Taking on certain household chores during pregnancy is not advised as it can adversely affect mother and baby’s well-being.
Depending on the nature of each task, the harmful effects can range from physical injury to congenital disorders and conditions, or birth defects.
Use of chemical products
Most household cleaning products, which include floor cleaners, contain harsh chemicals such as disinfectants and bleaching products.
If the fumes are inhaled, they can enter the bloodstream and be passed on to the baby via the placenta.
This will place the baby at an increased risk of congenital disorders or future health problems. It would be best to ask a family member to help with the cleaning.
Otherwise, opt for natural cleaning products such as vinegar, lemon or baking soda, which are equally effective as cleaning alternatives.
Moving heavy furniture
Moving heavy furniture, especially during pregnancy, can increase the risk of muscle strains and injuries.
During pregnancy, the connective tissue of muscles and ligaments may loosen and, combined with increased body weight, the sense of balance can be affected, increasing the chance of injury.
For example, moving a cupboard from one side of a room to another can cause muscle strain. Therefore, it is best to leave the heavy lifting to someone else.
Cleaning of pet waste
Infections caused by animal waste can pose serious health risks for mother and baby.
For example, toxoplasmosis is a disease transmitted from mother to baby (especially during the third trimester) through exposure to infected cat faeces, and can cause serious health problems for the baby, such as seizures, an enlarged liver or spleen or severe eye infections.
Cleaning up animal waste also exposes one to a host of different parasites and germs. Therefore, it is important to always wear gloves when doing the cleaning and to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Cleaning of fans, windows and floors
Cleaning a ceiling fan or wiping the windows requires the use of a ladder or balancing on a chair. Doing these chores while pregnant creates a higher risk of tripping and falling, which can be dangerous for mother and baby.
It is best to avoid these chores altogether or seek assistance from a family member.
Sweeping and mopping the floor increases the risk of injuring the lower back and hamstrings. So, it is best to take regular breaks when performing these tasks to avoid straining these muscles.
Refurbishing of furniture
Refurbishing furniture during pregnancy can have harmful effects on the baby due to the chemical exposure to solvents, polyurethane or paint, all of which can increase the risk of miscarriage.
Similarly, chemical exposure may also put the baby at a higher risk of birth defects or learning disabilities.
If you must take on this chore, the following precautions are important to prevent chemical exposure:
- Work outdoors or in a well-ventilated area to prevent exposure to chemical fumes.
- Wear gloves, long pants and long-sleeved shirts at all times when working.
- Wear a mask at all times when working to avoid inhaling dust particles.
- Avoid eating or drinking within your working area.
- Use products that do not contain solvents.
- If you experience headache, nausea or light-headedness, stop work immediately and look for a place with fresh air to breathe. It would be best to ask for help with this task or wait until after the baby is born.
This article first appeared on Hello Doktor and was medically reviewed by the Hello Doktor Medical Panel. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.