best way to take care of your baby.
We’ve narrowed it down to the 3 easiest changes you can make that will help you have a non-toxic pregnancy. Scientists have concluded that certain harmful chemical exposures to your baby while it’s still in the womb could influence your baby’s health later in life, including breast cancer risk.
We promise, they are relatively no brainer swaps, and you don’t even have to read labels.
1. Vacuum often, hopefully with a HEPA filter if you have one. Vacuuming is an easy way to get dust out of your home. Besides just looking messy, dust is one of the places we often don’t realize that harmful chemicals collect.
As toxic chemicals that can affect hormone levels, like flame retardants, phthalates, and lead drift out of normal household things and stuff that gets tracked into the house, they often stick to dust particles and settle all around the house. This can be not so great for health because people often touch the dust and eat and breathe it without realizing it.
Anytime you fluff a pillow, you inadvertently breath in some dust. When you pick up that magazine from the coffee table to flip through with a bowl of popcorn you get some on our fingers and accidentally eat it. It happens. But if you vacuum, and dust with a wet microfibre cloth more often (think a couple times a week) you can dramatically reduce the amount of dust just hanging out in your home and that makes a huge difference.
2. Get some glass or stainless steel food storage containers. There is such a big focus on what women should and shouldn’t eat or drink when they are pregnant, but there’s not very much talk about how the ways we prepare or store food can also affect it. This is a pretty easy swap. You can pick up or order things today and the effects will start to take place in as few as three days. That’s how quickly BPA and chemicals like it can leave your system.
BPA and other endocrine disrupting chemicals are often found in plastics to make them hard and clear, and can cause problems like early onset of puberty in girls, decreased semen quality in men, and genital abnormalities in some babies, which is why we want to limit our exposure as much as possible during pregnancy. Choosing glass (or stainless steel) storage containers is any easy way to do that.
3. Go fragrance free. Not only because you start to develop super smelling powers during pregnancy and you might want to give your nose a break, but also because fragrance has become a term that can cover up to 300 different ingredients (in the U.S.).
Not all of these ingredients are bad, but some of them are. Studies have linked the chemicals in the term “fragrance” to cancer and other negative health effects. Phthalates are also often added to products that have fragrance to help the fragrance last longer. But, phthalates have been linked to various forms of hormone disruption and even preterm birth. So, look for fragrance free (not unscented, they are different) options for things like lotion, shampoo, deodorant, laundry detergent, and even cleaning supplies. There are plenty of non-toxic ways to make your home or yourself smell pretty without the ingredient fragrance.
Written by Karen Wang, PhD, Director at the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (based in California) and Founder of Because Health.
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