Our goal in this Pregnancy Essentials series is to take you by the hand and guide you through the whole process, from prenatal vitamins to getting ready for the hospital. We'll share with you the things you'll need at each stage, along with product recommendations and helpful tips, all from BabyGearLab's founder and board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Though this is a long article, by using the Table of Contents links, you can go directly to the section most relevant for you and your baby at any time.
Pregnancy Essentials by Stage
Here are the major pregnancy stages in ages we'll cover in this article. We encourage you to skip ahead to the part that is most relevant for you:
You may also be interested in our companion article, Baby Essentials for the First Year, especially the first section which covers being in the hospital with your baby.
The experience of getting pregnant can be vastly different from woman to woman. Some become pregnant at the drop of a hat or accidentally. For others, time and patience can become a perpetual mantra, one that may be combined with medical intervention. No matter how each woman's journey starts, pregnancy is an amazing ride of personal and physical growth as another human being (or more than one!) grows inside her womb. Nothing in this world is cooler than this complete miracle of life. As such, there is no doubt that pregnancy is an unforgettable moment in time.
This extensive article seeks to provide women with essential health and product-related information for use during pregnancy with the intention making the experience a smoother, more comfortable journey from the twinkle in your eye to holding that sweet baby in your arms for the first time.
Prime Time: Ovulation
- Ovulation Tracker — Using an ovulation tracker can speed up the process of getting pregnant for many women. It will track your LH surge and tell you when you are most fertile and likely to get pregnant should you have intercourse. Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test is the cream of the crop when it comes to ovulation trackers. They offer a basic version as well as more complex options depending on what you are looking for.
Doctor's Visit and Vitamins
If you are taking prescription medications, it is a good idea to meet with your doctor before getting pregnant to see if they are allowed during pregnancy. In addition, he/she can discuss important preventive pregnancy basics with you like the following:
- Folic Acid — Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) are the leading cause of congenital central nervous system malformation resulting from the failure of the neural tube to close during days 21 to 28 of pregnancy either at the upper (anencephaly) or lower (spina bifida) ends of the brain and spinal cord. Incidence of NTDs in North America ranges from 0.4 to 4 per 1,000 live births. Folic acid supplementation of 400 mcg/day like that found in Nature's Bounty Folic Acid, for 2-3 months prior to conception is an important preventive measure against NTDs. This recommendation is in addition to what is naturally present in a varied diet. Dietary folate is also an important supplemental source abundant in leafy greens (particularly spinach), vegetables (especially asparagus and brussels sprouts), fruits, beans, peas, nuts, dairy, eggs, fish, poultry, meat, and grains. So, chow down on some big salads, sautéed spinach, and overall healthy eating…your baby will love you for it. During pregnancy, increasing folic acid supplementation to 600 micrograms/day is important to accommodate the rapid cell growth of your growing baby. Many folic acid supplements, including prenatal vitamins, include a higher level of 800 micrograms/day.
The acceptable upper limit of folic acid for a woman of 18+ years is 1,000 micrograms/day.
- Prenatal Vitamins — If you are taking a prenatal vitamin, it should contain enough daily folic acid along with a complete vitamin profile that includes Iron, Vitamin D, and Calcium. Some women have difficulty with prenatal vitamins causing nausea. If this is a problem for you, try taking them with a meal or try a whole food based one. For a great over the counter option, we recommend Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin, a whole food based prenatal that is a bit easier on the tummy. One tablet contains Folic Acid 800 micrograms, Iron 30 mg, Calcium 200 mg, and Vitamin D2 400 IU (Ergocalciferol).
- Calcium Supplement — Because a basic prenatal like the above Rainbow Light is often shy of adequate Calcium, and if you don't feel that your diet is providing you this important nutrient for bone health, consider Rainbow Light Food-Based Calcium. Although the recommended 1 tablet/day is a pretty hefty size, it will boost your intake of calcium an extra 500mg/day as well as provide you with an extra 500 IU of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) to supplement the prenatal.
It is important not to go overboard on Vitamin D. A maximum oral intake of 1,000 IU of Vitamin D a day is typically sufficient.
- DHA — DHA contains Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for mom and particularly good for a developing fetus' brain and eye development. Because fish oil can contain mercury and other heavy metals, it is reasonable to opt for a plant-based DHA, our favorite is Spectrum Prenatal DHA.
- Eliminate — There are several things women should eliminate when trying to conceive or when pregnant for baby's health. No alcohol (yes, that includes wine ladies). No energy drinks (holy caffeine Batman!). No smoking. No drugs (need we say it?). No raw fish (yes, this includes sushi). No unpasteurized soft cheeses (bye-bye brie, hello parmesan). No deli meats. And lastly, no cleaning the kitty litter box (good job for Dad!).
- Reduce — There are still other things you should limit when pregnant or trying to conceive both for your health as well as baby's. Expectant mothers should limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams per day, which is about one 12-ounce cup of coffee. While some mothers have been known to drink more, doctors feel it is best to limit the amount given that everything mom consumes will eventually make it to baby. Moms should also limit over the counter medications and should always read labels and discuss medications with their doctor prior to consumption. Also limit exposure to paint, cleaning products, and other products that emit potentially noxious fumes (see our living green recommendations below).
Though dental health may seem like an unrelated topic to pregnancy, allow us to explain why it is very important. Periodontal disease can cause preterm labor. So, to help keep that bun in the oven until its due date, get your check-ups and follow your dentist's recommendations, and if you can, try to get in for your checkup and dental work prior to becoming pregnant. The following are great hygiene helpers:
- Toothpaste — Kiss My Face Anticavity Fluoride Whitening Gel, offered in a fresh and cool mint gel, this fluoride paste doesn't contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or artificial ingredients, colors, or sweeteners. It is a healthy way to remove plaque build-up, whiten teeth, and freshen breath.
- Dental Floss — If you use waxed floss, you may want to consider switching to unwaxed option like POH No Wax Classic 490 Nylon Floss for a better clean. While waxed does a decent job of removing caught food particles from in between teeth, it doesn't remove plaque as well as unwaxed floss. So while something as small as switching the type of floss you use may seem trivial, it can make a huge difference at your regular check-ups.
- Teeth Cleaners — A great compliment to unwaxed floss are GUM Soft-Picks. They successfully remove stuck food that floss may not have captured as well as work on plaque removal. They can also prove to be a handy tool in your purse for on the go cleaning.
- Xylitol — Last in your dental armamentarium, xylitol-containing mints and gum have been shown to help reduce decay. Having xylitol spread around from purse to kitchen to car can help you keep your pearly whites pristine. Epic Xylitol Gum is a tasty option that is easy to chew. While this type of gum has a limited flavor life, this options seems to last longer than most brands.
Xylitol can be toxic to dogs and other pets, so be sure to keep these items safety tucked away and out of the reach of curious furry friends.
Creating a Toxin-Free, Green Home
This topic truly requires its own dedicated article and is on our bucket list. In the meantime, we'd like to provide you with some great resources that we have found very helpful in our personal pursuit toward green living. The Environmental Working Group has list of the Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disrupters which we highly recommend reading. Another resource we recommend is the book Healthy Child, Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home.
Green Commercial Cleaners
Though effective in cleaning, traditional household cleaners such as Clorox, 409, and Lysol leave chemical scents and residues in their wake that trickle into the water supply and cause direct harm to wildlife. Fortunately, green household cleaning products are widely available such as Babyganics, Ecover, Method, Seventh Generation, and Meyers Clean Day so you can find a great green cleaner in just about every budget range that works well and doesn't harm the environment.
- All Purpose — Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Multi Surface Concentrate For everything from floors to countertops including sealed stone and granite, this cleaner works well for almost every application.
- Powder Cleanser — A great powder cleanser is Bon Ami Powder Cleanser, it is Hypoallergenic and contains no chlorine, perfume, or dye. This cleaner is biodegradable, doesn't scratch, and is made with 5 natural ingredients: limestone (calcium carbonate), feldspar, surfactant (from coconut and corn oil), soda ash, and baking soda.
- Toilet — Method AntiBac Toilet is an environmentally friendly, antibacterial toilet cleaner that uses citric acid as its active ingredient. Here, spearmint is combined with peppermint, menthol, and geranium to deliver a pleasantly clean scent that is tolerable during pregnancy.
- Air Freshener — Air Scense Natural Air Freshener is an all natural non-aerosol air freshener formulated from essential oils and plant derivatives. If you simply must have a product to help neutralize odors in your home we suggest using an all natural option made from essential oils. This one comes in a variety of scents, has no artificial ingredients or synthetic perfumes, and the oils neutralize odors.
- Glass — While the all purpose cleaner mentioned above might work on glass, we like the BabyGanics Multi Surface Cleaner for cleaning glass products and mirrors. This cleaner does a nice job of cleaning without leaving any residue or streak marks behind. BabyGanics is a gentle plant-based product safe enough to use around your baby but still powerful enough to clean effectively. This cleaner is safe for all sealed hard surfaces including glass, countertops, walls, floors, and painted surfaces. The formula is non-toxic, with no ammonia, bleach, phosphates, phthalates, sulfates, artificial fragrances or dyes. If all that wasn't fancy enough, it has also never been tested on animals.
- Laundry — Nellie's All Natural Laundry Soda is a highly concentrated, all natural product that works well in all water temperatures, and leaves clothes feeling soft and smelling clean. It takes just 1 tablespoon of this good stuff for a whole load, and the ingredients are environmentally friendly so you can feel good and save money.
- Stain Remover — Biokleen Bac Out Stain and Odor Remover contains strains of live enzyme producing cultures for multiple uses. The product continues to produce enzymes that attack organic waste and odors until they are gone. Food grade lime extract eliminate stains and odors related to pet stains, diapers, coffee, tea, berries, chocolate, ink, grease, and oil. Bac Out is environmentally friendly with no negative effects on water or wildlife. It has no harsh fumes and is gentle to sinuses and sensitive skin. It contains no glycol ether, alcohol, chlorine, petrochemicals, phosphate, MEA, EDTA, nonyl phenol, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, artificial fragrance, colors or preservatives.
- Bleach Alternative — Traditional chlorine-based bleach certainly deodorizes and whitens, but it is not healthy for the body or the environment. It poses an extreme hazard to children if ingested or inhaled. A great alternative to remove both stains and odors, as well as to whiten whites and brighten color fabrics, is to use a non-chlorine based oxygen powder such as Charlie's Soap Oxygen Bleach. This takes the toxic out of the equation and leaves you with a product you can feel better about keeping in your home. Charlie's is ultra-concentrated chlorine free bleach that whitens whites, is non-toxic and clean rinsing.
- Dishwasher Detergent — Grab Green Automatic Dishwashing Detergent is a good green alternative to the usual chemical laden variety of the standard fare. This formulation will clean dishes, remove grease, and leave a spotless finish. The formula is made using naturally-derived ingredients that are non-toxic, free of phosphates, chlorine and dyes, which means dishes a free of any potentially harmful residue. This product is also fragrance free and imparts no residual flavor to the plate or future food contents.
- Dishwasher Rinse Aid — Some modern dishwashers require a rinse agent to complete the cleaning cycle. If yours is one of these, you might think there isn't an eco-friendly option on the market because they are difficult to find. Ecover Rinse Aid prevents streaking and calcium deposits with no chemical residue. This product is made using plant based ingredients that biodegrade quickly and completely with minimum impact on wildlife and water life. Ecover Rinse Aid is safe for septic tanks and was developed with no animal testing.
- Dish Soap — Available in 7 scents using high quality, certified and organic essential oils (lavender, peppermint, almond, citrus orange, eucalyptus, rose, tea tree, and unscented) including an unscented formula, Dr. Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap is a concentrated all-purpose liquid soap that is appropriate for most cleaning tasks. Scrub the counter! Use it in the shower to wash your hair and body! Wash pots, pans, sippy cups, or hands in the sink! You can even use it to wash stuff outside on a camping trip because its completely biodegradable! The ingredient list reads refreshingly pure with a base of natural oils (coconut, palm kernel, olive, jojoba, and hemp), tocopherol (vitamin E), and essential oil mixed with water, citric acid, and potassium hydroxide; the later of which is used up in the process of the oils saponifying to create liquid soap and glycerin. As such, potassium hydroxide is devoid in the final product, as described in the website's ingredient list.
If your budget is tight, you can easily make your own cleansers via simple recipes on the internet or in books such as The Organically Clean Home (available free for Kindle subscribers) and creating a great natural fragrance with essential oils. The following simple ingredients can be combined to do the trick with a little extra elbow grease:
- Spray Bottles — Sally's Organics Glass Spray Bottle is available in clear, blue, or brown glass. These bottles offer a nice presentation, but a little extra care will need to be taken to prevent them from breaking. If a cleaning solution contains an essential oil, the colored glass options will help it stay effective longer by limiting exposure to direct sunlight.
- Scrub Brush — Full Circle Grunge Buster Grout and Tile Scrub Brush can help with the shower and bathtub cleaning process by giving you a tool that increases your scrubbing power.
- Distilled White Vinegar — A staple of any good at home cleaning kit, white vinegar can be used by itself or in conjunction with other ingredients to get cleaning done quickly depending on your needs. White vinegar cuts grease, removes mildew, eliminates odors, some stains, and wax build-up. Plus, it is an absolute must have for cleaning most humidifiers properly.
- Baking Soda — aka Sodium Bicarbonate, Arm and Hammer Baking Soda can be used to clean, deodorize, soften water, and scour. This product is good for loads of cleaning applications from brushing teeth to deodorizing stinky kitchen drains. It also does a good job scrubbing tubs and keeping your refrigerator smelling fresh.
- Washing Soda — aka Sodium Carbonate, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. Although it is possible to make your own washing soda by dry baking it in the oven to release steam and carbon dioxide. If it is readily available at your grocer, it is definitely the easiest way to go as washing soda is somewhat caustic and should be handled with gloves. It can not be ingested like baking soda that is regularly used for baking, and it should be not come in contact with bare skin. However, if you need something with a little more oomph, then this is a good choice. Super Washing Soda adds extra cleaning and freshening power for tough jobs. This product is all natural and works as a detergent booster for laundry.
- Borax — Borax is a great cleaning tool to have in your natural cleaning toolbox. 20 Mule Team Borax works as a natural laundry booster and multipurpose household cleaner. It can make your china sparkle and it helps eliminate stains and odors.
- Corn Starch — You probably already knew that corn starch is good for thickening soup and gravy, but you probably didn't know it is also good for cleaning windows, polishing furniture, and shampooing. Rapunzel Organic Corn Starch is a nice non-GMO option that is certified organic.
- Lemon — Lemon is good for more than just offering a fresh scent to cleaning. It is a strong natural food acid that works effectively against most household bacteria.
- Orange Essential Oil — Aura Cacia Sweet Orange Essential Oil can help lend a nice fresh scent to any at home cleaning product. Some also believe that orange essential oil can be uplifting, refreshing, and cheering; not a bad bonus for cleaning the house.
Personal Care Products
Did you know that mainstream personal care products typically contain loads of chemicals that aren't so good for you? For instance, hair and skin products are no strangers to synthetic chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, and phosphate. Also, did you know that mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc and titanium dioxide are better for you and the environment than chemical-based ones?! Antibacterial liquid hand soaps are bad news as well because they typically use triclosan as an active ingredient, which has been found to be yuck-o.
Phasing these things out of your life is definitely a step in the right direction. Why bother? Because skin is the body's largest organ with incredible potential to absorb the things we put onto it, just as our internal body does with what we ingest or breathe. We are big on label reading for personal care products you use both during and outside of pregnancy and recommend that you do the same.
With just a little extra know how and effort, it is easy to make the change to using healthier personal care products. It just takes a shift in mindset, some dedicated label reading, and a commitment to purchasing healthier products, much the same as a change in diet dictates. Focus on replacing one product at a time so you don't feel overwhelmed and to ensure it doesn't cause any skin reactions.
A great resource to begin learning about and researching better products is the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database run by the Environmental Working Group. In general, finding products with a rating of either 1 or 2 will be a huge step in the right direction. Give it a whirl and look up some of your most commonly used personal care products to get the lowdown. Beware, it is very easy to get really bogged down in the details, which is fine, but much like Pinterest, it can get kind of addictive!
educate yourself regarding the use of essential oils during pregnancy. It is generally recommended to steer clear of them during the first trimester, but certain ones are fine for use on the skin in dilution in the second and third trimesters. However, particular essential oils must be avoided during pregnancy as they can cause uterine contractions and potentially miscarriage. Common ones include rosemary, clary sage, cinnamon, clove, wintergreen, spanish or french lavender (lavandula stoechas), parsley, and thyme. (In fact, Simon and Garfunkel's third album and eternal song "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme" will help you remember much of this list.) You would be surprised how many products contain rosemary essential oil due to its great antioxidant property. However, we found conflicting opinions on whether or not it has preservative or antibacterial qualities. Although essential oils and extracts such as rosemary and clary sage are likely in small concentration within personal care products, it is better to play it safe and avoid them altogether.
Common essential oils that get the green light in the second and third trimesters are common lavender (lavandula angustifolia and lavandula latifolia), sweet orange, grapefruit, eucalyptus, chamomile, tea tree, sandalwood, patchouli, rose, and rosewood.
During pregnancy and lactation, it is important to use high quality essential oils such as those from Aura Cacia. They should never be taken internally or used undiluted. Over large areas, topical use should be limited to 1% dilution and 3% dilution for small areas; dilution can be done with a carrier oil such as extra virgin olive, grapeseed, sweet almond, calendula, avocado and jojoba. Daily use is not advised; rather occasional use for nausea, insomnia, or fatigue is best. Lastly, ensure that all essential oils are well out of reach of children.
We have used all of the personal care products listed below as well as many of their competitors throughout the years and have scoured each ingredient list. Each and every one passes some pretty serious muster as well as the sensitive skin challenge. Of course, sensitivities can vary, so always spot treat to begin to make sure you do not have any sort of reaction before going hog wild. While it is difficult to avoid commonly used preservatives such as potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and phenoxyethanol in absolutely everything, we have sought to avoid them as much as possible in our search for the holy grail of skin care. And, of course, all of the products below are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petrolatum, and formaldehyde.
- Make-Up Removal — Removing makeup shouldn't be a big ordeal or introduce unnecessary chemicals to your skin. We like the Natracare Organic Make-Up Removal Wipes for getting the gunk off at the end of the day.
- Face Wash — Face wash comes in different forms. If you're looking for a gel type product we like Acure Facial Cleansing Gel. It cleans up the dirt and oil, removes makeup, and leaves your skin radiant and refreshed. If you prefer a more traditional bar soap, the Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Face and Body Bar is an all natural soap that lathers thick and rich to clean, moisturize, repair, and protect skin from cell damage.
- Milk Bath — Aura Cacia Soothing Organic Milk and Oat Bath is a nice soaking product that helps muscles relax, makes skin soft, and some even report morning sickness relief while using it. We think its nice to pamper yourself, and this all natural product is a good choice for getting in a little skin care and relaxation at the same time. Think of it as multi-tasking at its finest.
- Soap — Happy Mama Body Wash is a great alternative to using ordinary soap and is non-toxic and smells great. While we can't guarantee that you'll be happy when using it, we can bet you won't feel worse.
- Shampoo and Conditioner — alba Botanica Hawaiian Shampoo and alba Botanica Hawaiian Conditioner are available in 6 "flavors": Drink It Up Coconut Milk for moisturize, Body Builder Mango for volume, Gloss Boss Honeydew for shine, So Smooth Gardenia for frizz control, Real Repair Cocoa Butter for damaged hair, and Colorific Plumeria for color-treated hair, so there is definitely a solution for everyone. Void of sulfates, salts, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, and formaldehyde, 100% vegetarian ingredients, and without animal testing, it is a crowd pleaser that leaves hair smelling fantastic.
- Deodorant — A new natural favorite is the Crystal Essence Lavender & White Tea Roll-On Mineral Deodorant which is free of aluminums, parabens, and phthalatess and is hypoallergenic. Though you'll need to wait a minute for it to dry fully before getting dressed, it isn't sticky and doesn't have issues with either residue or staining. For another option, try EO Organic Deodorant in either Lavender or Vetiver scents which is a natural, spray-on deodorant that can last most of the day and keep you smelling fresh. We suggest the Lavender or Vetiver scents.
- Non-petroleum ointment — Thirsties Booty Love Yes, this is in fact a cloth-safe diaper cream. However, it a great petroleum-free substitute with superb moisturizing qualities and shouldn't be undervalued as a great facial tool for makeup removal and moisturizing properties.
- Facial Toner — All four types of Alaffia Facial Toner are good to go for pregnant women. This 100% Certified Fair Trade product is a balancing toner that provides protection against environmental damage. It is formulated to naturally balance skin's pH to maximize hydration, and it uses natural scents with Ylang Flower Essential Oil and Vanilla Extract.
- Facial Oil — Facial oil?!? Are we kidding? With potential pregnancy breakouts and raging hormones wreaking havoc on your face you might think we are a little crazy. However, the Naturopathica Rosehip Seed Regenerating Facial Oil is a blend of seed oils that promote firmer, younger-looking skin. Ingredients that incude Rosehip Seed Oil and Geranium Oil help slow the signs of premature aging, and who doesn't love that?
- Face Cream — For daytime use we like Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light. It has a light rose scent and helps soothe and protect skin without creating a greasy feel. It helps decrease red and irritated skin and restores moisture to stressed out skin caused by hormone changes during pregnancy. After a long day we like Dr. Hauschka Night Serum for bedtime. Similar to its little brother, it helps keep skin soft, smooth, and looking good.
- Eye Cream — Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Age Defying Eye Cream is a dream for helping tired eyes look better. This product smooths fine lines and wrinkles, and provides firm support with lasting hydration. It is 100% natural, soothes sun-damaged skin, hydrates, softens, and rejuvenates to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This cream is good for all skin types.
- Body Moisturizers — Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Body Lotion is one awesome body lotion that both moisturizes without a greasy residue and smells heavenly. Blending rosehip and argan oils with both fair trade shea and cocoa butters and aloe vera, it nourishes hungry skin even for those living in dry climates.
- Hand Cream — Constant hand washing and worrying about germs can cause even healthy skin to turn dry and cracked. Burt's Bees Ultimate Care Hand Cream is good for keeping hands smooth and repairing damage from drying hand soaps and cleaning products. If being pregnant has you diligently washing your hands to avoid illness, this hand cream can help make the repairs. Burt's Bees Ultimate Hand Cream features Baobab Oil to moisturize, Watermelon Seed Oil to nourish, and natural Fruit Acid Complex to gently exfoliate creating soft skin for even the most abused hands.
- Sunscreen — Finding a healthy sunscreen that works great without making you feel like either a complete ghost or a grease slick is a tricky one. We have been auditioning sunscreens zealously over the last 4 years scouring both adult and kid-centric brands such as Kiss My Face, Alba, Nurture My Body, Kabana, Coola, California Baby, Dolphin Organics, Badger, Honest, thinkbaby, Blue Lizard, BurnOut, and more. Our favorites to date are the following — For mom: Coola Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint is an unscented mineral sunscreen (3.2% Titanium Dioxide and 1.8% Zinc Oxide) that is water resistant up to 40 minutes, and has a number 1 rating on EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. It is chemical and preservative free with over 70% organic-based inactive ingredients. Great for sensitive and normal to oily skin, it is a workhorse for daily use with moisturizing organic shea butter as well as organic rose hip and linseed oils that leave the skin feeling hydrated without a greasy afterglow. For babies and kids: thinksport SPF 50+, also a mineral-based sunscreen rated "1" on EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, with 20% non-nano particle Zinc Oxide as the only active ingredient, it provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and is water-resistant up to 80 minutes. Though it rubs on a bit white, it doesn't ball up or rub off easily, and it has a relatively nice scent.
- Sinus and Allergy Care — Allergies can sometimes feel even worse when pregnant. With your body already feeling swollen and tissues often full of fluid, having swollen sinuses and itching mucus membranes can feel like the last straw and have you reaching for any solution. However, a lot of medications for allergies are not safe when pregnant and we feel less is more when you can potentially do without medication, regardless of its safety. We like Simply Saline Allergy and Sinus Relief for a first line of treatment and defense against congestion and clearing out allergens. Both work in a similar fashion by rinsing the effected membranes with saline of the proper Ph to reduce tissue irritation causing symptoms like congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itching. Another option is using a Neti Pot that are available in porcelain, stainless steel, copper, and plastic. Himalayan Institute Original Neti Pot Starter Kit comes with a porcelain pot as well as Neti Wash Salt and Neti Wash Plus.
- Headache — Tylenol Extra Strength (acetaminophen) is one medication that can be used safely during pregnancy, although sparingly and only when really needed. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) must not be used during pregnancy as it can adversely effect fetal cardiac circulation.
Another big area of contention in green living and improving health is plastics. While resistant to breaking, they really aren't as innocuous as they seem. The amount of water bottles that our continent consumes is simply tragic. Purging plastic is an ongoing battle but one that is worthwhile both for the environment and also personal health. It is everywhere, but there are much healthier alternatives these days such as glass and stainless steel. Check out the Plastic Purge for more information on this topic.
- Water Bottle — In place of plastic bottles (reusable or throw away) we like choosing glass and stainless steel for health and environmental reasons. We really like the Lifefactory 22 Ounce Glass Bottle with Classic Cap. If glass isn't your thing, or you are afraid of breaking it, consider the Hydro Flask 40 Ounce Insulated Stainless Wide Mouth Bottle that can potentially last forever.
- Food Storage — Storing food is another opportunity to make better choices. Whether its glass or stainless steel, there are options out there that are potentially healthier for you. Lunch Bots 16 Ounce Thermal Stainless Food Container is good for soups and meal leftovers, and Lunch Bots Bento Cinco Large Stainless Food Container is a nice option for on the go snacking or lunch at work or school.
The real quite lurker is Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) in the home. Though unseen and unheard, radiation emitting from cordless phones, wireless routers and computers, cell phones, and microwaves is very real. Sound like a fuzzy topic? Well, the limited research isn't looking rosy, and we feel it is better to err on the side of caution and take precautions when you can.
- Literature — For more information on this topic read A Wellness Guide for the Digital Age. This is a nice complete guide that puts the research in one place to help you sort through the studies and decide how you'd like to respond to the information.
- Shield — If you use a laptop or other tablet type devices while pregnant, it is a good idea to protect the developing fetus from potential harm with the Belly Armor Organic Belly Blanket. It helps protect your baby from EMF and it can keep you cozy too, not a bad combo!
NEXT: Pregnancy Essentials: The First Trimester