8 Tips for a Greener Pregnancy

green living guide





Trying to make "greener" choices now that you're pregnant? It may not be realistic to do everything all at once, but as J9Mommy said to me recently, if you pick one area to make a change in, you'll find you naturally start making other changes over time.

I spoke to Deirdre Dolan, co-author, along with Alexandra Zissu, of The Complete Organic Pregnancy, about how pregnant moms can get started with a greener lifestyle.

Here's what she had to say.


So, where should pregnant moms begin? What would be your first tip or piece of advice?

Think food and water first.

One of the most convincing examples of how our babies are what we eat happened to me during an early sonogram. The baby was sleeping and wouldn’t change positions, so I was given a few sips of O.J. to wake her up. Almost immediately she started wiggling, which convinced me to improve my eating habits stat.

Try to eat organic when possible, paying attention to the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the fruits and veggies that are the most contaminated with pesticides. Avoid high mercury fish and high fat meats; toxins that have been linked to prenatal nervous system and hormonal damage are stored in fatty tissue. Start filtering your water -- a Brita carbon carafe is sufficient -- and give up plastic water bottles in favor of glass or aluminum.

Beyond that, what are 3 things you'd recommend to pregnant moms -- 3 places in their daily routines where they could make different or better choices?

1. In the Bathroom: Install a shower filter head and get rid of PVC shower curtains -- that's a kind of plastic you don’t want around your growing baby (or going into the groundwater). Vinyl contains phthalates, the same toxic element in nail polish and fragrance.

2. Speaking of Phthalates… They’re in pretty much everything, including your beauty products. Sift through your stash -- no more Clearasil, no more alpha hydroxies, remove nail polish or buy polish with the least amount of chemicals. The deal with cosmetics is that there is no FDA regulation, so it takes some more thinking. A great resource is SaffronRouge.com.

3. In the Kitchen: Have your partner use up the cleaning products you do have (throwing them out just pollutes) but as you finish them, replace with Earth-friendlier items that don’t have harsh things in them (bleach, ammonia, and worse) that you'll be breathing.

Or ask your partner to do the cleaning while you’re pregnant. If you garden, use the same approach to fertilizers. If you have an insect infestation, use “safer” insecticides like sticky traps and boric acid.

Also, get red of non-stick or teflon pans in favor of cast iron and stainless steel.

When it comes to preparing the nursery, what can moms do to make greener, but still budget-friendly, choices?

Ventilation is big – Try to open your windows for at least 10 minutes a day – houses today are made to seal hot or cold air in. This also keeps many environmental pollutants in. Air needs to circulate to be safest. But try not to open during peak traffic hours. If you live near a highway, air filters might be something to look into.

Also get rid of any cushions where the foam is peaking out. The latest chemicals found to be approaching possibly unsafe levels in American women's breast milk, as well as umbilical-cord blood, are fire retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Furniture foam tends to release PBDEs into house dust when it breaks down.

If you can’t afford new furniture, get thick cotton and drape if over torn areas. An organic crib mattress would be the first choice, but if it’s not in the budget, then buy a cover for the mattress and throw on a few more layers of PureGrow wool to be safe.

Finally, resist the urge to renovate – in the nursery or anywhere else in the house. It’s impossible to know what volatile organic chemicals will be unearthed when you start ripping up the carpet and tearing down walls. Resist the urge to build a nursery from scratch, and if you must do any painting, use no-VOC paint only and get out of the house for as long as possible.

Any other thoughts for pregnant moms?

Most women will be given boatloads of sweet, thoughtful, useless presents and toys. To avoid waste, try to appoint a friend to spread the word about your organic “less is more” preference – wood over plastic toys, BPA-free baby bottles, organic cotton clothes, etc.

Also, I think you’ll feel better the less stuff you buy, are given, and have to deal with. Your new roommate is really going to be pretty low maintenance!

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