Pregnant women should limit chemical exposure – even in the air they breathe.

It’s common knowledge that pregnant women are often more susceptible to infections and diseases while their fetus developes because their bodies are so focused on the growing child that it tends to let down its other defenses. New mothers spend countless hours reading up about certain foods and drinks they shouldn’t ingest (sushi, caffeine, alcohol, peanuts) to keep their baby growing healthily. And yet, very few pregnant women consider the air they breathe.

Sure, women who are pregnant tend to avoid smokey places (in general), but smoke isn’t the only danger to the pregnant woman and her child.

For starters, and this is a fact that not too many know, cat urine is extremely toxic to pregnant women. Of course, not to ingest, but to breathe in. Cat urine emits large amounts of ammonia gases that can be harmful to the development of the fetus. Also, cat litter contains multiple chemicals needed to make it clump to stop the smell, and so on; so disturbing the litter and causing dust clouds while cleaning isn’t an option for pregnant women. Get your hubby to take care of Fluffy for those 9 months.

If you don’t own cats you’re not out of the woods yet.

Remember, you are breathing for yourself and your baby. Every breath you take is also your baby’s.

If you have any of the following products in your home, you are in danger of exposing yourself and your unborn baby to phthalates:

  • Deodorant
  • Perfume
  • Hair spray
  • Hair gel
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Liquid soaps
  • Body wash
  • Lotions

While all of these are carriers of phthalates, perfume is the main culprit with women. Women who were tested for phthalate levels showed the highest signs due to perfume — and not just because they wore perfume, but because they were around people who wore it.

What risks do phthalates pose to pregnant women and their unborn children? Studies of rats in utero who were exposed to high levels of phthalates showed a shorter anogenital distance than normal, a birth defect. There has also been a direct correlation between in-utero phthalate exposure and metabolic disorders in adults (obesity).

Exposure in the womb isn’t the only concern when it comes to phthalates. A Swedish study showed an increase diagnosis of autism in children who lived in homes with vinyl floors which emit phthalates. And while those results were found by surprise (the result of the 2010 study was not focused on finding a link between autism and phthalates), it’s still a statistic pregnant and new mothers should not ignore.

It’s not just the air in your home that you need to cleanse either; the time you spend at work while you’re pregnant is significant.  Consider speaking to your employer about restricting perfume and cologne in the office for the duration of your pregnancy (and how knows, maybe the trend will stick even after!), request organic-based soaps and cleaning products be used around the office as well. You are protecting yourself and your unborn child — you have a right to ask for these things.

Being pregnant can be scary enough, and when you start to look at the world on molecular level, it becomes even scarier. People are so concerned with what they can see and touch that they often forget what’s floating around in the air they breathe.

Every breath you take is your baby’s breath as well; don’t forget that.