Like many mamas out there, I first started to become aware of the effects of chemicals and toxins in my environment when I was pregnant with my first child. When you first find out you are pregnant, the reality of the responsibility that you now hold to grow and sustain this new life often brings with it a greater awareness of the world around you.
And it is definitely true that laying a good foundation for the future health and well-being of your child begins while they are still in your womb.
A study done by the Environmental Working Group examined the cord blood of ten babies born in the U.S. over the span of two months. They found that on average, newborn babies had 200 different common household and environmental chemicals and pollutants in their blood! That is a sobering statistic – our babies’ bodies are burdened with hundreds of different toxins and chemicals before they even enter this world.
So, the toxins and chemicals that we are exposed to in our everyday lives are passed through to our babies through the umbilical cord. And because an unborn baby’s body is so small and still developing, these toxins can have a much more harmful effect on them, then they would on a grown adult’s body.
Now, while this can definitely be alarming and overwhelming, there are lots of ways that you can help to reduce your own exposure to chemicals and toxins, that will in turn reduce your baby’s exposure.
Reducing Your Exposure to Toxins
1. Clean Green
So many environmental pollutants come into our homes through our cleaning supplies! Ditch the conventional cleaners and use homemade, non-toxic and green cleaners instead. This is the very first change that I made when I started on this journey toward frugal, green and natural living, so I know it’s a great place to start.
Begin with cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, and move on from there. Check out these posts for more information on green and natural cleaning:
And for even more green cleaning resources and ideas, check out the great ebook Clean Start by Michelle from Open Eye Health. It is full of homemade recipes for cleaning all around your house, a handy list of ingredients to keep on hand, as well as a cost comparison between buying conventional cleaners and purchasing ingredients for homemade, non-toxic cleaners.
2. Green Beauty Care Routine
The number of dangerous toxins and chemicals found in today’s beauty and personal care products is alarming. Because everything we use on our skin is absorbed into our bodies, it’s as important as ever to be aware of the personal care products we are using while pregnant.
We’ve already talked a lot here on Live Renewed about greening our personal care products, so here are some great resources to get you started:
- Using Safe and Natural Personal Care Products
- Green Your Personal Care Products and 10 Ingredients to Avoid
- My Green and Frugal Beauty Routine
- 10 Healthy Changes to Make To Your Personal Care Routine
3. Green Renovations & Baby Gear
Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, the reality is that you may be doing some updating and decorating around your house in preparation for your new baby. And you’ll probably be adding some baby gear to your home as well, whether it’s all new to you for your first child, or you’re just updating a few items that have changed since your older children were born.
It’s important to realize that everything you bring into your home can have an effect both on your baby now, and after they are born.
Here are a few recommendations:
- Paint with No-VOC paint. VOC stand for Volatile Organic Compounds, which are found in conventional types of paint and is the signature smell of fresh paint. Fortunately, now there are so many brands and options out there these days for Low and No-VOC paint (No-VOC is the best choice) that you can find the color and type of paint that you love at a price you can afford. So, be sure to do your research before going out and buying new paint for your baby’s nursery.
- Choose Natural Fibers. From the crib mattress, to baby blankets, to toys, to pajamas, and even the carpet or rug in the nursery, all of these products can contain harmful chemicals which off-gas and can exposure your child to dangerous toxins. This one can be somewhat of a struggle, because natural or organic fiber products are more expensive than their conventional counterparts. So, you may need to research and prioritize spending a little more money on a few quality things that your find are most important for you and your family. I’ll probably cover this one in more detail on another post.
- Buy Used. While buying used certainly doesn’t eliminate all of the chemicals in products that you or your child could be exposed to, it still may be better than buying that same product new. Whether it’s wood furniture held together with glue that contains formaldehyde, or flame retardants on the fuzzy footie pajamas, the amount of chemicals an item off-gasses decreases over time. So, because they have already been sitting in someone else’s home, or used by someone else’s child, they may have already done much of the off-gassing of their harmful chemicals, meaning fewer chemicals are left over to enter into your home.
- A combination of both buying used items, and buying safe and green items made with natural fibers and materials, is probably the most wise, and economical, way to add new baby gear to your collection.
There are many more ways that you can reduce your, and your unborn baby’s, exposure to chemicals and toxins in your environment, of course. But, I think that these are three of the most important, easy, and frugal ways to start if you are just beginning this journey and may be feeling a little overwhelmed.
I think the most important thing to remember is that although babies bodies are small and more vulnerable to effects of toxins, babies and young children are also very resilient. You will not be able to protect them from everything (this is an important lesson to learn as a parent in general!), and there may be things that you have done during a previous pregnancy, or will do during your current pregnancy, that you wish you could undo, or take back. But, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it.
There are so many things I know I exposed myself to when I was pregnant with my daughter especially, because I was just starting out on this journey, but also with my son, that I just look back on and cringe. But, I am very blessed to have two healthy, smart, and most importantly, happy children, despite any mistakes I may have made.
You will not be able to do everything, and that’s okay. You have to do what you can do, and let the rest go. Doing something is better than doing nothing when it comes to reducing your exposure to toxins.
What are some ways that you have reduce your chemical or toxin exposure during this, or a previous, pregnancy?
Read More in the Healthy Green Pregnancy Series:
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