There’s nothing like discovering you’re pregnant to kickstart your sustainability efforts. But between the endless Google scrolling and first trimester nausea, you might feel defeated from the start. Not to worry, mama. As a dietitian, sustainable living expert, and mom to an energetic toddler, I’ve rounded up my top picks for a low waste pregnancy.
Remember: You don’t have to do everything, but you can absolutely do something!
1. Use Lia Flushable Pregnancy Tests
For those of you trying to conceive, this one’s for you! Part of the TTC process involves taking multiple pregnancy tests a month. You take one test a bit too early because you’re too excited/impatient to wait until day 14. You take another test when you’re actually supposed to and then another to confirm! If you’re already eco-conscious, you’ve probably noted all the plastic involved in testing: the box wrapped in plastic film, each test individually wrapped in plastic, and then the test itself. And, even though waiting for the results feels like hours, you’re only using the test for 3-5 minutes. That’s a lot of single-use plastic each month!
FINALLY, there’s a new pregnancy test on the market called Lia. It’s flushable and biodegradable and it’s over 99% accurate. So test as much as you want without worrying about the single-use plastic involved!
2. Invest, Don’t Just Consume
Now that you’ve confirmed that you’re pregnant, get ready to be BOMBARDED with comments from well-meaning friends and family members (and, of course, Instagram) telling you what you “need” for your pregnancy.
When we mindlessly consume, we fill our homes with items that we don’t need, and that ends up going to landfill! When we invest, we fill our homes with useful, high-quality items that we enjoy for years.
This mindset shift is a MUST HAVE for your low waste aspirations (during pregnancy and beyond). Consumer culture will try to convince you that you need everything. But, when you’re down a rabbit hole trying to find that perfect “thing,” remember the mantra “invest, don’t just consume” and ask yourself these 3 questions.
1. Do you need the item?
2. What’s the lifespan of the item- how long will you/your baby use it?
3. Does the item have multiple purposes/uses?
3. Rest on a Pillow for Pregnancy, Breastfeeding + Beyond
I included this item in my article 9 Must-Haves for Low Waste Parenting and it’s equally applicable to a low waste pregnancy. The Sustainable Baby Co.’s MoonWomb™ pillow is a great example of how to invest, not just consume during pregnancy.
I’ll never knock an item that promotes better sleep, however, traditional pregnancy pillows have short lifespans, and, let’s be honest, they’re ugly!
Enter the MoonWomb. It’s beautiful, supports your pregnant body, is adjustable to fit your body and your preferences, and has multiple uses. After you’ve used it to make yourself more comfortable during pregnancy, you can use it to support your baby while you breast or bottle-feed. You can use it to snuggle during supervised naps and to support your baby during tummy time. And, you can use it as a meditation pillow and prop for restorative yoga poses.
4. Wear Period & Bladder Leak Underwear
About 20% of women experience bleeding during the first trimester. (If you are experiencing bleeding, it’s important to see your doctor or midwife to make sure everything is OK). For those women, THINX period underwear is a great option to bleed sustainably. They’re comfortable, leakproof, protect against odor, are easy to clean, and prevent you from needing single-use period products that contain harmful chemicals, end up in landfills, and contaminate our environment.
And even if you aren’t experiencing bleeding, you might experience bladder leakage. This becomes more common as the baby grows and places ever-increasing pressure on your bladder. Instead of wearing a bulky, single-use pad, check out THINX bladder leak underwear.
5. Invest in the Right Clothes
I’m still wearing the HATCH pieces that I invested in during my pregnancy and my baby is 14 months old. I live in The Mama Denim Shirt, black linen pants (now available as The Paperbag Trouser), and the cotton pajamas. That is what I love so much about the clothes HATCH makes- they grow with you during pregnancy and beyond.
When you’re buying maternity clothes, think about your everyday style. Then invest in versions of those staples that will grow with you and support your changing body. As with any purchase, think about the lifespan of the item- the longer the lifespan, the less wasteful!
6. Eat More Plants
One of the best things that we can do for the environment is to eat less meat. This doesn’t mean that to be “low waste” you have to eliminate animal products from your diet entirely. However, consuming fewer animal products and more plant-based foods is better for you, your baby, and the environment. I know that with weird cravings and food aversions, getting any food down can feel like a huge feat! So, when you’re feeling great and looking to nourish your body and your growing baby in the best way possible, it’s a great idea to figure out a way to eat more plants!
The Predominantly Plant-Based Pregnancy Guide by dietitians Alexandra Caspero & Whitney English is a wonderful resource to learn about the benefits of eating more plants during pregnancy.
7. Make a Snack Pack
For all my pregnant friends and clients, I recommend that they carry a snack pack with them wherever they go. Hunger can hit without warning and it’s important to make sure that your blood sugar is controlled throughout pregnancy- particularly if you have gestational diabetes. Instead of relying on packaged food, think about “snacking naked.” Focus on foods that are naturally plastic and package free like fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds.
Make your own snack packs with your favorite snacks so that you won’t find yourself without a healthy, balanced snack. Choose ingredients with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Think fruit and nuts, energy balls, and veggies with hummus. And pack them up in a zip-top snack bag, stainless steel container, or glass jar.
As your bump grows and there’s less space for your stomach, you might find that small, more frequent meals work better for your digestion. Making sure that you always have a snack will help you consume enough nutrients with less likelihood of digestive issues (i.e., heartburn!). Check out my website www.abbysfoodcourt.com for more snack (and meal!) ideas.
8. Take a Water Bottle + Filter
Hydration needs increase during pregnancy. You need water to absorb essential nutrients and transport nutrients and hormones to your blood and to your baby. To stay hydrated while protecting the planet requires a reusable water bottle and filter. Say goodbye to single-use plastic water bottles!
Reusable water bottles made from glass or stainless steel are best because those materials are inert- meaning they don’t interact with the water you drink. Plastic water bottles (reusable or single-use) can leach chemicals effects into your water. Those chemicals have been linked to causing negative health effects. I love the large HydroFlask with a straw.
Finally, to ensure high-quality water, use the GoPure Pod water filter. It’s light, fits in every water bottle, and filters out the water within minutes. Staying hydrated has never tasted so good (or been so easy).
After reading Simplicity Parenting by Jim John Payne during pregnancy, I took a HUGE sigh of relief. In it, Payne explains how to approach parenting more simply with less STUFF and more calm. This book puts the “invest, don’t just consume” mindset into a framework that works for you and your children. I highly suggest giving it a read, especially when you’re feeling tempted to buy, buy, buy.