I'm a chocolate-loving nutritionist, pre & postnatal coach, doula and let's face it- total birth nerd 🤓. I'm here to help you cut through mommy-marketing and pinterest perfection to confidently cultivate a pregnancy and postpartum experience you totally love.
Are environmental toxins another to-don’t to add to your list?
It’s no lie that the list of to don’ts that accompanies pregnancy feels never-ending, overwhelming, and even confusing.
NO SOFT CHEESE
NO ONIONS (yes literally read in a pregnancy book that I should avoid onions. Sigh. Eat onions, you good).
So what if you aren’t running to the gas station for day-old sashimi and brie and you’ve quit the vodka redbulls… Are you good?
Well yes and no– we definitely don’t recommend gas station sushi or alcohol consumption during pregnancy– but a big gap in education is around exposure to and prevalence of environmental toxins and the harmful impact especially while trying to conceive, pregnant, and even postpartum.
But what the heck are environmental toxins?
“Toxin” is such a goopy buzzword these days, so let’s add some definition. Environmental toxins are carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) and hormone disrupters in our environment. Some occur naturally, like lead, mercury, or formaldehyde, while others are man-made, like BPA or phthalates.
Most of these things contain Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals which are chemicals that disrupt the body’s hormone balance by impersonating other hormones. Estrogen mimicking (or xenoestrogens) hormones are the most common.
Potential risks with exposure:
Increased risk for breast cancer
Fertility problems due to disrupting ovulation
Lower birth weights
Adverse infant development
Increased inflammatory biomarkers in both birthing person and baby
Pregnant people are at increased risk of exposure– in fact, pregnant people who use lotion had paraben levels 216% higher than those pregnant people who did not use lotion.
Um YIKES. What can we do about it?
Raise your hand if you’d like to use lotion and not stress the F out. I’m not going to drop a bunch of risk factors on you and then say good luck byeeeee.
Here’s the truth, some things we can control, and some things we cannot, but before you have a panic attack, know that making the smallest simplest swaps within your power and privilege can have a substantial positive impact on your health and wellbeing
Here are 5 simple swaps you can make NOW to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy.
Skip the paper receipt.
Thermal paper (that’s what’s used in receipts) is coated with BPA. All that hand sanitizer we are using? That’s been shown to increase the uptake of BPA. So opt for a digital receipt and head on out the door with clean hands (and frankly a cleaner purse).
Choose paraben & phthalate free personal care products.
This is not a call to dump out your make-up bag or medicine cabinet– just replace things as they run out with safer options. Start with things that go directly on and stay on your skin (like lotion!) and things you ingest (like toothpaste or lip balm).
Sure in a perfect world, we’d all be eating organic, free-range kale, but for most of us access and affordability is a real thing. Start by following the clean 15 & dirty dozen whenever possible. The “Clean 15” produce has minimal pesticide/herbicide residue so they are safer to buy conventional. The “Dirty Dozen” produce has higher residual pesticides and herbicides and should be purchased organic whenever possible. Strawberries and spinach often top the list.
Fresh produce hard to come by? Frozen is a great budget-friendly and nutrient-dense option!
Plastic is literally everywhere, so this is another: One. Thing. At. A. Time. Start with your water bottle that you leave in the car on hot days, then move on to your Tupperware and food storage. Plastic that is heated is especially problematic because it can leach chemicals (like BPA and other plasticizers) into food and water.
What’s wrong with smelling like cucumber-melon-cherry-blossom-summer-breeze-amber-spice? Inherently nothing if that’s your thing. BUT the ingredient: fragrance/parfum/perfume (even when listed with the word “natural”) is actually a cocktail of ingredients that often contain phthalates (that’s what makes your laundry smell like “laundry” for daaaays) and other EDC and respiratory irritants.
Because fragrance is considered a trade secret, companies do not have to disclose the ingredients. So a product could be labeled as “phthalate free” but if fragrance is listed as an ingredient — phthalates could be bundled underneath. Mindblown.
This is known as the fragrance loop-hole. Yes, it’s some real shady shit.
So what to do if you want to smell nice? Opt for products scented with essential oils and plant extracts from companies that are committed to transparency. Phlur is a great safer perfume company that does just that!
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and start to spiral once we learn this stuff, but remember, just one small swap at a time can make a HUGE impact