Today I went to my very first baby shower. (Thank goodness that somewhere in the past year my circle of friends expanded to include procreators. In retrospect, perhaps the universe was trying to tell me something — it knew my clock was ticking before I ever did.) The lovely mom-to-be is a former co-worker with a wicked sense of humor (and a shared love of margaritas). So I thought it would be entirely appropriate to plant a mini bottle of tequila in her gift basket amongst the numerous Weleda baby products from her registry. I was slightly worried that it would raise some eyebrows; maybe a Sigg bottle would have been more appropriate. Turns out I wasn’t so out of line — another guest brought her a bar in a basket, complete with full-size bottle of tequila, glasses, and some limes. The whole room got a good laugh. “Yes I’ll be having a natural childbirth,” the mom of honor joked. “Just please allow me to self-medicate afterwards.”
So tequila is obviously out while expecting, along with a slew of other things. But there is a whole big grey area of probably shouldn’ts for the pregnant set — just because something is “good for you” doesn’t mean that it’s safe when you’re growing a human. I find that a good rule of thumb is: keep it clean. That applies to all aspects of self-care, from how you feed your body to how you wash it. Now is the time to start taking care of yourself, ’cause taking care of you is taking care of baby. And if you plan on raising Baby green, it’s good to start building your arsenal of eco-friendly practices now.
Three suggestions for eco-savvy pregnancy pampering:
• Take a look at one of your bath and body products. How long is the list of ingredients? How many of them can you even pronounce, let alone know what they are? Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and according to the Environmental Working Group the average American exposes that organ to 126 different chemicals a day in our quest to moisturize, cleanse, and deodorize. To minimize this exposure, try to use products with minimal ingredients (and they should be readily identifiable). This will be especially important for baby whose delicate skin is super sensitive. Check out www.cosmeticsdatabase.com or www.evo.com, on-line databases that rate products on their “greenness.”
• I’m frequently miffed at the price of organic food, especially produce. But when you’re pregnant, it’s really worth the extra few dollars. Here’s why: Conventionally grown fruits and veggies are exposed to massive quantities of pesticides and chemicals, which upon consumption will be transferred right to your baby. When produce is organic you know it’s grown au naturel, and organic meat and dairy is going to be free of hormones, is leaner, and has more omega-3s (which are essential for baby’s brain development). So while you’re taking advantage of all the vitamins and minerals a balanced diet has to offer, make sure they’re the cleanest available (always wash your produce, too, organic or not). Check out www.foodnews.org for a helpful guide to “safe” produce. (It’s also worth mentioning that shopping local and in-season is a great way to maximize the nutrition you get from your food, as well as helping support local agri-business.)
• The average person should drink at least eight glasses of water a day (that’s 64 ounces); when you’re pregnant anywhere from two to three liters is recommended. In the early months the water you drink is helping to replenish the amniotic fluid in the womb (until about 20 weeks when the baby starts making it herself), but throughout the pregnancy staying hydrated is extremely important. It helps keep your skin moist, keeps headaches at bay, and can help ward off dreaded water retention (read: cankles). But like the food you eat, you want your water to be clean. Know the source of your water, and how it’s processed. Invest in a purifier, just to be safe, and eschew plastic water bottles for stainless steel or glass (plastic often contains BPA which mimics estrogen and can be disruptive to developing fetuses).
For more eco-baby related information, including studies and articles, visit www.ewg.org.