It’s critical to look after yourself whether you’ve just learned you’re expecting or are expecting your baby any day now. Avoiding harmful chemicals is one of the finest things you can do for yourself and your baby.
However, here’s the rub: hazardous substances are really difficult to avoid. You may not even know which goods contain dangerous chemicals and which are safe unless you do a lot of research.(This post contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is really boring, but you can find it here.)
Why Should You Avoid Certain Toxins During Pregnancy
You’re your baby’s only point of contact with the outside world while you’re pregnant. Many substances can get through the placental barrier and into the baby’s system. Everything you come into contact with has the potential to affect your baby, including the air you breathe, the food you consume, and even the objects you touch.
While these substances may be dangerous to adults, they can be even more dangerous to unborn children. Because your kid is developing rapidly in the pregnancy, this is the case. A slight alteration in the brain and neurological system, the lungs, or the reproductive system at this age can have life-long repercussions.
That is why you must use extreme caution while pregnant.
Unfortunately, there is a long number of substances that can be harmful to you or your child. But don’t worry—we’ll go through some of the worst offenders (and with how to avoid them) right here.
Chemicals In The Food We Eat
Your diet is one of the most significant sources of hazardous substances.
These chemicals aren’t only due to the way your food was cultivated. The chemical composition of what you consume is affected by how it’s processed, packed, and even cooked.
Fortunately, there are simple methods to reduce the number of harmful substances you and your infant are exposed to through food.
Pesticides in food are undoubtedly familiar to you. But did you realize that some foods are more likely than others to contain pesticides?
Every year, the Environmental Working Group publishes a list dubbed the Dirty Dozen. These are the 12 produce items with the highest pesticide residue levels. Greens such as spinach and kale, as well as fruits such as strawberries, apples, and peaches, consistently rank at the top of this list.
Does this imply that you should stop eating your favorite fruits? Nope! However, there are a few effective strategies to reduce pesticide exposure:
- Buy organic Dirty Dozen vegetables. Not all of your food needs to be organic (that would be prohibitively costly! ), but switching simply to these goods can dramatically reduce your pesticide exposure.
- Purchase food that is in season. Pesticides and fertilisers are used less often when fruits and vegetables are produced in season.
- Fruits and vegetables should be washed before eating. All you need is a light scrape under running water.
The EWG, on the other hand, publishes another yearly list dubbed the Clean Fifteen. These are the 15 fruits and vegetables with the fewest pesticide traces. While cleaning your fruit is usually a good idea, don’t feel obligated to purchase organic vegetables.
BPA Found In Common Food Grade Items
We discovered that a plastic ingredient called bisphenol A (BPA) might seep out of infant bottles and into their milk in the years 2007 and 2008. What is the issue? BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which means it may affect everything from reproductive function to obesity, as well as an increased cancer risk.
And it wasn’t just in infant bottles that BPA was discovered. They were commonly found in water bottles (which I hope you carry with you at all times as a pregnant mother), food can liners, and other places.
Over the next few years, BPA was voluntarily eliminated from infant bottles and most drinking bottles and cups, but a new issue developed. A chemical that might make polymers tougher and more flexible was still required by manufacturers. As a result, they switched to Bisphenol S.
However, after a few years, we learned that BPS is equally as dangerous as BPA. This switch was no more secure!
But fear not: there are methods to prevent estrogenic chemicals in plastics.
Use an unscrewable stainless steel water bottle to sip from (instead of using a straw). This is a fantastic choice.
Polycarbonate plastics (recycling code #7) should be avoided. Plasticizers like BPA and BPS are more likely to be found in these.
To minimize toxins seeping from the plastic liner, opt for frozen vegetables rather than canned ones.
Teflon Is Harmful Too
Do you have any old Teflon nonstick cookware lying around? If this is the case, you must get rid of it (especially if it is scratched). Teflon manufactured prior to 2012 may emit a cancer-causing substance known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
While modern Teflon is safer, switching to a different cooking surface, such as nonstick ceramic cookware, is your best bet.
What’s better? Make use of cast iron. Cast iron is nonstick when properly seasoned. Additionally, cooking with cast iron increases your dietary iron intake (important for expecting mamas).
Cast iron is relatively unbreakable unless it is dropped and cracked. If your back hurts when you’re pregnant, just ask for help taking a heavy pan out of a lower cupboard.
Fast Food Takeout Containers
You may believe that the fashionable fibre and paperboard bowls in which your rice bowls and burrito bowls are packaged are eco-friendly. After all, aren’t they comprised of biodegradable plant matter?
But, once again, the coating and chemicals are to blame for the dangers of these containers. Paperboard bowls contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS). They’re useful for protecting your burrito bowl from becoming soaked in sauces and salsas, but they’re also hazardous.
PFAS may leach into your meals from bowls. PFAS can also penetrate the placental barrier after you consume and digest it. Following that, preeclampsia, high cholesterol, asthma, thyroid problems, and other diseases have been related to PFAS breakdown products.
As a result, avoid using paperboard containers for your meals. Instead of buying takeout, you might want to prepare your burrito bowls at home for a bit.
Chemicals In The Nursery
I know you’re ecstatic to have your nursery decorated just as you want it. You’ve chosen the bedding, purchased a super-cute crib, and located the right wall hangings.
But leave the painting to someone else. Paints (including those labelled “low VOC“) contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are potentially hazardous substances. It’s better to stay away from them when you’re expecting.
Painting isn’t the only type of renovation that might be dangerous for your growing family. VOCs emitted by laminate flooring or wall-to-wall carpeting increases the risk of wheezing and respiratory issues in infants.
Even brand new furniture might emit hazardous smells. Flame retardants are found in many mattresses, rocking gliders, and other goods, and these chemicals are directly in your breathing zone as you sleep. This is why we highly recommend to keep Your Nursery Eco-Friendly With The Best Organic Crib Mattresses and other non-toxic baby products.
If you’re repurposing old bedding, look for a mattress (and crib mattress) made in 2014 or later. Flammability standards were amended to allow for the use of safer mattresses (those that had no or fewer flame retardants). Here is the ultimate guide to Stay Safe With These Used Crib Mattress Safety Guidelines.
Toxic Chemicals In Skin Care Routine
Many personal care products include phthalates, which are used to enhance the texture. They’re plasticizers, which means they may make nail paint and hairspray more flexible (letting you set your hairstyle without a case of helmet head). Parabens, on the other hand, are preservatives used to extend the life of cosmetics.
Both of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which means they can cause thyroid difficulties, reproductive problems, and even metabolic concerns like obesity and diabetes.
And these negative consequences aren’t limited to mothers. They may have an impact on your baby.
Look for chemicals like methylparaben or ethylparaben to discover if parabens are present in your items. If you come across one in a product, avoid it. Of course, many products now state “paraben-free” on the front, making it easy to determine.
Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated when it comes to phthalates. Because the FDA permits firms to classify phthalates as scents, you can’t determine if a product contains them just by looking at the ingredient list.
Many items will state whether or not they include phthalates. If the bottle doesn’t have that label, there’s a strong possibility it contains phthalates.
Cleaning During Pregnancy
Someone else should be willing to clean for you when you’re pregnant, hopefully. After all, you’re expecting a child.
However, if you need to clean while pregnant, it’s important to know which products are safe to use and which you should avoid.
When you’re pregnant, stay away from oven cleansers. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in them may be hazardous to your infant. Allow someone else to clean your oven if it needs to be cleaned.
Using quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) when pregnant is also a no-no. Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, one of the most frequent, has been related to neural tube abnormalities (which lead to problems with the nervous system and brain later). Another one to avoid is benzalkonium chloride.
While the evidence on bleach use while pregnant is varied, I would personally avoid it. Those who use bleach on a regular basis have been known to develop asthma or other respiratory issues (like janitors). Your child’s health might be jeopardized as a result of prenatal exposure.
And for all-purpose cleanings, like cleaning kitchen counters, stovetops, and the inside of your microwave, I like to make my own household cleaners. I do find when mixed correctly, that they do a fantastic job cleaning.
Toxic Chemicals To Avoid During Pregnancy
While the number of hazardous substances you should avoid while pregnant may initially overwhelm you, there is an advantage. Because these chemicals don’t suddenly become safe after your baby is born, understanding about them now can help you keep yourself and your children safe as they develop.