Pregnancy is a truly miraculous time. It can be sickening, joyous, frightening, exhilarating, exhausting and confronting – sometimes all at once.
There is a lot to organise, particularly if this is your first pregnancy. Maternity leave, paid parental leave / baby bonus, setting up the nursery, planning a single income budget and preparing for birth (and beyond) can all take up your time and limited energy. There are few things that compare to the soul destroying, bone crunching levels of exhaustion that a busy pregnant woman may encounter, particularly in the first and third trimesters.
However, in addition to the delights of folding tiny socks and painting the nursery, pregnancy also offers a unique opportunity for reflection and deep rooted change. Let’s face it, you’re about to bring a little person into this world! (Sorry, I know that it’s a scary realisation) From now on, every decision that you make will have some degree of impact on their lives, so why not try to give them the greenest and healthiest start possible?
Expectant parents (particularly first time round) are easy prey for the advertising machine. After all, we all want our children to ‘have the best’ and somehow this has come to mean loads of plastic toys, designer prams and mountains of dummies.
What if we could turn this around? What if we were to recognise that giving our children ‘the best’ may mean giving them less and instead reducing their exposure to toxins, supporting a world without sweatshops and reducing waste?
It’s a radical and challenging thought, particularly for those of us that have been led to believe that more is always better.
Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond – The simple, sustainable way!
• Ignore the commercial must buy lists – Ask a trusted friend or family member what their essential baby items were and make sure that you check out my ‘Essential Lists for a Happy Mum and Baby’.
• Stay fit and healthy with regular gentle exercise such as pregnancy yoga, walking and swimming. As a general rule of thumb, the more positive and healthy you feel, the less inclined you will be to overindulge in unhealthy foods and excessive shopping. As an added bonus, staying fit will reduce the amount of maternity clothes that you need to buy!
• Source baby and maternity wear second hand – Check out Freecycle, Craigslist, Gumtree or your local Buy, Swap and Sell Facebook page for barely used baby goods and maternity wear. Remember that babies grow incredibly quickly and maternity is fleeting so items purchased second hand are unlikely to have experienced a lot of wear.
• Refresh your beauty routine – Take 15 minutes to do a stocktake of your beauty and make-up cabinets. Read the ingredients on your shampoos, body scrubs and makeup. Remember that your skin is your largest organ and everything that you put on it will be absorbed into your body. Are you happy for to be exposing your baby to ingredients that you can’t pronounce?
• Declutter the house – Many pregnant women experience a ‘nesting’ type instinct before the arrival of a new baby. Take advantage of it to do some serious decluttering of your house and reduce your work load before the new baby arrives. (Nesting – the ultimate excuse for a good clean out)
• Reduce your toxins – A 2012 study by Edith Cowan University in Western Australia found that 84% of pregnant women have detectable amounts of BPA in their urine. Bisphenol A is commonly found in plastic and cans and research has shown that prenatal exposure can lead to adverse behavioural outcomes, has potential links to miscarriage (yet to be peer reviewed) and may interfere with hormonal development. Scary stuff and this is just ONE of the thousands of toxins that we regularly expose ourselves to. Take your own (BPA free) water bottle and opt for glass over plastic or tins wherever possible.
• Opt for services to make yourself feel good – When it comes to the ecological impact of our actions, few things make a bigger difference than opting for services over products. Rather than a shopping spree, indulge in a massage (ensure your practitioner is qualified for pregnancy massage), a new hair-cut, a facial or even a pedicure.
• Get in the habit of opting for fresh, organic and healthy food – Use pregnancy as an opportunity to take a good look at your diet, not as an excuse to eat anything and everything! Grilling an organic free range chicken breast and throwing together a quick garden salad is almost as quick as picking up take-away and SO much tastier!
• Baby shower – I tend to think that Baby Showers are a bit unnecessary, but if you and your friends are keen on having one, check out these tips on making your baby shower more sustainable and preventing a mountain of wrapping paper, soft toys and excess plastic!