Book to Help Reduce Toxin Exposure During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman putting on lipstick

During your pregnancy, the developing fetus is far more vulnerable to toxins than you are as an adult. You are your baby’s protection, so protect your own environment to give your baby the best possible start.

Let’s start with the positive.  You need:

  • Clean Air (so, avoid outdoor activity when air quality is low and pollution is high, driving in congested traffic, wood fires, and, of course, smoking)
  • Clean Water (so, filter your drinking water, unless you know it is safe from the tap, and use a safe water bottle, such as stainless steel)
  • Clean Food (so, eat whole foods rather than processed food-like substances, and buy organics when you can afford them, especially dirty dozen; buy food in glass containers and use glass containers when you store leftovers)
  • Clean House (so, let someone else paint as you prepare for baby, switch to cleaner household cleaners and personal care products, and don’t wear perfumes; also, don’t rush into essential oils if you haven’t consulted an actual professional.)

With the pervasiveness of toxins in our modern lives, you need to do more than rush toward the positive. You need to understand and avoid the negative. You need to know what toxins surround you and where to look for them so you can remove them from your life.

Books about Avoiding Toxin Exposure

Are you ready to learn more? We stock a few carefully chosen books that we find most help us create healthy environments for our families.

There’s Lead in Your Lipstick: Toxins in Everyday Body Care and How to Avoid Them, Gillian Deacon
There's Lead in Your Lipstick

Your lipstick, shampoo, deodorant, nail polish, soap, and the rest of your personal care products could be exposing you to toxic chemicals unless you have switched to safe cosmetics. You can always make a quick check in the Skin Deep database to see what grade your products get. To be proactive about your choices, educate yourself with There’s Lead in Your Lipstick. You don’t need to go skin bare when you are pregnant (though, of course, you can!). If you still need cream for the stretching skin across your belly, you have natural skin care options. We sell these products because we use these products.

Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie
Slow Death by Rubber Duck

Beyond the (almost) obvious toxins in our grooming products, we are poisoned every day through basic household products. Read Slow Death by Rubber Duck to clean up your life during or before pregnancy, then you will have created a toxin-free environment for your new baby. A disturbing but empowering book. If you need a kick to clean up, this is it.

Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products and Services in Canada, Adria Vasil

Ecoholic reaches beyond just household products to become a Canada-wide guide to green energy, incentives and rebates available, waste disposal, and other services. You will need this information as you clean up your life. City-by-city guide includes Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. This is just one of Adria Vasil’s Ecoholic books. We also carry Ecoholic Body and Ecoholic Home.

The Natural Pregnancy, Aviva Jill Romm, MD
The Natural Pregnancy Book

The Natural Pregnancy Book focuses on herbs to promote health, but you will also learn what to avoid. If you are looking for a positive focus, keep this book next to your resting place during your safe, natural pregnancy.

Funny Aside. It must be early. My husband asked, “What are you writing about?”

“Avoiding toxins during pregnancy.”

“Why would you want to avoid dauchshunds during pregnancy?”

I wouldn’t. Dauchshunds should be completely safe during pregnancy. Who can resist a wagging doxie?

Remember, your happiness spreads to your developing baby.

Photo pregnant girl paints lips – Image © Robertprzybysz |

5 Ways to Enjoy and Document Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy photo shoot

Pregnancy, especially your first pregnancy, is such an amazing time. To see your body transform can be shocking and exciting. You will want to remember how you looked, how you felt, and what you dreamed about your new little one on the way.

Before you begin your documentation project, think it through. That doesn’t take a long time. Just consider your goal.

  • Is what you are doing all about expression of the moment, or are you creating a keepsake? If you are just expressing yourself in the moment of all of that beautiful pregnancy energy, go for it! No limits.
  • If you are creating a keepsake, who will keep it? Is it for you or for your baby?

I don’t want to discourage you from documenting your pregnancy—not at all. I just want you to think now about how you you will use this later because that might help you create even better documentation while you still have a lot of choices.

#1 Baby Bump Photos

Photos showing your physical transformation are The Classic pregnancy documentation. If you’ve ever seen a pregnancy board on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen a photo montage showing belly growth. I love these because they grab the visual person and tell them exactly what you want them to know—I’m growing!

HOW: Keep the background the same and mark where you stand so your body is the only thing that changes. Or, add a chalkboard, t-shirt or some other prop that changes with you to show the number of weeks. It is also fun to put your collection of photos together as a video.

#2 Professional Photo Shoot

Your family is about to change a lot, whether you are going from just you to parent and child, a couple to a three-person family, or a family with children to a family with another child. A professional photographer can capture the essence of who you are now just before your baby arrives on the scene.

HOW: Decide whether the photos will be of just you or of the whole family. Will they be in color or do you like striking black and white photos? Set your appointment before your 37th week of pregnancy. You want to show the biggest belly possible, but you don’t want to schedule so late that you miss your pregnancy altogether if the baby comes early. If that does happen, though, you now have a photo shoot with your new family. You make the best of it!

#3 Belly Cast

A belly cast is made by covering your belly with a layer of plastic wrap then dipping gauze in plaster and covering your belly (or belly and breasts) layer by layer to create a lasting, 3D keepsake of your shape. Once the plaster dries, you can paint your belly cast. I loved doing this with both of my babies, but now I wonder what to do with it. How will you use the cast? It will become more stuff you have to haul around with you.

HOW: As with the photo shoot, you want to document the biggest belly possible without missing your pregnancy entirely. Aim for 37-38 weeks. Depending whether you mind sharing your naked self with friends, this can be a fun project to do with a group of girlfriends, or just do this as a couple. It does help to have at least one other person present.

#4 Journal

First ask who you are writing for. If you are writing only for yourself, let it all pour out. If you are writing for your baby, at what age? What would your child want to know about the pregnancy? For example, I used to play footsie with my first baby. She would press her foot against the edge of my ribs, and I would touch back. Push, touch, push, touch. That play was so precious to me, and I love to tell her about it now. That kind of story could be appropriate for a child of any age. Another thing my kids remain interested in are the names I considered for each of them. For them, these are potential lives they didn’t live—lives that have names. They are fascinated by naming ideas, and you future children might be as well. It’s all about how much you want to share when, so keep your audience in mind when you write your pregnancy journal.

The Pregnancy Journal

HOW: A paper pregnancy journal is easy to use and easy to keep for the future. It’s also private. You might want to keep a public pregnancy journal as a blog or a microblog (like Tumblr). Decide who you are journalling for and choose the format that will reach your intended audience.

#5 Make a Recording

Recording your voice for your future child is another way to document the sensory experience of pregnancy. Your voice recording could be another way to create a journal, or you could make it different. Sing songs, record yourself reading a (soon-to-be) favorite story, or record an older sibling talking to the baby. My almost-three-year old made talking to the baby bump part of her nightly routine. She would tell the baby what she did that day. She would read (or recite) stories. She would talk about what fun they would have once the baby was born. I didn’t record that; now, I wish I had.

HOW: Most phones can record voice, but remember to download and backup your recording so it isn’t one of those bits of data forgotten when you switch phones. Do a test in different rooms to find the best quality. For example, a bedroom will probably absorb sound while an office might echo. You could make these recordings video rather than just audio.

Document your pregnancy. This is such a time between times, a time of great energy. Don’t get so caught up in the documentation, though, that you miss the experience of every moment. Have fun, and ride that wave.

Image ©  |

Breastfeeding While Pregnant

Toddler with pregnant mother

Whether planned or not, a lot of us who practice extended breastfeeding find ourselves breastfeeding while pregnant. This is normal and common in many cultures.

Once you address a few potential concerns, you just need to be sure that you get enough nutrition, water, and rest as your body is nourishing three.

My first child was 24 months old and still breastfeeding frequently when I got pregnant with my second child. I had some of the common issues, like nipple sensitivity and lower milk production, but we maintained the breastfeeding relationship. Even the Braxton-Hicks contractions weren’t too much to bear until the day my son was born. That day, the bedtime feeding brought on such strong contractions that we skipped a feeding, for the first time in nearly three years. My son was born a few hours later.

Once my baby was born, I nursed both children for another two years. If I hadn’t seen a photo of one of my online friends showing how she stacked her tiny baby on top of her toddler, it might never have occurred to me that it was possible to breastfeed two children at once. Sitting with a baby and a toddler on my lap breastfeeding or holding my two children in my arms as we all fell asleep as they nursed, these are some of my sweetest memories of their young lives.

I was and am so grateful for women who share their experience so others can expand their own possibilities. That is how I expanded my own possibilities. If breastfeeding while pregnant then tandem nursing hadn’t occurred to you, I hope this opens a door for you.

“In a study of 179 mothers who had breastfed for at least six months, 61% had also breastfed during a subsequent pregnancy.1 Of these, 38% went on to nurse both newborn and toddler postpartum, an arrangement known as ‘tandem nursing.’”
Hilary Dervin Flower, “A New Look at the Safety of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy,” August 1, 2011,

Nutrition Concerns

To a great extent, you control your nutrition by what you take in. If you are pregnant AND breastfeeding an infant (not a busy toddler who checks in less often), you will probably need more calories.

Health Canada estimates energy requirements for a pregnant woman increase by 340 over the mother’s basic needs during the second trimester and by 452 calories during the third trimester. For breastfeeding, the energy requirements go up by 330 calories for a child 0-6 months and by 400 calories for a child 7-12 months. At the point when a child is no longer exclusively breastfeeding, the mother does not necessarily need to boost caloric intake over her basic needs. Not adding calories can help a mother lose some of the pregnancy weight if it is still lingering.

If you have a 4-month old exclusively breastfeeding and you are one month pregnant, you will need extra calories for the breastfeeding but not for the first trimester of the pregnancy, and you might find that your milk supply decreases too much for your newborn. You should watch your baby’s weight gain closely. If you have a 9-month old exclusively breastfeeding when you discover that you are one month pregnant, you will probably need to be aware of adding calories for both your breastfeeding baby and your pregnancy by the second trimester. That will mean about 740 extra calories a day. Your lactation consultant, midwife, or doctor can make specific recommendations.

Contraction Concerns

One of the most common worries I see associated with breastfeeding while pregnant is the possibility of miscarriage or early labor. Oxytocin released during breastfeeding does cause contractions, but these contractions are so mild that most women don’t notice them. (KellyMom)

Unless there is a specific medical reason to expect pre-term labor or miscarriage, very mild contractions during breastfeeding are not necessarily a reason to wean your child during pregnancy.

Comfort Concerns

If you experience nausea or fatigue during pregnancy, breastfeeding could potentially increase either. You will need great nutrition and plenty of rest. Fortunately, focused breastfeeding time could give you regular rest time. Keep snacks near your favorite nursing area. Eating a few crackers and having a drink while breastfeeding can take the edge off of nausea.

Many women experience nipple sensitivity during pregnancy. This is caused by hormone levels and can be mild or extreme. Breastfeeding while your nipples are very sensitive can be excruciating. Toddlers can get lazy with their latch, so be sure your child has taken a full mouthful and isn’t pulling from your nipple. You can also just ask your toddler to be quite gentle with you. Some women use this time to practice pain management techniques they learn for the birthing process.

You Are the One Who Knows

You are the one who knows whether or not you should continue breastfeeding your baby through pregnancy then continue tandem nursing both children. Watching those babies reach out and touch one another, bonding while they sit on your lap nursing, can be one of the most moving experiences of a chaotic life with young children. But, you need to ensure everyone’s nutrition, safety, and comfort before you get to that point.

Resources for Breastfeeding While Pregnant

If you plan to breastfeed while pregnant, you will probably find it helpful to talk to a La Leche League Leader who has done the same. It can be very reassuring to share the experience with someone who has been there.

For more evidence and experience, I recommend the following articles.

Image © Marina Dyakonova |

How to Annoy a Pregnant Woman

Annoyed pregnant woman with mop

If you want to annoy a pregnant woman, start your conversation with her by reaching out and resting your hand on her belly. That’s a nearly guaranteed first step toward annoyance.

Recently, we asked our Facebook followers to share the most annoying questions they were asked while pregnant. These are the oh-so painful questions they were asked.

“Was it planned?”

Ask the pregnant woman if she planned her pregnancy. Don’t stop there, though. Ask her, “Was it planned or was it an accident?” Be sure to mention the accident. That’s important.

Bonus: if she has several young children with her, stare at them while you ask.

Bonus for store clerks: if you are a cashier and a woman is buying a pregnancy test, say, “Uh-oh.”

Ask about Her Age

Everyone knows that women are only fertile when they are 29 years old—plus they love talking about their age—so if the pregnant woman looks younger or older than 29, ask about her age. Say, “Aren’t you a little young/old to be pregnant?”

Ask about Her Weight

The other thing all women love talking about is their weight. When you meet any woman, ask her, “Are you pregnant or just fat?” If you know she’s pregnant, change that to, “Do you feel fat?” You could also keep your question more open by asking, “How much have you gained?” Everyone should be about the same size, so, if she looks smaller than that size, say, “Wow, you’re that far along? You don’t look like it.”

Bonus: scrunch up your nose after you talk about her weight and say, “What is your due date?”

Double bonus:  tell her, “You’re so big! Are you due soon?” Make sure she’s pregnant before you ask this. Otherwise, it would be rude.

Ask about Twins

While we’re on the subject of weight and the ideal size of a pregnancy, let’s talk about the comments everyone should make to every pregnant woman at least once. Ask about the twins. There are so many ways to ask:

  • Start with, “You must be having twins.”
  • If you feel confident she is having at least triplets, say, “Wow! How many are in there?”
  • When she tells you it isn’t twins, persist with, “Are you sure it’s not twins? You look like you are ready to pop.” Ask her again next time you see her. Same question.

Bonus for store clerks:  whenever you see a pregnant woman, say, “You’re not gonna have that baby in here, are ya?”

Ask about Sex

Don’t ask about the act of sex by which she became pregnant. That would be impolite. Ask about the sex of the baby. If that seems too direct, just say, “What are you having?” or “Do you know what you are having?” If she’s already annoyed, she might answer, “We’re hoping for a baby.”

Bonus: if she actually tells you the baby is a girl, ask her, “When are you going to try for that boy?”

Ask about Plans for the Birth

Ask the pregnant woman about her plans for the birth, then be sure to question her plans. Say, “Are you sure you want to have it naturally?” Not “give birth” but “have it.” If she plans to give birth in a hospital, ask the variant, “Are you sure you want to have it in the hospital?”

Bonus: follow up with “What does the doctor say?”

When You Meet Again

If you’ve already talked to a pregnant woman about being pregnant, acknowledge that fact by going out of your way to talk to her again, then ask, “Are you STILL pregnant?” or “Haven’t you had that baby yet?”

Share Her Feelings

Especially if the pregnant woman you meet is an introvert, ask her about her feelings. Ask in a way that requires a “YES” or “NO” answer. Say, “Are you excited?”

Bonus:: instead of “Are you excited?” ask “Are you scared.” It’s really important to name feelings and have her check them off one by one. Keep going until you find a feeling that she feels.

Or, You Could Try This

Most of these questions are just efforts of the person asking to get a signal from the pregnant woman how to react. That’s good. That’s excellent. You want to share. What isn’t excellent is treating a woman’s pregnancy like a public event. If she is a generally private person, she hasn’t stopped being private just because she’s making another human being. She didn’t stop being a person with a name and privacy to become a public character called “the pregnant woman.”

The best bet is to be neutral in what you say unless you know her very well—and maybe even then.

As one of our Facebook followers suggested, you might say, “You must be excited!” or “You must be happy!” A neutral comment will allow her to invite more conversation on the topic if she wants it.

Image © Andrey Zametalov |

Last-Minute Gift for Yourself?

Natural buckwheat body pillow

Christmas, birthdays, and other big, gift-giving holidays are a perfect time to ask for those very nice gifts you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself every day.

Do you end up buying your own gifts? I do. I ordered mine yesterday, and I don’t mind. I don’t really need much, and I don’t assume my husband can read my mind about what I want. I would be terribly disappointed with jewelry, flowers, chocolates, or any of the gifts I see marketed to men for women. My son wanted to buy the gift himself, but he finally asked me yesterday to help him. He and my husband are both very happy that I’m happy with what I get. Plus, buying for myself makes getting that very nice gift even easier.

So, here is my suggestion for you if you have family members who are still looking around at the last-minute for the right gift for you: a Buckwheat Body Pillow.

Natural buckwheat pregnancy pillow

Buckwheat Body Pillow

If you bought separate pillows for pregnancy comfort, for nursing, and for sleep comfort, you probably wish you could use the same pillow for all three purposes. With the buckwheat body pillow, you can. This pillow is versatile. Lay it out the long way to support your belly during pregnancy; tie the ends together to make the perfect size for nursing; and continue to sleep with the pillow in a variety of shapes long after pregnancy and nursing are over.

This pillow can be used in many ways, and you can keep it clean by removing the buckwheat to wash the cotton cover and even replacing the buckwheat after years of use.

And, this pillow is beautiful! You won’t want to hide these bright cotton prints.

Comes in a child size as well.

Buckwheat pillows made in Canada

A Pillow You Can Feel Good About

There are more reasons to feel good about this pillow.

Your Health. Filled with dust-free, roasted buckwheat hulls which are hypoallergenic & naturally dust mite resistant.

Environmentally Responsible. All the raw materials use in our buckwheat pillows are local, long-lasting, compostable, and renewable.

Made in Canada. Natural buckwheat filling supplied by a Quebecois organic farm.

Socially Responsible. Each buckwheat pillow is handmade by a Montreal-based reintegration company that fights against exclusion and poverty.

Ask for the perfect last-minute gift, or buy it for yourself today. Our store is closed for the holidays, but we are still shipping.