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Can I Use Paint and Household Chemicals While Pregnant?

I want to paint the nursery and get the house in shape before I deliver my baby. But could some of the chemicals I use harm my baby?
Isabella

During pregnancy, try to steer clear of certain household chemicals, such as some paints, paint thinners, oven cleaners, varnish removers, and carpet cleaners. These may be harmful, especially in high doses.

However, although chemicals like ammonia and chlorine might make you nauseated because of the smell, they're not toxic. Do not mix ammonia and chlorine products since the fumes can be dangerous even for non-pregnant people.

To help keep household chemicals in perspective during your pregnancy:

  • Talk to your doctor about any chemicals you may use at home or at work.
  • Read product labels. If it's unsafe to use during pregnancy, the label should say that it's toxic. If the label doesn't specify, contact the manufacturer.
  • Open windows and doors, and use rubber gloves and a mask when cleaning with or using any chemical.
  • Wash your hands and arms, even if you wore gloves, after using chemicals.
  • Opt for natural products like baking soda, borax, and vinegar for cleaning.
  • Have someone else paint the baby's nursery and remove any paint (especially if your home was built before 1978 and may contain lead-based paint). You can always take over the decorating duties after the painting's done!

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: August 2009

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