Monday, March 7, 2016

Congratulations Your Pregnant! Now what? Non-Toxic Munchkin's Guide to a Non-Toxic and Healthy Pregnancy.

Congratulations Your Pregnant!  Now what?  
A Non-Toxic Munchkin's Guide to a Non-Toxic and Healthy Pregnancy.

I think most mothers, if not all, understand  that pregnancy is a time to be healthy.  Many of us become preoccupied with researching all things organic in what can seem like a sometimes overwhelming push to become healthier as moms to -ultimately- offer a healthier beginning for our babies.

Is this non-toxic living thing a hormone induced exaggeration?   Is it a passing trend?  Nope.  

More and more studies are showing links between exposure to certain common chemicals during pregnancy to everything from preterm births and higher cancer risk later in life to  birth defects and childhood behavioral problems. In fact, pregnancy is one of 4 'windows of susceptibility' these are periods in our lives when we are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemicals (the other periods are fetal development, early childhood, adolescence)

Why pregnancy is important

 Think about it: a baby goes from one fertilized cell at conception to - well, to a full fledged baby in +/-40 weeks! 

During the first trimester, our babies undergo the most rapid development.  

As What to Expect, explains, in the first trimester " Organs take shape, and baby starts to move. Here are a few of the big highlights happening in this exciting time:

  • Baby’s bones: By about week 6, baby starts to sprout arms, legs, hands and feet — and fingers and toes around week 10.
  • Hair and nails: Skin begins forming between weeks 5 and 8, with hair follicles and nail beds forming around week 8.
  • Digestive system: By about week 8, baby’s intestines will begin forming, and your baby will have already gone through two sets of kidneys (with the third and final set on its way!).
  • Sense of touch: Your baby will have touch receptors on his face (mostly lips and nose) around week 8. By week 12, he’ll have receptors on his genitals, palms and the soles of his feet.
  • Eyesight: Optic nerves (which pass info from the eyes to the brain and back) and lenses begin to form by week 4, with the retina beginning to form around week 8.
  • Heart: By week 5, the tube that will become your baby’s heart begins to beat spontaneously. It will become stronger and more regular — and you’ll be able to hear it! — around week 9 or 10 (though sometimes later, depending on your baby’s position in your uterus).
  • Brain: By about week 8 of pregnancy, your baby’s brain will be wiggling his developing limbs.
  • Sense of taste: Your baby will have developed taste buds that connect to his brain by about week 8 — but he’ll need taste pores before he can taste the surrounding amniotic fluid (which, by the way, tastes like your most recent meal).
  • Other major first-trimester milestones include the formation of muscles, the production of white blood cells to fight off germs and the development of vocal cords."

It is a lot going on, and during all this rapid development, because our babies are so tiny, they are also especially vulnerable to potential toxins.  

Unfortunately,  guess what?  There are countless studies that have found high levels of toxic chemicals like flame retardants in the umbilical cord blood of the majority of American babies when they are born (over 200 never tested chemicals are  found in the average umbilical cord blood of newborn babies in the US!) .   Everything we mothers eat, smell and breathes reaches our developing babies, and the ramifications  can be serious.  

However well intentioned you might be, sometimes those first few weeks of pregnancy are some of the hardest, longest and most miserable days of your life.   Everything from nausea to morning sickness to extreme exhaustion can jeopardize even the most dedicated green moms intentions.   Sometimes you have to resort to pre-made meals or just bread and crackers because you feel so crappy that cooking is. Not. An. Option.  

So what is a pregnant mom to do?  

The key is to keep it simple.  

  1. Now is the time to choose organic fruits and veggies.  At a minimum, prioritize and buy those most contaminated fruits and veggies organic only. For a more detailed list read EWG’s Shoppers Guide  to Pesticide in Produce 
  2. Sometimes you can only hold down light quick meals like soup.   Canned soup will spike your BPA levels and BPA has been proven to be quite the harmful chemical for babies (read more about how harmful BPA is for munchkins) so, if you are not eating home cooked soup, do not resort to buying canned soup (or canned anything).  Choose soups (or meals) that come in glass.
  3. Even I , who HATE using the microwave, used it to reheat food on days I was just too tired to make dinner.  If your microwave becomes your sous chef of sorts, just make sure you don’t reheat your food in plastic containers than will leach nasty chemicals into your food.   Instead choose glass.
  4.  Don't limit yourself to organic fruits and veggies, whenever possible choose organic protein and dairy products.  A recent study found that  switching to “organic meat and milk would go some way towards increasing our intake of nutritionally important fatty acids.” Fatty acids are essential for the developing brains of developing babies.

Now is the perfect time to hire a maid.  Seriously, if you can afford it, it is not only a huge convenience, but the reality is that pregnant women should not  expose themselves to fumes that many household cleaners give off. 

Regardless of who is doing the cleaning, now is the time to throw out your toxic mainstream “pine or lemon fresh” house cleaners. The air inside of our homes is usually much more contaminated than the air outside because of the cleaners that we use.   Usually I recommend finishing up what you have at home and then switching to less toxic cleaners but if you are pregnant, the fumes from those mainstream cleaners could potentially be so harmful for your developing baby, that its best to throw them out and start buying the purest cleansers you can find.   An excellent source is EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning .  If you want to go the really natural and safe route try making your own cleaners.   I swear, it is much easier than going to the store and picking out a non-toxic one!

Here are some super simple and effective recipes:

All Purpose Cleaner Recipe

Take a spray bottle and fill it  with:

  • 50% distilled white vinegar
  • 50% water.   
  • If the smell of vinegar bothers you, you can add 5- 10 drops of the pure organic essential oil of your choice.
Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and can be used to clean almost all surfaces around the house.   This is what I have been using  for years.

Non-Toxic Soft Scrub

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup to 2/3 cup liquid castile soap  (we like Dr. Bronner's - if you are going to add essential oils buy fragrance free castile soap)
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable glycerin ( will preserve it and help it last longer)
  • 5 drops essential oil with antibacterial properties such as lavender, tea tree, rosemary  (optional- if your castile soap already smells you should not add more fragrance!)
Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar; the mixture can last up to a year. Dry soft scrubs can be made with baking soda or salt (or combination of both) and are great for cleaning bathroom sinks, stoves and kitchen counters.
If cleaning a very tough stained surface you might want to spray pure white vinegar first, allow it to sit a couple of minutes then follow with scrub.
Chemical Free Drain De-clogger
Your hair might seem really thick and luscious during your pregnancy, but just you wait until after you give birth!  OMG  the amount of hair you will probably loose will freak you out and might just wreak havoc on your bathroom drain.    Before you try ridiculously toxic chemicals like Drano, try our recipe for a non-toxic drain de-clogger.....  Once again, we have been using it for years in our house and it works every time.  
  • Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain
  • Follow with 1 cup white vinegar
  • cover drain and allow to sit 20 minutes
  • uncover and flush with aprox. 1 gallon of boiling hot water

Non-Toxic Toilet Cleaner
  • Pour 1-2 cups of organic apple cider vinegar in toilet 
  • Leave in for 30-60 minutes
  • Then scrub a bit and flush.  If you are dealing with some tough stains you might want to add a bit of baking soda as a scrub at this point or use our soft scrub recipe!
For those who prefer premade non-toxic cleaners I have my personal favorites on my Amazon Shop

Think of it this way:  anything you slather on your body gets absorbed by your skin and will eventually make its way to your developing baby..... do you really want to expose him or her to a super long list of hard to pronounce mystery  ingredients that have never been tested on humans for toxicity and that are commonly found in the products that make up our daily beauty routine?  Do we want our munchkins to be a laboratory test for these ingredients?  Probably not... which is why now is the time to keep it simple in the bathroom.

  1.  Less is more.   I would never tell a pregnant woman to give up her makeup.  I mean, sure some pregnant women have that natural glow but I certainly did NOT and I definitely needed my makeup!  But, the key is to use as little products as you can.   You are exhausted anyway, so you should welcome an excuse to streamline your routine.   Use only what you need.  Same for your hair care routine.... do you really have to shampoo, condition, deep condition, use styling cream, frizz control AND hair spray?  Less is more; do it for your baby.  Also consider trying some non-toxic cosmetic lines that have launched in the last few years.  I like Beautycounter, Tata Harper and Weleda  (also on my Amazon Shop!) 
  2. Belly Cream/Stretch marks: There are tons of, sometimes pricey, products that promise to keep a pregnant woman’s skin soft and stretch mark free.  But why slather on all these ingredients that have never been tested (and others that have been and are proven endocrine disruptors)?  One of the easiest and most efficient solutions that I swear by is using pure almond oil (my fav), Vitamin E oil or coconut oil  all over you body after you shower. Shea butter, cocoa butter, and grapeseed oil also work well.
  3. DRY CLEAN: Open some closets and you will find tons of dry cleaned clothes- sometimes still hanging in the plastic wrap.   If this sounds familiar, it is important to know that PERC - a common chemical used in dry cleaning, was recently listed as a top chemical linked to breast cancer.  What to do?  Look for an organic dry cleaner and make sure they do not use PERC (since some cleaners claim to be organic and still use the chemical).  When this is not an option reduce your dry cleaning and make sure you air out the clothes you bring home before putting it in your closet or on your body.   

Non-Toxic Munchkin Approved

Generally speaking, I like to use and recommend DIY products.  The main reason is that if I make them with ingredients from my kitchen - so I  know they are 100% safe.  However, it took me years to start making my own (although, really, it is so simple and affordable I wish I had started before!) so I understand some people prefer to use store - bought items. 

 Non-Toxic Munchkin approved store bought items are all found in my Amazon Shop! If you are curious to know if your favorite product is non-toxic or full of chemicals try looking them up on the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Healthy Cleaning database... there are many safe products, these just happen to be the ones I have used in the past... 

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