Our collective consciousness appears to be shifting towards the acknowledgment that our green choices matter, for ourselves and the generations that follow. As integrative pediatricians focused on supporting and optimizing children’s health, we at GetzWell Pediatrics believe that green affirmations and their legacies are not only integral to the well-being of our world but also inextricably linked to the ultimate life-giving and life-sustaining environment — the womb.
Greening the Womb is a scientific and relational exploration of environmental factors that may influence fertility and conception as well as the gestational and perinatal periods of a baby’s development and may also impact a child’s long term health and wellness. Greening the Womb examines the influences of nutrition, toxic exposures, maternal well-being, prenatal and perinatal psychology as well as epigenetics in order to make recommendations that may help children achieve optimal health.
If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, even a few small changes can have a significant impact on your child and the planet. Here are some tips to get you started and we’d also be happy to create an individualized greening the womb plan for you.
The Power of Your Plate
- Eat as much organic food as possible and only organic meat, eggs and dairy. This cuts down on pesticide exposure and also the amount of petroleum used in agriculture.
- When you cannot afford organic produce or it’s unavailable in your community, use the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” to influence your purchases and minimize exposures. This is available at www.foodnews.org.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are important for babies’ brain development, which is more rapid in utero than at any other time in your child’s life. It’s challenging to get adequate amounts of omega-3s from fish, as many fish contain mercury and PCBs, which pregnant woman should avoid. A highly purified fish oil supplement is the safest way to ensure sufficient intake.
- Avoid canned goods, as cans are lined with BPA, a known endocrine disruptor.
- Adequate vitamin D, either in the form of safe sunlight or a supplement, is important for a healthy pregnancy. Low vitamin D levels during pregnancy have been associated with intrauterine growth retardation, premature labor and hypertension, all of which increase the risk of low birth weight which has been associated with obesity and Type 2 diabetes. 1 Low maternal vitamin D levels have also been associated with a greater risk of c-sections. 2
- Probiotics (the “bacteria of life”) which live in our intestinal tracts and offer much protection in the form of digestive and immune health may help prevent allergies and asthma in our children. 3
- Choose a water filter (like Brita) to provide purer drinking water and make sure to drink before you are thirsty.
Greening Your Home
- To reduce exposure to toxins, commit to using cleaning products that are free of chemicals such as bleach, petroleum products, phosphates, pthalates, dyes, etc.
- Leave windows cracked or open whenever possible. Studies have found that levels of several ‘organics’ average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors (from volatile organic compounds originating from paint, carpet, wood stains, varnishes, plastics, building materials, etc.).
- Replace PVC shower curtains. (As many as 100 toxic chemicals associated with adverse health effects are released into the air from PVC vinyl shower curtains.) Consumers should avoid vinyl shower curtains and instead choose curtains made of cotton, polyester, or nylon. 4
- Choose low or no VOC paint when renovating.
Skin and Personal Care Products
- Use the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic safety database to inform your choices of products, www.cosmeticsdatabase.com.
- Read labels: avoid products with ingredients that you can’t pronounce as well as parabens, “fragrance,” sodium laurel sulfate, triclosan.
- Minimize use of dark hair dyes, many of which contain coal tar, linked to cancer.
- Reduce or stop use of nail polish (which routinely contains ingredients linked to birth defects) and only apply in a well-ventilated room.
Call Us to Make Your Greening the Womb Appointment
During your appointment we will create an individualized plan to positively influence your growing baby’s lifetime health. Your child’s physical health and neurological development are our main concerns and we want to help you give him/her the best possible start to a vital and long life.
1. Early Human Dev. 2009 Apr; 85(4): 231-4; Epidemiology. 2009 Sep; 20(5): 720-6; J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Dec 23.
2. J Clin Endocrin Metab. 2008 Dec 23; J Clin Endocrin Metab. 2009 Mar; 94 (3): 940-5.
3. Clinical Pediatrics. 2006; 45(5): 405-410; Journal of Nutrition. 2005; 51: 1487-1493.
4. Envir Health Perspectives. 2003; 111: 1783-1785.