Why You Should Not Detox During Pregnancy or Nursing

Eating Healthy During Pregnancy
Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

We get asked almost every day on Young and Raw whether or not it is advised to do a detox or cleanse while breast-feeding or pregnant.  The short answer to this question is no. The long answer is that there are several risks involved detoxing during pregnancy and while nursing.

Let’s explore why it’s not recommended to do a detox during pregnancy or nursing

You Risk Transferring stirred up toxins to the baby – When you “detox” your body is releasing the toxins that have been stored away in your cells back into your blood stream.  Why do our bodies store toxins in the first place?  When we have over loaded our bodies with toxins to the point where our organs cannot safely usher them out of our bodies without causing damage along the way, our bodies attach a buffer molecule to the toxin. This buffer molecule helps to make it less toxic for the short run and then stores that toxin in your cell.  This keeps harmful toxins away from your organs and away from blood circulation. These toxins are knocked loose during detox and carried to the liver, where they are processed to remove the buffering agent, and then carried out of the body.   Keep in mind that your blood will be passing through the placenta, as well as providing the nutrients to your milk.  This means that if there are tons of toxins being circulated in your blood, they will find their way to your baby, which is not good!

You Risk Becoming Dehydrated – When you detox, you will be increasing the amount you are sweating, urinating and moving your bowels.  This is OK under normal circumstances, but it is not ideal when you are pregnant or breast-feeding.  These three things can lead to dehydration, and combine that with an increased need for fluids, you could be putting yourself in a dangerous position for you and the baby.  This could affect the fetus, as well as milk supply if you are breast feeding.

Too Little Nutrition On A Detox – During pregnancy and lactation, your needs for calcium, protein and iron are doubled, and you have an increased need for pretty much every other nutrient as well to some extent.  This is why a detox meal plans is not a good idea at this time.  Often detoxes will cut way down on at least one macronutrient group, and will just not be providing all that you need for the little one growing inside of you, or for the production of good quality breast milk

Many Herbs are Unsafe During Pregnancy And Lactation – There are many detox and cleanse programs that come with herbal supplements, or require fresh herbs as a part of their food protocol.  Herbs are nature’s medicine, and most are actually contraindicated during pregnancy.  The list of herbs that should be avoided while pregnant is long, and you can read it here. Be very mindful what you are ingesting.  Of special note are parsley and cilantro in large amounts:

  • Cilantro is a heavy metal chelator, this runs the risk of toxins being dumped into your milk and then being consumed by baby. It can also make a woman more prone to miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy in higher doses.(A little bit in your salad is probably ok, but to be safe you would be wise to just avoid it unless instructed to do otherwise by your Herbalist or N.D.)
  • Parsley can actually decrease or shut off milk supply in nursing mothers. It’s not a supportive herb for lactation at all so we recommend you don’t use it unless you’re not pregnant or nursing (as a pregnant woman parsley can cause miscarriage but in very high doses, a little bit isn’t usually enough to cause problems).Before using any herbs, seed the advice of a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner.

3 Ways to  Enhance  Your Nutrition Without Detoxing 

If you are wanting to increase the quality of foods you are eating, while making sure that you are not throwing your body into detox, here are our tips:

1. Add Foods In- One of the simplest things you can do to increase the quality of nutrition you are taking in, is to simply add something fresh and raw to every meal.  Have a green smoothie with your breakfast.  Add a fresh raw salad with your lunch and dinner.  Do not cut anything out, just add fresh foods to what you are already consuming

 2. Make Simple Swaps – If you are used to eating white bread, just make the switch to whole grain or sprouted grain. Same goes for pasta, rice and other grains. Remove gluten from the diet wherever possible and switch to things like quinoa or wild rice. Swap out canned items for home cooked.  Go for the whole foods option of whatever you normally eat, over the processed option.

 3. Make Alterations To Recipes – You can use healthy “detox” recipes, and make them more baby friendly.  Add a fat source and a protein source to all smoothies.  This can be done with a scoop of plant-based protein powder and a table-spoon of nut butter, a bit of avocado or 1 tbsp. of coconut oil. Add bulk to salads by adding extra avocado, cooked beans, quinoa or whole grains.  Just be mindful that your nutritional needs are increased, so increase them accordingly!

So even though doing a full blown detox plan is not ideal when you are expecting or nursing, you can still change your eating habits for the better, without putting yourself or the baby at risk.  Remember, this is a special and sacred time!  There will be lots of time to detox later, for now just enjoy the experience of giving life and honor your body and its processes.

Ali Washington

Ali Washington is an inspirational speaker, author and coach who believes that health and wellness should not only be easy and natural, but also fun. Through techniques acquired from life coaching, yoga, psychology, nutrition and energy medicine, Ali works to empower those who cross her path to learn to trust their own bodies, minds and emotions. She believes that YOU are the expert on you, and she is simply there to offer you tools and techniques for reacquainting yourself with your own inner knowledge. ind her book The Perception Diet Here: http://perceptiondiet.com/