Before You Conceive: Reduce Toxicity Being Passed to Baby in Utero
Inside this post: How toxicity is passed along in utero to the developing baby & safe ways to detoxify and mitigate toxic exposures. This post may contain affiliate links. You can see my disclosure policy here.
Before You Conceive… Detoxify Your Body & Environment. Here’s Why It’s Important for Future Babies
I’m a parent of three, who wishes I could turn back time and use the knowledge I have now, back when I was starting to think about having children. I would have taken measures to detoxify my body and also limit the toxic burden that I would inadvertently pass along to my kids.
How do I know children are born toxic?
A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that babies born in present-day, have 287+ chemicals passed through via their umbilical cord.
The fact is, we are birthing babies born more toxic, than ever before.
Unfortunately, our world is more toxic than ever.
Think of it like this… babies float for 9 months in a chemical milieu within the uterus, and absorb toxins from mother, and also toxins from previous generations that have been passed down to the mother.
Don’t believe me. Here’s a scary fact. –> DDT is still found in umbilical cords from prior generation’s exposure.
Here’s another one.
Trace amounts of flame retardants, banned in the US for more than a decade, are still being passed through umbilical cord blood from mothers to their babies, according to new research. The chemicals are linked to health concerns including hormone disruption and low birth weight. (Source)
Where do the toxins come from?
A Toxic Lifeline From Mother to Baby
The umbilical cord, the lifeline from mother to baby, pulsates in the last month of pregnancy with the equivalent of 300 quarts of blood per day, oscillating between nutrient- and oxygen-rich placenta to a developing baby who is cradled in amniotic fluid.
Scientists used to think that the placenta shielded the growing baby from environmental contaminants, yet now, the evidence shows otherwise.
That’s no longer the case.
The placenta is more like a steady steam of industrial toxics, chemicals, heavy metals, and pollutants that quickly and easily permeate the placenta and end up residing in the baby.
Now we know that at this critical time when organs, vessels, membranes and systems are knit together from single cells to finished form in a span of weeks, the umbilical cord carries not only the building blocks of life, but also a steady stream of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides that cross the placenta as readily as residues from cigarettes and alcohol. (Source)
Did you say heavy metals?
Yes, in utero, much of the existing and any new metal burden can be transferred to the fetus in utero. If you have metal fillings, receive any vaccination with an aluminum or thimerosal adjuvant, work in an industry with metal exposure that can be absorbed through the skin or lungs, then this absorption can be passed right along to the developing baby as well.
In an analysis by the EWG that examined samples of fetal cord blood from 10 newborns, a scary 287 chemicals were found in the samples.
Here’s a few of the findings:
- mercury (commonly from fish, vaccines, soil and produce grown in soil, exposure at work)
- flame retardants (from furniture, mattresses, home building supplies),
- endocrine-disrupting phthalates (these directly affect hormone health and fertility),
- carcinogenic pesticides (known carcinogens means cancer-causing in humans & animals),
- plastics (commonly found in eating and drinking materials, food storage, to-go containers, etc.),
- wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage,
- Teflon byproduct PFOA (perfluorochemicals used in stain & oil repellants, fast food packaging, food storage, clothes and textiles –> EPA has classified this as a likely human carcinogen which translates to cancer-causing.)
Of the 287 chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood from the EWG study, we know that 180 chemicals are carcinogenic (cause cancer in humans or animals), 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.
Here are the full results of the study and toxicities found:
Pre-Conception Detoxification & Exposure Avoidance
Many of the chemicals found (of the 287 in the umbilical cord) are classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs.) This means they bioaccumulate in fat tissue and are exceedingly difficult to detoxify.
While you can strategically detoxify certain toxins from the body and brain with the help of a practitioner, other toxins may not easily be removed.
This is why it’s important to overall avoid exposures where you can—and of course, minimize the body’s burden of toxicants as far out from conception as you can:
- Eat as much organic food as possible
- Avoid high mercury seafood (Shark, Chilean Seabass, Swordfish, Tuna, farmed/Atlantic Salmon, Marlin, Grouper, Bluefish are the highest levels of mercury.)
- Switch from commercial to nontoxic cleaning products (I swear by the non-toxic Branch Basics cleaner for everything including floors, laundry, stains, windows and even my car!)
- Invest in a water filtration system like the 4-stage Reverse Osmosis AquaTrue Countertop System. This is what you drink every day and is super important not to be feeding your organs, blood and body chemically-laden water.
- Use an air purifier that filters down to at least .03 microns (dust, VOCs, bacteria, and some virus, etc.) I like the AlexaPure HEPA air filtration system and we have one in each of the kid’s bedrooms and our main room running 24/7. They were a lifesaver during the 2020 summer with all the wildfires less than 10 miles away for over 2 months!
- Ditch aluminum foil for storage, cooking, heating (use parchment paper)
- Stop using plastic tupperware for food cooking, reheating and storage (use glass)
- Use non-toxic personal care products and make-up (make-up is high in chemicals and metals!)
- Focus on lymphatic drainage with walking, rebounding, use a vibration plate, dry brushing, lymphatic massage, and movement.
- Focus on restorative sleep to facilitate brain detox (via the glymphatic system is what detoxes the brain while you sleep.)
- Sweat regularly through exercise or sauna to excrete metals, toxins and pathogens.
- Ensure all detox pathways are open (bowel movements, sweating, lymph, liver, kidneys.)
- Use targeted supplementation through a practitioner who can assist you with an individual detoxification plan as you remove each layer along your detox journey, and properly support your body.
- Create daily practices to mitigate oxidative stress like grounding to the earth, listening to high vibrational music and high hertz sounds, meditation, yoga, journaling, etc.
You don’t have to do all these things at once (this may create more stress and be even more deleterious to health than exposures), but taking steps to remove exposures over time will be beneficial to everyone in your home, including a baby in the future.
Should You Ever Do a Detox While Pregnant?
If there is anything you should take to heart in this article, it’s to STOP ANY DETOXIFICATION PROCESS WHILE PREGNANT.
Do not detox while pregnant.
Do not detox if you are breastfeeding.
Once you are pregnant, you should halt any detox you were previously doing, and do not start any sort of detoxification while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Remember, the placenta is permeable and will absorb the toxins, contaminants, heavy metals and pollutants you are trying to remove from your body. Your developing baby can absorb all of these toxins right into their little bodies.
You’ll want to resist detoxifying while you’re breastfeeding as well, because these contaminants can also be passed along to the baby via breastmilk.
Any detoxification should happen 6 months to 2 years before you start conceiving, or after you have finished breastfeeding.
How Can You Help Detoxify Kids?
First, stop contributing to the toxic burden of their bodies. Little bodies naturally absorb more toxicity proportionately because of their smaller size they absorb larger doses of ingested, airborne and transdermal toxins. They’re closer to the proximity of the ground, dirt, and indoor dust which is absorbed through the skin, lungs and even orally because of the hand-to-mouth skills and sensation they lean towards (and boundless curiosity.)
So, what can you do to help limit toxins going into their systems?
- Eat organic food whenever possible,
- Use a safe, non-toxic alternative (branch basics is my favorite) and ditch harsh cleaners,
- Invest in quality air purification (HEPA filter and charcoal filter is my go-to) that will remove small particles down to the 03 microton level (think volatile organic compounds (VOCs), dust, bacteria and even viruses. I like the AlexaPure HEPA air filtration system and we have one in each of the kid’s bedrooms and our main room running 24/7. They were a lifesaver during the 2020 summer with all the wildfires less than 10 miles away for over 2 months!
- Invest in a water filtration system like the 4-stage Reverse Osmosis AquaTrue Countertop System.
- Get a shower and bath filter that gets rid of chlorine and other chemicals. The chlorine vapor is what is really harmful, especially to little kids! The propure shower filter is what we have and we change the filter twice a year but I definitely notice a difference because my skin is less dry and irritated from using the filter.
- Sweat regularly via exercise or sauna (exercise with rebounding and walking also movest the lymphatic system.)
- Look into organic mattresses, pillows and textiles without flame retardants for children’s rooms (Avocado Mattress and Happsy are what we have at our house and love them.)
- Use safe body and bath products without fragrance (in fact, remove fragrance from your entire home for everyone’s health.) Essential oils can be great, but in small doses.
- Detoxifying foods like chlorella, spirulina, lemon and ginger can help the body move toxins out of the body. Smoothies are great for hiding greens, chlorella, and spirulina.
To detoxify any toxins passed along from Mom…
Work with a functional medicine doctor or holistic practitioner to assess individual toxic burden and get personalized recommendations to up-regulate individual detoxification capacity.
A step-by-step approach of addressing the body’s needs and peeling back each layer will always work better than focusing on one area of detoxification (such as the kidneys, liver, etc.) which can burden the body further, and even cause herxheimer reactions. No one person will have the same protocol as another, because each body has it’s own biodynamic needs.
Ostrea, E.M. et al. (2002). Prevalence of fetal exposure to environmental toxins as determined by meconium analysis. Neurotoxicology, 23(3), 329=339.