Keeping Healthy While Pregnant

When I found out I was pregnant I was absolutely overcome with joy. My husband and I had spent two long years and suffered a devastating loss in our effort to become parents. So when I saw the blue "+" sign, I was beside myself. I couldn't wait to say the words out loud. During the months that followed, I even told strangers on the street: "I'm going to be a Mom!"

My elation, however, was no cure for my type-A personality. OK, I admit it. I am perhaps a little uptight. I tend to take most things very seriously, so you can imagine my reaction to the thought of caring for what would be my baby's home for the next nine months -- my body. My first change was to get my diet in check. In those days, veggies made only a rare appearance on my plate.

As I read about recommended pregnancy diets I realized I had to take a deep breath and hold my nose and do whatever else it took to consume more vegetables. Now I know that I should have also ventured into the natural food store to scope out organic options, but back then I did what I could -- baby steps, right? I made an effort to question everything I ate and asked: "Will this be good for little peanut?"

Of course, the answer was always yes when I asked if my baby bump wanted ice cream!

Seriously though, I remembered that food pyramid stuff I learned in elementary school and did my best to put those rules to good use. After I adjusted what went into my body, I considered what I was putting on my body. I immediately stopped my weekly home manicures (that ritual is long gone, even now -- what mother has time to do her own nails?!). I stopped using polish after I thought about my husband's complaints regarding the smell. That stuff is harsh, so I banished the pretty colors into the closet!

After research, I discovered it wasn't a bad idea after all -- lots of cosmetics contain harmful chemicals and some have been shown to cross the placenta! One website I like, safecosmetics.org, says the chemicals contained in a single product are not likely to cause harm, but think of how many products you use in one day, then add up the years!

Continuous exposure to tiny amounts of chemicals could cause harm. I thought it best to err on the side of caution (remember, I'm uptight!) and did my best to limit personal product use to those that were fragrance free. The fragrance listing on the ingredients list can be where toxins are hidden. Making changes when I found out I was pregnant was just the beginning of my green journey.

Each time I made a decision, a new choice to make appeared on my list -- what kind of birth plan would I commit to, what kind of diapers would I use, would I nurse or bottle feed, let the baby cry it out or do nighttime parenting, use hand-me-downs or new outfits? The list of decisions will never end but I'm thankful that the change in my mindset that began when I was "baking" my little girl has stuck with me.

There is no way to express how much she has changed my life and looking into her brown eyes only makes me want to work harder to provide a healthy home for her. It sounds cliché, but when I think of her grandchildren I can only hope that by then we've made a lot more progress toward living natural lifestyles.