This is how it went for me:
Suspect I’m pregnant.
Pee on stick.
Discover, yes! I’m pregnant.
Immediately plan ALL the projects.
If that sounds even remotely like your experience, then we’re in the same club; we’re singing the same song; we’re dancing to the same beat - that of the “Pregnant Lady who still wants to Do-It-Herself.”
Here’s the rub: For avid DIYers and self-professed “I could totally make that” aficionados, pregnancy presents a confluence of incredible project ideas and a litany of things "pregnant ladies should never do."
“How am I supposed to spray paint all those dollar store animals to make matching book ends for my jungle themed nursery if I can’t spray paint!?!” (Please read that quote with a subtle hint of sadness and despair laced with hormone induced rage.)
Never fear. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I have been determined to be 100% safe, and I have continued to DIY. So far, I’ve used a hammer drill to install barn board over concrete, I’ve started or completed makeovers in my master bathroom, the guest room, and my living room. I’ve yard saled until I could yard sale no more and I’ve refinished at least four pieces of furniture. You can do it! Here are the rules I’ve created and followed.
Unfortunately, this is a pretty big, fat no-no when you’re preggo. The fumes and the potential to inhale paint particles is quite high with pressurized paint, so just stay away for the duration of your pregnancy.
Having said that, there is a safer alternative! Pick up a paint sprayer that will accept water-based latex paint. Use it outside, wear a basic mask to avoid getting paint in your mouth (just trust me on this one!), and spray large items to your heart’s content. Bonus? There are a lot more color customization options with latex, water-based paints.
*I’ll just wait here until you’re finished giggling.*
I know you probably have the urge to clean absolutely everything, including the dingy looking sealant around your tub and sinks. But this is also something you need to avoid during pregnancy. The compounds in most caulk and sealant contain chemicals you shouldn’t come into contact with while you are with child. My recommendation? Have someone else strip and re-apply the caulk while you go for a spa weekend. You’re welcome. I’m here all week.
Use smelly things
The smell of a product is a sure fire sign of whether it’s safe or not to use during pregnancy. So, if (like me), you have grand plans to refinish wood floors or reglaze your antique claw foot tub, you might be out of luck until the wee babe makes his or her appearance. Even then, some of those smelly urethanes and oil-based coatings are no good for baby lungs either.
Stand on tall ladders
No changing ceiling fans, high light bulbs, painting ceilings, or stocking shelves up high. Why? Because that baby belly changes your centre of gravity making a stumble or fall much more likely. Just play the pregnant card and ask for help with high up jobs.
Use power tools
I preface this by saying that pregnancy is not the time to learn how to use power tools, but if you’ve been using them comfortably all along? It’s totally fine to keep chopping wood with a mitre saw or creating wood word art with your jig. Just be aware that you might not have the stamina you once had and heavy duty tools with kickback (like hammer drills, pneumatic nail guns and some pressure washers) should probably be reconsidered or worked with minimally.
Paint and/refinish furniture
So long as you are using water-based latex paint and primer or a non-toxic chalk paint, you are good to go with painting furniture! Chalk paint is my recommended medium for furniture painting in pregnancy, as it requires minimal prep and can be sealed with a water based clear coat.
Paint a room
There are dozens of ‘safe to use’ wall paints on the market now. Just ask your paint retailer to point you in the direction of a low or zero VOC latex paint and have it tinted to the hue of your dreams. You might need some help edging near the ceilings - but you should be able to tackle the majority of this job solo.
Install flooring or tile
I said this is a list of things you can do, but not that you’d want to do! If you have the flooring itch, you can scratch it while pregnant. There’s nothing inherently unsafe about sitting on the floor all day matching tile corners and pressing them into freshly laid mortar. The only drawback is installing any kind of floor will require you to be sitting in odd positions for long periods of time. Make sure you get up to stretch, rub your legs and reposition yourself more frequently than you’re repositioning the tiles or floating laminate.
Simple garden projects
There is a great deal of evidence suggesting that full-blown gardening while pregnant is a bad idea. Digging in most soil puts you at risk of coming into contact with toxoplasmosis (the same yucky stuff that lives in cat feces.) But small garden projects, like a window herb garden or small potted flowers should be okay to tackle provided you are wearing gloves, don’t eat the soil and wash your hands and fingernails thoroughly when you’re finished.
Some assembly required
Because every pregnant lady suddenly develops an Ikea addiction, right? Don’t let that big belly stop you from assembling a medicine cabinet or small bookshelf for the baby’s room. If you were able to do it prior to pregnancy, you should be able to do it now. Draw the line at the larger, heavier items like china cabinets, pull-out sofas, or wall units and call in reinforcements with an Allan Key drill bit attachment stat!