Discovering that you are about to have a baby is often one of the most joyous times of a woman’s life. It can also be the most nerve racking. You are now responsible for the healthy development of another human life and everything you eat, breathe, and come into contact with for the next nine months can impact that growth and development. Being pregnant is weighty enough as it is without scaring moms to be and throwing a bunch of rules around. Yet the high incidences of autism, asthma, allergies, ADHD, cancer, and so many other childhood illnesses and issues require us to give some thought to raising our children green and healthy, even before they are born. They get their start in our bellies. Are we giving them the best possible start we can? It is something we all need to think about because our choices impact them greatly and also the planet. Here are a few ways to keep it green during pregnancy:
Prenatal Vitamins – In my earlier post on the dangers of synthetic vitamins I highlight all the reasons why you want to stick to vitamins that are made from whole foods and not those that are created in a lab. Synthetic vitamins offer you much less than you think are receiving and now is not the time to skimp. There are a few whole foods prenatal vitamins on the market. Try Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Multivitamins and/or Rainbow Light Just Once Prenatal One Multivitamins.
Organic Foods – Eating organic can be more expensive but there are numerous tips and tricks out there to keep it affordable. Avoiding pesticides is just too important when you are pregnant. With some menu planning, buying in bulk, and perhaps cutting back on other purchases you can find a way to opt for that USDA organic sticker in stores. At the very least you can avoid the foods that have the highest pesticides residues when grown conventionally, also called the Dirty Dozen.
Farm Fresh & Nutrient Dense Foods – When preggo is it also important to make sure your meat is raised as healthfully and ethically as possible. We don’t want to expose our unborn children to all the growth hormones and antibiotics found in conventionally raised animals products. Go with grassfed meats, free range eggs, and pastured dairy. It is best, and usually cheaper too, if you go direct to the source…aka the farmer. Look for more nutrient dense options as well such as organ meats (liver, heart) and eggs other than chicken (like duck). For seafood you will need to look for wild caught instead of farmed and avoid canned foods as much as possible because the cans are lined with BPA. When cooking make sure you are using healthy pots and pans that are free of dangers like chemical ridden non-stick surfaces and aluminum.
Clean Water – We need to hydrate quite often when pregnant because we have to filter out impurities and toxins for two. We are re-hydrating and replenishing all that amniotic fluid all the time so it is so important to drink lots of water. Also since our unborn is essentially swimming in it all day and night we want to make sure all chemical nasties are filtered out. Use a water filter in your home for drinking and cooking water. A nice affordable option is the Zuvo system, which I have. The filter catches stuff like chlorine and lead, the UV light kills water-borne bacteria and microbes, and the puration process oxygenates the water. Also consider the harmful effects of bathing and showering in chlorinated water and get filters for those areas too. For planetary reasons and because drinking out of plastic is unhealthy for us, ditch the plastic bottles and go with a stainless reusable bottle when you need to carry drinking water with you.
Maternity Clothing & Baby Clothing – I think that our consumer society goes a bit too far with all the all the pregnancy and baby stuff it tells us we must have. When I was expecting I simply bought clothing a size bigger until I was forced to buy a couple maternity items. Once I bought them I kept them for all three of my pregnancies and if I needed to buy anything else I went the second hand route. I managed to look nice without spending money on clothing off the rack that no doubt had lots of chemicals in it. Clothing in general has a BIG environmental impact and since we wear it all day long every day it can greatly impact our health. Second hand clothing has been worn and washed enough to negate the health impacts and buying used is better for the planet than buying new.
Natural Cleaners - Wash all your clothing (and baby’s future clothing) in an eco friendly and healthy detergent. There are some really horrible ingredients in conventional detergents and green moms want nothing to do with them. Now might be the perfect time to try soap nuts, which are berries that naturally contain soap and can be used (and reused) to clean your clothes. I love them! For house cleaning go with natural ingredients such as vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, and castile soap.
Healthy Nesting – Nesting is the urge to make your home ready for the new baby. Just like mama birds we want to get our nests in order before our little one arrives. Often time this means getting a nursery ready, doing some renovations, and buying items we think we will need for our little bundle, such as nursery furniture. Buy second hand when you can to avoid the offgassing associated with brand new products. This means it may be better to get a second hand crib rather than a brand new one. Just be sure to do your homework and make sure what you buy hasn’t been recalled or painted with lead based paint because it is so old. New items might be best put outside to “air out” for a couple weeks if possible and when painting use zero VOC paints.
Clean Indoor Air – You are eating for two and breathing for two so making sure your air is clean and free and of harmful pollutants is important. This is no time to be breathing in mold, mildew, fumes from paint, or other chemicals that cause allergies and asthma. One cheap and green solution is to get some houseplants that clean and filter the air such as spider plants, English ivy, Boston fern, and rubber plants. Open windows and let fresh air inside the house as much as possible. Takes daily walks outside in the fresh air (and get some sun while you are at it). You can also run an air purifier to be on the safe side. I have Permatech Air Cleaners in my home and as an added bonus they are also ionizers so they give me a mood boost when I run them.
Healthy Body Care – Dangerous chemicals are abundant in personal care products and now is not the time to put your faith and trust in big corporations that make the lotions and potions you see in conventional stores. These products are not well regulated and legislation does not consider the cumulative impact of all these products. Sure the deodorant might be safe in their minds but what about when you use it along with lipstick, blush, lotion, shampoo, hairspray, and toothpaste? That is a lot of chemicals (phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, sodium lauryl sulfate) you are rubbing all over your body! Many of those components will pass through your skin into the body that is currently nourishing your unborn baby. I recommend more natural products such as Earth Mama Angel Baby, making your owns products using natural ingredients, and perhaps avoiding some entirely. Why not try going no poo?
Pregnancy is a special, magical time and I hate to give moms more stuff to be anxious over but this topic is just to important not to share. Do you have any tips and ideas to share for a greener, more natural pregnancy?
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013