The term "healthy pregnancy" conjures up so many different thoughts and ideas, depending on whom you are speaking with. To some people it means staying within a certain weight gain. To others it means getting through it without having complications. And yet to others, it means eating what you want as long as you take your prenatal vitamins! To us it is much more than that. Having a healthy pregnancy is doing everything in your power to nutrient your body and your baby properly, protect your unborn baby from environmental toxins, and provide a stress-free environment.
Avoiding Environmental Toxins for a Healthy Pregnancy
This topic is a bit more complex, as many people first have to realize that there are toxins in everyday life, which are consumed, breathed in, and handled without much knowledge to what we are doing to our bodies. During pregnancy, it is even more important to become aware of these toxins since the baby is not protected as we once believed it was. If you are under the impression that our government (the FDA or the EPA) does their best to protect us from dangerous toxins and carcinogens, you are dead wrong. If you are confused about what is safe and what is not, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Many moms of seemingly healthy babies have declared, "But my babies turned out fine, and I didn't do anything special..." Generally, those are the same people who later ask, "Why did my child get cancer?" Diseases, including cancer, are increasing in tremendous rates in children, and it's time to stop asking, "Why?" and start taking action in our own personal lives. How do we do this?
Mercury is toxic to both mother and baby. It comes from contaminated fish, vaccinations, impure water, and mercury fillings.
Parabens have been implicated in breast cancer and their safety has not been proven. Parabens are used as preservatives in bath and body products and should definitely be avoided in products that remain on the skin.
Avoid BPA and Phthalates-
Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many plastic food containers. Phthalates are found in soft plastic items as well as fragrances and personal care items. (Once you do have your baby, do not use old toys or teethers for your baby, as many plastic baby toys contained phthalates until scientists discovered its estrogen-like qualities.)
Avoid Tap Water-
Tap water, and even many bottled waters contain toxic substances that are not safe for human consumption. The problem is, many people feel if it doesn't kill them on the spot, then it must be safe. Not so! Water quality during pregnancy is especially important.
Avoid Harmful Cleaners-
Cleaning solvents, even when put away, release VOC's (volatile organic compounds) into the air, causing respiratory problems and asthma. Make your own non-toxic cleaning products! (If you are wondering which ones are "harmful," if you bought it from your local grocer it probably is, unless it is a "natural" or environmentally friendly brand. And then you are somewhat safer).
Avoid Contaminated Air-
"Babies' DNA can be damaged even before they are born if their mothers breathe polluted air." -Kenneth Olden, Director National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Use an air purifier to clean your air at home or work.
Avoid Unfiltered Showers-
Taking a 10 minute shower allows as many contaminants in your body as it would if you drank the same water all day. These contaminants do reach your unborn baby. Filter your shower!
Stress During Pregnancy
To many people stress itself is considered a toxin. It really does wreak havoc on your entire body, and it's been shown to affect unborn babies as well. If you've just read all of the above, you might be stressed out! But many people are constantly surrounded by stress, many of it self-inflicted. The best thing you can do for yourself and your unborn child is avoid as much stress as possible, release stress with relaxation techniques or exercise, and try to keep a positive outlook. Some people handle stressful events much more eloquently than others, and people like me, we can't handle any stress at all. No matter where you fit in, keep tabs on your daily stress levels and think about ways to improve them. There are many books on this topic, so if you have access to a great library or book store, browse through them until you find one that appeals to you. If you are like me, simply getting the opportunity to go to the library or quiet place to think is a stress reliever in itself!
Have a Healthy Pregnancy!
We hope that this information has been helpful to you and that you take action where necessary. We hope that you have a healthy pregnancy and that the result is a happy, healthy newborn who brings you endless amounts of joy!