I will start this blog with some of the ways I have attempted to have a more natural and balanced pregnancy over the last several months.One of the first books I purchased back in June when I found I was going to be a mother was The Complete Organic Pregnancy. I knew that I wanted to give my baby the best start possible in life, and that I could start by making sure my own lifestyle was safe and natural. While we couldn't afford to replace everything toxic in our home right away, once I learned about the dangers of PVC and other common substances (especially plastics!), I started to phase them out as much as possible. I did replace my PVC yoga mat with this mat, since I was doing yoga several times a week, stopped using water bottles containing BPA, and avoided putting any type of plastic in the microwave. For the last several years, I have been sort of an "on-and-off" vegetarian- sometimes not eating any meat for over a year, and never eating it on a very regular basis. I feel better when my diet is plant-based, but moreover, it can have a huge impact on the earth in general. I wanted to maintain a vegetarian diet throughout my pregnancy, but found that I was struggling to get even close to the recommended amount of protein, so I have begun eating small amounts of hormone-free chicken on occasion. As much as our budget will allow, I eat organic foods, and try to include a lot of fresh produce. Eating well is probably the most important step a woman can take to ensure a healthy baby. Another big area I have gone earth-friendly in is personal care products. I have been using at least some natural products for years, but since I've been pregnant I have pretty much cut out all "drugstore" type items. There are countless harmful or potentially harmful chemicals in everything from skin care to shampoo, lotion to hand soap. Many of these ingredients have not been properly tested to ensure that they are safe for human use, and yet there they are on the shelves in the stores we shop in. Some excellent all-natural brands I've found are Avalon, Burt's Bees, Weleda, Nature's Gate, Tom's of Maine and Desert Essence. If you're lucky enough to have a Whole Foods or other well-stocked natural foods store nearby, they carry many wonderful products that work beautifully. I love Burt's Bee's Mama Bee Belly Butter and Leg and Foot Cream. My skin care is currently from Weleda, and my toothpaste from Tom's of Maine. I'm always looking for new products to try, so I'll attempt to review what I use on this blog in the future. I could keep going on and on, but for now I'll end with a word on cleaning products. Many people do not realize how very important this issue is. Traditional cleaners may seem to make things clean, but what we don't see are the dangerous toxins they leave behind in our homes. They are not safe for the person cleaning, or those who will come in cantact with the "cleaned" surfaces. Marketing from large companies has fostered the mindset that you need all these chemicals to kill germs and make everything sanitary, but these products are doing much more harn than good. Thanks to green being so popular, there are now tons of alternative options from brands such as Seventh Generation, and they really do work! I have used many different natural cleaners, but have recently started with Shaklee products sold by a friend of mine who is a stay at home mom. Shaklee has been around for a lot longer than I have, and their products are absultely wonderful and completely safe and eco-friendly. I use them for all my cleaning, including laundry and dishes, and I'm anything but disappointed. They are also extremely cost-effective. Well, this became a post about green living, not just pregnancy, but I guess the point is that just about anything eco-friendly and natural is better when you're pregnant. The less exposure you have to toxins, the less your baby is being exposed to them. A few more quick natural pregnancy tips: yoga is amazing and I believe it has really made a difference in how I've felt physically and mentally; herbal pregnancy teas are nice alternatives to coffee and can have tremendous benefits; relaxation is so very important- take time for yourself no matter what because your mental state effects your baby, and it is so important to take the time to enjoy pregnancy.