Gardening is an excellent activity that you can use to stay busy while pregnant and reap numerous benefits for you and your baby while at it. As a mom-to-be, it is understandable if you have some fears or concerns about gardening while pregnant, such as how safe it is.
In this post, you’ll learn why gardening while pregnant is an excellent idea, the risks of gardening while pregnant, as well as gardening tips to safeguard your health and that of your unborn baby.
What are the Benefits of Gardening While Pregnant?
Gardening when pregnant is an interest that you shouldn’t neglect as it has numerous benefits for your overall wellbeing. Here are some of the perks that come with gardening when pregnant.
1. It is a Form of Exercise
Staying active during pregnancy helps prevent pregnancy-related aches, birth complications and boosts your body strength. It also prevents obesity and promotes blood circulation in the body, which is essential for your baby’s healthy development.
Gardening while pregnant allows you to move around and exercise your muscles in the simplest of ways, such as stretching to reach for plants and tools, bending, and pulling weeds. You can, therefore, take gardening as part of your pregnancy exercise routine to keep you fit and your baby healthy.
2. Vitamin D
Gardening presents an excellent opportunity to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Sunlight is necessary for the production of your body’s vitamin D, and you can benefit from it while carrying out your favorite activity.
Vitamin D strengthens the bones and the body’s immunity, facilitates cell growth, and regulates neuromuscular function for you and your baby. It also aids the absorption of essential nutrients for your baby, such as zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
3. Keeps You Occupied
Being pregnant with limited activities to do can be boring. However, you can make good use of your time by taking up gardening as a way to keep you busy and stay in touch with your environment. By gardening, your mind stays occupied. Doing so also helps eliminate the loneliness of staying home, especially when other family members are absent.
4. Improves Your Mood
Sometimes, pregnancy may mess up your moods and bring with it stress as well as depressive feelings. Gardening can help improve your mental wellbeing by calming your mind and helping you relaxes, thus alleviating stress. Also, since lack of sleep can be a problem during pregnancy, the relaxing and tiring nature of gardening can help you sleep better at night.
With the above benefits, you should consider gardening if you are looking for new ways to spend your time during pregnancy.
Is Gardening Safe During Pregnancy?
While gardening while pregnant is safe when you do it right, it has its risks. Understanding the dangers of gardening while pregnant is critical in ensuring you don’t jeopardize your safety and that of your unborn child. Here are some of the risks of gardening while pregnant that you should know.
Toxins: One of the most common dangers of gardening while pregnant is exposure to toxins and chemicals. These include herbicides and pesticides that may be harmful to your unborn baby. Exposure to toxic chemicals can adversely affect your baby’s development due to their effect on the baby’s brain and nervous system. Pesticides also increase your chances of having a miscarriage.
Infections: Besides toxins, gardening while pregnant exposes you to the risk of toxoplasmosis, caused by a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii that lives in the soil. Cats are usually the host of toxoplasma and can pass it to the soil through their feces. While it may not be fatal to adults, it can pass to your baby and result in birth defects like visual impairment, loss of hearing as well as intellectual disabilities.
It is therefore advisable to always take precautions when gardening while pregnant to avoid the above dangers.
Safety Tips for Gardening While Pregnant
To protect yourself from the dangers of gardening while pregnant, below are safety tips you should keep in mind when gardening.
(i) Get Tested Before Gardening While Pregnant
The first thing you should do before you begin gardening is to get tested for toxoplasmosis. If you have been exposed to the parasite before, you will be immune as your body already has the antibodies to fight the disease. As such, you won’t have to worry about touching possibly contaminated soil.
(ii) Cover Yourself
When gardening while pregnant, covering yourself protects you from direct sunlight and overheating. It also minimizes direct contact with soil. Wear cozy loose-fitting clothes with adequate coverage like trousers and long-sleeved shirts while gardening. Remember to use sunscreen to avoid hyperpigmentation from sun exposure which is common during pregnancy.
(iii) Keep the Right Posture
Bending too much can put a strain on your back and lead to aches. As such, you should always maintain the correct posture when gardening and kneel instead of bending. Consider investing in knee pads to protect your knees when kneeling. Furthermore, using long-handled gardening tools and equipment can help maintain your posture and prevent you from straining.
(iv) Stay Hydrated
Gardening as an activity can cause you to sweat and overheat. Therefore, drink enough water or other healthy drinks suitable for pregnant moms such as fresh juice, herbal tea, smoothie, coconut water, or low-fat milk to keep you hydrated. In fact, studies show that pregnant moms should drink a minimum of eight glasses a day or more, depending on how much gardening work they do.
(v) Maintain Hygiene
Proper hygiene is critical when gardening as it rids you of any harmful substances or bacteria that may threaten your health and that of your baby. Always clean your hands with soap and water after your gardening activities. Also, wash any vegetables or fruits before consuming them to remove any chemicals they may contain.
(vi) Wear Gloves
Whether you are immune to toxoplasma or not, you should always wear your gloves when gardening. Doing so protects you from other parasites and bacteria present in the soil, such as listeria and salmonella.
(vii) Avoid Chemicals
Stay away from chemicals like herbicides and pesticides when as they can be harmful to your unborn baby. Don’t go outside when your plants are being sprayed, and always assign the task to someone else. Alternatively, you can adopt an integrated pest management system that uses no chemicals when gardening or chooses the least harmful.
Pro Tip: Take it easy when gardening while pregnant and avoid strenuous work such as heavy lifting. And… consider gardening in the morning or evening when the weather is cooler to prevent overheating.
With the above information, you can indulge in your love for gardening while pregnant without endangering your health or your baby. In case of any concerns, you should always consult your midwife or doctor for professional advice.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Toxoplasmosis: General FAQs, Sept 2020, University of Michigan Health, Toxoplasmosis Test, Oct 2020, and PubMed, Some Suggested Cautions for Pregnant Women, May 1999.