When preparing for baby there is no better time as a parent to choose wisely about what you eat, breathe, drink and absorb to lay a good foundation assuring the healthiest start for baby. Because the fetus is so small it is vulnerable to the many toxins which may lead to potentially irreversible side effects. According to a 2005 study done by Environmental Working Group, the chemical exposure to newly born infants from a shared umbilical cord is quite alarming. An average of 200 chemicals commonly found in the home linked birth defects or abnormal development in animals, were found in the newborns cord blood. Unfortunately this is the price we pay for living in a modern day society. When preparing for baby, there are some simple things we can do to help reduce chemical exposures prior to and during pregnancy to help minimize a child’s body burden giving them the healthiest start possible.
Start by eating intelligently for two. Always consult your obstetrician of course. They will surly advise you to cut out the alcohol, caffeine and smoking. Of course, eating a diet rich in protein with a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is very important. What your obstetrician may not tell you is to eat a diet low in artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and additives. When choosing produce, buy organic, fruits and vegetables grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. By simply avoiding the 12 contaminated fruits and vegetables identified by the Environmental Working Group you can lower your pesticides exposure by 90%! Watch your soy intake. Studies suggest phytoestrogens can be harmful to a developing baby. Always choose organic whenever possible. For fish and meat eaters, lean cuts of meats are best, trimming the fat which can accumulate and harbor dioxins and other chemicals. Smaller fish is preferred since many large fish like tuna, sword fish and king mackerel may contain high levels of mercury. Of course don’t give into the junk food cravings!
Staying hydrated is a must. It helps keep the amniotic fluid levels up and promotes the flow of necessary nutrients to baby. So tap or bottled water? Filtered tap water is preferred, free of lead, chlorine and any other unwanted metals or microbes. Avoid plastic bottled water when possible. Plastics can continually leach chemicals and because it’s less regulated there is no guarantee it’s any cleaner. Choosing glass over plastic when it comes to food contact is always a better alternative.
Not only do you need to watch what goes into your body but what you put on your body as well. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and anything you put on it is carried through the bloodstream and into the placenta which can affect the fetus. The EPA advises pregnant women to reduce their lotion and cosmetic use. I always say if you can’t eat it don’t put it all over your body. I really like coconut oil as a lotion substitute and it smells good too! Avoiding hair dyes and anything to do with professional manicures and pedicures should be added to “the avoid” list because of the chemicals used in the dyes and polish. Those relaxing foot baths and sharp tools for a seamlessly harmless pedicure can harbor microbes.
You may be a clean fanatic however the air inside your home may be far more polluted than the air you breathe outside. According to the EPA the air inside our homes can be up to 5 times worse. Lead and pesticides are routinely found in household dust. Carpets, furniture, paints and products used for cleaning our homes give off fumes known as VOCs placing a burden a developing fetus. Using non toxic chemicals to clean your home is a great start. There are a wide variety of green household cleaners available now. Because so much of our time is spent in our homes, ventilating as often as you can by opening windows to allow the release of built up fumes from cleaning products and synthetic materials is a very good idea.
With all the scary things you read you may feel like you are not doing nearly enough. When preparing for baby, choosing foods where pests are managed safely, shopping smart, using non toxic products, cleaning up indoor air, and avoiding plastics when you can assures you are giving your baby the healthiest and best start possible.
For more tips on laying the foundation on a healthy start for your baby read:
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