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Pregnancy and environmental health

Disease factsheets

Pregnancy and environmental health

Written by: Irène GABRIELLI and Delphine DERNE-BUHART (midwives in Monaco)

Pregnant women are particularly sensitive to environmental pollution, since they are exposed to hundreds of chemical substances during pregnancy (tobacco smoke, carbon monoxide, pesticides, etc.). Current research shows that the health of an unborn baby is very much at stake during pregnancy and the first 1,000 days of life. Pregnant women are therefore advised to follow a few simple tips to limit the exposure of the foetus and the mother as far as possible.

Which cosmetic products are best to use during pregnancy?

Pregnancy and cosmetics are not always compatible. Cosmetic products contain many ingredients that can be harmful for the baby, so it is preferable to avoid them as much as possible.

● We would advise you to replace any products in the form of sprays (which can penetrate into the lungs) and limit the use of perfumes on clothes.
● Ideally, you should choose a certified make-up brand (Cosmétique Charte Bio), since the longer the exposure, the more the product will penetrate.
● Opt for an oil and limewater-based liniment (which contains as few ingredients as possible, read labels carefully), Aleppo soap or vegetable oils.
● Avoid wipes (as these contain a lot of chemical products and are not rinsed off). They may be used occasionally, and ideally should not contain any perfumes.

How can I improve my diet during pregnancy?

Pregnant women should ensure that they eat a healthy, balanced diet, which should be rich in nutrients and minerals. It should also include enough calories to meet the needs of both mother and baby. Below are our tips for a good diet during pregnancy:

● Ensure that fruits and vegetables are properly rinsed or peeled.
● Opt for organically grown leafy vegetables and steam cooking.
● Glass containers are the best option for children and adults.

Your environment and the baby’s environment

It is important that pregnant women maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can help to ensure that the baby grows in an environment that is as safe as possible.
● Be very careful about passive smoking: do not smoke in the room where the baby sleeps and ensure that living spaces are well aired (for a minimum of 10 minutes twice a day).
● Check oil-burning stoves and water heaters regularly.
● Limit the use of essential oils, incense and scented candles.
● The temperature in the baby’s bedroom should ideally be between 18 and 20°C.
● Opt for a voice-activated baby monitor.
● Pay close attention to the composition of wall paint and furniture in the bedroom.
● We recommend that you use bottled water to prepare baby bottles and avoid heating them up in the microwave. We hope that these tips will help you to pay attention to the substances that surround us and maintain a healthier environment around your baby, from pregnancy onwards.

Looking for more information? A workshop on environmental health during pregnancy is held every Monday. Sign up via the Princess Grace Hospital Maternity Unit! (+377 97 98 95 56, 8.30 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday).