How to Stay Safe During Pregnancy: Toxic Chemical Edition

Toxic Chemicals During Pregnancy

Avoiding toxic chemicals is the best thing you can do during pregnancy. It has been discovered that many miscarriages and birth defects are the consequence of a toxic chemical. These chemicals may also be linked to early birth or low birth weight, cancer in childhood or adulthood and even learning disabilities or issues with critical thinking in childhood. Research is still being conducted to further comprehend the connection between toxic chemicals and these medical concerns. This is why it is important to be extremely vigilant on what you are exposing your body to, especially during pregnancy. Your ob-gyn is a great resource of support when it comes to avoiding toxic chemicals before and during pregnancy. 

Toxic chemicals don’t always “sound” toxic. They can be found in the food we eat and even the packaging the food comes in. They can be found in plastic, fast food wrappers, canned food and produce that is not organic. When pregnant, it is recommended to eat organic in order to avoid these chemicals. Some tips to avoid toxic chemicals include: heating up food in ceramic containers instead of plastic, making meals at home with fresh ingredients instead of eating out, when shopping for food choose the BPA-free cans and food labeled USDA organic and always wash your produce before eating. Many pregnant women ask if they can eat fish. The answer is yes, it is safe because fish has many nutrients for you and your baby, however there is a toxic chemical in some types fish called mercury. Some fish have more mercury levels than others, so it is very important you do your research before consuming fish during pregnancy. For example swordfish, bigeye tuna, marlin and shark are fishes to definitely avoid during pregnancy due to their mercury levels. If you like albacore, it is recommended to only consume 6oz a week to stay on the safe side. This is recommended for any fish consumption if you do not have any details on the fish, along with not eating any other fish that week. However, it is best to do your research beforehand.

Toxic chemicals aren’t only in the food we eat, but can be a part of our everyday regimen. It is important to stay away from personal care products with phthalates, parabens, oxybenzone and triclosan. To be extra cautious, you want to use products that say “fragrance free” not to be mistaken for “unscented” because they mean two very different things. Unscented may have a variety of scents put together to mask a scent, meanwhile fragrance free is the absence of scent, meaning it does not have any toxic chemicals making a scent. This goes for cleaning products as well. It is recommended to make your own cleaning products with items such as vinegar and baking soda, especially during pregnancy. If you still want to buy cleaning products it is recommended to buy the products that say “non toxic”. Product safety ratings are listed online, therefore it is best to do your research. Some things may be out of our control, such as toxic air pollution, extreme heat and dirty floors. These chemicals can be connected to preterm birth, so it is important to be cautious. When it comes to things out of your control, be on alert: follow local news about air quality and extreme heat to know when it is safe to be outdoors, avoid areas where people smoke, do not wear shoes indoors and wash your hands along with drinking a lot of water. This will minimize your risk of coming in contact with these toxic chemicals. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, remember your provider is here to help.

ACOG American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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