Practice a Cleansing Regimen Before Pregnancy: Eliminating toxins is required to keep hormone balances in check, affecting fertility and delaying conception, says Dr. Adrienne Stewart
Apr 30, 2013 06:24PM
● By Adrienne Stewart, NMD
Preconception care can be very healing for a mother and father and for the unborn child. One aspect is cleansing the body. We are exposed every day to toxins that disrupt the body's natural processes and over time, they can accumulate in our bodies. Some people retain more toxins than others due to genetic differences, stress, nutrient deficiencies, high-sugar and low-protein diets, increased exposure and difficulty excreting waste. While we cannot completely eliminate our exposure to toxins, it is possible to limit daily exposure and periodically flush them out.
It is especially important for couples that want to conceive to be proactive about cleansing because many of these toxins disrupt hormone balances, affecting fertility and delaying conception.
It is important to buy all-natural, whole foods. The Environmental Working Group provides two lists (ewg.org/foodnews/summary) to help buy produce wisely. The Clean 15 comprises produce we can eat liberally because it contains the least amount of pesticides. The Dirty Dozen is a list of produce that should be organic because it contains the most pesticides.
One of the best ways to help the body eliminate toxins is to increase the amount of clean water in the diet. For women wanting to become pregnant, it is important to use glass bottles and containers instead of plastic and avoid the epoxy linings inside metal food cans, because they may contain hormone-disrupting BPA.
For extra detoxification, avoid sugar, eat more broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, and avoid fish with high mercury content such as farmed or Atlantic salmon, shark, swordfish, tuna or sea bass. In addition, choose foods high in lean protein like wild, grass-fed, grass-finished meat that is free of hormones or antibiotics. Pea and rice protein are also great proteins for shakes and smoothies.
In the home, we may be exposed to toxins from indoor air pollution such as cigarette smoke, chemicals that get tracked in on the bottom of shoes and off-gas from vinyl shower curtains, construction materials, new furniture, carpets and dry cleaning to personal care products. Use HEPA air purifiers, air filters, indoor houseplants, taking off shoes, proper air duct cleaning and environmentally friendly construction materials—especially in the nursery.
Some toxic chemicals are used in cosmetics, cleaners, laundry soaps, air fresheners and other household products. Pay special attention to personal care products because they are applied directly to the skin. Avoid products with fragrances, dyes, and parabens. A health food store will stock natural cosmetics, shampoos and lotions. Check the quality of your current cosmetics in the EWG's Skin Deep Database (ewg.org/skindeep).
Take cleansing a step further by consulting an environmental medicine doctor. Specific tests for heavy metals, BPA, phthalates, parabens and other substances, can help determine the body’s burden and the depth of cleansing needed. Cleansing may include specific diet protocols, targeted supplementation with liver support and therapies such as sauna therapy, constitutional hydrotherapy, colon hydrotherapy or heavy metal chelation. Such cleansing is safe before pregnancy, but not recommended once a woman becomes pregnant.
Healthy Mind and Spirit
Getting our mind and spirit ready is also essential before conception. Stress can create chemicals in the body that act like toxins and fatigue the hormone system. Exercise, meditation and deep breathing are essential to reducing stress, which helps men and women be in a more balanced and receptive mood for conception.
When preparing for pregnancy, imagine a sacred place where the child is growing and developing. For women, a healthy relationship with their partner and their body can be very empowering during this time. Keeping a journal can help to reflect, look toward the future and stay motivated about health. Partners can make a commitment to themselves and to the unborn baby to add wellness and balance into their lives.
Dr. Adrienne Stewart is a naturopathic physician practicing at Integrative Health, in Scottsdale, concentrating on fertility, preconception health and environmental medicine. She empowers patients that are struggling with fatigue, hormone imbalances, weight gain or poor digestion by providing natural and effective treatment and prevention strategies. Learn more at MyIntegrativeHealth.com.