10 Tips to Make Your Pregnancy Organic
Start eating as much organic food as possible, paying attention to the most and least toxic items. These are the fruits and veggies that have the highest levels of pesticides: apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach, cherries and strawberries. These are the fruits and veggies that have the lowest levels and are therefore safe to buy conventionally if you're trying to save money or can't find organic versions: asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn (sweet), kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapple, peas (sweet). You'll also want to 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.
Use a PUR or Brita filter for all of your water. Drink out of glass, not plastic, whenever possible. If you need to use plastic water bottles, recycle after one use. Most plastic water bottles are made out of a plastic that is only meant for one use. If you use it more than that, and expose it to heat or sunlight, it can begin to deteriorate and leach toxins into your drinking water. They're also very hard to clean, and harmful bacteria can easily grow in them.
3. Bathroom tip
Install a shower filter head. According to books/studies we've read, taking a shower is the equivalent of drinking many gallons of unfiltered water. Also: Get rid of shower curtains made of PVC; it isn't a plastic you want around your growing baby, nor is it something you want to throw out and have go into the groundwater. Vinyl contains phthalates, the same things that are toxic in nail polishes and fragrances.
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.
Cast iron is now the way to go. Stop using nonstick or Teflon pans, which are known to cause cancer. Other tried-and-true safe kitchen vessels are made of glass and stainless steel.
10 Tips to Make Your Pregnancy Organic
6. Beauty products
Do a quick run-through of the beauty products you're using — no more Clearasil, no more alpha hydroxies. Remove toenail polish or buy polish with the least amount of chemicals. There is no FDA regulation of organic beauty products, so you never really know if an organic product is truly organic, but there are certain products known to be more pure than others (like Weleda or Dr. Hauschka). Many of them are sold on the Web site saffronrouge.com.
... for lead and radon. Tests can easily be purchased at hardware stores. New York City (for example) will test water for free. Covering cracked lead paint with fresh paint (eco-friendly versions like Benjamin Moore's Eco Spec are now available) is now considered safer — and cheaper — than having it removed.
8. Cleaning products
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 contain harsh things (bleach, ammonia and worse) you will be breathing. Or ask your partner to clean and/or hire someone else to clean while you're pregnant. Remember that if your housekeeper is using many typical household cleaners when you're not around, there is still residual dust from those products when you are around. If you garden, use the same approach to fertilizers. If you have an insect infestation, use "safer" insecticides like sticky traps and boric acid.
9. Basic no-brainers
Stop drinking alcohol and caffeine. Stop smoking. Get on a prenatal vitamin. There are "natural ones" that are dye-free and contain more-natural and fewer ingredients. Just make sure they have the right dosages of folic acid and the like.
10. Get rid of those crumbling foam cushions already!
The latest chemicals found to be approaching possibly unsafe levels in American women's breast milk, as well as in 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. For solutions, see Mattresses and Box Springs and Computers product reports and Green Guide No. 97 "PBDE Fire Retardant and Health Risks."
Deirdre Dolan is the author of "The Complete Organic Pregnancy."