Reducing the chemical burden during pregnancy

Posted on March 15th, 2019

How to reduce your exposure to chemicals that could be harmful to your baby in pregnancy.

Reducing the chemical burden during pregnancy

As soon as that pregnancy test confirms you’re expecting, everything changes.

First up, you head to the pharmacy for folate, omegas and prenatal tablets. Then you start to question everything. Can I eat soft cheese and sushi, and what about drinking coffee and wine? Can I dye my hair, ride a rollercoaster or go waterskiing? Is nail polish safe? What about the salami on that takeaway pizza? “Is this safe?” becomes the lens we now filter everything through.

ALSO SEE: 10 things to avoid during pregnancy

Being pregnant means being extra careful about what you put in (and on) your body as your unborn baby is extremely vulnerable and more susceptible to toxins and other dangers.

For the most part, our bodies are incredibly efficient at keeping dangers away from the developing foetus. Perfectly healthy babies are born every day with no sign of any birth defects, but we are often unaware of the chemical burden they have been exposed to.

Unfortunately, the topic of chemical exposure in pregnancy is unchartered waters. Aside from the current known risks, what we’re dealing with is essentially a grey area in which the research is inconclusive (mainly because no pregnant woman would volunteer themselves for these kinds of tests).

Most known birth defects are due to genetic or other unpreventable causes, and are not necessarily due to the mom’s exposure to toxic chemicals. The lines are still blurry and there are many unanswered questions.

ALSO SEE: 1 in 15 babies are affected by a birth defect in South Africa

Watch out for these chemicals if you’re pregnant

Chemicals come in many forms – from paint fumes, to pesticides, synthetic food colourants, and BPA in plastic. There are also large numbers of harmful ingredients in conventional skincare products.

According to the Environmental Working Group, some of the ingredients to look out for on labels and which should be avoided are:

  • “Fragrance” (often contains phthalatesm which are hormone-disrupting plasticizers that the company is not required to disclose).
  • DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidzaolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15 (formaldehyde releasers).
  • Propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutyl-parabens (mimics oestrogen in the body).
  • Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone (preservatives).  (source)

When a pregnant or nursing woman uses products containing any of these substances, her baby is exposed to them too. All these chemicals cross the placenta through the umbilical cord and enter the baby’s bloodstream.

You can’t avoid everything, but being informed about potential dangers allows you to make empowered choices.

*Article by Pure Beginnings

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About Xanet Scheepers

Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day.