Choices for a Healthy Pregnancy
Tips to protect you and your child from harmful chemicals.
- Fish is some of the healthiest food you can eat, but it’s important to choose wisely.
King mackerel, marlin, shark, swordfish, tilefish, tuna steak, striped wild bass, alewife, bluefish, shad, imported wild sturgeon, or weakfish.
Wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, Atlantic herring, Dungeness crab, Pacific cod, Alaskan black cod, farmed striped bass, farmed catfish, clams, mussels, and Pacific oysters. Learn more about seafood here.
- Eat organic food as much as possible, especially these foods found to be most contaminated with pesticides: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes (imported), spinach, lettuce, and potatoes. Learn more about pesticides in food here
- Avoid canned foods as much as possible. Linings in cans may leach bisphenol-A, a chemical that mimics estrogen.
- Choose low-fat meat and dairy products, because many chemicals build up in fat.
- Avoid clear water bottles (in any color) that are labeled #7 on the bottom. These bottles are typically made of polycarbonate, which may leach bisphenol-A. Choose water bottles made of uncoated stainless steel or cloudy plastic instead. Read more tips on safer plastics here.
- When reheating food, opt for containers labeled as microwave-safe such as those made of glass or ceramic materials. Try using parchment paper, wax paper, or white paper towels to cover containers rather than plastic wrap.
- Avoid non-stick or Teflon-coated cookware, which may release toxic compounds. Choose stainless steel, glass, cast iron, or ceramic cookware instead.
- Avoid microwave popcorn. The inside of the bag is often coated with toxic chemicals that may leach into the popcorn. Avoid fast foods, as fast-food containers may be lined with "Teflon chemicals."
- Choose fragrance-free personal care products, and consider giving up perfumes, nail polish, and hair dye, which may contain harmful chemicals.
- Choose cosmetics and personal products from companies committed to safer products, like Burt's Bees, Avalon, Aubrey Organics, and California Baby. You can also explore safer products and ingredients on the Cosmetic Safety Database.
- Avoid hand soaps marketed as 'antibacterial': scrubbing hands with hot water and plain soap is just as effective, and the overuse of antibacterial products can lead to germs that are harder to kill.
- Avoid clothing, shoes, and boots made with vinyl/PVC. If you can, also avoid those treated with Gore-Tex or other "Teflon chemicals." Choose rubber and vinyl-free fabrics such as nylon and polyester.
- Avoid bug killers, weed killers, and other pesticides in the home or garden. Focus on preventive techniques, and learn about easy non-toxic options here and here.
- Replace plastic shower curtains with fabric curtains (like nylon or polyester), and avoid vinyl mattress covers and inflatable furniture.
- Don’t do any remodeling unless it’s absolutely essential. If you must remodel, don't do the work yourself, and choose products free of VOCs. Learn more about safer building materials here. If you have an older home with lead paint, hire a certified lead abatement worker to protect yourself from lead paint dust or chips.
- Learn more in our fact sheet, Reducing Exposure to Lead in Older Homes, and 5 Steps to a Healthy Nursery or Child’s Room.
- Inspect foam furniture and get rid of items where foam is exposed and crumbling.
- Try green cleaning recipes (find recipes here) using liquid soap, baking soda, and vinegar, or these safer brands: Seventh Generation, Bi-O-Kleen, and Country Save.
- Leave shoes at the door and try to vacuum once a week. Toxic chemicals from both indoors and outdoors can build up in household dust.