Painting with oil paint during pregnancy

Can I paint walls while pregnant?

We don't know exactly how chemicals and solvents used in paints affect the unborn child. So the easiest and safest answer is to let someone else do the painting or wait until after you are pregnant.

When you paint, you are exposed to a lot of chemicals. Since it is very difficult to estimate how many of the various substances are absorbed in the body, it is not so easy to pinpoint the exact risks for pregnant women.

Lead paint, which was used until the 1970s, is of particular concern. If you scrape this paint off the wall, you could inhale lead dust, which is bad for you and your baby. Overall, scraping or sanding paint is not very advisable. Leave this work to professionals who can do it while you are away.

It has been shown that the ingestion of chemical solvents during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects in the baby. A study has shown that women who regularly come into contact with solvents through their hobby, such as car repairs, painting or furniture restoration, are up to four times more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis (a spontaneously occurring one , mostly to the right of the navel malformation of the abdominal wall with prolapse of intestinal loops). In other words, these women have a 1: 1250 to 1: 2500 risk of having a baby with gastroschisis. For women who do not inhale solvents, the risk is 1: 5000.

Of course, the level of uptake of chemicals is much higher for someone who breathes these solvents on a regular basis. Researchers don't know about the effects on pregnant women who just want to paint the nursery. Weigh the benefits between the scratch and the small risk of harming your baby. If you decide to paint the room yourself, take the following precautions:

  • Limit the amount of time you can spend on this endeavor.
  • To avoid inhaling paint fumes, keep the windows open and do not sleep in freshly painted rooms.
  • Wear gloves, long trousers and a long sweatshirt to protect your skin.
  • Do not eat or drink where you work lest you accidentally ingest chemicals.

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Last revised: November 2020