The Washington Toxics Coalition, a not-for-profit that researches and campaigns for a toxin-free environment, has released a report detailing the wide range of toxins babies are exposed to in the womb.
The report, titled 'Earliest Exposures' found 13 toxic chemicals in pregnant women, including phthalates, bisphenol A, mercury and 'teflon chemicals'. It's important to recognise that, although these findings come from the USA, the laws around cosmetics are very similar here in Australia, which means we should also be aware of any potential risks.
So what can we do about this? Firstly, check with your healthcare professional before changing an diet or adding new skincare products to your regime. Then you can start at home, with the Washington Toxics Coalition's recommendations for a healthy pregnancy. You can download a handy PDF containing these tips, and a PDF with tips on a healthy nursery, at the end of the article.
Eating for a non-toxic pregnancy
Fish is one of the healthiest foods around but choose carefully for minimal toxic load.
Organic food for pregnancy
Eat organic food as much as possible. It is especially important to choose the organic variety of those foods known to be most contaminated with pesticides. These include:
Learn more about pesticides in food at the Environmental Working Group's food website.
Other non-toxic eating tips for pregnancy
- Avoid canned foods as much as possible. Linings in cans may leach bisphenol-A, a chemical that mimics estrogen.
- Choose low-fat meat and dairy products, because many chemicals build up in fat.
- Avoid clear plastic water bottles that are labeled #7 on the bottom. These bottles are typically made of polycarbonate, which may leach bisphenol-A.
- When reheating food, opt for containers labelled as microwave-safe such as those made of glass or ceramic materials. Try using parchment paper, wax paper, or white paper towels to cover containers rather than plastic wrap.
- Avoid non-stick or Teflon-coated cookware, which may release toxic compounds. Choose stainless steel, glass, cast iron, or ceramic cookware instead.
- Avoid microwave popcorn. The inside of the bag is often coated with toxic chemicals that may leach into the popcorn.
- Avoid fast foods, as fast-food containers may be lined with Teflon chemicals.
Non-toxic personal care tips for pregnancy
- Choose fragrance-free personal care products, and consider giving up perfumes, nail polish, and hair dye, which may contain harmful chemicals. Or, choose healthier low toxic alternatives.
- Choose cosmetics and personal products from companies committed to safer products.
- Avoid hand soaps marketed as 'antibacterial': scrubbing hands with hot water and plain soap is just effective, and the overuse of antibacterial products can lead to germs that are harder to kill.
- Avoid clothing, shoes, and boots made with vinyl/PVC. If you can, also avoid those treated with Gore-Tex or other Teflon chemicals. Choose rubber and vinyl-free fabrics such as cotton, linen, or even nylon and polyester.
Non-toxic pest control for a healthy pregnancy
Avoid bug killers, weed killers, and other pesticides in the home or garden. Focus on preventive techniques and check with your healthcare professional about using a natural insect repellent.
Non-toxic home supplies for a healthy pregnancy
- Replace plastic shower curtains with fabric curtains (like nylon or polyester), and avoid vinyl mattress covers and inflatable furniture.
- Choose VOC-free paints and materials. If you have an older home with lead paint, hire a certified lead abatement worker to protect yourself from lead paint dust or chips.
- Inspect foam furniture and get rid of items where foam is exposed and crumbling.
Non-toxic cleaning tips for a healthy pregnancy
- Try green cleaning recipes using liquid soap, baking soda, and vinegar, or safer brands
- Leave shoes at the door and try to vacuum once a week. Toxic chemicals from both indoors and outdoors can build up in household dust.
We recommend working together with your healthcare professional and together choosing the best toxin free products for you and your family, not only during this important time, but also as your children grow up.