The fruit trees are in bloom in New York City. They're beyond gorgeous -- there's nothing like trees lousy with blossoms decorating this concrete jungle. It's not warm enough yet to abandon our winter coats entirely, but we have had some lovely moments wandering around the neighborhood scouting for our favorite pears, cherries and magnolias, smiling at the crocuses and the daffodils, saying "forsythia" over and over (the word makes my daughter laugh), and sniffing hyacinths. It's a bright, hopeful, vibrant time of year (even in this economy). I suspect these first blushes of spring have something to do with why I know so many people born nine and ten months from April and May, including my daughter, her father, his mother, my grandmother, and my father.
If budding branches have you in a trying-to-get-pregnant mood, here are a few thoughts -- from The Complete Organic Pregnancy -- on what you might want to add to your regimen and purge from your life as you go at it. (Here are some more tips on how to get pregnant.)
Take a prenatal vitamin. Folic acid is especially important at this phase of life as it can help prevent neural tube defects even before you know you're pregnant.
Vitamins can only do so much, real food is crucial. Increase your whole foods intake overall, making sure to eat a varied diet, as if you're training for the (baby) Olympics. Take care to eat organic food, especially when it comes to items highest on the food chain like meat. Hit the farmers' markets, or get a share in a Community Supported Agriculture farm to benefit from all of the fruits and vegetables that will soon be in season.
Going cold turkey can be tough (trust me), especially with caffeine. Tea can help with the weaning; steep it weaker and weaker until you're off.
Drinking enough water is essential when pregnant, so have your water tested for contaminants now. (If you live in New York, call 311 to have free test kits sent to you). Filter accordingly, based on results. Install a showerhead filter, too. Much can be inhaled over the course of a shower.
Make sure what you're drinking out of, cooking in, and storing your food in is safe. Materials like cast iron, stainless steel, glass and lead-free ceramic have stood the test of time and are known to be ok, health-wise. Plastics are less so. If using plastic, make sure it is one of the plastics considered to be safest (#2, #4, #5), and free of hormone disrupting chemicals. Don't ever put plastic in the microwave.
Test the rest of your home for contaminants -- lead paint, radon and the like -- and deal with whatever you run into in the most eco-friendly way possible. Also, if you don't already have a carbon monoxide monitor, plug one in.
Replace all products -- from cosmetics to cleaning products -- with versions that are safer for you and for the environment. There are chemicals in everything from window cleaner to caulk to pimple medication to nail polish remover that are known to be harmful to average adult, and are that much more so to a growing baby. Some of these substances may even interfere with fertility.
If you garden, get rid of all conventional pest sprays and fertilizers, and replace them with organic versions. If you have an insect infestation inside your home, use safer insecticides, integrated pest management, and less toxic traps. Even if you're not personally the one gardening or exterminating, there are residual chemicals from these products lingering in your home and could be potentially very harmful to your baby.
If you're thinking about renovations, just say no. Try sprucing up instead of renovating as construction materials, paint, dust, caulk and glue all contain harmful substances you don't want to be inhaling when trying to get pregnant or pregnant. If you're going to renovate, do it green. And for whatever work you ultimately choose to do, vacate the premises during and after to provide for adequate ventilation.
If you have any furniture with exposed crumbing foam and torn cushions, replace, replace, replace. Flame retardants in foam have been found in house dust, umbilical cord blood, and breast milk. New furniture should be as natural as possible - hard wood, for example, is safer than cheap particleboard, which contains varying levels of formaldehyde from glues. Not something you want around a growing baby.
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