Nine Ways to Reduce Your Toxic Burden During Pregnancy

I’ve spoken over the last weeks about minimizing chemical exposures during pregnancy, so I’m sure some of you are wondering – but how? It may feel overwhelming to think about all the ways you may be exposing yourself to chemicals, so I picked some easy ways to a less-toxic pregnancy.

In the spirit of “Nine” Naturals and the “Nine” months of pregnancy, I’ve created a list of NINE simple ways you can reduce your toxin exposure that will benefit not only you but also importantly, your baby.


Nine Ways to Reduce Your Chemical Exposure

1.     Change Your Personal Care Products
Your interest in Nine Naturals shows you’re off to a great start. We founded the brand to help our customers make a healthful switch in the products they use for their appearance. Even if you haven’t yet purchased from our offering of all-natural pregnancy-safe products, give the products you currently own a serious grilling.

Ensure they don’t contain any of the more harmful chemicals that are prevalent in many cosmetics, including: parabens, sulfates, phthalates, artificial “fragrance” and “color,” DEA/TEA, and formaldehyde.

In terms of your beauty and health, you must watch out for yourself. The FDA lamentably fails to regulate these products, subjecting millions of unwitting users to hundreds of chemicals daily — none of which has been verified as safe. An invaluable resource for alert cosmetics users, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics provides a helpful database to locate toxin-free products.

2.     Change Your Household Products
Risky chemicals can affect you even away from your makeup kit and vanity mirror. Have you ever closely read the ingredients that appear in many common household cleaners? Unless your mouth is particularly acrobatic, pronouncing them all won’t be a cakewalk.

Not that these products’ manufacturers want it to be so; confusion appears to be built into their business models. Shockingly, they have no legal obligation to disclose each of their ingredients.

This lack of transparency has a tragically close impact on our society. For when we mop our floors and wash our dishes, we are wiping unknown properties into our pores, and into the bodies of our family members. Comprehend the identity and safety of the ingredients in your household cleaning agents, and toss those that can’t stack up.

3.     Avoid Plastics
Ubiquitous and oh-so-useful they may be, many plastics can pose a chemical threat to your health. From your water bottles to food containers, be on the lookout for risks to your well-being.

Plastics often contain two nasty ingredients: BPA, a common industrial compound linked with such health problems as breast cancer and infertility, and phthalates (sounds like Thal-eights), a softening agent that can lead to serious problems in fetal development. The recycling number that appears on plastic containers can help you spot which to avoid. Follow this simple rhyme to help you remember which plastics are free from BPA: “4, 5, 1 & 2 – All the rest are bad for you.”

Refrain from heating or microwaving your plastics whenever possible. Canned foods and drinks should be avoided too; they often contain unsafe plastic linings. If you must use plastic, ensure the container is BPA- and phthalate-free. Better yet, choose storage products made from glass or BPA-free stainless steel.

4.     Eat organic and fresh whenever possible.
This piece of counsel is closely linked to our previous recommendation to “Avoid Plastics.” Toxic BPA and phthalates, often featured in plastic wrapping and containers, can seep into your food. What’s more, pesticides are also heavily involved in prepackaged food processing. Your child, whether in or out of your belly, is extremely susceptible to these pesticides, which the government still fails to regulate properly.

Eating organically, the most healthful solution for your diet, can be admittedly expensive and complicated. The “Dirty Dozen,” a compilation of the produce most at risk to harmful toxins, can make it simple, and affordable, to incorporate organic choices into your grocery shopping.  “The Clean Thirteen” proves additionally helpful, outlining the thirteen varieties of produce least susceptible to pesticide residue. (Edibles that Mother Nature has equipped with a thick hide, like pineapples and avocadoes, comprise part of this list.) You should also consider buying locally; doing so helps you exercise control over where and how your food has been sourced. Be aware that not all farms and growers can afford official “organic” certification. Nevertheless, numerous local farms opt against pesticides and chemicals, making them strong options for your food purchases.

A final warning: proceed with caution when considering foods classified as “GMO,” or “genetically modified organisms.” The FDA does not regulate or approve such foods, to begin with. GMO products are also associated with such health issues as infertility and complications to the immune system. [American Academy of Environmental Medicine]

5.     Get Some Fresh Air!
Mention the concept of air pollution, and most people will respond with dismay for the breathing spaces of China, smoggy Los Angeles, and other notable outdoor cough-zones. Yet air quality is an issue much closer to home: perhaps in your own home, in fact.

Because the inside your home can’t count on Mother Nature to circulate it, toxins are far more likely to build up in what you breathe. Mold, radon, formaldehyde, dust mites: these are only a few of the dangerous compounds you could allow into your body with each inhale.

Your house itself could be leeching chemicals into the air, in a process called “offgassing,” This is the airborne evaporation of  active chemicals from non-metallic materials, which can persist for years after such materials were first put into place.

Want simple advice to start rectifying this issue right now?

Get up, and open a window! In a snap, your air will start to freshen. Expedite and improve your air quality even further with an air purifier.

6.     Try To Avoid Major Home Renovations During Pregnancy
The best laid plans for baby could eventually cause your little one serious harm. No one can fault you for wanting to build a new crib, paint the nursery, or maybe install a new window in the south-facing wall for sunlight. Know, however, that such renovation moves can heighten your chemical exposure and consequently your developing infant’s chemical exposure.

As we mentioned in “Get Some Fresh Air!”, “off-gassing” can unwittingly release toxic compounds into the air. Paints that are high in VOCs can inflame this process. Old homes also present the risk of exposure to lead, from aging paint that chips off the walls. If you must paint, ensure that you follow our three recommendations for your health.

1) Only use paints that are low in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). 2) Ventilate the painting area extremely well. 3) And, when you’re pregnant, have someone else do the painting work for you, 4) Avoid being in the house while work is going on.

7.     Green Your Baby Nursery
If you’re a conscientious parent, every move you make takes the baby into prime consideration. From choosing the cutest infant clothes to “baby-proofing” each room in your home, your baby’s well-being should always rank as the top priority.

Extend such meticulous attention to all of your choices for baby. Pick baby bottles that are either made of glass or BPA-free plastic. Analyze your baby’s food and formula for an organic seal of approval and avoid foods packaged in BPA-laden plastics.  Whenever possible, dress your baby in organic clothing.

The structure of crib mattresses can encourage multiple components of harmful materials. Their cores may contain latex; this ingredient burns easily and may harbor VOCs. A layer of flame retardant could in turn surround them, laden with the toxic metal antimony. Coating it all is the cover, or ticking, which if made from vinyl can contain dangerous additives like phthalates or heavy metals.  Clean and Healthy New York’s 2012 Mattress Matters Report can educate you further and steer you toward toxin-free baby bedding.

Babies’ cribs themselves, as well as manifold toys and decorations for nursery, discharge appreciable amounts of formaldehyde, according to a recent report from Environment California.

Purchase furniture whose glues, woods, and paints are all certified infant-safe. Abstain from any product that includes a chemical flame retardant; opt instead for fibers that naturally avoid burning, like wool.

Keep carcinogens in mind, furthermore, when it comes to cleaning baby. The Washington Post recently exposed that nearly half of all infant products, including shampoo, contain cancer-causing chemicals. Dodge these frights with personal care products that, like Nine Naturals’ line, are safe for your baby.

8.     Avoid Chemical-heavy Treatments at the Hair Salon
Even pregnant mothers deserve to work a stunning hairdo. Just make sure that what went into your coif won’t stunt your baby’s growth.

Color treatments for your hair frequently entail artificial dyes, which contain known carcinogens — chemicals that can cause cancer. An EPA examination of such dyes revealed that nearly 70% of them harbored these harmful compounds [EPA]. Such cogent evidence leaves us with no choice but to strongly advise, in the name of chemical exposure reduction: do not dye your hair.

Alternatives to dyeing include lemon juice spritzes to your locks, or an occasional rinsing of your hair with espresso. True dye-hards, who can’t avoid coloring, should opt for highlights that do not touch the roots. The highlights’ application should also occur in a well-ventilated salon. Try to extend the time span between hair appointments as well. Pregnant women should hold any coloring at all until the second trimester or later.

One final counsel: refrain from Brazilian hair straightening treatments. They may expose your scalp, and your baby by association, to formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

9.     Pamper Yourself with Non-Toxic Spa Experiences
Blessed and glorious as it can be, pregnancy can also prove physically stressful and emotionally demanding. You are producing new life. A process this dynamic will naturally involve some tears, screams, sighs, and yawns. De-stressing at the spa or salon can help soften pregnancy’s rougher patches. However, safeguarding your health as you melt anxiety away is still important.

Find facials and massages, incredible agents for relaxation, at salons that employ natural and organic products. Eschew nail polish when you’re expecting, as it can contain chemicals that may harm baby. Buff your nails as a healthful alternative. If you simply must color your nails, demand that the polish be 100% free of this harmful trio: dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene.  Always patron salons with great ventilation as well, particularly for mani-pedi’s. The strong air flow reduces your exposure to the fumes emitted from many nail products.