First Trimester

Q&A: Is It Safe To Paint While Pregnant

I’ve heard that pregnant women shouldn't paint. Is this true? Is there anything else I need to know while I’m working on the nursery?

The exact dangers of painting aren’t known, but it’s safest to let someone else handle this job. Every type of paint has chemicals, and though it’s tough to measure how much is actually absorbed while painting (and the resulting effects), some exposure is inevitable. There is some evidence linking high solvent exposure with birth defects and miscarriage. Any exposure while painting will be much less significant, but again, it’s best to let your partner take care of it. If you’ve already had exposure, though, don’t worry too much. Chances are, baby will be fine. If for some reason you absolutely must paint, limit the time you spend around chemicals, keep the windows open, wear long pants and sleeves, gloves, and a screen or mask, don’t eat or drink while working, and use water-based paints (which have less solvents than oil-based paints).

Take special caution if your house was built or decorated before lead paint was banned in 1978. If you have even the slightest suspicion that lead paint was used, let a professional do the scraping and removing, and leave the house while they work. Inhaling the dust can be harmful to both you and baby.   

Also, start working on the nursery as soon as possible. Climbing ladders, carrying linens and setting up furniture will be much easier and safer right now, when your balance, flexibility and energy levels are still (relatively) high.

By Paula Kashtan