Is It Safe To Paint In The Third Trimester (Or At All)?

Pregnant women everywhere can attest to the fact that as pregnancy progresses, they become antsy to have things perfect before baby arrives. Part of preparing for baby is getting the nursery ready, and sometimes that requires painting. But is it safe to paint while you are pregnant – especially in the third trimester?


It can be great fun preparing the nursery for your baby’s arrival. Choosing the design, having things laid out perfectly and picking the right paint color may be high on your priority list before you bring your bundle of joy home.

Many women would like to paint the nursery themselves, but may avoid it during the first trimester due to the fact that most miscarriages take place during those critical 12 weeks. You may, however, be wondering if painting while pregnant is safe after this time.

What The Experts Say

The general consensus is that not enough is known about the long-term effects of painting during pregnancy.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, because there are currently no methods of measuring actual paint exposure during pregnancy, the degree of toxicity is challenging to predict. Research does not provide adequate information revealing if the chemicals in paint increase your chance of miscarriage or birth defects.

There has been a very small indication that exposure to paint chemicals may increase the risk of having a miscarriage or birth defect, though this was seen in women who were exposed to solvents over a lengthy period of time by profession or choice.

Though the chance is small you are putting your baby at risk, the decision is ultimately yours to make.

The likelihood of toxicity also depends the amount of exposure and on the chemicals and solvents present in the paint. It is ultimately suggested to get someone else to do the paint job for you, but if you must paint, there should not be serious concern if you paint with household latex or water-based paint during your second or third trimester.

These type of paints do not contain many harmful solvents. However, in the third trimester, you may be feeling very antsy to get things done, but you are likely to also be very tired. Don’t overdo it!

Paints To Avoid

There are recommendations to avoid exposure to mercury, leads and oil-based paints. Avoid occupational or industrial paint that contains high levels of solvents if possible. Spray paint is a big concern in particular, because the mist can easily be inhaled.

Exposure to latex paints that contain ethylene glycol ethers and biocides should also be limited; water colors, acrylic, and tempera paints are recommended over oil paints. Oil based paints contain solvents and may also include lead, zinc, or aluminum, which may be harmful.

Before the 1970s, lead-based paint was commonly used. Lead exposure can lead to lead poisoning and mental retardation in a developing baby.

Although paints with lead haven’t been manufactured for years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says pregnant women should definitely avoid removing old paint from walls (scraping, sanding) due to the possibility of lead exposure.

Safety Guidelines For Painting When Pregnant

1. Talk to your doctor before starting a painting project

This one is a given ladies. You certainly will want to be sure you are in tip-top shape before starting any project that could put you and your baby at risk.

2. Wear protective clothing

Cover yourself to keep safe. Be sure to wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants and masks.

3. Paint in a well-ventilated area

Many women may worry that paint fumes can effect their babies. While fumes may not harm your baby directly, they could make you feel dizzy or faint if the room is not well-ventilated.

This could lead to you passing out and taking a serious tumble. Make sure you paint in a well-ventilated area with windows open and fans running.

4. Take breaks

Don’t overdo things. Make sure you take breaks to eat and drink (and don’t eat or drink in the same room you are painting in, you don’t want to be ingesting any chemicals!) and step out for some fresh air.

5. Use common sense

Let people help you do the project if you don’t feel up to completing it yourself. Don’t stretch your body too much – let your hubby paint the ceiling or hard to reach trim. Most definitely do not climb ladders!

Though I did worry about painting while I was pregnant, I personally had a lot of fun painting my daughter’s nursery with my mom and husband during my third trimester.

It was very satisfying completing the project and I’m glad I was able to decorate her nursery with my own two hands. However, if you are still concerned about painting while pregnant, but still want to, there is one other option.

Chemical Free Paint

If you want to feel completely stress-free about painting, why not try a paint that is made with fewer chemicals? Chemical free paints are now available for nurseries and children’s rooms that are made without volatile organic compounds. Simply ask about low or no-VOC paints that are safe to paint with at your local paint or hardware store.


Rhonda Mix

Rhonda is mom to a bright and sweet little girl. She enjoys writing for work, writing for fun and reading when time allows. Also passionate about travel, she has a fondness for Taiwan - where she once lived in a previous chapter of her life. She looks forward to all the adventures ahead and exploring new places with two of her biggest loves - her daughter and husband.

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