More and more people are becoming concerned about the chemicals that are everywhere in the environment around them and the impact they might have on their health. These concerns have meant that they try to love their lives in what many feel is a healthier way by going as organic as possible.
Health is one of the biggest concerns for pregnant women – both that of their unborn baby and their own. Therefore it is not too surprising that many Mums to be are becoming interested in making some lifestyle changes and going through their pregnancy “the organic way.” If you are one of those ladies then here are some tips for making your pregnancy a little more organic without having to drive yourself (and everyone around you) crazy.
Pregnancy and Organic Food
Food is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to going organic. Over the last several decades the use of pesticides to grow food has increased, as has the use of hormones to create stronger cows or fatter chickens (that then make their way to your plate.) Some of the living conditions for the animals on commercial farms are pretty awful as well, leading to things like tainted meat and salmonella infected eggs.
Buying organic foods is almost always more expensive than shopping the main aisles of the local supermarket and depending upon where you live finding a lot of organic produce can be hard as well. Here are some organic eating tips that might be helpful:
Conventional wisdom and research shows that some mass produced produce is exposed to lower levels of pesticides in general and are therefore considered relatively harmless. These include asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn and peas.
Unfortunately some of the highest levels of pesticides are found on some of the foods that are great for pregnant women to eat, such as apples, peppers, celery, peaches, potatoes, spinach, cherries and strawberries. Therefore if you are going to splash out on organic produce but have a limited budget these are the foods to look for the organic alternatives for.
Fish is something that all pregnant women are usually advised to try to add to their diet at least twice a week if at all possible. Some fish species unfortunately though are now swimming around the seas with high levels of mercury in their bodies, mainly thanks to industrial produce and given that high levels of mercury can damage the nervous system and brain development of a fetus then they should be avoided.
The highest levels of mercury are found in shark, swordfish, mackerel and ahi tuna. Therefore sticking to fish that have very low mercury levels but are still great for your health is the best idea. These include salmon, whitefish, tilapia, haddock, catfish, shrimp and crab, so there is still plenty to choose from.
High fat meats should be avoided by pregnant women because you really don’t need the extra fat anyway but also because these meats tend to have toxins stored in their fatty tissues that contain substances believed to cause prenatal nerve damage.
If you can find organic meat of any kind (and it can be hard) it may be well worth any extra investment you have to make as these meats come from animals that are humanely raised and have the freedom to enjoy their natural diet rather than an artificial grain based one which is often the case for “factory farmed” animals which can lead to more toxins in their bodies so therefore more potential toxins on your plate.
These days most people prefer to drink bottled water if they can but even that may not be the best thing for an organically minded Mum to be. The bottles that are usually used are made from a plastic that is only designed for short term use and exposure to heat and sunlight can cause the toxins in the plastic to leak into the water.
BPA is the one most people worry about the most especially when it comes to pregnant women and then later their babies. Numerous studies have found that fetuses, babies and toddlers exposed to BPA are at a greater risk for secondary sexual developmental changes, brain and behavior changes and certain immune disorders. Some of the studies are disputed as they are very limited but the use of BPA is still something of a global concern.
For those who may not have heard too much about it, BPA stands for Bisphenol A. It is a compound that has been used for a number of different things over the years, including to enhance the growth of cattle stock and as an estrogen supplement for women in the 1930s because it can mimic estrogen to a certain extent. It has been used as a hardening agent for plastic since the 195o’s and it is that use that has become so controversial. In 2010 the Canadian government declared it a toxic substance and while other nations have not followed them that far most are pushing for manufacturers to remove the BPA from the products they make.
Rather than take any risks with a plastic water bottle then a better idea is to buy a filter for your tap that will remove impurities and then drink from a glass if you are home or take a BPA free stainless steel water bottle filled with that tap water with you when you are on the go.
Pregnancy and Organic Beauty Products
Most conventional beauty products are perfectly OK for use in pregnancy so going organic in this way is more about personal choice than safety. The one thing you do need to look out for in cosmetics when you are pregnant is cosmetics – mass produced or organic – that contain added Vitamin A. Too much Vitamin A can be harmful to pregnant women so for now all the retin A creams and alpha hydroxy enhanced beauty products that may be in your cabinet should be taken out of your beauty routine.
Pregnancy and Organic Cleaning Products
Almost all common household cleaning products are safe for use by pregnant women (sorry ladies) but if you are concerned about the breathing in chemicals there are some easy, more organic home made cleaners you can consider using in place of your regular stuff for a lot of household chores.
Two of the best natural cleaning products out there are white vinegar and mild washing up liquid. A simple solution of water and dish liquid can clean almost any surface quite well although rinsing is important to make sure no sticky soap film gets left behind. You can also make a great scouring cleaner for those tougher jobs by mixing together baking soda, dish liquid and a little water until it forms a nice creamy paste.
White vinegar can do even more. Mixed with water it makes a great all purpose cleaner that is even safe to use on wood floors and if you use it ‘neat’ you can even cut through that nasty grease on oven doors!
One more important note on pregnancy and cleaning – if you have heard that pregnant women should not be cleaning kitty boxes this is almost true. Even if you use an organic cat litter – and there are some good ones out there – kitty pop can contain a bacteria that can cause a mild infection called toxoplasmosis.
This infection is not harmful to you but could be to your Baby in the first trimester of your pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis is rare though and many cat owners may have had it before without even realizing it and once you have had the infection you cannot get it again. Still, just to be on the safe side have someone else take over the kitty clean up duties while you are in your first trimester and if you do take them back over after that get into the habit of wearing rubber gloves.
Whether or not adopting a more organic way of life is really that much more beneficial during pregnancy is something of a matter of great debate in the medical world. The one thing that it is most definitely better for though is the environment. So in fact by going a little organic at least you will be helping to make the world you are about to bring Baby into a better place for them to live.