Earlier this week, my friend Lara Wiseman, a local HypnoBirthing Practitioner, and I did a presentation on how our personal care products can affect our Fertility, Pregnancy and Postpartum. I discussed the importance of Detoxing Before Pregnancy and Lara focused on the chemicals we should avoid during pregnancy.
A study by the EWG found over 232 industrial chemicals and pollutants within the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. They found toxins including mercury, insulators, lubricants, bleach, flame retardants, traces of teflon and other non-stick products, scotchguard, DDT, wood preservatives, varnishes and more.
What Does This Mean?
It means, that everything mom is ingesting, inhaling and lathering on her body is being absorbed into her system. Her developing baby is part of that system and is therefore exposed to all the same things.
Why Is This Important?
Because the chemicals mentioned above, as well as many ingredients found in personal care products that we use everyday, cause dangerous chemical exposures. Chemical exposures in the womb or during infancy can be dramatically more harmful than exposures later in life and amplifies the baby’s risk for a number of reasons…..
#1 - Because of baby’s rapid development and incomplete defense system they are more easily affected
#2 - A developing child's chemical exposures are greater, pound-for-pound, than those of adults
#3 - An immature, porous blood-brain barrier allows greater chemical exposures to the developing brain
#4 - Children have lower levels of some chemical-binding proteins, allowing greater amounts of a chemical to reach "target organs"
#5 - A baby's organs and systems are rapidly developing and thus are often more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposure.
#6 - Systems that detoxify and exrete industrial chemicals are not fully developed
#7 The longer future life span of a child compared to an adult allows more time for adverse effects to arise.
The Role of Toxins in Utero
This is enough to make any new mom run for the door, right? Well, the good new is we don't have to be perfect, nor can we be.
"There is no one way to be a perfect mom,
but there are a million ways to be a great one."
We live in a world surrounded by environmental toxins. We are exposed to more toxins in 3 months time, than our grandparents were exposed to in their LIFETIMES!! So many so, that we cannot avoid them. While we can't rid our bodies of all toxins we have come in contact with, we CAN make huge improvements in our lifestyles, and our bodies will accept these changes immediately.
"Do the best you can until you now better;
then when you know better do better." - Maya Angelou
Two of the most used chemicals in skincare products are Parabens and Phthalates. Good Morning America did a piece called, "What's Really in Your Makeup" in which one of their anchors tested the toxicity impact cosmetics. For 3 days, she swapped her cleaner cosmetics for products containing parabens and phthalates, and had blood samples collected. Then for 5 days, she used "cleaner, low-chemical'' products and had her blood sampled again.
When she was using the products with parabens/phthalates, her toxicity levels were off the chart at a level of 386, which was a 10-fold increase! When she stopped using the heavily chemical products, here toxicity levels dropped to 6, almost untraceable.
Therefore, there is A LOT that you CAN do for yourself and for your baby starting today! We are going to provide you with a list of easy, actionable steps, so your take away from this post will leave you feeling confident in your journey to a healthier pregnancy!
What Can You Do to Have a Safer Pregnancy for Mom, Baby & Beyond?
Control What You Can Control
Download EWG Healthy Living App/SkinDeep
Where to Start?
AVOID THESE INGREDIENTS & CHEMICALS
Isn't it funny how the second we are pregnant, we are supposed to avoid certain ingredients - why not just avoid these always? Pregnant or not, you should just avoid these all together!!
#1 Fragrance - An engineered scent that may contain hundreds of stock chemical ingredients including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulations are protected under federal law's classification of trade secrets, and therefore can legally remain undisclosed.
Say NO to the word "fragrance" and NO to "perfume". If you must wear perfume, put it on your clothes, NEVER on your skin. Or better yet, make your own body spray using essential oils!
#2 Endocrine Disruptors - Chemicals that are endocrine disruptors are, in my opinion, the most important chemicals to avoid, period! Pregnant or not. If it's hard to pronounce, you probably should avoid them, things like Parabens, Phthalates, Bisphenol A (BPA). Your Endocrine System secretes hormones into your circulatory system and communicates with your organs. Therefore, chemicals that disrupt your endocrine system, impedes proficient functioning of these hormone mechanisms in your body.
#3 Oxybenzone - A sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber linked to irritation, sensitization, allergies, and possible hormone disruption. Also commonly found in moisturizer too. BEWARE of sneaky marketing, like "paraben and phthalate free" it CAN STILL contain Oxybenzone!
Choose a NON-NANO ZINC, BROAD SPECTRUM or Mineral Sunscreen.
#4 Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) - Found in Teflon & Non-Stick cookware. There is a great article in EWG and options for finding safer alternatives. We continue to recommend cast iron, stainless steel and ceramic cookware.
#5 Retinoids - Retin-A (in acne and anti-aging products). There is a proven link between the use of retinoids and an increased risk of birth defects for developing babies.
#6 Formaldehyde - Used to preserve dead animals. Also used as a preservative in cosmetics, skincare & styling products and baby care items. Its a known carcinogen linked to asthma, neurotoxicity and developmental toxicity. Found in: Shampoo, body wash, bubble bath, hair care, nail polish and eyelash glue.
#7 Toluene - Most mainstream nail polishes contain toluene, a suspected carcinogen, along with phthalates and formaldehyde. Together, they are known as the "toxic trio," and they form a potent combination of toxins that you want to avoid at all times, especially during pregnancy. If you can't handle the look of your nails in the buff, look for nail polishes that are toluene-, formaldehyde- and phthalate-free.
#8 Hydroquinone - A skin-lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation. Found in: skin-lightening creams.
#9 Ammonia - Found in many hair dye formulas. While the verdict is still out on whether or not hair dye is safe to use during pregnancy, it is important to note that many formulas contain chemicals like ammonia, which can irritate the skin and lungs. Ask your stylist for ammonia-free hair dyes.
(I actually just had one of my Midwifery clients tell me after her birth, that she had highlights put in her hair during pregnancy and her hair immediately started falling out, before she even left the chair!!. She and her hair dresser could smell burnt hair and had never seen anything like that.
- Rachel, Midwife)
#10 Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) - Ingredient found in many self-tanning sprays which are inhaled during application.
#11 - Thioglycolic Acid - Used in hair removal creams. May be listed as "acetyl mercaptan, mercaptoacetate, mercaptoacetic acid and thiovanic acid". The EU limits the amount of Thioglycolic Acid that can be used in products to 5%, whereas products sold in the U.S. are allowed to contain as much as 15.2%
Each step will make a difference!! So START WALKING!!!
xo, Lara & Rachel
Meet Rachel, the Author
I'm a Licensed Midwife and busy mom of two extremely active boys. I manage several different businesses, while also trying to maintain a household, my family and my sanity. Some days it works, some days it doesn't!