In the words of a Mohawk Native American midwife, Katsi Cook, a women’s body is the first environment. The umbilical cord is the lifeline between the mother and baby. However, recent studies have shown that the umbilical cord and the placenta do not have the ability to filter the baby from harmful chemicals that the mother inhales, ingests or absorbs through the skin. Whatever a pregnant woman is exposed to, the baby may be exposed to as well.
The Environmental Working Group commissioned a study called “Body Burden: Pollution in Newborns” and determined that “The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children…harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage…Of the 287 chemicals we detected … we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.” The baby is particularly vulnerable to environmental toxins that can disrupt its developmental process at critical times during the pregnancy. Avoiding certain chemicals, eating healthy and exercising are vital during pregnancy.
What You can Do to promote a “green” pregnancy
Top 10 Tips for a Healthy You
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Try physical activities such as walking, yoga or swimming.
- Eliminate smoking, the use of drugs and drinking alcohol.
- Avoid personal care products that contain the ingredient "Fragrance." Fragrances are considered trade secrets and can contain a wide range of 3,000 chemicals. Look for products that are labeled as fragrance-free.
- Avoid nail polish and hair dyes that may contain harmful chemicals, such as toluene, formaldehyde, diethyl phthalate, and quaternium-15 that are linked to health problems. Refer to WHE's Top 12 Toxins to Avoid card.
- Use natural stretch mark creams, such as cocoa or shea butter.
- Keep you and your baby hydrated by drinking water. Purchase a pitcher for home that has a filter. Water helps keep your skin hydrated and reduces stretch marks.
- Ask your doctor about which prenatal vitamins are best for you.
- Protect yourself from the sun! Wear protective clothing, a wide brim hat and sunglasses. Use sunscreen with ingredients such as zinc oxide and remember to reapply! Avoid aerosol sunscreen sprays and eliminate tanning bed use.
- Avoid changing cat litter, due to risk of toxoplasma (parasite shed in cat's feces). If you must change litter, wear disposable gloves and wash hands with soap & water.
- Deal with stress appropriately. Use stress-reducing techniques, such as yoga, breathing exercises or get a relaxing prenatal massage.
- Feeding Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Program for Healthy, Safe Nutrition During Pregnancy, Childhood, and Beyond by Dr. Alan Greene
- Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth and Baby Care by Dr. Alan Greene
- The Complete Organic Pregnancy by Deirdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu