Many women go through a “nesting period” when they become pregnant. They feel the need to redecorate their home in anticipation of their baby, even beyond the nursery. Many will buy new furniture, clean the grout, change the drapes, alphabetize the spice rack, and paint every room. If you have experienced this sensation, you are not alone, and there is no harm in giving in to the temptation. In fact, giving in might be the best idea, as you’ll probably have no time to redecorate once baby arrives. If your house is clean and updated when you get home from the hospital, you will be less stressed when you’re forced to stay home with your bundle of joy all day, and you’ll get to truly relax and bond. However, if painting is on your nesting to-do-list, you might be wondering whether or not the fumes are safe.

Even when you aren’t pregnant, you should be careful about paint fumes. When painting a room, it should be well ventilated, and you should always step out for air if you’re feeling ill or faint. Luckily, most paints are safe for use during pregnancy, but you should make sure you purchase the right kind.

Latex or acrylic paint is the most common kind of paint, and it does not contain any thinners or solvents. It is perfectly safe for use when you have a baby in your belly, but use caution as you always would to make sure the fumes don’t make you feel sick. Oil-based paints do contain thinners and solvents though, so you should avoid using these, especially during your first trimester. The level of risk is low, but congenital abnormalities are not worth the gamble. Lead-based paints are no longer sold in the United States, but many older buildings might have lead paint still on the walls. If your walls have lead paint, consider getting it removed before you have your baby. You should leave the house while it is being removed, but it’s safe to return when it’s finished.

Being exposed to temporary paint fumes during your pregnancy is safe, as long as you know which type of paint to use. Choose latex or acrylic paints, and be cautious about spending too much time in the fumes. Take advantage of your free time now by redecorating, as you might not have it again until your kid leaves for college.

Source: Dorrit Hjortebjerg et al: Non-Occupational Exposure To Paint Fumes During Pregnancy And Risk Of Congenital Anomalies. Environmental Health Volume 54 Issue 11 July 2012

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