-By Mandy Burgess
In an effort to make my pregnancy safe for me and my growing little one, my husband and I decided to take charge of our immediate environment. I knew that eating and exercise would be fairly easy, (although I was in for a few surprises in those departments too). The most difficult part: protecting myself and my unborn child from toxins present in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the household products we use. Although I don’t have room to list every potential hazard (nor should you worry about them all), here are the steps my family took to reduce harmful chemicals in our house.
So, it was time to do a little housecleaning and go green.
- Step one: get rid of plastics. Being plastic free means removing harmful chemicals like biphenal-a, an estrogen mimic known to cause reproductive harm to male and female fetuses, from potentially leaching into your food and water, and ultimately you and your baby. I keep glass jars for storage containers, thus reducing, reusing and recycling. I take these jars to my local produce market and use them to buy items in bulk like beans, oats, peanut butter and more. Check out http://www.bisphenolafree.org/ for more information.
- Step two: get rid of household cleaners. Need to clean the house? Reach for the baking soda or vinegar instead of the Ajax and bleach. Why? Bleach, Pine Sol and other cleaners contain harmful chemicals known to cause irritating eyes, skin burns and at worst death (Check Warning and Danger signs on the back of these products for a full list of potential dangers). Both baking soda and vinegar are all natural chemical free products able to be used throughout the house to clean the toughest spots. No smells and no worrying that when the one little starts crawling he/she will not be poisoned by licking the floor covered in Pine Sol, or worse, getting into the cabinets where cleaners are stored.
- Step three: detox my diet and revamp my kitchen appliances. We buy organic and wash all fruits and veggies thoroughly to keep me and my baby clear of pesticides. I also significantly reduced and/or eliminated dairy, fish and meats due to their high levels of dioxins, pesticides and metals. Also, we filter our water to remove lead and other minerals. Further, we use only stainless steel to reduce harmful chemicals that burn off (or get mixed in with food) from non-stick and aluminum pots and pans.
- Step four: replace polyester and foam with natural fibers. Unfortunately, more and more studies are finding that fire retardant chemicals (also known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDE’s for short) are harmful to animals, causing such problems as thyroid function interference, reproductive and neurological problems and neurological development. These substances are also found to accumulate in humans body fat, including breastmilk. Unfortunately, little is known about their impact on human health. They are found in mattresses, computers, automobiles, foam, vinyls and polyesters to name just a few. So how do you substitute? We replaced our vinyl covered, polyester filled crib mattress with one that is 100% organic wool fill and 100% organic cotton cover. Wool is naturally flame- and water-resistant as well as being naturally dust-mite resistant. We now buy only natural fiber blankets and clothes, as well as natural wood furniture free of toxic fumes.
- Step five: time to reduce my toiletries. After learning about phthalates, another hormone mimicker thought to induce breast growth in baby boys, I threw out all shampoos, soaps and deodorizers containing the words propyl- or phthalate-. I now buy from companies not using these chemicals in their products.
A wonderful article in the October issue of National Geographic details a journalists discovery of the chemical within him.
Other green choices my family has made along the way include using g-diapers, the flushable diaper, breastfeeding and making my babies solid food, and buying and making toys that are wooden and safe for baby to chew on.
I hope some of your readers can make some of these changes in their home. It takes a little time and effort, but I sleep sound knowing that I am doing what I can to protect my family.
Thanks for reading,
Mandy Burgess mother of 6 month old Noah