Environment and Products to Avoid During Pregnancy
There are many pollutants in the air, in your home and in businesses that could be harmful to you or your baby. Here are just a few of the most common environment and products to avoid during pregnancy, while pregnant and breastfeeding.
Pesticides and Pregnancy
There is a lot of information about the dangers of being exposed to pesticides during pregnancy. Pesticides and insecticides contain chemicals used to attack the nervous system of the insects. That is what causes them to die. During the first trimester of pregnancy, the nervous system is rapidly developing in the baby, so mothers definitely want to avoid any type of contact with pesticides during this time.
Pregnant women should avoid pesticides, but if they have to use them:
- Have someone else apply the chemical when needed.
- Avoid the immediate vicinity of where pesticides have been used within 24 hours.
- Remove food, dishes, towels, and utensils from the areas where the pesticides were/are used.
If you have to use pesticides yourself, you should wear gloves and clothing that can be washed immediately afterward. The soiled clothes should be kept separate from other clothes in the hamper until washed.
Cleaning Products and Pregnancy
A clean house is important for a safe and healthy pregnancy. However, many household cleaning products can be dangerous during pregnancy. For example, soaps and kitchen and bathroom cleaners can be dangerous if used incorrectly. If they are used correctly, most are safe, even when pregnant. It’s important that you read the label on all cleaning products carefully to make sure they are safe to use during pregnancy. If the label doesn’t have any safety information, you should not use the product until you can check the manufacturer’s website for product information. If you still can’t find it, you should not use the product. If you find product information that says it’s toxic (poisonous), do not use the product.
When possible, use natural cleaning products like baking soda to scrub greasy pots and pans, sinks, tubs and ovens. You can add vinegar and water to clean floors and countertops.
Products that have ammonia or chlorine (bleach) in them are not considered dangerous to mothers or the baby if used correctly, however the strong smell of these cleaners may cause nausea. When using these products:
- Open windows and doors.
- Always wear rubber gloves.
- Don’t mix cleaners, some mixtures, like ammonia and chlorine, can actually produce a deadly gas.
Skin Care Products and Pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones tend to cause acne flare ups in some women. You should talk to you care provider if you start breaking out. For example, prescription acne medicines, such as Accutane (isotretinoin), Retin-A (tretinoin), and tetracyclines can cause birth defects.
Some anti-wrinkle creams during pregnancy may also be discouraged. Many wrinkle creams contain retinol, which has been linked to birth defects. If you are planning on using an anti-wrinkle cream during pregnancy, bring that product to your care provider so they can review the contents.
Self-Tanners and Sunscreens
Some sunscreens include a chemical called oxybenzone and one recent study linked its absorption to low birth weight in baby girls. But this research was not conclusive enough to warrant an FDA warning label.
Sunscreen is very important because your hormones can make your skin more sensitive to sun damage than at other times. Experts suggest that mothers use non-chemical protection, like wearing a hat and other protective clothing while out in the sun. If that is not an option, you should try to use sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead as these ingredients filter out UV rays by sitting on top of the skin
There are important environment and products to avoid during pregnancy. Pesticides, cleaning products, acne treatments, anti-wrinkle creams, sunscreens, hair coloring, nail polish, and lead products are some of the most well known.
Teeth and Hair Products and Pregnancy
Hair Coloring Products
There have been no conclusive studies about the effects of hair coloring products on pregnant women, but some doctors do recommend avoiding them, at least during the first trimester when the developing baby is the most susceptible.
Some of these hair-coloring products contain ammonia, which can trigger nausea and skin irritation in the scalp. At the very least, you should be in a well-ventilated room and wearing gloves if applying it yourself.
Hairspray and Nail Polish
Other products to potentially avoid are hairspray and nail polish during pregnancy. Phthalates are chemicals that are found in many hair sprays and nail polishes and have been found to interfere with male sexual development in animal studies. Although no studies have been conducted that directly link this chemical to human risk, it’s something to consider avoiding.
There are phthalate-free nail polishes that can be used. At the very minimum polish nails in a well-ventilated area to limit your exposure. Once the polish dries, there’s little risk to the baby, since chemicals aren’t absorbed through the nails. For hairspray, experts suggest you use a mousse or gel instead. It’s safer because it is not inhaled like hairspray can be.
A lot of people also ask about teeth whitening and pregnancy. The active ingredient in teeth whiteners is Peroxide, which is believed to be safe for adults even if they accidentally swallow some during the cleaning process. However, it is unknown what affects, if any, they could have on babies during pregnancy. For this reason alone, it is wise to avoid these products while pregnant. Experts suggest sticking to a whitening toothpaste. Brush you teeth, floss, and see your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings.
Calcium, iron and vitamin c are all vital nutrients to help protect both you and your baby. They can be found in the following foods:
- Calcium – found in milk, yogurt, cheese, and green leafy vegetables like spinach.
- Iron — found in lean red meat, beans, cereals, and spinach.
- Vitamin C – found in oranges, green and red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, and juices.
Lead Exposure During Pregnancy
Lead exposure during pregnancy and breastfeeding can result in lasting adverse health effects independent of lead exposure during other life stages. Lead poisoning is caused by breathing or swallowing lead and it can pass from a mother to her unborn baby.
Too much lead during pregnancy accumulated in the mother’s body can:
- Put the mother at risk of miscarriage.
- Cause her baby to be born too early or too small.
- Hurt her baby’s brain, kidneys, and nervous system.
- Cause her child to have learning or behavior problems.
Lead can be found in:
- Paint and dust in older homes. Especially dust from home renovations and repairs.
- Candy, make up, glazed pots, and folk medicine made in other countries.
- Work like auto refinishing, construction, and plumbing.
- Soil and tap water.
Watch out for lead in your home. Most lead comes from paint in older homes. When old paint cracks and peels, it makes dangerous dust. The dust is small and it can be breathed in without being noticed. Home repairs like sanding or scraping paint can make dangerous lead dust. Pregnant women should not be in the house during cleaning, painting, or remodeling a room with lead paint. If you live in an older home, have it inspected by a licensed lead inspector.
Talk to your care provider about any medicines or vitamins you might be taking. Some home remedies and some dietary supplements actually have lead in them. It is also important that you tell your care provider about any strange cravings you have such as eating dirt or clay.
The information contained on this site should not be construed as medical advice nor should it replace the advice and individual care of your health care provider.
Hi, I’m Susan Finazzo! I’m a certified Birth Doula, Birth coach, and Childbirth Educator from Port St Lucie, Florida. In addition to that, I am also a Faith-Based Counselor. I have over 10 years experience helping women having a positive birthing experience and would love to make a difference on yours too!
What Environment And Products To Avoid During Pregnancy
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