Pregnancy is an exciting time that can be rewarding and overwhelming. This sudden change in both your body and your daily life seems to come with its own set of rules. While you may be familiar with the dirty dozen of pregnancy—no alcohol, limiting caffeine, no sushi, etc.—there are also environmental factors that could help or harm you and your fetus. One such factor is EMF radiation.
Radiation exposure comes in many different forms, from X-rays performed by your healthcare provider to a simple conversation on your cell phone. Protecting you, your family, and your unborn child begins with knowing where and how radiation exposure occurs. Let’s take a look at the most common household contributors to radiation and how to reduce the risk for both mom and baby during pregnancy.
Radiation and Pregnancy 101: What is EMF Radiation?
We are exposed to radiation energy nearly every day. It surrounds us in the form of cell towers, WiFi, microwave ovens, TVs, cell phones, and computers. Even your handy activity tracker or smartwatch emits EMF radiation. But what exactly is it?
Electro and magnetic fields (EMFs), also called radiation, are simply invisible areas of energy. EMFs occur in waves, the most familiar of which is the microwave. It’s easiest to understand electromagnetic fields in terms of a spectrum, from low frequency to high frequency. Visible light, which is also technically a form of radiation, falls right in the middle of that spectrum.
The most harmful radiation is high-frequency, or ionizing radiation. We’re exposed to ionizing radiation through X-rays, MRIs, tanning beds, and atomic bombs. Thankfully, most of us have never encountered an atomic bomb or radioactive waste, and we are able to limit our exposure to X-rays and tanning beds during pregnancy.
Non-ionizing radiation, on the other hand, is generally perceived as harmless to humans. It is the radiation we experience all around us nearly every day through devices like cell phones, computers, and WiFi routers. While non-ionizing radiation is thought to be harmless, studies show links between increased EMF exposure and childhood leukemia.
As technology advances, we continually expose ourselves to higher and higher levels of EMF radiation. WiFi, smartphones, and even laptops are fairly new to the scene, and there is still a lot to learn about the long-term effects of non-ionizing radiation.
Pregnancy and Radiation Exposure
The earliest studies on radiation exposure have proven that the younger you are, the more dangerous radiation can be. When it comes to pregnancy, your body works hard to protect your baby from harmful elements, but does that protection extend to radiation?
Research suggests that we may want to take extra precautions when it comes to pregnancy and radiation exposure. One study done by Kaiser-Permanente found a link between high exposure to non-ionizing radiation and an increased risk of miscarriage. This is a reality that many pregnant flight attendants face on a daily basis. According to the CDC, flight attendants are twice as likely to experience a miscarriage because of cosmic and solar radiation events experienced in flight.
Another study, which tracked women in their third trimester of pregnancy found that prenatal exposure to higher EMF levels is associated with decreased fetal growth in females. Radiation levels have a clear impact on our bodies, and especially a growing fetus.
While it can feel like you are being bombarded by EMF radiation on all sides, the good news is that there are easy ways to protect both you and your baby from EMF radiation during pregnancy. The more we understand how EMFs work, the better we can manage our exposure and health.
Reducing EMF Radiation at Home
The easiest way to identify sources of EMF in your home is to consider these three things: 1) does it connect to WiFi, 2) does it use Bluetooth, and 3) does it require a cellular signal.
Devices that use WiFi and Bluetooth technology, as well as cellular devices, all emit low-level EMF radiation. These can include your cell phone, smart TV, tablet, and activity tracker. If your city has upgraded to smart meters, those are also a source of EMF radiation in your home.
It is also helpful to note the presence of ELF-EMF or extremely low frequency radiation. These low frequency waves are emitted by electronic appliances, such as microwaves, electric blankets, hairdryers, and your computer even when WiFi is disconnected. Limiting your exposure to these lower frequencies is also important to your health. Basically, wherever power flows EMF radiation can potentially be there.
8 Radiation Protection Tips for Pregnancy and Beyond
There are several easy ways to limit radiation exposure at home, especially during your pregnancy. While it isn’t practical to stop using your devices altogether, these tips and products are designed to help you protect yourself and your baby from excess EMF exposure.
1. Turn your WiFi off at night
This is a quick and easy way to reduce EMF exposure in your home even before or after your pregnancy. WiFi routers are always “on,” meaning non-ionizing radiation is emitted throughout your home all the time. Using mechanical timer, you can set your WiFi to turn off and on at specific times of the day, especially while you sleep. You can also transition your home from WiFi to wired internet, which dramatically reduces overall EMF radiation in your home.
2. Use a protective lap desk with your laptop
Work from home became a reality for a large portion of the workforce in 2020. Setting up an EMF-free home office is the ideal situation, but sometimes you just need to put your feet up while you work—especially during pregnancy. If you often accomplish your work from your laptop (and the couch) then the next best option is to invest in an EMF shield lap desk. DefenderPad offers a simple laptop pad that can block up to 99% of the EMF emissions going toward your lap, without hindering your computer’s connectivity. It is also thin enough to take on the go so you can get EMF protection wherever you use your laptop.
3. Consider a radiation blocking pregnancy blanket or belly band
While the lap desk protects you from radiation going toward your lap, what about radiation emissions directed toward your womb? Many of us choose to relax with our phone or tablet in hand, causing direct exposure to our bodies, especially our midsection where we hold our devices. A radiation pregnancy blanket, however, can block up to 99% of those emissions, much like the laptop pad. Blankets can be used while you are on your devices and while you sleep, and they even work as protective baby blankets once your child is born. Another great option is an anti-radiation belly band, like this one from Radia Smart. The belly band makes it easy for you to get up and go about your day while still protecting your baby from radiation in and around your home.
4. Modify how you use your cell phone
Smartphones have become such a significant part of our daily lives. We use them for work, for fun, and even have them near us to reference recipes while we cook. Doing away with your phone isn’t realistic, but there are some easy ways to reduce how much your phone exposes you to EMF radiation. We provide a whole list of tips in our guide to radiation blocking phone cases, but these are just a few of the easiest to implement during your pregnancy. Each of these steps can dramatically reduce the amount of radiation you and your baby are exposed to.
- Put your phone in airplane mode at night.
- Keep your phone at least 6 feet away from you while you work or when you aren’t using it.
- Use speakerphone or keep the phone at least an inch from your ear while you talk.
- Invest in a radiation blocking cell phone case. We list some of the best brands here. For cases, be sure to follow the directions to use it correctly.
5. Get a Bluetooth-free fitness tracker
Staying healthy during pregnancy is an important goal. However, if you use a fitness tracker to track your steps, it may be time to find an EMF-free option. These trackers require Bluetooth in order to transfer data from the device to a connected app on your phone. Not only that, but the sensors in the tracker generate electric currents, creating an electromagnetic field around the device. While you can modify your exposure to this by only connecting to Bluetooth once a day or choosing not to sleep with your tracker on your wrist, the best option is to find a device that doesn’t use Bluetooth. You can find the best Bluetooth-free fitness trackers in our helpful guide.
6. Avoid Large Appliances
Okay, so we don’t recommend you just stop using your favorite appliances. However, while the microwave is running, step out of the room or at least try to keep your distance. It also may be time to reconsider your favorite electric blanket. Instead, try cozying up with an anti-radiation blanket for added protection from ELF-EMFs in your home.
7. Test for Dirty Electricity
Anytime an appliance in your home converts AC electricity to DC electricity, it transforms the energy, which often generates dirty electricity (EMI). This type of radiation can also be released from the electrical wires in your home, smart meters, solar panel inverters, and even powerlines that live above your house.
You can test for dirty electricity using a Graham-Stetzer microsurge meter. If any outlets in your home read higher than the recommended amount (50 and above is considered too high), then there are ways to protect your home and your growing baby. Consider using filters on your high emission outlets or unplugging any appliances, even your smart tv, when they’re not in use. However, the best option for eliminating dirty electricity is to install an EMF Sleep Safe that cuts the power from flowing to your room while sleeping or not in use.
8. Research low EMF baby monitors for added safety once your baby is born
One fun aspect of pregnancy is preparing for the arrival of your baby! From cribs and clothes to car seats, there is plenty to think about while you wait. Now that you are taking steps toward reducing EMF radiation in your home, it is a great time to also research low EMF baby monitors. Like many of our devices, the latest baby monitors use WiFi and Bluetooth, which can add to the amount of EMF radiation in the nursery. Thankfully, there are several models available that take this into account, which means you can better prepare for an EMF-free space for your newborn.
Take Charge of Your Health During Pregnancy
EMF radiation is a real, everyday risk that many of us have come to accept as normal. However, now that you have another life to consider, it is a great time to invest in some changes to reduce the risk of radiation in your home and increase your chances at improving long-term health. Change can be challenging, so we recommend you start small. Begin implementing some of the easier changes around your home, like turning your phone off at night or investing in a radiation blocking blanket. Each new step will feel rewarding as you take control of your health and the health of your baby during pregnancy and beyond.