Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Caring for Baby: What to Use and What Toxins to Avoid

As women, there’s probably no other time when we’re more concerned about our exposure to potentially harmful chemicals than when we’re pregnant. We want to do everything to ensure that little baby is born as healthy as possible, so we avoid alcohol, throw out the soda pop, and become more conscious than ever before about our food choices.

How discouraging, then, to find out that our little ones are being born already carrying traces of harmful chemicals in their bodies. I reported in 2010, for example, how the Environmental Working Group found 232 chemical contaminants in the umbilical cord blood samples taken from 10 newborn American babies. Nine had bisphenol-A (BPA), and fragrance components were found in 7 out of 10.

How can we change this? Our world is so full of chemicals today, it can be difficult, so I was thrilled when Whole Foods Market put out a brochure guideline to help moms make healthier choices during pregnancy and through the first few crucial baby years. Below are several great recommendations to take with you the next time you go shopping.

During Pregnancy

A crucial time, as everything you eat or use on your body can be transferred to your unborn baby.

 

 

What to Look For

What to Avoid

SUPPLEMENTS A prenatal vitamin from a trusted source (do your research); make sure it has omega-3 fatty acids EFA and DHA Artificial additives, colors, and flavors; hydrogenated fats GINGER It’s great for morning sickness—just choose an organic brand Unnecessary ingredients or artificial additives BELLY BALM, LOTIONS, MASSAGE OILS Find those with safe ingredients—try CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm Petroleum-based or harsh chemical ingredients AROMATHERAPY This can be a great way to relax and de-stress, but some oils have hormone-like behavior, and should be avoided; use only 100% pure essential oils (do not use directly on skin) Synthetic fragrances (which are full of unknown chemicals), certain essential oils not recommended during pregnancy, like fennel and aniseed FOOD Nutritious fruits and vegetables, eggs, beans, dark leafy greens and whole grains, organics, meat and dairy from animals not given hormones and antibiotics Artificial additives, colors and flavors; hydrogenated oils; certain seafoods high in mercury; undercooked meat and seafood; unpasteurized dairy and juice BEVERAGES Drink lots of water, preferably filtered Alcohol, caffeine, certain herbal teas (ask your doctor)

While Breastfeeding

Once your baby is born, if you’re breastfeeding, you still need to remain cautious about everything you eat and use on your body. A study by Swedish researchers, for example, noted that flame-retardants were found in human milk, with the amount doubling every five years between 1970 and 1998. Researchers have also found pesticides, dioxins, mercury, lead, benzene, arsenic, and other dangerous chemicals. Small amounts may not hurt you, but they can definitely be harmful to your tiny baby.

 

 

What to Look For

What to Avoid

HERBS & HERBAL TEAS Fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel, raspberry leaf Herbs not advised by your healthcare provider INFANT FORMULA Organic; age-appropriate formula Non-organic ingredients BOTTLES Glass BPA (bisphenol-A), phthalates BABY CEREAL/BISCUITS Organic; whole grains Artificial additives, colors and flavors BABY FOOD Organic; nutrient-rich Artificial additives, colors and flavors; honey; certain seafood; common allergens; junk food; added sugar

Caring for Baby

Your baby comes in contact with so many things during his or her first year. Creams, bath products, detergents, bedding—all of these can be sources of potentially harmful chemicals. Here’s how to increase safety in your baby’s world.

 

 

What to Look For

What to Avoid

TEETHING, EARS, COLIC, SLEEP Homeopathic remedies; herbs and herbal teas recommended by a practitioner Medications with artificial ingredients or potential side effects CRADLE CAP PRODUCTS Zinc, magnesium, biotin and essential fats supplements (mom & baby); calendula cream/gel Artificial scents; petroleum-derived ingredients VITAMINS Liquids specifically for babies Artificial additives, colors and flavors PROBIOTICS Age-appropriate formulas and organic yogurt for babies Artificial additives, colors and flavors COTTON BALLS & SWABS Organic cotton Chlorine bleached DIAPER CREAM Zinc oxide, calendula, chamomile, witch hazel, comfrey, St. John’s Wort Artificial scents or preservatives; petroleum-derived ingredients BABY POWDER Unscented or 100% pure essential oil scent; plant-based ingredients Talc; artificial fragrance BABY OIL, SHAMPOO & BATH GEL Unscented or 100% pure essential oil scent; plant-based ingredients; Premium Body Care seal Artificial scent; petroleum-derived ingredients DIAPERS Biodegradable; recycled content Chlorine; artificial scents BABY WIPES Aloe vera; vitamin E; refillable tubs Chlorine bleached; petroleum-derived ingredients; artificial fragrances LAUNDRY DETERGENT Baby-friendly with complete ingredient lists; Eco-Scale rating Chlorine; artificial fragrances; phosphates COTTON CLOTHING AND BEDDING Organic Synthetic dyes; chemically treated HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS  Those with complete ingredient lists; Eco-Scale rating Chlorine, ammonia, artificial scents, phosphates

 

Have you gone through pregnancy aware of toxic chemicals? Please share your tips for creating a healthy environment for mom and baby!

Photo courtesy cvrcak1 via Flickr.com.

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