Pregnancy Safety

DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post.  I did not receive a body double for this post.  I tried.  It didn’t work out.

Many of you asked me how I do the whole DIY-while-pregnant thing.  I understand why this is one of the most frequently asked questions I get.  First…we are interested in the health of ourselves and our kids (even in utero).  Secondly…we are all interested in saving a buck or seven hundred and doing it ourselves does exactly that…to the penny :)  So when we find ourselves knocked up, are we to stop all forward progress on projects?  are we to throw in the towel or beam it at our baby daddy’s head, expecting him to do it all?  are we to throw caution to the wind and potentially walk that line with birth defects or even worse?  Fist pump with me while I chant NO! NO! NO!

In the name of pregnant girl empowerment, I say no.  There is stuff you can still do, swollen feet and all.  There is safety equipment available for us growing little ones and tackling projects while kicking butt and taking names.  There is still strength in us!  We are women!  Hear us roar!  And that is why today I am sharing  some tips when it comes to keeping that bun in the oven safe while you DIY.

So here’s some of my best tips:

  • SPRAYPAINTING – Spray paint is predominately oil based and should not be used by a pregnant woman unless she is wearing a mask specifically developed to resist oils.  The masks that are best for this project are called respirators and you should use them in a well ventilated area (like OUTSIDE!) so that you get minimum exposure to VOCs.  I like reusable respirators that I can interchange the filters (those round things on the sides) so that I can get max protection no matter what I tackle.  The filters have different ratings of how many particles they allow through and when dealing with oil based spray paints and fumes, the protection of a paper filter mask is not enough.  When possible I like to use water based spray paints (you still need a mask!) and when unprepared or in doubt of your protection…hand off the task of spraypainting to someone else and you assume the role of upper management :)  Also, try elevating the spray paint project to a higher level (a board laid on two sawhorses draped with a drop cloth works great!) so that you eliminate the bent-over-blood-to-the-head posture.  Since pregnant girls are more likely to get dizzy, this can help you not pass out or see stars.


  • PAINTING – First of all, don’t use oil based paints inside.  Second of all, steer clear of all paints that don’t boast a No-VOC label.  VOC (volatile organic compounds) exposure can cause miscarriage, low birth weight, birth defects, a higher risk of childhood cancer and developmental disabilities.  Ask about no-VOC paints and if the tint also has a no-VOC formula.   Do not use paint strippers or thinners or deglosser while pregnant.  READ THE LABELS.  Increase the ventilation of the space that you are painting with fans, open windows and doors and refrain from getting on ladders if you have issues with balance or dizziness.

  • TILING & GROUTING – Most tasks in tiling or grouting are ok for us to tackle while pregnant.  I would definitely not mix my own grout or thinset without wearing a mask for dust particles.  Remember also that cutting tile can produce dust.  Remember to wear plastic gloves while grouting for protection.


  • LANDSCAPING – There has been some studies that show a connection to exposure to herbicides or pesticides while pregnant and childhood cancers.  The great news is…you can burn extra calories by picking those weeds the old-school style.  Wear gloves for extra protection.  Most landscaping is safe for pregnant women as long as they do no exert themselves past a comfortable level and wear supportive shoes (us preggos tend to have some issues with balance so good shoes are absolutely a necessity!)


  • SCRAPING & SANDING – First check if all the paint is lead-free.  Most testers are simple and inexpensive and any home that was built before 1978 could have lead paint inside and out…and even homes that were built later could have had lead paint used if the homeowner or builder was cutting corners and using old paint.  Better safe than sorry – just check first!  I also check all painted furniture that I got from Goodwill, thrift stores and yard sales because you can not get the finish info.  Paint removers and strippers contain toxic chemicals and that task should be handed off to someone else.  Green-seal labels identify any products that are deemed ‘safe’ for use by pregnant women but should be used with all precautions.  Sanding can be safely tackled but remember to wear a mask, work in a well ventilated area, and wash your hands and clean up the area to be dust-free before removing the mask.


  • WOODWORKING – Most woodworking projects are safe for pregnant women.  When using glues, or tackling any project that produces dust, please use the precautions outlined in the scraping & sanding section.  Most times, a cotton mask is enough to protect against dust particles but read all labels to ensure that your mask is task-appropriate.  It is also very helpful to wear gloves to protect hands and fingers from screws, nails and other sharp objects.  Since pregnancy can increase the blood and swollenness of our extremities, a nail could slip from our hands easily and gloves will help.


The great news is that there are a number of awesome safety pieces out there that are perfect if you find yourself ready to take on your home while cooking your little bun.  3M has all levels of respirators and filters, ear protection, gloves, lead testers, and other safety equipment available which is really music to my pregnant ears.  Visit them on facebook.  Be safe my sisters and DIY on!

One doozy of a disclaimer:  ALL women should check with their physician before taking on any DIY project.  Consulting your health care professional and taking all precautions is absolutely necessary.  When in doubt of your personal safety and health and the safety and health of your child, please do not attempt any DIY projects or exert yourself physically past a comfortable level.  Bower Power is not responsible for any loss, injury or pregnancy issues, etc. and these tips are not all encompassing instructions for maximum protection.



  1. kristen says

    do as i say, not as i do. i guess that’s your motto.

    did you go through your archives before posting this to see whether you had broken any or all of these rules?

  2. Nancy50 says

    I’m going to weigh in on the side of caution and advise to stay away from gardening. I tested positive for Toxoplasmosis during my last pregnancy – that’s the parasite that usually is associated with emptying the kitty litter or eating raw meat. We had a cat during that time and hubby was the litter changer and I like my meat fully cooked, but before I knew I was pregnant I planted about a hundred daffodil bulbs and the prevailing wisdom is that I must have contracted the parasite during that activity. After the Toxo test came back positive, there were many blood tests taken to try to determine if I contracted the parasite before or during the pregnancy. If it was during the pregnancy the baby could be born blind, deaf, without liver function or brain function. We had Level 3 Sonograms 2x a month and could tell that the brain and liver were developing normally. We did not get the all clear on the blindness or deafness until 2 weeks after delivery – scary times! The good news is – the baby is now 16 and just scored in the top 1% on the ACT test – the brain is working just fine!

  3. says

    I think this is really funny. I’ve had 4 kids. I did EVERYTHING while pregnant. Probably shouldn’t have but I did anyway. I stayed away from toxic fumes but other than than… well you can still use a glue gun!

    Thanks for making me smile and giggle!

  4. Sandy says

    Hey, Just have to comment as I have 3 (yup, the amount you are about to have Katie, get ready!:) young children close together… and LOVE DIY and we have an old arts and crafts style home that we are reviving, so here goes:
    I love all the advice but this makes me so nervous! All your tips are great and the masks are useful too but we are talking about such a small window (9 mos.) in comparison to your babe’s in utero health. Don’t get me wrong, the landscaping, the work, the nesting urge to scrub and move everything? I’ve been there, done that and I think it is important to the pregger woman to stay sane and active in doing these things. But spray paint? Masks? Scraping and sanding? My husband works in the environmental abatement industry and could tell some horror stories. I’m pretty sure he would have a cow if he saw me doing any of the above whilst pregnant, AFTER not so much. I love your blog Katie and your styles are super cute, but on this point girl, I disagree. Better safe than sorry, I’m into stopping my exposure during pregnancy and all bets are off when I’m not pregnant any more.

    • says

      Absolutely! I agree that it’s always better to be safe than sorry and if your health care professional tells you no…then no goes. Always go with your doctor and what you feel in your gut too….this is not anything more than an encouragement to be MORE safe…not less.
      xo – kb

  5. bean says

    I spraypainted with a mask when pregnant and at that precise time (8 weeks) my son’s heart defect occurred. He had two open heart surgeries at 7 months old and we are very lucky to have found out about the defect–the surgeries saved his life. Needless to say, DO NOT SPRAYPAINT AT ANY POINT NO MATTER HOW CAREFUL YOU ARE. It is not worth the risk. The can clearly says it is known to cause birth defects! I will regret this for the rest of my life.

    • says

      I am so sorry to hear about your son’s heart defect! What a stressful time. My good friend had this same news with her third and surgeries with your little one on the table are FRIGHTFUL. This post is definitely meant as an encouragement to be MORE careful, not less and that whenever possible to push things off till later or hand them off. The ultimate safety precaution is just like you said – to refrain completely!
      xo – kb

    • Marissa says

      Oh man, I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s heart defect. But, please don’t carry around this guilt– just because you spray painted at this time DOES NOT MEAN you caused a heart defect in your son. In fact, unless you were spray painting for hours on end and doing your best to inhale up all the fumes, the odds of one recreational exposure being associated with your son’s heart defect are very very low. I offer this opinion as an environmental epidemiologist, but also as a fellow mom who doesn’t like hearing other moms burdened with guilt. I’m sure people have told you otherwise, but the defects and fetal trauma are really at the high end of exposure (regularly inhaling paint fumes, due to occupation or substance abuse). Let that guilt go, Mama!
      (and by no means am I implying that pregnant women should not exercise caution when spray painting! Wear the respirators).

      • says

        That was very encouraging and kind Marissa…it’s a good reminder to us all that as mothers, we do carry guilt around and we do need to extend grace to ourselves at times!
        xo – kb

      • DD says

        Oh, my. I am a mom to a heart angel… my newborn son Miles had severe heart defects plus heterotaxy syndrome. He fought to live and passed away after six days. I have been feeling tremendous guilt as well – like my body must have been the cause of his little heart being so malformed. I just remembered now that I too was spray painting close to the 8 week time frame for a Halloween craft. I would be crushed if the spray paint was the root cause of my son’s heart disease. I intend to ask the experts at our local Children’s Hospital about the likelihood of this. :(

  6. says

    I think I would just rather use my pregnancy as a reason to let the hubby do all the projects… SO KIDDING! LOL. Great tips…especially regarding the paint related projects.

  7. What tha what?! says

    So there are pictures of you working with wood, without gloves or a cotton mask as per your recommendation and also grouting without plastic gloves also as per your recommendation. Is this a do as I say not as I do sort of post?
    Also, is this professional advice based on clear, medically backed up advice or just from the workings of your own research? I only ask, because if this is a 3m sponsored post and you are giving out health and safety advice to pregnant people, you should have some sort of disclaimer about the fact that you are really just a self taught DIYer with no actual qualifications in this field.
    Cue the flippant response and the xo’s, but I am being serious. We’re talking about unborn babies here and you’re neither a medical professional or a professional DIYer, Jedi blogger though you may claim to be.

    • says

      Hi What tha what?!…You are right! I am not a medical professional and that is why I said to make sure you consult your own doctor before doing ANYTHING. Like I said…this is not comprehensive but more reminders that you should always err on the safe side. And yes, there are photos of me without gloves and a mask (I even stated in the original sanding post that you should wear a mask while sanding and I got one right after the photo) and I didn’t have trouble with my pregnancy with swollen hands (although I am having that now with my third) so I didn’t need them while tiling but I would highly recommend them. I did however try to cut open a package when I was pregnant with Will and cut right through my thumb with a box cutter. It was terrible and I ended up getting only one part of the tetanus shot and worrying about coming down with tetanus poisoning and harming the babe…so yeah…lesson learned that even when doing minor things, I should be prepared. Hope this makes sense!
      xo – kb

  8. abby says

    I love that 3M sponsored the post, and your gas mask is an MSA product! They are competitors. I work for one of them! Great post!!! :)

  9. Sarah F. says

    Wow, people are getting really judgemental here. I’m currently pregnant (found out about a month after we bought an older house) and I found the advice to be reasonable. And yeah, if I don’t agree with doing some of the work that you do/did during pregnancy, I won’t do it! I liked the advice about a reusable respirator and changing out the filters.

  10. S. says

    Definitely not a Katie Bower fan girl, but it’s a baby, not brain surgery. Women have been birthing babies for centuries just fine. We aren’t built out of porcelain, and clearly she’s carried babies just fine, so I think she can do whatever she wants and is comfortable with. Contrary to popular DIY blog belief, pregnancy doesn’t make you incompacitated.

  11. says

    Confused by the above comments, especially the rude ones…one because your disclaimer obviously wasn’t read, two because this is a personal blog not written by an OBGYN and you never profess to be. Thanks for being you and doing what you, haters gonna hate!;)

  12. Kayla says

    Love this post! 13 weeks pregnant with our first and we just bought a house that is a serious fixer upper. A good reminder to read labels and err on the side of caution, and consult our docs. But I love the girl power here, because I keep pointing out to people that just because I am pregnant doesn’t mean I’m disabled!!

    • says

      We do! We hope to be able to announce after the holidays (we are getting to tell my grandparents when they come down for Thanksgiving!) so family first and then you guys get to hear the good news :)
      xo – kb

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *