We expose ourselves to countless chemicals every day. Through what we eat and drink, how we clean our homes, and how we take care of our bodies. Some of these chemicals are fairly harmless. However, with prolonged use and exposure, many may have detrimental effects on our health and the environment.
While there is an ever-increasing awareness of the environmental and health effects of what we consume, many new moms become even more cautious of what they are putting into and onto their bodies when they are pregnant. And, with good reason. During pregnancy, your growing baby is exposed to much of what you consume. Here is our guide on what to look for kind pregnancy products.
Baby Safe Nursery
One of the most exciting aspects of planning for the new arrival is getting their nursery ready! If you are going to paint the room, make sure to use a natural, VOC-free wall paint. Common household paints may contain thousands of different chemicals. Hundreds of these are known carcinogens and pollutants. As the paint dries volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released into the air. These can be harmful to both you and your little one.
To avoid exposing yourself and your little one to unnecessary toxins choose bedding made from natural fibers such as cotton and bamboo. Want to go a step further? Read the fine print on how the cotton is manufactured or produced. Many mainstream cotton farmers use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that may be very harmful to the environment. Additionally, the manufacture of conventional cotton uses significant amounts of bleach, dyes, and formaldehyde. Look for organic cotton and bamboo bedding for you and your babe!
Eating for Two, Responsibly
While you do not quite need to eat for two, you will likely eat more. To maintain a healthy pregnancy weight while getting in all the vitamins and minerals you need, follow a diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, fresh produce often comes wrapped in plastic. What is more, some of it travels many miles, across continents even, before it reaches your grocery store. To avoid all the packaging and food miles, choose to buy fresh produce at a local farmers’ market or greengrocer instead.
Safe Food Storage
BPA (bisphenol-A), a chemical used to make plastics, may leach into the fluids contained in plastic bottles. A 2009 study showed a more than 65 % increase in urinary BPA after just one week of drinking from polycarbonate bottles. Even low levels of BPA in humans may cause endocrine disruptions and reproductive disorders. This is of particular concern when it comes to growth during specific fetal stages.
Where possible, store dry goods and leftovers in glass containers. Not only does this minimize the risk of BPA exposure, but it is also more environmentally kind!
It is vital to stay hydrated during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Instead of plastic, invest in a glass or stainless-steel water bottle to carry around with you.
Find Safe Household Cleaning Products
The FDA does not require product labels to precisely list artificial fragrances. Most household cleaners contain synthetic fragrances. In addition, products that you use every day might contain phthalates or carcinogenic aldehydes, as well as harsh, harmful chemicals such as ammonia, sulphuric acid, and VOCs. Look out for trustworthy brands with ingredients listed clearly on their product labels or websites.
How to Choose a Safe Laundry Detergent
Remember those artificial fragrances that I mentioned a little earlier? You will find them in many household products, including most laundry detergents. These compounds fix into your clothes which, in turn, spend a great deal of time covering the largest organ of your body – your skin. What is more, if you use a dryer to dry your clothes, you may inhale these artificial fragrances when they evaporate through the dryer’s vents.
For the sake of your health and that of the environment, choose a kind laundry detergent.
Personal Care Products
During pregnancy, your body may go through many hormone-related changes. Some moms say that their skin is at its glowing best during pregnancy, while others struggle with adult-onset acne. Many women are concerned about developing stretch marks. It is only natural that we will want to treat these issues quickly and efficiently. However, deciphering the ingredients label of regular skincare products will leave you feeling somewhat deflated.
Some products contain ingredients that may cause harm to a developing fetus. While others may pass into breast milk, avoid these postpartum. Here is our list of personal care product ingredient no-no’s:
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). These ingredients are used for exfoliating and skin brightening. They may compromise the skin barrier. This, in turn, could allow for the penetration of other damaging substances. If you need a good exfoliation, why not try to make your own scrub with sugar, salt, or coffee grounds!
- Benzoyl peroxide is often found in acne treatment products. It should not be used during pregnancy as studies show that benzoyl peroxide can pose a threat to the fetus.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is often found in self-tanning creams and professional spray tans. Absorption of DHAs by accidental inhalation or through your skin may affect your unborn baby. The implications for your developing baby are unknown, so it is best to steer clear for now.
- Formaldehyde can cause respiratory issues and may even be carcinogenic. Often found in nail polishes and some hair-straightening products. Avoid where possible!
- Hydroquinone is readily absorbed into the body and may cause harm to a developing fetus. Look for brightening and skin-lightening creams that do not contain hydroquinone.
- Oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octisalate are sunscreen filters that may be carcinogenic and disrupt endocrine function. Until there is concrete evidence to the contrary, it is best to avoid products with these ingredients while pregnant and breastfeeding.
- Parabens and phthalates are found in a plethora of skin and beauty products. These are known to disturb the endocrine system and may affect the reproductive system too.
- Tetracycline and its derivatives, minocycline, and doxycycline are broad-spectrum antibiotics used to treat severe acne amongst other things. Tetracyclines may affect bone and tooth development in unborn and breastfeeding babies. They should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Thioglycolic acid, listed as mercaptan or mercapto acetate, is usually found in hair removal creams. Data on the effects of these compounds on prenatal development is inconclusive. However, it is best to avoid using them.
- Vitamin A derivatives, AKA retinoids, include retinoic acid, retinaldehyde, retinyl palmitate, and tretinoin. These ingredients are frequently found in anti-aging and anti-acne creams. Avoid products containing retinoids during pregnancy and breastfeeding as they have been linked to disruptions in fetal growth.
Choose Green Products, Avoid Harmful Toxins
According to Business Wire, almost two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. The trouble is that many of us do not know how to identify the potentially harmful and ecologically unfriendly ingredients in products. We hope that this list helps highlight some of the toxins that you should take care of to avoid during your pregnancy!