Unfortunately, housework doesn’t disappear while you are pregnant (as much as you wish it would!) and even more unfortunately there’s nothing really preventing you from cleaning during pregnancy. Apart from the morning sickness, fatigue, and swollen feet, that is. There are a few things you should avoid, like heavy lifting and using toxic chemicals, but for the most part you can carry on as before.
During the first and third trimesters you are more likely to struggle with fatigue and should take it easy. Ask your partner or a friend to help you with chores (or to just do them all for you!), or if your budget allows, hire a cleaning service once a week to help you stay on top of things.
Some Do’s and Don’ts of Housework While Pregnant
While most chores and housework activities are safe to do while pregnant, there are some things you should avoid or limit your exposure to as they can potentially harm you or your baby. In some cases, your child might have a higher risk of developing asthma or having learning disabilities. However, using protective measures and avoiding certain activities will keep you both safe and healthy.
Exposure to certain substances like toxic chemicals, mold, and infectious microorganisms can affect both you and your little one. Your skin is much more sensitive while pregnant and some chemicals can irritate your skin causing dermatitis/an itchy, inflamed rash.
In extreme cases, frequent exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy can cause a miscarriage, premature birth, or congenital disorders in your child. This is highly unlikely, but you should still be aware of the risks in order to minimize them. You will be perfectly safe by avoiding these substances and limiting your exposure where you can.
- Use products that say corrosive/danger/poison/toxic. This includes common cleaning supplies like bleach, oven cleaners, and drain cleaners.
- Use aerosols and sprays like air fresheners and bug spray as these can increase your baby’s risk of asthma.
- Plan on doing major renovations while pregnant, especially in pre-70s houses, as there could be lead-based paint that will be exposed and can cause problems like premature birth or low birth weight in unborn babies, or miscarriage/stillbirth. Certain solvent-based paints like primers can also pose a risk, so avoid doing any painting yourself. Ask someone else to do it instead and make sure it’s aired out properly before you go into the room.
- Clean mold as it may be toxic. Mold can be cleaned using a diluted bleach solution but porous substances like cardboard or drywall should be discarded or replaced. Don’t hesitate to call in a professional to deal with it if it covers a large area. You should also try to eliminate the excess moisture that often leads to mold to prevent the problem from cropping up again.
- Change the litter box. Cats can carry a microorganism that causes toxoplasmosis, which can make you ill and increase your risk of miscarriage.
- Mix bleach or chlorine-based products and ammonia. This creates chlorine gas which causes severe respiratory issues. It’s best not to do this ever, even if you’re not pregnant.
- Read the warning labels. This will help you decide which cleaning products to avoid. If it says, toxic, dangerous, poison, or corrosive, find another product to use instead.
- Ask someone else to do handle these chores instead. You’ll probably be grateful for the (legitimate) excuse to avoid cleaning the drain or dealing with the mold. Others might be more difficult to let go of, like painting the nursery. Focus instead on the fun parts like picking out the paint color and setting up the freshly painted room (once it’s aired out of course).
- Have proper ventilation if you can’t avoid using one of the products mentioned above. Open all windows and doors. Run the bathroom exhaust fan while you’re in there and for at least 15 minutes after you’ve finished. Pair this with a mask if you’re worried you might be affected by the fumes.
- Wear gloves and other protective clothing to minimize your skin exposure where necessary. You can still clean your bathroom efficiently while protecting your skin.
- Go green! Consider switching to environmentally friendly products as these use much safer chemicals (for you, baby, and the environment). It’ll also make your life easier once your baby has arrived as you won’t need to worry quite as much about the chemicals you are exposing your child and family to.
- Make your own cleaning supplies. You can make effective cleaners using lemon or vinegar and baking soda. See below for some recipes.
During pregnancy there is a huge strain placed on your body; you are growing a small human after all! Some activities are much more difficult during pregnancy because of the strain already placed on your body. Your belly starts getting in the way during the last trimester making some activities like carrying a laundry hamper much harder, and hormones like relaxin make it much easier to hurt yourself by lifting heavy items.
- Lift heavy items. It might be tempting to move the furniture while vacuuming or carry the full laundry hamper to the washing machine because you wouldn’t have thought twice about it before you were pregnant. However, relaxin and other hormones like progesterone make your joints and tendons much more flexible (to prepare your body for birth) and it’s easier to pull a muscle or strain your ligaments doing things you could have easily done before.
- Clean items that require excessive bending, squatting, or stretching like washing floor to ceiling glass doors or windows or hanging/steaming curtains. These movements can make you lightheaded and dizzy, and you could faint or fall and hurt yourself and/or your baby.
- Climb up onto ladders and chairs. Your center of balance is continually changing as your belly grows, making you more clumsy than usual. You can hurt yourself and your baby if you fall, possibly even resulting in a miscarriage.
- Transfer a few items of dirty laundry to a smaller basket to carry one load at a time. It’ll also be easier to carry a smaller load when your third-trimester belly is making things awkward.
- Ask for help. Whether it’s to lift/carry something for you, or just to help you move something, having someone else to help will take a lot of the strain off you.
- Pay attention to your posture while lifting and bending – your ligaments are looser during pregnancy and you can strain your muscles. Pick things up by bending your knees and using your leg muscles instead of simply bending over and using your back muscles. Push larger items rather than pulling them. Use your legs, not your back, preferably get help.
Listen to Your Body
Listening to your body is particularly important while pregnant as there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and each woman (and each pregnancy) is different. If you are feeling tired, stop and rest. Have a snack or meal when you are hungry or feeling faint. Avoid things that are making you nauseated. A few things affect your ability to do housework that you might not have considered, especially if this is your first pregnancy.
Exhaustion and fatigue peak during the first and third trimesters meaning you’ll have less time and strength to clean and carry out other household chores. Consider hiring a cleaning service or maid once a week or get your partner to take on more chores. You can also clean in shorter 15-minute segments during the day to spread chores out. Once your baby arrives you might appreciate this technique too as your schedule is dictated by his/her needs.
As your baby bump gets bigger, you’re more likely to bump into things. While it’s unlikely you’ll hurt the baby (they’re well protected), you might get more bruises. It will get harder to carry things like laundry baskets and you might find it difficult to fit into small spaces like the guest-room shower.
Your growing belly also continuously affects your center of gravity making climbing onto a ladder or stool to reach high places a no-no. Don’t hesitate to ask someone else to do things you are finding difficult.
This is mainly a problem in the first trimester but some unlucky moms-to-be experience nausea throughout their pregnancy (If this is the case for you, you should consult your doctor for remedies). Nausea inducing smells, like the rubbish bin, dirty dishes, and bathrooms, even certain cleaning products can make doing household chores a nightmare, especially paired with fatigue. Don’t be shy to play the pregnancy card to get your partner to take on these chores or ask a friend for help.
Making Your Own Cleaning Products
Homemade cleaning products generally use fewer ingredients and are much safer. They mostly use natural or harmless chemicals or ingredients like spirit vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. These simple household ingredients can be combined in several ways to make safe, environmentally friendly versions of almost any cleaning solution. These homemade recipes are just as effective when cleaning your house and can be scented with essential oils to leave your home smelling fresh.
Common Ingredients for Homemade Cleaners
Most of these ingredients are probably already in your pantry, but if not, they are easily found in grocery stores. Several of them have multiple uses and benefits and can be used alone or mixed with other ingredients for more effective cleaning.
|Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)||Deodoriser, abrasive cleaner, general cleaning|
|Vinegar – distilled white/spirit||Degreaser, disinfectant, neutralizes strong smells, removes hard water stains|
|Lemons||Degreaser, mild stain remover, deodorizer|
|Alcohol – isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol or vodka||Disinfectant, glass cleaner|
|Hydrogen peroxide||Disinfectant, stain remover|
|Liquid dish soap||Degreaser, general cleaning|
|Salt||Disinfectant, abrasive cleaner, Deodorizer|
The uses mentioned here are not exhaustive, and often when two ingredients are combined, they become more effective and serve different purposes. They can be used with common cleaning equipment like soft cloths, scrubbing brushes, cheap spray bottles to clean every area of your home.
Recipes for Cleaning Supplies
There are often safer substitutions to many commonly used household items, they are just not as widely known. If you want to be more eco-friendly, or simply limit dangerous chemicals in your home, here are some alternative products and recipes to use. The recipes use the common pantry ingredients listed above which can be found easily in stores.
The Magic Combination
The simplest cleaning combination is vinegar and baking soda. With just these two ingredients you can clean almost anything in your home:
- Oven and pot cleaner – To get rid of hardened grease and burnt food in ovens and pots, make a paste with baking soda and water or sprinkle the baking soda and scrub with a wet brush. Let it sit overnight then wipe away with a damp sponge or soft cloth. Use a water and vinegar solution to cut through any grease that remains.
- Drain and garbage disposal cleaner – Pour about half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar. You should hear the mixture fizz. After a few minutes, follow this with several cups of boiling water to clear the drain. This method can also be used to clean garbage disposals. To deodorize your garbage disposal, run a handful of ice and a chopped lemon through it.
- Bathroom scum and mildew – Spray a solution of equal parts water and vinegar onto any hard water stains and mildew. Or wipe with a cloth/sponge soaked in the solution. They should disappear easily but if the stains or mildew are very stubborn let it sit for a few minutes, use a stronger solution of vinegar, or combine with a paste of baking soda to scrub it away. Mould and mildew can also be cleaned using hydrogen peroxide.
In a spray bottle, mix equal parts water and vinegar with a drop or two of liquid dish soap. You can also add ingredients to give it a good smell like some essential oils, lemon/orange peel, or herbs like rosemary. This will clean everything from tiles and countertops to your shower.
Note: Do not use this or any other acidic ingredient like lemon juice on stone countertops like granite or marble as the acid will eat into and damage the stone. Clean stone with warm soapy water and wipe dry.
In a spray bottle, mix a solution of vinegar, alcohol, and water. Spray onto the glass or mirror you want to clean. Wipe off with a dry microfibre cloth or crumpled up newspaper to avoid streaks.
Laundry Stain Remover
Vinegar or hydrogen peroxide can be added to laundry instead of bleach to whiten clothes and remove stains. For spot-cleaning or more stubborn laundry stains, you can use one of the following methods:
- Make a paste of vinegar and baking soda. Rub it into the stain and leave to sit for an hour or two before adding it in with your next laundry cycle.
- Soak the stained area with hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice and let it sit in the sun for a few minutes. Add into your next laundry cycle.
Olive oil or beeswax are great alternatives to commercial furniture polish. They help to seal the wood and can even improve the appearance of scuff marks and water stains. Alternatively, you could use products marketed as butcher block/cutting board conditioner, which are food safe (perfect for little ones who put their mouths on everything!). As always, check the labels for ingredients.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, or so they say. While you may not feel up to doing your usual housework because of fatigue or morning sickness, it’s still worthwhile keeping your space clean and tidy. Once that nesting phase hits, you’ll want to do more around the house and it’s important to know what you can and can’t do while pregnant.
Don’t be ashamed of asking for help when you need it. It’s also a good idea to use this time as an opportunity to switch to eco-friendly/natural cleaning products as you’ll need to continue being careful of chemicals once your baby arrives. However you plan to keep a clean house, enjoy this time as it won’t last for long. Happy cleaning!