When you are pregnant, you may be concerned about some of the common hazardous materials that are used in cleaning the house. Some you may be aware of, and others you may have never thought about. There is a lot you can do to take care of the housework and your baby at the same time.
Cleaning products often have strong odors and you may be concerned about using them. None of the commonly used household cleaning products are known to cause birth defects. However, the effects of long term exposure have not been studied. For this reason, limit your exposure to these chemicals. If possible, have your husband clean the bathrooms with the stronger cleaners.
If you must do the cleaning yourself, be sure to wear gloves and make sure the room is well ventilated. Open a window and turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom. Never mix products that contain ammonia and those that contain chlorine. These two chemicals are deadly when mixed. Stay away from highly toxic cleaning products, such as oven cleaners.
Painting is a part of nearly every pregnancy, at least in the nursery. Have someone else do the job for you and make sure the room is well ventilated to get rid of the paint fumes. If possible, leave the house while the painting is being done. If your home was built before 1978 and old paint is being stripped off the walls, stay away from the house. Lead is present in paints used before 1978 and is released in the air in the dust. Lead can cause brain damage and severe learning disabilities in your baby.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can be harmful for your unborn baby. In cases of severe exposure, it can lead to fetal death. Carbon monoxide results from burning wood, charcoal, gas or kerosene. It is also present in car exhaust and cigarette smoke. If you use gas appliances in your home, be sure they are vented properly. Have the vents inspected by a professional every year. Don’t smoke cigarettes or allow others to smoke in your home. Keep a smoke free zone for you and your baby. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home to alert you to unusually high levels of this gas.
Pesticides can be very dangerous to your growing baby. If at all possible, don’t use pesticides when you are pregnant. If bugs are a problem in your home, speak to your bug control company about organic alternatives and be sure you are not home when the house is sprayed. Open the windows after to ventilate your home. Keep in mind that products used for bug control on pets also contain pesticides. Sprays used on people, such as OFF also contain pesticides and the safety of these during pregnancy has not been studied.
If you have a cat, have someone else change the litter box. Toxoplasmosis is caused by parasites in cat feces. It is most common among outdoor cats, who come in contact with other infected animals. This parasite is very dangerous for pregnant women and can damage the nervous system or internal organs of your unborn baby.
Water is important during pregnancy. Unfortunately, the water quality in many areas isn’t great. A variety of problems can exist, depending on your water source. Municipal water supplies often contain contaminants and chlorine and other chemicals are commonly used to clean the water. Unfortunately, these chemicals are no good for you or your baby. You will usually be able to smell chlorine in your water. Consider having a water filter installed, or drink bottled water while you are pregnant.
If you have well water, a variety of problems can result. Wells can contain a variety of minerals, heavy metals and bacteria. Have your water tested every year to be sure it isn’t hazardous for your health. Home filtration systems are available to remove many contaminants, but few remove bacteria. Consider drinking bottled water if your water supply comes from a well.
Lead can be another problem in drinking water. This is particularly a concern if you live in an older home. Houses built after 1978 don’t contain lead solder in the plumbing. Have your water tested for lead contamination to avoid serious problems to your baby’s health.