Many women wonder about the best time to get healthy, in anticipation of a baby. Is it ever too early or too late to make changes to your lifestyle towards greener, healthier habits? Should you examine your lifestyle while conceiving? Is it OK to wait until the moment the pregnancy test reads, “YES?” Or is a switch to healthy living most effective once your infant is born?
Understanding the nature of environmental toxins and your baby’s development can help provide you an answer.
Consider “toxic burden,” or the sum of toxic chemicals that accumulate in your body over time. Planet Earth is not sterile; it’s impossible to completely avoid exposure to harmful compounds. You can exacerbate your toxic burden, however, with the use of certain beauty products, artificial foods, and other chemical-laden products. Women, especially those considering pregnancy, should be aware of toxic burden’s cumulative effect on the body over time. By simple virtue of living on a planet rife with harmful compounds, your blood stream has likely already built up levels of chemicals — at least 700 of such — that tax and harm your health. No body, pregnant or otherwise, starts a period of cleansing from a chemically blank state.
Chemical Exposures in the Womb
Mothers-to-be should remember how actions in their own bodies impact their infants’ health. This holds truth when baby is in the womb, with mother’s nutrients and processes literally informing how well or poorly her child grows. Importantly, via the placenta, pregnant women may pass on chemicals they are exposed to during pregnancy to their developing babies.
The placenta fortunately does filter a few toxins. Yet by no means does it completely eradicate every contaminant from the pregnant body. Says a report from the Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, “[cases involving] infants exposed in the womb to thalidomide [and] di-ethyl stilbestrol… destroyed forever the myth of the invulnerable placenta.”
Taking Care of Baby After Birth
Your body also influences your baby post-delivery. Breastmilk, for instance, can carry both crucial nutritive compounds and your body’s toxins along with it. Let’s say you’d prefer not to breastfeed. Does this spell the end of your body’s influence on your baby? The answer is a resounding no. Children’s development responds to both genetics and their environment. For nine months, your belly provided for your baby. Beyond pregnancy, your surroundings still exert a major impact. The World Health Organization clarifies:
“During early childhood (from the prenatal period to eight years of age), children undergo rapid growth that is highly influenced by their environment. Many challenges faced by adults, such as… obesity [and] heart disease… can be traced back to early childhood.”
The Time is Now
Invest in your future child’s health now by deciding to implement, and maintain, a toxin-free lifestyle. Today is the perfect occasion to begin a switch to wellness. Your health directly reflects onto your child. Why wait one more day to protect him or her? Have you done anything to safeguard your family from the toxins that encircle them?
 Landrigan, P. 2010. Exploring the Environmental Causes of Autism and Learning Disabilities, pg.8. Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center.