Evaluating Potentially Harmful Exposures during Pregnancy and Lactation

Evaluating Potentially Harmful Exposures during Pregnancy and Lactation

We are all surrounded with potentially harmful chemicals, poisons and other toxic substances so evading from them is almost inevitable and futile. The paint in our house, the polish on the furniture, pesticides in the garden, lead, mercury, cleaning products, self-caring products and many other daily used products all have chemicals in them. Most often the quantity is bare minimum so we don’t need to worry much but if you are pregnant or a lactating mother then things change, being mindful about the potentially harmful exposures through chemicals and toxins might be a good idea.

Lactating mothers are the feeding source of their baby, by eating lactation treats and other supplements they make sure that the child is well fed, but saving the child from the harmful chemicals is also important. As much as the news of becoming a mother makes you swoon with joy and pleasure, the responsibility also overwhelms you. Now a life is growing inside you and you have to forgo and mend some of your ways like having a glass of wine with dinner, eating sushi, cold cuts, having a smoke and other delicious and tempting beverages and foods.

These things are obvious, tangible and much talked about but certain exposures and encounters with chemicals are unknown and intangible and that’s why it’s hard to avoid. The sad part is that they can be a reason to worry and must be avoided as much as they can be. Health care professionals can easily tell you do to have raw fish or a glass of wine but unfortunately, little is known and researched about the harmful effects of the chemical exposures of daily used things, thus making it hard to avoid. Pregnant women take all the essential medicines and lactating mothers make sure to increase milk supply with lactating treats and drinks but before all that one has to also save themselves from harmful exposures.

In this article we aim to increase your knowledge about these sneaky chemicals that surround us and how to take precautionary measures to ensure the health of the baby during pregnancy and nursing. Most of these chemicals won’t harm the baby but if you are exposed to large quantities of these chemicals for a long time then an increased risk of congenital disorders and other health problems lay ahead of the baby. If you breathe in these chemicals or swallow them, they can enter your bloodstream and reach your baby through the placenta. The baby can also encounter the chemicals via breast milk or if they suck their fingers. Read this article till the end to know about the chemicals and how to minimize the exposure.

Skin Care and Cosmetics

Skin care and make up products are packed with all kinds of chemicals and to scan through the ingredients list can be a formidable task as the names are quite long and hard to pronounce let alone their meanings. The cosmetics, lotions, perfumes, shampoos and other skin care products aren’t regulated by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that means they don’t need FDA’s approval before entering the market, making the chemicals hard to monitor. So, mommy does not only have to be careful about what she eats or drinks but also what she sprays and slathers on herself. Our skin is our frontline defense against this overload of chemicals but certain skin products are designed to surpass all the layers and enter our bloodstream.

Newly born babies are still developing critical systems that can be affected by the intervention of these chemicals. So be sure to read and watch out for toxic ingredients like, Paraben, Phthalates, Retinol, Aluminum chloride hexahydrate, Triethanolamine, Dihydroxyacetone, Hydroquinone, Triclosan and Toluene among others. Nail polish, hair dyes, artificial nails, nail removing lotion and hair permanents all are laced with strong chemicals and toxins. So, make sure you avoid them as much as possible and if the use is necessarily make sure to use them in a ventilated room.

Cleaning Products

Most cleaning products do not pose a threat to the health of any one but it’s still clever to limit the exposure during pregnancy and lactation. Some chemicals have caused rasping of breath in young ones so it’s safe to wear rubber gloves when using them and if there are fumes coming out of them then wear a mask along with it and open the window wide open. Cleaning products that contain naphthalene such as moth balls can cause a condition called hemolytic anemias which can cause nausea and diarrhea in babies so make sure not to use them.


Pesticides are toxic and there is no doubt about it. The use of chlorpyrifos, a commonly used pesticide, has been prohibited by California as it causes brain damage in children. During pregnancy and lactation period avoid handling garden pesticides and If your garden or lawn has recently been treated with pesticides then don’t step bare foot on it.  Wash any produce before biting into it in order to remove any lingering pesticide, dirt or bacteria.


Lead is a dangerous chemical which must be avoided during pregnancy and nursing period. It can cause delayed development in a child, premature births, low birth weight, still birth and even miscarriage. CDC warns pregnant and nursing mothers to steer clear of any candies or spices imported outside of the USA to avoid possible adulteration of lead. Lead can be found in the paint scrapes that fall on the floor. The dust is so microscopic that it’s unable to be seen with naked eye and can be easily inhaled. So stay away from paint scrapes while pregnant or nursing.

BPA (Bisphenol-A)

You might have come across the term BPA-free when buying plastic products for children or the kitchen. This chemical has been associated with a condition called altered brain development and behaviour. Although BPA poses very less risk as compared to its fellow chemicals, it’s still better to avoid it.

Bottom Line

Although it’s nearly impossible to avoid all kinds of chemicals in households it’s still better to be mindful of them and avoid them as much as you can. Mothers do everything to ensure their babies are well nourished and secure by eating lactation treats, they should also be heedful of the toxic chemicals that surround their fetus and newborn.


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