How to green your pregnancy
Congratulations, you're pregnant! Now how can you make your pregnancy journey greener?
Saturday, January 28, 2012 - 16:07
SMALL HANDS: Some small reasons for big, green changes in our world. (Photo courtesy Maria Gomez; Casey Gammon/Bluebees Photography)
Ask any singleton on the street what they see in their future and you'll get responses running the gamut from "lots of vodka and burgers" to "I'm going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro." Somewhere in the middle of personal torture and personal triumph, you find the other sorts of responses that most people relate to in some fashion. The most common, of course, is the vision of seeing oneself starting or forming a new family.
For my husband and myself, that vision came to startling reality in fall 2010, just after we were told we were never going to have children without "...significant medical intervention." I thought it was a load of horse patooty, but they were the doctors, so naturally, they must know more about my body than I did. A mere six weeks later (I am not kidding you), I found out that I was three weeks pregnant. OMG. And thus, our journey toward parent- and familyhood began.
Like many issues, the subject of having a family is one fraught with debate, but it is a debate we will not cover here. For our purposes, we will assume that you have accepted the challenge of parenthood and are generally happy and excited about your new arrival. Today, we will be looking at the challenges of being green during pregnancy.
This series will delve into various aspects of my research that I thought I would share with like-minded mommies out there. I hope you find all the information helpful and engaging. As always, please keep in mind that none of the information provided should be a substitute for your own better judgement. If you have any concerns or questions about things to take, use, etc., during your pregnancy, please consult your care provider.
How to green your pregnancy
So, where to begin? After the doctor confirmed my suspicions (and after I changed care providers), I began my research frenzy. I was looking up strollers, cribs, car seats, onesies, bottles, vitamins, baby wipes, diapers, vaccines, and on, and on, and on. For babies, there are always a million things to do, read and follow-up on. I was bombarded with people trying to make me create gift lists and buy things I really didn't need. I asked for advice from fellow mommies, of both babies and toddlers, to get their take on the things I really would need. And after that, what could I do to be greener?
First stop: vitamins. This is something you need to discuss with your care provider. I had no major health problems and was relatively free to decide which vitamins I wanted to take. All I needed was an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin with a DHA supplement. Sounds easy enough, until you start looking at the shelves and realize how many choices are out there.
The biggest thing here (as with all things in life) is to ask questions. I wanted to know if there was a "green" vitamin option and after some searching around, for me, that meant taking vegan vitamins. Personally, I found the Prenatal One vitamins from Rainbow Light to be a great option. They aren't the cheapest ones out there, but they were the most readily available and affordable vegan/vegetarian vitamins I could find. More importantly, however, I didn't get bad heartburn taking them (which, as you know if you're currently preggers or have been, is a huge deal).
Now, finding a veggie option is no small feat when shopping around for DHA supplements, as most are fish oil based. However, I did find some that are plant/algae based, affordable and easy to find. Enfamil makes these DHA supplements and I also found a generic version at Target.
Lotions, potions and all things body-lovin'
Second stop: body care. Now, we should be careful and concerned with what we use to wash, moisturize, or otherwise pamper our largest organ every day, but I found myself to be extra mindful of it while I was pregnant. I stopped using anything with sulfates, phthalates, parabens, dyes or fragances not derived from essential oils. Actually, I stayed away from most fragrances full-stop as they triggered a nausea response — and some are not recommended for use during pregnancy. I was less picky in terms of brand and focused more on the substance of the products I chose. I mostly stuck with fragrance-free, sensitive skin soaps, lotions and facial washes for the duration of my pregnancy. I did find a couple favorites, however.
To care for my ever-expanding belly, I fell in love with this Tummy Honey Butter from Bella B. It's a small tub of petroleum-free, lanolin-free goodness. It was doubly nice when the daddy-to-be used it on the hard-to-reach tummy spots later in pregnancy. Speaking of rubbing, I used this wonderfully relaxing Foot Cream from Burt's Bees to soothe my aching feet and calves at the end of a long day.
Third stop: new diet. Baby-to-be was a vegan. She didn't like it when I ate meat or dairy. So, for seven solid months, I lived on a handful of veggies that agreed with my newly delicate stomach, and fruit. I loved and madly craved fruit. In particular: watermelon. I found that this shift in diet was not only good for me (I only gained a total of 10 pounds during the pregnancy, and those all within the last weeks), but wonderful for my skin, growing baby and Momma Earth as well.
The hard part was making sure I got enough protein, but, along with my care provider's guidance, I found a balance of non-animal proteins that satisfied baby's need for protein, and made me feel less nauseous and sated. I bought local and in season. I had a summer baby, so I was very lucky to have had watermelon, along with a wonderful variety of fruits and veggies available in season! I ate local, organic watermelon until the day I gave birth. (And for some time after, too.) How you eat when you're pregnant is so important, so look at what's going in your mouth. What goes in there goes straight to the little one.
Heating/cooling your home
Next stop: watch that thermostat. When you're pregnant, you are hot. Both in looks and temperature. So, take advantage. If you're preggers in winter, keep the thermostat on the lower end of things (energy savings!). If it's summer (like it was for me), get creative. We kept our house comfortably cool, but I kept an ice pack on hand at all times. I found a quick fill-and-plop of the ice pack onto my head cooled me down enough so that I didn't need to turn that A/C all the way down. It was a minor sacrifice at first, but with the money I saved, I bought a nicer car seat, and after a couple days, it didn't seem like a sacrifice at all. It just was the way it was. Bonus: I used the melted ice cube water to for my houseplants every day. No waste.
Remember to relax
Final stop: relax. How is this green? Well, for one, turn off the TV (save energy) and take a walk (burn energy) or do prenatal yoga (feel the energy). Being green shouldn't be a stressful thing and being pregnant is hard enough as it is. However, finding time to meditate and pamper yourself through yoga, foot rubs and other non-machine-reliant tasks can actually reduce your energy footprint, increase your fortitude to make other green decisions in the coming months, and maintain that lovely momma-to-be glow you've acquired. The goal here is to find ways to incorporate greener options into decisions you're already going to be making. Don't stress, and enjoy your pregnancy.
Ultimately, for us, baby was born happy and healthy. We're still trying to figure out the greener way to do things, but I've been told parenthood is as much about learning and growing as it is about raising.
In future blog entries, I hope to discuss other parenting topics such as the great diapering debates and selecting toys for the little tykes, so please check back. In the meantime, do you have a tip for our fellow readers on how you "greened" up your pregnancy?