You stare at the pee stick. You’re pregnant! Like many other women, you didn’t get to plan out an amazing preconception diet complete with 100% organic foods and the highest quality vitamins. You didn’t get to take that one supplement you read about that you think you really need. You haven’t even figured out how to reduce your environmental contaminants. You’re pretty sure your thyroid and adrenals need work. Your vitamin D level is low. Your husband was smoking and chugging energy drinks to handle the stress at work so you shudder when thinking about his semen quality. And now that the morning sickness is settling in, you’re fortunate if you can choke down a slice of Costco pizza without vomiting. Fermented Cod Liver Oil? Just the sight of it makes you gag. Now what?
Reducing toxins can be an overwhelming, stressful, and expensive experience. And while pregnant or breastfeeding, it can also bring with it additional concerns about detoxing into the placenta and breastmilk. If you’re like, well, everyone else, you’re on a budget, you’re busy, you’re tired, and you just don’t know what to do next. Here are 10 easy ways to begin reducing your toxin load that are budget-friendly and backed by science.
1. Take off your shoes by the front door…and leave them
Shoes track in contaminants. Anything from bacteria to heavy metals to pesticides can hitch a ride on your soles. Lead and pesticides are especially concerning not only because they are more dangerous to babies and small children but also because they are commonly polluting the soil around our homes.
When your baby begins to roll around and crawl on the floor, she will be the one who collects all these nasties. Also, accumulation in house dust means you come into contact with these toxins daily, breathing them in and adding to your daily toxin burden, exposing your baby in the womb during pregnancy. By keeping shoes and other outdoor gear by the front door (or in the garage, or on the porch) you can immediately prevent more toxins from entering your home. Bonus: you’ll spend less time sweeping and mopping while pregnant!
2. Throw out any productscontaining Triclosan.
Triclosan is the chemical used in a variety of products that allows companies to make antibacterial claims. If you’ve ever purchased hand soap that boldly claims it’s antimicrobial or antibacterial, it contained this dangerous chemical, which is now being phased out of many common household products too late for the millions of pregnant women and children exposed to it. This chemical can cause a variety of issues from muscle weakness to immune dysfunction. If that’s not enough to bother you, consider this. The ingredient is under fire by regulating government agencies because there isn’t enough data to prove it’s more effective than basic formulas.
Check your toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, cutting boards, baby toys and more to find this culprit and eradicate it from your home. Think of it this way. You go into the bathroom, you throw out that half used tube of Colgate that cost $3 and replace it with a natural brand for a few more dollars. Done. No stress, and little cost involved. Grab a trash bag and get to work! Remember to dispose of the products correctly as Triclosan accumulates in the environment and should not be flushed into the waterways.
3. Store, prepare, cook, andbake with the
Use glass, stainless steel, and other basic and natural options for your food. Stop using aluminum foil and switch to an unlined parchment paper instead. This will decrease your aluminum levels in as little as 48hours! Cook your food in glass and stainless steel. Get rid of traditional non-stick pans that can release chemicals when heated. Too stressed to consider getting rid of the microwave?
No problem, just make the commitment to switch your food into a microwave safe glass bowl instead of cooking it in the plastic package.
Worried about kids and broken glass? Consider purchasing stainless steel plastic alternatives. You can even purchase stainless steel cups! My kids love them and they are basically indestructible.
4. Air out your vehicle.
If you own a newer vehicle, it probably has a new car smell, or other chemical scents. The chemicals in various materials in the car break-down over time, releasing VOCs into the air for your body to absorb. These compounds are related to cancer, birth defects, chronic conditions, immune dysfunction, and more. Sunlight can increase the rate of offgassing, creating a toxic cloud in your car.
Before you climb in, roll down the windows and blast the A/C to air out the vehicle. If it’s not too hot, consider keeping the windows rolled down when driving long distances. Able to budget a little bit more for this one? Consider buying an air ionizer or essential oil vaporizer made specifically to plug into vehicles.
This is also a good time to off gas the baby’s carseat. Remove the carseat from the box and plastic. Find a safe, dry area such as a garage or tool shed and place the carseat in it until you need to install it. You can periodically wipe down the fabric and plastic with a mix of water and vinegar to remove any chemicals on the surface. But, remember! Do not saturate the straps and always follow manufacturer instructions. Reducing chemicals is great, but not when it compromises the safety of the seat.
5. Make your vices organic.
Let’s not step into the debate about whether or not to drink coffee during pregnancy. If you have various comforts and want to continue them through pregnancy, switch to organic options where it matters. Coffee beans, for example, are one of the most heavily treated crops in the world. Since they are grown in other countries, regulation is lapse and you can be exposed to hundreds of unsavory toxins. Pamper yourself by upgrading to an organic, fair trade option. The same goes for tea, as the cheaper tea products use older tea leaves which suck up and contain more chemicals from the soil. Choose an organic, higher quality product with young tea leaves. Can’t kick the soda habit? At least switch to a soda with regular sugar or stevia and fewer additives. Need a sweet treat? Look for organic, fair trade chocolate and double check the lead warning lists to rule out contaminatedproducts.
6. Replace household cleaners with natural options.
As you run out of basic household products, start to replace them with natural options or make your own in- expensive versions. Household cleaners and cleaning detergents contain dozens of chemicals, many of them related to cancer, birth defects, and immune and developmental issues.
Be sure to double check any natural products you want to buy, too, as often products are labeled natural but still contain lots of concerning ingredients. For the budget-savvy, consider making your own simple products such as vinegar spray for cleaning surfaces. You can look at user-friendly sites such as EWG.org to compare products and learn more about the harm in your household cleaners.
One bonus? You’ll have fewer items sporting a skull and crossbones in your home, which means fewer items for your curious baby to try to eat. Some products such as the infamous washer pacs are already connected to toddlers dying after eating them.
7. Use common scents…by getting rid of scented products.
When it comes to the cancer-causing scent aisle, less is more! More health for you and your baby and more money kept in your wallet. Synthetic fragrances, candles, plug-ins and sprays contain hundreds of VOCs that are associated with a mountain of health problems. They disrupt hormones, alter our genetic expression, cause birth defects, asthma symptoms, skin rashes, and the list goes on for a mile. Seriously, don’t plug it in, throw it out! If you really need a fresh scent in your home, consider an organic candle with a beeswax (lead free) wick. Or a basket of naturally scented pinecones. Or pregnancy-safe essential oils properly diffused around the home.
8. Take epsom salt baths.
Epsom salt is inexpensive and available at most stores and online. Why use it during pregnancy? An epsom salt bath is a low risk way to feel better, promote low levels of detox, and replenish vital magnesium. Consider making it a daily routine to soak in a comforting epsom salt bath. It can relieve those pregnancy aches, too!
9. Buy higher quality supplements and pay attention to form.
If you need to use a supplement during pregnancy, select a product that has fewer additives, no food dyes, no fake sugars, etc. Also research which form is best. For example, synthetic folic acid is associated with increased cancer risk and some people with certain polymorphisms such as MTHFR cannot adequately use it. In that case, using what they call a bioavailable or activated version is smarter. For folic acid, that means selecting a product such as 5mthf instead. There’s no use taking a cheaper supplement if your body cannot use it or if it only causes more serious health problems. Another tip: research different ways to take it. For example, if you swallow a B12 pill, your body won’t absorb most of it. Switching to a sublingual version is more economical because then you get more of your vitamin instead of wasting it.
10. Reduce EMF and radiation exposure.
Although most of the protective products advertised on the market today are scams, you can still take conscious steps to reduce your baby’s exposure during pregnancy without spending a dime. Don’t carry your cell phone on you, and don’t keep it near your womb and baby. Put your cellphone on airplane mode when you aren’t using it. Charge your phone and other electronics in another room at night, not near your bed.
Avoid using wifi when possible, by this I mean to plug in your electronics in- stead of using wifi in the home. Don’t use signal boosters. If your modem is installed in the baby’s room or under your bed, call your cable company to see if they can move it to a different area of the home. Try to turn down your options, such as selecting a lower band on your modem and turning off the LTE option on your cell phone. Practice earthing daily, which is the process of putting your bare feet on the ground to balance electrons.
Bonus: mindful electronic use can also relieve stress and encourage reconnecting with nature, which are both healthy during pregnancy!
As you can see, with a little elbow grease, you can substantially reduce toxin exposure during your pregnancy without spending a lot of money or following intense protocols. With a little daily effort, your lifestyle can become healthier and more mindful. These steps also tend to reduce clutter in the home and encourage conscious living which combats stress and anxiety. All of this leads to a happier, healthier pregnancy. When it comes to a toxin-free pregnancy, you don’t have to be rich or stressed out to give your baby the best!