Home Projects to Avoid While Pregnant
Planning for a baby is a fun, exciting, and anxious time for most couples. Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, there are always projects and things to be done around the house before your baby’s arrival. But what is safe for a mom-to-be to tackle on her own, and what should she stay away from? How can you prep your house for a newborn while staying safe?
Here are some projects that you can safely do during pregnancy:
Never fear. You can paint that nursery your favorite shade of pink, blue, or anything in between. Painting walls is not always fun, but it can be done safely by a mom-to-be if the paint is latex, water-based, and labeled as either low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds). If you need to prime the walls first, let someone else do that, as primer tends to have a stronger smell. Always try to leave windows open for ventilation, and run a fan just in case.
Assembling Mid-Sized Furniture
From changing tables to cribs, small bookshelves to toy chests, there are always new pieces of furniture that come along with planning for a new baby. In the first or second trimester, it’s alright for a pregnant woman to assemble furniture from a big-box store. Stay away from larger items (like bunk beds, wall units, and tall bookcases), and try to avoid assembling anything in the third trimester.
Much like painting walls, there is a safe way to refinish furniture when pregnant! You’ll definitely want to avoid heavy-duty stripping and sanding, but if you just want to refresh a yard sale find or a hand-me-down piece of furniture, turn to your favorite brand of chalk paint. Chalk paints are nontoxic, clean up with water, come in myriad amazing colors, can be layered and sanded for a distressed look, and typically require a simple wax or water-based clear coat as a sealer.
You will probably have the urge to clean nearly everything in your home when you’re pregnant. And it’s definitely something you can do! Avoid noxious cleaners with bleach or drain cleaners, but most other cleaning jobs can be tackled with a pregnant belly. Walls, floors, and cabinets can be wiped with natural cleaners, windows can be buffed with vinegar and baking soda solution, and laundry (especially those teeny tiny clothes!) can be washed with gentle cleanser and softened with dryer sheets or dryer balls.
Things you should avoid or ask a friend or family member to do for you:
This is a no-go during pregnancy, especially early on. Spray painting poses a danger for a couple of reasons: particles can be easily inhaled, and the chemical odor is quite strong. Furthermore, spray paint is full of harmful VOCs that are released as the paint dries. If you must spray-paint something when you’re expecting, have someone else do it for you and leave the painted item in a well-ventilated area for at least 24 hours.
Not only are there risks associated with lifting heavy items while gardening (think bags of soil and mulch, large shrubs), but the earth we garden in can also be a source of a harmful bio-organism called toxoplasmosis. This is the same compound found in cat feces, which is why pregnant and nursing women should avoid cleaning the cat litter box, too. If you’re planting a garden or re-landscaping while pregnant, hire someone or ask someone else to dig in the dirt for you.
Heavy lifting is definitely not a good idea in pregnancy, and it can, in fact, be quite dangerous. Ligaments and tendons are naturally more loose when you’re pregnant, so any type of strain or pull can be made much worse. Furthermore, once in the late-second trimester and third trimester, it’s recommended that pregnant women not lift anything heavier than the growing fetus.
Standing on Ladders or Bending Down for Long Periods of Time
You’ve heard it before – pregnant women are a bit “wobbly”. It’s because as the baby grows and all your internal organs shift around, your center of gravity is altered. This means standing on a ladder is a no-no, especially if it’s to paint a ceiling or hang a fixture. Not as dangerous, but perhaps uncomfortable, is sitting cross-legged or bending down for long periods of time. Blood flow changes in pregnancy, so standing up quickly can cause dizzy spells and sitting cross-legged can compress blood vessels. So it’s probably best to leave the floor tiling, stencilling, and other low-to-the-ground projects to someone else.
Things you shouldn’t be around at all, and should definitely hire out:
Polyurethane or Strong Sealants and Stains
Dreaming of new hardwood floors before baby comes? You can do it, but the best advice is to pack up your pregnant self and go to a hotel while the work is being completed by someone else, like a licensed contractor. The dust created by sanding existing floors and the fumes emitted by the high-potency chemicals used on flooring are unsafe to inhale. Take a spa vacation or a “babymoon” and let someone else redo your floors.
Bathtime is so much more fun in a crisp, new bathtub, isn’t it? You can save buckets of cash by reglazing a tub that isn’t to your taste or is showing signs of wear and tear. But beware, the products required to properly reglaze a tub are toxic even in the best of situations. Anyone doing this job should be wearing an industrial-strength respirator. So, much like your floors, if you’re keen on reglazing while pregnant, leave the house for a few days and hire a pro to get the job done.
Caulking or Sealing a Tub, Sink, or Windows
This ties into a pregnant woman’s desire to nest and clean the house before baby arrives. Often, one of the most irritating places to clean is the caulking around the tub or sink. It’s easy enough to scrape out and re-caulk, but this is definitely something you do not want to do while pregnant. You don’t have to leave the house for days, but this is a job better left to someone else (a spouse or a pro) and the area should be ventilated and avoided for at least 24 hours while the new caulking cures and dries.
For DIY fanatics, or women who are determined to get their house in order before baby arrives, it’s encouraging to know it can be done! Just remember some basic rules, don’t do anything to excess, and if it’s smelly, just stay away, go to a spa, and hire a pro.