Every mom wants to start her motherhood journey as healthfully as possible. But the sheer number of choices and the wide array of information available can be overwhelming. Try these 10 holistic tips for expectant moms to help you along:
1. Go Organic. What you put into your body during this critical phase of fetal development is important. Pesticides in foods have been linked to a variety of concerns, including higher rates of ADHD in children, Reduce your exposure to pesticides by eating as many organic fruits and vegetables as you can. Eating organic will also help you avoid hormones and antibiotics in animal products, such as meats and dairy products, and limit your exposure to GMOs (genetically modified organisms). [For more information on avoiding GMOs check out the Non-GMO Shopping guide.]
2. Green Your Cleaning. Ammonia, chlorine, and hydrochloric acid are just a few of the ingredients in conventional cleaning products that you don’t want to be exposed to as an expectant mom. Simple ingredients can be used to clean your home effectively and safely. White vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner and olive oil makes a wonderful furniture polish, for example.
3. Buy an Organic Mattress. For your crib, co-sleeper or your bed. Recent studies have found high levels of neurotoxic polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) in toddlers. PBDEs are commonly found in foam furniture (mattresses, couches, arm chairs) and pillows (including nursing pillows) made before 2005, according to the Environment Working Group. Read the EWG’s recommendations on how to make your home PBDE free.
4. Green Your Nursery. A new baby’s nursery has the potential to be a toxic soup. From the off-gassing of VOCs (volatile organic compounds in paint), to chemically-treated carpets and furniture, there are a long list of potential hazards to avoid. Use zero-VOC paints (and have someone else do the painting), look for natural floor coverings that are not chemically treated, and choose a sustainable, hardwood crib (plywoods are treated with formaldehyde).
5. Breastfeed. Breast is not only best for mom and baby, but also for the planet. Breastfeeding reduces waste, limits exposure to toxins (such as BPA found in baby bottles), and saves energy (no trips to the store for formula, no need to refrigerate).
6. Find out What’s in Your Personal Care Products. For yourself and for baby. Looking great during pregnancy helps boost self-esteem but your makeup, shampoo, and body lotion may contain chemicals dangerous for your baby. Sure you want pretty toes, but nail polish contains toluene and formaldehyde which can be absorbed into the bloodstream through your nails. Baby products – shampoos, soaps, and diaper creams – may also contain unnecessary toxic ingredients.
7. Green Your Toys. The toy industry is another area for concern. From phthalates in pacifiers and rubber duckies, to BPA in baby rattles, there are many reasons to be choosy about the toys you give your baby, especially during infancy and early childhood when many toys wind up in their mouth. Read this eye-opening government report on toxic toys for more information.
8. Stay Hydrated – Safely. Adequate hydration is important for a healthy pregnancy and will help reduce symptoms of constipation, fatigue and even pre-term labor. But water can also carry a number of contaminants, from inorganic compounds, to chlorine and arsenic. A simple carbon filter can help reduce contaminants in your drinking water. More advanced filtration systems may help remove additional contaminants and improve the taste of your water. Carrying/storing your water in glass or stainless steel will keep it safe and handy. Plastic water bottles can leach BPA and other chemicals into your water, so drink safely with eco-friendly, reusable bottles.
9. Diaper Sustainably. Conventional disposable diapers are made of plastics and synthetics, and do not allow the skin to breathe. While convenient, more than 90% of disposable diapers wind up in landfills, according to the Real Diaper Association. Today’s cloth diapers are much more user-friendly and are just plain adorable! Cloth is better for your baby and for the planet. Not ready for cloth? Look into a hybrid system – cloth covers with disposable inserts: less waste and very easy to use.
10. Write a Birth Plan. If you want a natural, drug free delivery, it’s a good idea to start formulating your preferences and strategies in your own mind, and discuss them with your birth team (whether it’s a doctor, midwife, or other birth professional) as early as possible in your pregnancy to make sure you are on the same page and with a good match. Also, considering hiring a doula (a childbirth professional focusing on the mother) to help you during labor and birth, and to help advocate for you.