a couple decorating their baby's nursery

Household Chores to Avoid During Pregnancy

One of the most important aspects of ensuring a healthy pregnancy is to make sure that your household chores are completed safely and without putting you and your baby at risk. While some things can be modified, certain household tasks should be avoided during pregnancy. To help you ensure that you and your baby are safe, we've put together a list of chores to avoid (if possible) while pregnant.

Why Are Some Tasks Dangerous During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your body undergoes several changes to accommodate your growing baby. These changes can impact you in several ways, including the following:

  • Hormonal Changes: Pregnancy triggers significant hormonal changes in a woman's body. These changes can affect ligaments and joints, making them more prone to injury when engaging in physically demanding household activities.


  • Weakened Immune System: A pregnant woman's immune system may be slightly weakened. You may be more susceptible to infections and illnesses, and engaging in certain chores can expose you to harmful pathogens.


  • Increased Risk of Falls: As the baby grows and the center of gravity shifts, many pregnant women experience balance issues, which can increase the risk of falls during chores that require balance and coordination.


  • Overexertion: Excessive physical exertion can lead to fatigue and dehydration, which can negatively impact both mother and baby. Overexertion can also lead to preterm labor in some cases.


  • Exposure to Harmful Substances: Certain household chores involve exposure to chemicals, fumes, or toxins that can be harmful to the developing fetus. These substances can affect the baby's development and pose risks to the mother's health.


10 Household Chores To Avoid and When to Ask for Help

1. Cleaning the Litter Box

Pregnant women should avoid cleaning the litter box, especially if it's used by a cat that goes outdoors. Cat feces can contain a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can be harmful to a developing baby. If there's no one else to perform this task, wear gloves and a mask while changing the cat litter and wash your hands thoroughly afterward to help reduce the risk.

Although the risk of actually catching this parasite is still quite small, it's not worth jeopardizing your prenatal health. However, whenever possible, it's best to ask a partner, family member, or friend to help you with this type of household work. You can also reduce the risk even more by feeding your cat only canned or dried food and ensuring that they don't wander around outside.

2. Painting the Nursery

While preparing the nursery is an exciting part of preparing for the baby, it's best to avoid painting during pregnancy. Many paints contain harsh and toxic substances, which can emit harmful fumes. Exposure to these fumes can be detrimental to both your health and your baby's health.

If you want to paint the nursery, it's better to delegate this task to someone else. You can still help with colors and designs during the process as well as the decorating itself. Still, if you absolutely want to take charge, make sure that you use lead-free paint, paint free of harsh and toxic chemicals, and make sure there's plenty of ventilation.

3. Lifting Heavy Objects

Heavy lifting can strain your back and abdominal muscles, which can further worsen back pain or pelvic discomfort. Since the risk of injury increases during pregnancy due to hormonal changes that affect ligaments and joints, it's best to leave this task to someone else, especially after the first trimester. If you need to do some tasks and aren't sure whether something is light enough to move, talk to your doctor about how much weight is safe to lift as you progress through your pregnancy. In doing so, you'll keep you and your baby safe and reduce the risk of problems with your sciatic nerve.

4. Moving Furniture

Rearranging or moving furniture can be physically demanding, and it often involves heavy lifting. Therefore, the risks associated with lifting heavy objects apply here as well. Moving furniture also requires you to stand for long periods of time, bend, and twist in some unnatural ways. Ideally, it's one of those activities to avoid during pregnancy.

However, if you're undergoing a move and are unable to sit back and do nothing, be as careful as you can. Bending during this time can be dangerous and increase the risk of back issues, so ask people for help if you need to pick something up. Additionally, try to focus more on the logistics of a move and only lift light objects. If you do need to pick something up, bend at your knees and lower yourself to the ground so that you lift with your legs, not your back. Ask for help when you need it, and take breaks often.

5. Filling the Gas Tank

Although it might seem like a simple task, filling the gas tank can expose you to harmful gasoline fumes, which are not safe to inhale during pregnancy. Since it can be difficult to always have someone around to help with this one, just try to avoid standing downwind of the gas tank and consider wearing gloves or washing your hands immediately after using the pump.

6. Chemical-Heavy Cleaning Products

Pregnancy is a delicate time, so the fewer chemicals you're around, the better. Luckily, a higher number of chemicals doesn't equate to a cleaner home. Avoid using household products that are filled with harmful chemicals. Instead, look for natural products that have the "Green Seal" or "EcoLogo" on them. These products have been tested and meet the standards for certified green products, meaning they can help you keep the house clean while maintaining good health during pregnancy. Many natural cleaning products are just as effective as harsh chemicals without all of the added risks.

7. Anything with Pesticides or Insecticides

Using pesticides or insecticides to combat household pests can expose you to harmful chemicals that can negatively affect your baby's development. These substances can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled, so they're not recommended during pregnancy. Insecticides and other cleaning products aimed at bug control should be handled carefully.

8. Chores That Require a Ladder

Other household activities to avoid include anything that requires a ladder or stool. Pregnancy weight gain shifts your center of gravity, which can significantly increase your risk of falling. Even if you don't feel like it, the extra weight can affect your overall coordination and throw off your balance, so it's best to let someone else take over tasks that are off the ground.

9. Mopping or Sweeping

Mopping and sweeping involve bending, stretching, and repetitive movements that can strain your back and abdominal muscles. These tasks can also be physically demanding, which often leads to fatigue and discomfort during the later stages of pregnancy. If no one can help you with this task, at least try to find an ergonomic tool and make sure you give yourself time for plenty of breaks.

10. Tasks That Involve Standing for Too Long

Finally, prolonged periods of standing can cause swelling in the legs and feet, leading to discomfort and potential issues like varicose veins. During pregnancy, it's essential to prioritize comfort and avoid unnecessary strain. If you're going to engage in a task that requires you to stand for a long time, have a chair nearby so you can take breaks as needed.

How to Modify Household Tasks During Pregnancy

Unless you're prescribed bed rest, it's hard to sit back and do nothing during pregnancy. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to modify tasks, thus reducing the risk of injury. If you have to carry something heavy, try to reduce the load and make more trips. Use ergonomic tools and pregnancy-safe cleaners, and always give yourself plenty of breaks. When you need to pick something up from the floor, maintain proper posture and always lift with your legs.

Remember, carrying the weight of another living person can put you off balance and increase your risk of falling. If, at any time, you feel uncomfortable while performing any task, stop immediately and see a doctor. There are simply some things you should avoid while pregnant, and that's okay. One thing you can safely do is make sure you have all of the supplies you need for when your baby arrives, including an insurance-covered breast pump from Byram Healthcare. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all new and expecting mothers can receive one at zero out-of-pocket costs. Check out our breastfeeding product selection guide to learn more about your options and begin ordering today.