The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Tub and Shower: The headache-inducing stink of a new polyvinyl chloride (PVC) shower curtain is caused by as many as 108 different toxic compounds, which can continue to linger for months. Clear the air by substituting shower curtains made of machine-washable polyester, nylon or less-toxic ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA).
Toss any old rubber duckies and make sure new tub toys are made without PVC, phthalates or BPA, chemicals that have the potential to disrupt the development of your baby’s brain and reproductive system both before and after birth.
Lotions and Potions: Some of the most toxic chemicals in your home are hidden inside shampoos, soaps and other personal care products. Ingredients to avoid include phthalates—linked to birth defects—and fragrances, linked to asthma.
Make sure to get rid of soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash and other cosmetics containing triclosan or triclocarban, both of which could interfere with placental function and infant development. To find the best products for both you and your baby, peruse the Environmental Working group’s Skin Deep website (ewg.org/skindeep).
Cleaners: Products that promise to kill germs, remove mildew and eliminate odors are often loaded with chemicals and solvents that can trigger asthma in young children or meddle with a pregnant woman’s sensitive endocrine system and her baby’s developing brain.
Toss anything that contains glycol ethers, ammonia, ammonium chloride compounds, triclosan, triclocarbon, pine or citrus oil, or ethanolamines. Jettison air fresheners, which can contain substances linked to birth defects and asthma.
Keep air fresh by opening windows and select cleaners certified by EcoLogo (ecologo.org) or given the green light by the Environmental Working group (ewg.org).
Pantry: Because the BPA in cans leaches into the contents, clear out the canned food on your shelves, unless it’s labeled BPA-free, and choose soups, broths and sauces packaged in nontoxic TetraPaks instead.
You’ll also want to sort through plastic water bottles, cups and storage containers and toss any that are scratched or that are made from #7 or #3 plastic, which can contain BPA or PVC, respectively. Replace them with stainless steel water bottles and microwavable glass storage containers. One sigh of relief: The FDA now requires baby bottles and sippy cups to be BPA-free.