Reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals during your pregnancy is important for the health of you and your little one. Luckily, it doesn't have to be a chore. You can reduce your toxic chemicals exposures while you reduce morning sickness, stretch marks, aches, acne, and more. Take small steps and try changes that work for you and your budget.
In this week's column, we'll focus on reducing toxic chemicals in personal care products used during pregnancy. Below, you'll find budget-friendly tips on how to turn your living room into a prenatal yoga class, how to make your own belly cream, and even how to make your own pregnancy pillows. Too tired or time crunched for a DIY project? Totally understandable. That's why there are also buying tips for pillows, cosmetics products, and more.
Morning Sickness Solutions: Latham Thomas from Parent Earth has a few easy remedies that use chamomile tea, fresh ginger, and fresh lemons. If you take her advice and add lemon to your water, remember to peel your lemons if they’re not organic before adding them to water and tea. “The Complete Organic Pregnancy” by Alexandra Zissu and Deirdre Dolan recommends running cold water over your inner wrists for a quick fix, and taking your prenatal vitamin before bed since the iron can sometimes trigger morning sickness if taken in the morning.
Belly Cream/Stretch marks: One pricey product that's gaining popularity is belly cream. These jars of dense, moisturizing cream are marketed towards pregnant women as a way to keep their skin soft and stretch mark free. You can create your own belly cream at home using natural, one ingredient swaps. Organic Beauty Vixen recommends moisturizing with coconut oil, almond oil (avoid this if you have a nut allergy), or vitamin E oils after you shower. Shea butter, cocoa butter, and grapeseed oil also work well.
Pregnancy Pillows: If possible, avoid pregnancy pillows (full body, back, or nursing pillows) that use polyurethane foam or have a TB117 label. Some manufacturers state explicitly on their labels or on their website that their products do not contain halogenated flame retardants. Always check with the manufacturer before you buy.
You can also create a less expensive, DIY versions. This tutorial shows you how to create your own back pillow. eHow has a tutorial on how to create your own Snoogle cover, which you could use to make a full body pillow. Just fill the cover with clean fabric: You could recycle clothing, sheets, towels, or purchase fabric, pillows, etc. for filling. Try to use a nontoxic material for your cover, such as organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo. Make sure you’re using fragrance free, safe laundry detergents on your pillow cases. Try our Top 5 Tips for Safe Laundry to find buying tips and inexpensive DIY ideas.
Acne Treatments: According to BabyCenter, pregnancy can be a trigger for acne because of a pregnancy induced increase in levels of hormones called androgens. Make sure that the products you use to treat your acne are as safe and natural as possible. If you're buying skincare products, look them up first on the Skin Deep Database or on the Good Guide. You can also try a few, inexpensive and nontoxic DIY solutions:
- Face wash: Sometimes a simpler face wash can help clear up skin problems. An easy face wash replacement is a mix of one part warm water and one part unscented castille soap. Check the label when you’re buying liquid castile soap; Women’s Voices for the Earth recommends avoiding sodium lauryl (laureth) sulfate (SLS) and Diethanolamine (DEA).
- Acne treatment: Use this recipe from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to spot treat pimples, or try it a few times a week as a face mask. Mix one tablespoon baking soda with two tablespoons of water, and use the paste as an easy face mask.
- Toner: Organic Beauty Vixen has some amazing, budget-friendly swaps for commercial toner, including green tea, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. The Eco Diva recommends rubbing sliced strawberries, grapes, or cucumbers on your face for a natural toner, or trying sliced lemons if you have oily skin.
Prenatal Yoga: ***Always check with your doctor first to make sure that exercise and yoga are okay*** If you get the okay from your doctor, prenatal yoga can reduce aches and pains, offer some much needed relaxation, and can reduce hypertension and preterm labor. Many yoga studios offer deals, packages, or free classes for new members. If you can't make it to a studio, that's okay! There are easy, inexpensive ways to try yoga at home. Greenwala has a guide to using YouTube to find free yoga videos. Livestrong has a list of great tips on starting your prenatal yoga practice at home, including:
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid poses on your back (this goes for all exercise during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association)
- Try the cat/cow pose, which Yoga Journal highlights as being one of the most beneficial poses during pregnancy. Here's a picture and instructions for the cat pose; here's a picture and instructions for the cow pose.
If you're in the market for a new yoga mat and you can afford a PVC-free and phthalate-free mat, that's great! If not, that's okay too: Make your conventional yoga mat safer by letting if off gas outside or in a closed room with the windows open until it no longer has that plastic smell (this usually takes a few hours at a minimum, or up to a whole day). Keep your mat clean by using soap and warm water or a nontoxic all purpose spray. Try this easy all purpose spray: Combine equal parts warm water and white distilled vinegar.
More Non-toxic Tips Tuesdays:
- 5 DIY Nontoxic Baby Care Products
- Tips Tuesday: How to Make a Green Baby Registry
- How to Avoid Flame Retardants: Sing at the Sink, Listen to Bears, and More
Do you have any non-toxic pregnancy tips? Leave them in the comments, or visit our Facebook page and share them with the MomsRising community.