How to Safely Detox Your Body for Pregnancy

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 4, 2013

detox for pregnancy

When planning a pregnancy, women today have to consider their history of exposure to environmental pollution in order to appropriately cleanse the Body Temple in preparation for carrying a healthy baby to term.

This is a modern day challenge that Traditional Cultures did not have to grapple with. While Ancestral Societies initiated periods of special feeding prior to a couple conceiving a child in order to ensure proper nutrients were available for the optimal development of the fetus, detoxification from environmental poisons was unnecessary due to pristine water, air and food.

This is no longer true today.

Our world has become a toxic soup with persistent environmental pollutants such as dioxin, the chemical by-product of numerous industrial processes found even at the North Pole.  Exposure to dioxin results in storage in body tissues.

There is a large vortex of garbage roughly twice the size of Texas swirling out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that keeps growing with each passing year.

The grouper in the Gulf of Mexico are so deformed from the BP oil spill I’m told by fishermen friends that I have decided not to eat it anymore even though I live on the Gulf Coast and just love grouper sandwiches.

Hike off many country roads in small towns or large — doesn’t seem to matter — and you will find garbage and illegally dumped chemicals everywhere that are no doubt seeping into the ground water.

While I could go on and on about the environmental contaminants each and every one of us are exposed to on a daily basis, the point is clear – the synthetic prenatal vitamins recommended by conventional doctors three months before conception is not appropriate preparation for such a huge life event.

A minimum 6 months and ideally a full year of slow detoxification combined with nutrient dense dietary preparation is wise. Toxic babies born to toxic mothers are more likely to have allergies and even be allergic to their own mother’s breastmilk. Autoimmune issues, behavioral problems and excessive crying characterize babies born with a large toxic load according to Nutritionist Kaayla T. Daniel PhD.

Above all, efforts to detox your body for pregnancy should be gentle!  Long juice fasts or doing the Master Cleanse is totally unnecessary. There is no need to stress and strain the body with fasting or highly restrictive diets to get highly effective results.

Safely Detox Your Body for Pregnancy

With gentle and effective as the primary goals, here are six strategies to consider as the foundation for a pre-pregnancy detox regimen.

Wheatgrass Juice

My approach to detoxification for my first pregnancy 16 years ago was very simple – an organic diet which included a shot of fresh, organic wheatgrass juice almost every single day for several months. The chlorophyll in wheatgrass is what makes it so cleansing as cholorophyll is a potent blood, liver and gastrointestinal cleanser. Fresh wheatgrass juice also contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes.  In addition, it is low in oxalic acid which can be extremely problematic to health especially for those with candida or gut imbalance issues.

Most important to me at the time was the experience of nutritional pioneer Ann Wigmore in using wheatgrass juice.  She regularly incorporated its use for detoxification for many years with great results.

Gelatin-Rich Bone Broths

Gelatin is collagen that has been broken down into its basic components by reacting with water through a process known as hydrolysis. Collagen is the main component of bones, tendons, cartilage and skin and is plentiful in homemade bone broths.

Gelatin has been demonstrated to soothe and heal the intestinal mucosa. In 1905, Erich Cohn of the Medical Polyclinic of the University of Bonn recommended gelatin to people with what is known today as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS.

Probably the most exciting thing about gelatin that even people who are familiar with bone broths don’t generally know is its role as a very safe method to detox your body.

This is due to the large amounts of the amino acid glycine which assists the liver with its housecleaning duties.  The simplest of all the amino acids, glycine can be produced by the body and is therefore not considered essential, although the ease of the body in manufacturing glycine as needed is probably highly contingent upon whether a person is in radiantly good health!

The ability of the liver to do its job sufficiently is limited by the amount of glycine that is available so it makes sense to provide the body with all that it could possibly need through plenty of bone broths, ideally a small cup with every meal.

Given the toxicity of our world today and the high level of chemicals in our air, water, and food, large amounts of glycine in the diet through regular consumption of bone broths has become one way to assist the body with the nearly constant detoxification that is required to maintain health, in particular, detoxification before pregnancy.

Lacto-Fermented Foods and Beverages

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, home preservation of vegetables and fruits was accomplished without the aid of canning, refrigeration or freezing.

The traditional method for preservation of milk, vegetables, and meat involves a process called lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid preserves food by inhibiting putrefying bacteria. This organic acid is produced by a beneficial bacterium present on the surface of all plants and animals – even our own skin!

The process of lacto-fermentation works in a similar manner with plant foods, transforming cabbage into sauerkraut and cucumbers into pickles.

Traditional cuisines from around the world prized lacto-fermented foods and beverages for their medicinal properties as well as delicious taste. Most traditional cuisines included at least one fermented food or beverage with every meal, which worked to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.

Regular consumption of traditionally fermented foods and drinks promotes the growth of healthy flora and overall balance in the intestines. A 1999 study published in the Lancet found that consumption of lacto-fermented vegetables in children was associated with low rates of asthma, skin problems and auto immune disorders in general.

Lacto-fermented foods are rich in enzymes as well as beneficial bacteria. Think of lacto-fermented foods as “super-raw” foods that will help detox your body and prepare it well for the rigors and nutrient drain of pregnancy.

Cleansing Baths

Regular soaking baths with epsom salts or magnesium flakes will help to open the elimination channels both via the skin and the gut to rid the body of unwanted toxins.

A weekly soak of baking soda and sea salt (1 pound of each) for 30-45 minutes helps detox your body of accumulated radiation according to nutritional pioneer Hazel Parcells.  It is a good practice after airplane flights or exposure to x-rays.

For more on detox baths, click here.

Plenty of Saturated Fat

According to a University of Rochester Medical Center study, exposure to the pervasive environmental pollutant dioxin alters the induction of milk-producing genes occurring around the very first week of pregnancy.  This has the effect of decreasing the number of ductal branches and mature lobules in the mammary tissue which can in turn negatively affect breastfeeding.

Diana West, coauthor of The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk, says that there has been a dramatic increase in recent years of women who who are having trouble producing enough milk for their babies, likely due to environmental contaminants like dioxin.

Fortunately, food can be protective from exposure.  True Vitamin A found in plentiful amounts in saturated animal fats plays a unique role in protecting a woman from environmental pollutants.

Therefore, any detoxification regimen for a woman preparing for pregnancy should include generous amounts of grassfed dairy and other animal fats like egg yolks and liver which contain plentiful amounts of true Vitamin A.  Note that while carotenes in plant foods can be converted to Vitamin A in the body, the conversion rate is very inefficient at best and may not occur at all at worst for those with gut problems. Plant foods cannot be relied upon for adequate Vitamin A.

Diatomaceous Earth

Toxic metals lurking in body tissues are a potential harm to a developing baby.  Hair analysis and other tests from a professional can determine with certainty whether or not this is a problem for you. In lieu of expensive tests, however, a simple supplement consisting a tablespoon of food grade diatomaceous earth per 100 pounds of body weight per day in a glass of water can be used to detox your body by pulling toxic metals from the digestive tract.

Please note that while a gentle detox for pregnancy is a good idea, detoxification while pregnant and breastfeeding is most definitely not!  If any physical symptoms are experienced while detoxing, click here for ways to quickly alleviate your discomfort.

More Information on Healthy Ways to Detox

7 Ways to Avoid Detox Symptoms on a Cleanse

Seaweed Wrap: Minerals In, Heavy Metals Out

Detox Baths: Which are Best and for What Ailments

Detoxification Using a Castor Oil Pack

How to Do a Hair Detox and Enjoy Healthy Locks Naturally

Rebounding: A Great Way to Gently Detox

Juicing 101: Why Do It, Which Juicers are Best, Recipes to Try

Sources:

Wheatgrass – The Green Wonder

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare

Mad as  Hatter: How to Avoid Toxic Metals and Clear Them from Your Body

Fermented Foods and Beverages

Hazel Parcells in Her Own Words

The Bountiful Boon of Bone Broths

Picture Credit

 

Comments (77)

    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist
      Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist July 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      I would *not* use bentonite clay due to worrisome problems with heavy metal contamination. This from Dr. Kaayla Daniel who wrote about it in one of her articles on heavy metals.

      Reply
  1. Would these suggestions also apply to the father? Or do you have other recommendations for men prior to conception?

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  10. Wendy Carver via Facebook February 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    It is easy to say no detox when pregnant/nursing. For those who spend years in this state it isn’t amusing though.

    Reply
  11. Kerry Redding via Facebook February 20, 2014 at 9:46 am

    What about oil pulling when nursing? I’ve been looking and finding mixed answers. It seems to me that since you’re spitting it out, it won’t be a issue. But I’m not sure…

    Reply
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  16. Hello,if I am already pregnat and did not know about detoxing what can I do? I can not do a detox while i am pregnat? what I can do to have a healty child?thank you

    Reply
  17. Elizabeth Johnson June 10, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Sarah,
    I have a question. I noticed the disclaimer at the end of the article about NOT detoxing during pregnancy but if a woman has been doing these things (detoxing) several months before pregnancy do you think it would be alright during pregnancy. Mainly taking DE, oil pulling, maybe some body brushing?

    Reply
  18. This is such good info! I really appreciate everyone’s input! Now, I have just read an article on OralWellness and they said that they gave up Kombucha because of high fluoride content! I am confused! Does anyone know more about this? Thanks!

    Reply
  19. Just wondering if you think using bentonite clay internally would be a safe method of detoxing for preparing for pregnancy?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  20. Question: I have been “detoxing” for a while now, pure organic, super foods, grass fed, juicing, smoothies (although I know your against those) saturated fats… My question is about Wheatgrass— It makes me nauseous every time… I cant even smell it now. What does this mean? I bought organic wheatgrass from a trusty source in the city where I live. Any tips?

    Reply
  21. How long would you recommend detoxing before trying to conceive? I have had chronic fatigue and brain fog since 2007 but managed to conceive and have a healthy baby boy in Jan 2010. I am paranoid about getting pregnant now because I have a feeling that I need serious detoxing (hence the issues mentioned above) and that if I don’t it could effect the health of the baby. However, my son is now already 3.5 and I kind of feel like it’s now or never as far as having a second. I know most people probably need detoxing and most people end up with healthy babies…so am I worrying too much?

    Reply
    • Joanna Katherine June 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Megan, do you have or have you had Mercury amalgam (Silver) fillings? Even being worried and overwhelmed is a side affect in addition to every symptom you mentioned above.

      Reply
  22. Great info! And while we’re at it, let’s stop absorbing the three Terrible Halogen Sisters (chlorine, bromine, fluorine), three neurotoxins (also endocrine disruptors) which block the body’s ability to absorb iodine, the Wonderful Halogen essential for health (but 80% of us are deficient, and it evaporates from salt too quick to rely on that source). Dr. Brownstein’s book will educate you: Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It.

    * Avoid the chlorine in tap water, both for drinking and soaking in a bath. Chlorine evaporates — that’s why you leave water for a fish tank to sit for a few hours — so get a water filter or fill the tub with very hot water, exit the bathroom (leave the fan on and/or open the windows) for a while, then take a bath in water with less chlorine.

    * Get rid of all upholstered furniture made after 1972, since the foam after that contains a lot of PBDEs (or other toxic flame retarding chemicals). The “B” is for bromine. Vacuum a lot to pick up the foam particles, and get non-foam pillows. It’s also in auto upholstery and carpet padding. Ditto for all beds sold after 2007,when a new law required them to withstand 90 seconds of direct flame; the way most companies accomplish that is with PBDEs or other flame retardants. Americans have 1500 times more PBDEs than people in Germany.

    * Don’t drink (or take baths in) fluoridated water, and only use pastured bones for bone broth (other bones are high in fluorine, which accumulates in the bones over a lifetime). Alas, the Organic Standards allow cryolite, a fluoride-based pesticide, for fumigation so a number of foods, like grains and nuts, so many foods have higher levels of fluoride than is allowed in tap water (and at .7 ppm that’s too high since .1 ppm harms fish eggs). Read up on fluoride at FluorideAlert.org, it’s scary how bad it is, and how ubiquitous it is.

    Reply
  23. Such a timely post! I was just about to purchase Dead Sea Salts (5kg bucket) to use for baths. The same supplier sells 5kg buckets of Epsom Salts, and also Magnesium Flakes. Can anyone give me the *which is best* if I can only afford one right now?

    Reply
  24. Can you do these detox and cleanse tips that you’ve offered while pregnant? I know a woman who is pregnant, and has some sort of temporary disorder with her liver.

    Reply
    • When I was first pregnant, my liver panel numbers were terrible. I was able to make those numbers beautiful by the end of my pregnancy. A few things I did was lemon juice in my water, daily dandelion tinctures, and eat dandelion frequently. I also drank a lot of water. That, combined with other herbs and things like magnesium and a good diet made me very healthy by the end of my pregnancy. On everything I consulted my midwife and her back up OB. I would suggest your friend do the same. I also had a consult with Susun Weed over the phone.

      Reply
  25. Thanks for this post. I have been actively trying to conceive for a few years and have included a number of what you listed into my regular daily life….fermented foods/beverages, gelatin, green drinks…not wheat grass…will have to try that…

    I am planning on taking a month or two “off” from trying….so my question is…is it safe to add all of your suggestions…even though I don’t plan to take a full six months off? I did my best to prepare for a year prior to trying to conceive, but have since continued to make great changes. Is it safe to do these things while actively trying to conceive?

    Where I feel detoxing on some level would be helpful, I don’t want to do the deep cleanses that takes years to recover from as I am 39. However, I very much would love to cleanse in anyway that could help gently remove toxins and help prepare for pregnancy.

    Does anyone know of any natropath/ integrative drs that are familiar with dealing with unexplained infertility like thyroid/adnrenal, gut,alleriges, candida/parasites, etc in the Tampa Bay area…that are ideally familiar with the WAPF principles?

    Thanks so much.

    Reply
  26. Sarah, what would you suggest if one is already pregnant, unexpectedly, with baby #7 … are any of the above ideas still a good idea?

    Reply
  27. Sarah Lynn via Facebook June 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    i’ll have to check this out if i meet the right guy in the next couple years. My clock is tickng

    Reply
  28. Which of these are ok in pregnancy/nursing? Obviously broth and ferments are still a healthy choice while pregnant and nursing but what about the others? Do they need to be completely avaoided or just less frequently?

    Reply
  29. My detox foot pads are also a gentle detox for those who aren’t able to handle harsh detox. (www.purifyyourbody.com) however, it is also not recommended to use them DURING pregnancy like Sarah mentioned.

    But, I LOVE diatomaceous earth. My body craves it (maybe it is the silica content in it?) although I have not heard it is able to take out heavy metals…. I use zeolite for that, and diatomaceous earth to replenish minerals and also to kill parasites.

    I also mix epsom salts and bentonite clay in the bath (along with Miracle II soap for bubbles!) and essential oils.

    I eat gelatin and also fermented veggies, too.

    Great article!

    Reply
  30. My friend told me about Isagenix Cleanse for life and I love it in addition to our traditional cooking habits. Personally I could not get my husband completely on board with homemade deodorant toothpaste soaps and gluten free carrot soup and salad for dinner. And second, I hit a weightloss plateau and couldn’t get the last bit off. Isagenix offers a cleanse drink, which I give to my kids daily and they love it! And it gives me peace of mind cause now I know their body is being rid of the toxins in our air, water and in foods that I am unable to control them consuming when they are not with me..this stuff is all real food and practically organic..its safe prepregnancy and they even have meal supplements and vitamins that are great during pregnancy when I couldn’t stomach other foods or just didn’t have the time or ability to cook all meals for my family..

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      I did wheatgrass shots while breastfeeding (once or twice a week) although not nearly every day like when I was detoxing before getting pregnant. It is really up to you .. if you were already doing them before pregnancy, no reason not to continue. If you have never detoxed before and are breastfeeding, be careful and go very slow. I would recommend asking your midwife also who has your medical history and can guide you with that decision.
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist\’s last post: How to Safely Detox Your Body in Preparation for Pregnancy

      Reply
  31. Jennifer Trujillo via Facebook June 4, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Id have to add in good chiropractor care. This really helped me before, during and after pregnancy. It also helped my baby!!!

    Reply
  32. Do you have any links on how to make your own wheatgrass juice or where to buy wheatgrass seeds to grow your own? I don’t have a juicer… could it be made in a blender?

    Reply
  33. Would Colloidal Silver be fine for pregnant women? It’s good for all kinds of stuff, I know. It may not detox your system but if you get any bad stuff in your body, while pregnant, it should move it on out without causing any harm to you or your baby.

    Reply
  34. Question about wheatgrass Sarah – Do you still recommend wheatgrass for someone if they are very gluten intolerant? I would love the benefits of it but I am gluten intolerant… Will it affect me negatively the same way as if I had a piece of wheat bread for example?

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist June 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

      Pure wheat grass juice (no seeds) does not contain gluten so you should be fine to try it.

      Reply
      • Question: I have been “detoxing” at least for the last 8 months, pure organic, super foods, grass fed, juicing, smoothies (although I know your against those) saturated fats… My question is about Wheatgrass– It makes me nauseous every time… I cant even smell it now. What does this mean? I bought organic wheatgrass from a trusty source in the city where I live. Any tips?

        Reply
        • Joanna Katherine June 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm

          I’ve heard that wheatgrass is very susceptible to mold. Just FYI. They may not be storing it properly or they may have a bad batch.

          Reply
  35. Baking soda and sea salt baths for radiation exposure! Man, that’s good to know! Just wish I had fluoride free bath water… I can’t stand the thought of submerging myself in a hot tub of fluoride… ugh. Maybe I could do small foot baths though with my Berkey water… :)

    Reply
    • hi mindy, you can use Bentonite clay in your bathwater. I don’t like the idea of sitting in fluoride either, so I put 2-3 TBSP of powdered bentonite clay in the water along with whatever else i’m using (Epsom salts for example). The clay bonds to the icky stuff in the water and keeps it out of your body.

      Reply
  36. The dads need to detox, too, before conception.

    Raspberry leaf tea is very supportive of the female reproductive system.

    Reply
  37. Just found what Sarah said about it on her Facebook page, which is good enough for me!! Just make sure to use fluoride free water and organic, good quality tea bags:
    “This is ONLY a problem with conventional tea grown with commercial fertilizers. Natural fluoride in the soil is not a problem .. kombucha has been safely consumed using organic tea for centuries.”

    Reply

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