Growing a little human inside of you is one of life’s most magnificent experiences. It’s a period of immense joy and brings a whole new meaning to the concept of love. From the moment we find out about our new little ‘flatmate’, we want to do everything we can to keep them safe and healthy.
Sadly, a recent study in the US revealed that the average (healthy!) baby has traces of up to 200 man-made chemicals in their tiny little bodies at birth. This frightening statistic clearly demonstrates that your baby’s health begins long before they arrive earthside. For nine entire months, you’re not only ‘eating for two’, but also breathing, drinking and absorbing for two. So, it’s important to rethink your exposure to everyday chemicals during your pregnancy and the impact they may have on your health, and that of your baby.
To help guide you, we've put together our top tips for reducing your exposure to hazardous chemicals throughout your pregnancy, and beyond.
1. EAT ORGANIC FOOD
The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ rings true for both you and your baby when pregnant. During your pregnancy, it's important to opt for organic food as much as possible. Organic foods contain fewer pesticides and heavy metals and are free from antibiotics and synthetic hormones, making them a safer option for you and your little one.
If you can’t eat organic all the time (let's face it, it can be expensive!), try prioritising the foods you eat on a daily basis and the fresh produce items flagged on the dirty dozen list.
2. SLEEP ON NATURE
Despite how counterintuitive it sounds to not trust ‘Low Fire Danger’ labels, flame-retardants are actually nasty chemicals that should be avoided at all costs.
The scary thing is, flame-retardants are everywhere! You'll find them hidden in upholstery, electronics, soft furnishings, car seats, clothes, mattresses and pillows. Most flame-retardants are added to the product itself, for example, inside the plastic foam used in conventional pregnancy pillows. Unfortunately, this results in their toxic gas being released into indoor environments and breathed into our airways over and over. And when this happens, it’s not good.
According to a 2013 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, prenatal exposure to flame-retardants is associated with lower intelligence and hyperactivity in early childhood. Plus another recent study from the University of Texas analysed blood samples from pregnant women and found that prenatal exposure to high levels of flame-retardants may be a contributing factor in preterm births.
The good news is, there are plenty of healthy products available to keep you comfortable throughout your pregnancy. The Tetra Tea Tree Pregnancy Body Pillow is filled with 100% natural Tea Tree flakes and nothing else. No flame retardants and no nasty chemicals. So you can rest assured knowing the only thing you're absorbing from your pregnancy pillow is some serious ZZZs.
3. CHOOSE NATURAL CLEANING PRODUCTS
During your pregnancy, you not only share nutrients with your baby through what you eat and drink but also what you absorb through your skin. So, when you decide to scrub the house from roof to ceiling during week 38 of your pregnancy (why do we all get this urge?), it's important to consider what products you are using.
The problem with conventional cleaning products is the nasty ingredients in them. Phthalates are a huge class of chemicals found in many household cleaning products and recent studies have linked them to a raft of negative health impacts including asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioural issues, autism spectrum disorders, reproductive and fertility issues.
Recently, The Guardian wrote a detailed article on the frightening impacts of Phthalates - you can read it here.
Alarmingly, in Australia, there is no law stating that cleaning products must have their ingredients listed on their packaging, which makes it near impossible for customers to identify and avoid nasty chemicals. While this loophole exists, we can safely assume that the big cleaning product companies will continue to use, and hide, the hundreds of toxic ingredients they are using in their products.
“The science required to prove the direct link between the ingredient and the health or environmental effect can be slow to prove conclusively – so big manufacturers continue to use them until the science and then the law catches up” explains Bondi Wash CEO, Belinda Everingham.
Thankfully there are plenty of non-toxic cleaning products that do just as good a job cleaning (if not better) and carry no risk for you and your baby. Here are a few of our favourites:
4. BE A NATURAL BEAUTY
The beauty industry is another highly unregulated industry with all the major brands having the green light to use any ingredient without government review or approval, including many nasty materials that are potentially harmful to you and your baby.
Between the sheer volume of chemicals available (there are more than 80,000 chemicals being used today, many of which don’t have any safety data attached to them) and all the scientific and marketing jargon, it's a total minefield to navigate. A great place to start is to cross-check your current skin care and makeup products against the Beauty Counter’s Never List.
When you clear out your cosmetics cabinet, here are a few of our favourite non-toxic skincare products you can consider replacing them with:
Shampoo + Conditioner
Deodorants + Fragrances
5. AVOID BPA CONTAINERS AND NON-STICK PANS
New findings from Stanford University show that high levels of contact with BPA - the chemical found in plastic packaging, tinned products and cash register receipt ink - could dramatically increase the likelihood of miscarriage. Whilst it’s impossible to avoid all contact with BPA (let's be realistic here), the study advised pregnant women to avoid microwaving food in plastic containers and drinking from plastic bottles that have been warmed in the sun as chemicals leak quickly at higher temperatures. Opt for glass or ceramic containers when warming food and grab yourself a nice stainless steel drink bottle to keep you hydrated - they are much better for the environment too!
Similarly, it’s a good idea to only cook with stainless steel or ceramic pans while pregnant. The chemical compounds, PCF, found in non-stick cookware can play havoc with your fat metabolism, causing your baby to have a low birth weight. In the US, the government has been actively trying to phase out these yucky chemicals, and in doing so, were successful in preventing more than 118,000 low-weight births between 2003 and 2014. Here's hoping Australia follows suit!
OTHER TIPS FOR A CHEMICAL-FREE PREGNANCY
We hope these tips help guide you to a clean and healthy pregnancy…and perhaps once new habits are formed, for a life beyond!
GET 5% OFF YOUR FIRST PURCHASE*
Sign-up for special offers and news at the Tetra Club.
Use code TETRACLUB at checkout for the discount.
*Applies to all Tetra brand except custom made sizes.