You are pregnant…congratulations! Like all moms, I’m sure you want to do everything possible to make sure that your baby is healthy, and going green during your pregnancy is a great way to ensure this. Here are 6 green living tips that will make a big difference in your life and your pregnancy. As of the writing of this article, I myself am almost 5-months pregnant and I feel great. Hopefully my tips will help you feel great too and help ensure that your baby is as healthy and happy as possible!
1. Eat green! You should be eating green both literally and figuratively. Get as many organic, whole foods into your diet as possible (whole foods mean foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.) Try and cut out any calories that are not filled with nutrients as they will not nourish the baby but WILL lead to excess weight gain. Eating healthy is probably the single most important thing you can do for your baby while you are pregnant.1 It’s also supposed to be helpful in mitigating some of the “symptoms” of pregnancy. From my own personal experience (again, I’m just a sample of one), I have had no issues with nausea or cravings, no “pregnancy constipation” (which is caused by our digestion slowing down to squeeze the most nutrients out of our food) and my weight gain has been slow and steady. Also, when it comes to eating green you should literally be eating green foods. Folic acid, which is very important for avoiding certain birth defects, is easily found in most green vegetables.2 I can tell you from personal experience, I’m a mostly-raw vegetarian, and when I had my blood tested my folic acid was very high. In fact, all of my blood results were very good except for Vitamin D, which brings me to point #2.
2. Check your Vitamin D. When you first get pregnant your doctor will do a blood work-up on you. Be sure to ask her if your work-up includes a test for Vitamin D also known as “the sunshine vitamin.” The studies on Vitamin D deficiency are pretty new (about 3-years old) but compelling and especially important for a developing baby. Vitamin D is actually more of a hormone than a vitamin and its deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, depression, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, parathyroid problems, immune function and even weight loss.3 Even though I live in sunny Los Angeles and walk my dog for 20-minutes every day, my Vitamin D test came back severely deficient. There is talk about raising the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D, but one thing to keep in mind is that if you are dark-skinned, as I am, than you need even more sunshine since the melanin in our skin blocks the UVB rays that synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight. There are also Vitamin D supplements that you can take orally as well. Honestly, EVERYONE should be tested for Vitamin D deficiency. You’ll probably be hearing more and more about this as doctors are just now starting to realize how important Vitamin D is for our bodies. After giving me my test results my doctor had himself tested and was shocked at how low his own Vitamin D was.
3. Forget registering for your baby shower…get hand-me-downs! Kids grow quickly, in fact; they grow so quickly that many of the products they used can be passed down to many other children. My goal is to not buy anything new except for whatever fabrics or paints I may need for the baby’s room and maybe the occasional “special event” outfit (those holiday clothes are super cute!) As soon as my husband and I decided to get pregnant we started spreading the word that we would take any hand-me-downs that were 1) not subject to recalls, 2) in good condition and 3) made out of natural materials (except for car seats and strollers.) So far we have gotten 2 cribs (one is for my parent’s house who live very near by), an organic crib mattress, lots of cotton bedding, a solid wood rocking horse, a solid wood high chair, a solid wood rocking chair, a glider, 3 car seats, 2 strollers, lots of books and a changing table. We haven’t received any clothes yet because we don’t know the sex of the baby, but there is lots of that on the way too. Ask and you shall receive, it’s amazing!
4. Use green paints in the baby’s room. Most people end up painting their baby’s room. If you do, be sure to look for paints that are “no-VOC” or even all natural paints like Old Fashioned Milk Paint, made with lime and milk protein. These paints will not “off-gas” into the baby’s room creating a better breathing environment for your child. This is especially important for newborns since their lungs are the last thing to develop and will continue to grow as they grow .4 AFM Safecoat and Yolo Colorhouse are excellent no-VOC paints that cost approximately $50/per gallon which is the same as other “high-end” paints.
5. Eliminate chemicals from your life. One of the most dangerous places in most homes is that cabinet under the kitchen sink with all the cleaning products. Make an effort to eliminate chemicals as much as possible from your life. Switch to earth and people friendly cleaners like baking soda and white vinegar or to brands such as Bi-o-kleen, Bon Ami and Begley’s Best to name a few. I try to buy locally so most of the brands I mention are West Coast based. If you are on the East Coast then Seventh Generation is an excellent resource for you. If a product smells toxic to you, it probably is toxic, and you might as well get rid of this stuff before the baby is born! Products to definitely get rid of include anything with heavy perfumes (often these masks dangerous chemicals like as phthalates), and anything with chlorine and ammonia in them. Also, be sure to switch to safer insecticides and pesticides such as boric acid and neem oil for around your house and in your garden.
6. Exercise. Exercise is great for building and maintaining muscle tone and stamina, for helping to moderate pregnancy weight gain and for helping to improve your mood among other things.5 It can also help with constipation brought on by pregnancy!6 Regular exercise, along with a good diet, is said to help with many of the “symptoms” of early pregnancy, and from my own experience, except for occasional fatigue I have had NO pregnancy symptoms. Now, if you weren’t a marathoner before your pregnancy, now is definitely not the time to start training for one, but getting regular movement is very important for your pregnancy. Maintaining your stamina is especially important if you are going to go for natural child birth (which I am and will be sure to write about when it happens) since labor can be a very tiring experience and you want to be sure you have reserves of strength so that when your midwife or doctor says “you can start pushing” you still have the energy to push. Walking is a great, low-impact exercise. My midwife advised me to get up to 3-miles a day (about an hour of vigorous walking) if I could. At this point in my pregnancy I have been able to maintain my pre-pregnancy exercise regimen of yoga, weights, walking and elliptical training with no modifications.
Remember, every person and every pregnancy is different, so be sure to consult your medical professional before making changes to your diet and/or exercise regimes. The information in this article should not be taken as medical advice.
Alegre Ramos is a LEED AP interior designer and green living expert based in the San Fernando Valley. Her store, Green and Greener, is located in Valley Village and online at http://green-and-greener.com. Stay up to date on important green info by signing-up for her Twitter feed http://twitter.com/greenandgreener. Copyright Green and Greener 2010. All rights reserved.