Natural Parenting Begins With a Natural Pregnancy

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Written by contributor Emily McClements of Live Renewed

Setting a strong foundation for natural parenting begins with a having a natural pregnancy. For many women, their journey toward more green and natural living begins when they find out they are pregnant for the first time. When you’re pregnant, you become suddenly aware of the kind of lifestyle you are living, and the way that the choices you’re making, and the things in your environment, will affect your baby, both in utero and once he or she is born.

You may be considering, for the first time, how to start making healthy and natural changes to your lifestyle, or being feeling overwhelmed with where to start. I know this was true for me, when I was pregnant with my first daughter five years ago, and I started down the path toward greener living that my family and I are on today. Pregnancy is a really great time to start making simple natural and green chances in your lifestyle and around your home.

4 Easy Steps to A More Natural Pregnancy

1. Homemade and Green Cleaning

This is the change I always recommend making first when beginning to move toward a greener lifestyle, because it was the very first change I personally made, that started me down this path. It’s also so simple and easy, and requires very little investment, either in time or money. And homemade and green cleaners work just well, if not better, than conventional cleaners.

Using non-toxic cleaners is really important because the air inside our homes, that we breathe in daily, can be filled with more toxins and chemicals then we realize, often as the result of the cleaning products we use. Obviously you don’t want to expose yourself to those fumes, but you definitely don’t want to expose your unborn baby to them.

Here are some great resources for getting started with green and natural cleaning:


Photo by Stacy @ Delighting in the Days

2. Safe and Non-toxic Personal Care Products

We’ve talked a lot about this here on Simple Organic before, but especially when you are pregnant, it is important to consider the products you use on your skin, your hair, your face, your whole body. The things that we put onto our skin get absorbed into our skin, and can easily pass across the placenta, affecting our unborn baby.

I think switching to safer personal care products is something that can seem overwhelming at first, but there are some simple ways to go about it.

First, consider cutting back on the amount of products that you use, simplify your routine to only those products that are absolutely necessary.

Secondly, once you’ve simplified your routine, find safer replacements for the products that you use on a daily, or very regular, basis. Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, face wash, deodorant, and lotion are probably on the top of everyone’s list. More and more grocery and mainstream retailers carry a selection of safe and organic products, for you to choose from.

Finally, consider making some of your personal care products at home. There are recipes all over the internet for making safe, natural and non-toxic personal care products, and making homemade products is really not as time-consuming or intimidating as you might think. Even making just one or two products at home can save you enough money to help you be able to afford the slightly higher cost of purchasing safer brand products.

Check out these resources for getting started on changing your personal care products and making homemade products:

3. Eating Healthy for Two

As important as it is, honestly, healthy eating can be hard when you’re pregnant, especially during the first trimester — at least it is for me. But making the healthiest food choices that you can is extremely important for both you and your baby.

If you haven’t already, make sure to cut out boxed and processed foods, junk foods, and soda. Cutting back on caffeine is important too. Cut out all those foods that are just empty calories because they aren’t nourishing to you or to your baby. You want to make all of the foods you eat count, packing the biggest nutritional punch for you and your baby that you can.

Switching to organic foods is also important, but you’ll probably have to set some priorities as far as what you choose to buy organic. Some of the foods that I think are the most important to prioritize are organic dairy, clean meat (free of hormones and antibiotics, and ideally pastured-raised), and using the EWG’s Dirty Dozen List to prioritize the produce that you buy organic.

Also remember to drink lots and lots of water when you’re pregnant. Water with lemon is an especially healthy choice.

More resources on healthy eating for two:

4. Exercise

Exercising during pregnancy may be the last thing on your mind when you’re tired and aching all over, but light to moderate exercise can actually help to ease some of the discomforts of pregnancy. I admit that I am not the best at this either, but when I do exercise I notice almost immediately how much better it makes me feel. Exercise helps to tone and strengthen your muscles to best support the added weight and strain on your body as your baby grows.

With your doctor’s or midwife’s permission, of course, try to include exercise in your daily routine at least three times a week. And when you’re pregnant this doesn’t have to mean serious exercise, or setting aside an hour of time. Some of my favorite forms of exercise when I’m pregnant are yoga and stretching, taking a walk with my kids, pregnancy exercise videos, and I even count heavy cleaning around the house, like vacuuming, as exercise because I’m usually breathing heavily while I do it!

Stephanie recently shared a great post on exercising during pregnancy over at Keeper of the Home.

These are just a few simple and easy changes you can make to have a greener and more natural pregnancy, to start off your baby’s life in the best way that you can. Since I’m expecting baby #3 in June, I’ve been featuring a Healthy Green Pregnancy series on Live Renewed for more information on having a natural pregnancy.

Did you find yourself more open to making healthy and natural changes when you were pregnant? What simple and easy changes would you recommend to someone who is pregnant and new to green living?

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About Emily

Like many moms, Emily began her journey toward natural living when she found out she was pregnant with her first child. From cloth diapers to homemade green cleaners, she began making small changes toward a simpler more natural lifestyle. When her husband lost his job a year later, she scrambled to also learn how to live as frugally as possible. She quickly realized that many things that save money also save the earth, and began chronicling her journey toward living "frugally green" at Live Renewed. She is now the proud mama of two little ones, and although her husband sometimes wonders what she has done with the woman he married, she is passionate about helping her family live differently and responsibly as they strive to be a good steward of all of the resources God has provided them with.

Comments

  1. I love this post! Right before I got pregnant with my first babe was when all the recalls of spinach/peanut butter/and even some baby foods. That was it for me, it has been a very long journey, and I am constantly changing things. I wasn’t able to find such great resources back then, and so I had to do a lot of my own research, which I enjoyed, but it would have been nice to have this list as a starting place!
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  2. “You may be considering, for the first time, how to start making healthy and natural changes to your lifestyle, or being feeling overwhelmed with where to start.”

    This is insulting. Plenty of women, and men, come to the same conclusions without being pregnant. The only thing remotely connected with actually being pregnant is eating for two, and even that is just “eat healthy”. Believe it or not, one does not have to be a mother to care about oneself, living green, or making good choices in life.

    • Aurelia,
      I can assure you that I did not mean to insult anyone. I, of course, understand that anyone can choose to make healthy changes to their lifestyle at any time, for many different reasons. And I would encourage people to do so. I don’t believe this statement excludes that fact. However, this post is addressing the reality that many women experience upon becoming pregnant and seeking to make healthy changes that benefit both themselves and their baby.

      • If you were simply addressing issues related to pregnancy I would agree with you, but most of what you wrote was simple living 101. As it is written, it comes across as though a woman’s life is not worth doing “green” unless there is a potential child involved. Not to mention any men that might wish to make healthy choices. I appreciate the sentiment that pregnant women seeking to live green should make healthy choices, but shouldn’t that be on “Simple Mom” instead of “Simple Organic”?

  3. Good list :) I especially feel strongly about the personal care products section. So often we forget that our skin is an organ, not just a covering for our insides. I have tried to be more and more conscious about my choices, but have found that I have been more so since becoming pregnant. There is something about looking after oneself AND a growing life inside of you that can make one more aware of good choices. Thanks

  4. I love the fact that so many mothers are choosing to be as organic and natural with their pregnancies. I had two of my children at home and all four naturally. Great article.
    Laura Black´s latest post: Raw Cannabis Leaf Juicing

  5. Some good points for anyone to consider, really. These are things to do throughout your life. Still, they’re even more important when you’re pregnant and giving that baby the best start you can.

  6. Emily, I’m done with having babies but these are still great suggestions for someone wanting a more natural approach to the things they surround themselves with. Great info for both pregnant and non-pregnant alike. And I know for me, as well as a lot of my friends, that we were quite a bit more concerned during pregnancy about our environments and wanting to make better choices. For a lot of women I know, pregnancy was a launching point to make long lasting changes towards a more natural lifestyle. Great post, friend.

  7. I´m pretty sure “Pregnancy is a really great time to start making simple natural and green chances in your lifestyle and around your home.” should be -Pregnancy is a really great time to start making simple natural and green CHOICES in your lifestyle and around your home.

    I must admit that I found the title to this post a bit harsh. To me the title reads as if the only way to parent naturally is to begin with a natural pregnancy. Both for those who came into natural living after having kids or for those of us who can not bear children and have no say in how the biological mother lived while carrying our adoptive children or our future adoptive children, I feel that the title hints towards our children not being natural enough. Other than that I liked the article, but of course most of it can apply to non pregnant woman as well.

  8. i think this was a comprehensive article. i have noticed how i have moved into more natural choices with each of my pregnancies. it is overwhelming if you think of doing it all from nothing, but pretty natural (no pun intended!) taking it one small change at a time.

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