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What to Inspect When

Expecting A Handy

Health Checklist for Pregnancy

by Amy Linn T

alk about a double-whammy. Pregnancy is not only the most critical time for establishing a new baby’s well-being, it’s also the time when mom is especially vulnera- ble to the stew of harmful chemicals in the world; toxins that are increasingly making their way into women’s bodies, wombs and breast milk.

The good news is that mom can take care of herself and her coming little one simply by practicing a few of these 10 steps. Making a vow now of progress, not perfection, ensures a good beginning.

1. Say yes to organic food Switching to more organic foods will reduce the whole family’s exposure to pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, nitrites and more. Going natural also provides super-nutrients that can help reduce cancer risks and boost overall health. Plus, babies en utero tend to develop a fondness for the things mom eats during pregnancy, establishing healthier eating habits for life. Admittedly, a totally organic lifestyle can be pricey. It’s best to buy organic versions of the foods we eat most. Use organic, low-fat dairy and buy organic varieties of the produce with the highest loads of insecticides, including peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawber-

20 Hudson County

ries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, pears, spinach and potatoes. (See Food- Organic ketchup offers the added benefit of the ultra-healthful antioxidant, lycopene. Five-cent solution: Replace one more item on the shopping list with its organic counterpart on each trip to the grocer’s.

2. Beauty without chemicals Choose natural or organic personal care products, including shampoos and conditioners, soaps, deodorants, perfumes, makeup and moisturizers. Conventional brands of cosmetics and lotions often contain noxious chemi- cals like phthalates, which have been linked to birth defects. A simple way to avoid exposure is to shun products that list fragrance as an ingredient. In the hair and nail department, avoid hair dyes and nail polishes with toxic components, such as coal tar or formaldehyde. Instead, choose green products at the local natural food store, or shop online at Aubrey Organics, Burt’s Bees, Terressentials, Jason Natural and similar sites. (Visit TheGreenGuide. com and Five-cent solution: Instead of slathering on makeup, take advantage of that mother-to-be glow.

3. Cotton to organic cotton By some estimates, conventional

cotton accounts for 10 percent of the world’s pesticide use and 25 percent of insecticide use, making it one of the most toxic crops on earth. Help weave a healthier world by buying organic cotton towels, linens, mattress pads, encasements and mattresses. Newborns sleep about 12 hours a day, with their little noses, eyes and mouths pressed against the bedding. Find green bedding at The Organic Mattress Store, The Natural Sleep Store, Good Night Naturals and others. Five-cent solution: At a mini- mum, wash conventional linens in nontoxic laundry products.

4. Furnish wisely Avoid furnishings using polyurethane foam, which is often treated with toxic fire retardants called PBDEs (polybro- minated diphenyl ethers). Take a pass on those cute foam chairs for children, too. As the foam ages, it breaks down and releases PBDEs into the air, which eventually wind up in bodies and breast milk.

Five-cent solution: Shop at secondhand stores for lower prices on good products that have had time to off-gas nasty fumes.

5. Meet the new-old rules

Don’t smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, use illicit drugs, guzzle caffeinated drinks or clean the kitty litter. Cat feces can contain an organism called toxo- plasma, which is particularly hazardous for pregnant women and can, in rare cases, present problems for the fetus. Avoid touching the face while garden- ing and always wash up afterward, in case cats also are dirtying the soil. Five-cent solution: Ask others to clean the cat box, or wear rubber gloves.

6. Shun mercury

At all costs, avoid eating fish high in mercury, a potent neurotoxin known to cause developmental and health prob- lems for fetuses and children under the age of 6. Common high-mercury fish include king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish and tuna (big-eye or ahi). Limit intake of bluefish, grouper, Chilean sea bass, canned albacore tuna, yellowfin tuna and Spanish and gulf mackerel. Also watch out for sushi, which has murky

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