Whether your next masterpiece is a still life or a baby room, knowing the risks of painting while pregnant is your first port of call.
Brandishing a brush can be a perfect way to relieve stress, flex your creative muscles, and design the home environment you want to welcome your baby into.
But, as you know if you’ve spent time in a freshly painted room, inhaling paint chemicals is not exactly akin to breathing in fresh mountain air.
Yep, gulping in those fumes—whether or not you’re pregnant—does not always make for a thankful body.
So how safe is it to be pregnant and paint? Let’s dive in.
In this article: 📝
- Can you paint while pregnant?
- Pregnancy and paint
- Can painting cause miscarriage?
- Can I sand and paint while pregnant?
- What about oil painting while pregnant?
- Can you sleep in a freshly painted room when pregnant?
- Tips for painting while pregnant
Can you paint while pregnant?
The good news is that, while it’s definitely important to do your homework, there are ways to combine pregnancy and paint that are low risk for both you and your baby.
The first thing to know is that not all kinds of paint are created equal when it comes to the level of risk they carry.
House paint does not necessarily equal spray paint does not necessarily equal oil paint.
That means that the rules are different depending on what project you want to embark on.
So in what scenarios is the risk worth taking—and what are the absolute no-go zones when it comes to painting while pregnant?
Pregnancy and paint
The danger comes in when you come into contact with certain toxic substances that can have harmful effects on your health and the health of your baby.
To keep yourself and your baby safe, avoid:
- Lead-based paint
- Mercury-based paint
- Oil-based paint
It’s also a good idea to minimize how much you come into contact with latex paints as these may contain harmful solvents.
Can painting cause miscarriage?
Planning to paint baby’s room? You’ll be pleased to know that, while the research is still quite new, it appears that exposure to household paint while pregnant is generally low risk.
But there are some specific issues to be aware of.
It is probably best to leave the painting until after the first trimester.
This study shows a positive link between first trimester exposure and developmental difficulties.
Also, look for paints that contain no or low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). You should see this on the paint label.
VOCs are dangerous chemicals that release into the air, sometimes for a long time after you have finished your paint job. Best-case scenario? Zero VOCs.
Can I sand and paint while pregnant?
This task is probably best left for your post-pregnancy life.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there is a link between miscarriage and inhaling paint solvents.
Your exposure to solvents is greatest when inhaling paint dust while scraping or sanding old paint off walls, so this is an activity you should definitely avoid if possible.
Again, this is especially a problem if you are scraping paint (especially if it’s from 1970 or before) off your walls—and breathing in the dust—before applying new paint.
What about oil painting while pregnant?
If you are a professional artist or dabble in recreational painting, you’re probably wondering if you should leave the canvas blank for now.
And you’re right to take this moment of pause.
Before you get going on your next creative project, it’s probably worth weighing up the risks.
Because oil painting often involves the use of solvents, it might be best to avoid it until your baby has made their appearance.
Spray painting while pregnant is also not recommended.
The chances of you breathing in the spray paint mist is too great. Industrial painting is in the same category, so steer clear of activities like spray painting a vehicle.
If you’re looking for ways to continue to safely explore your creative side, opt for water rather than solvent-based paints. Or explore other artistic avenues. Origami, anyone?
Can you sleep in a freshly painted room when pregnant?
It’s never a great idea to sleep in a freshly painted room—and may be more dangerous when you’re pregnant.
Your risk of exposure to harmful chemicals makes that couch, parents’ house, or B&B a really great option while you’re waiting for your paint to dry.
Tips for painting while pregnant
Can I paint while pregnant if I wear a mask?
Masks can certainly help. As can other kinds of safety gear, such as goggles, gloves, and protective clothes.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that the room you are in is as ventilated as possible, and try to limit your exposure by taking frequent breaks.
If you feel at all light-headed, get a headache, or feel queasy, stop and get some fresh air.
Also, steer clear of eating and drinking while you’re busy with your paint job, and make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly after you’re done.
And then, here’s a quick map of the risks of painting at different stages of pregnancy:
Painting while pregnant first trimester
As far as possible, avoid any sort of painting while pregnant while you are in your first trimester.
This is the time when the risk is greatest, as it’s when your baby’s major systems are developing.
As many as 80% of miscarriages happen in this phase, so it’s worth being extra cautious.
If you have already been exposed to household paint fumes, don’t stress. The risk of harm to you and your baby is low.
Chat through it with your healthcare provider and plot a plan for the rest of your pregnancy.
Painting while pregnant second trimester
After week 13, your risk decreases.
Take safety precautions—ventilation, protective gear, paint choice—and avoid spending too much time in a freshly painted area.
Painting while pregnant third trimester
While the risk does not necessarily go up much in the third trimester, painting a room might be too big a physical task for a pregnant person in the third trimester.
If you’re itching to prep your space for your new arrival, there’s never been a better time to ask for help.
Partners, friends, family, a professional—totally okay to get other people to do the slog work right now.
Good luck, mama.
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