It's a wonderful fantasy: Get pregnant, and then to be safe from toxins and overexertion, call in 24-7 household cleaning help. Sorry to be the one to break it to you. Most household chores are still perfectly safe!
For just a few tasks, though, it may be better to lean on your partner -- or hire some temporary help.
Off Limits: Cat Litter Boxes
As precious as your kitty is, a cat can carry a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. (They get it from eating raw meat, birds, rodents, etc.) It can pass to you through contact with the cat's stool. This can cause an infection that may lead to problems with pregnancy, including miscarriage.
For perspective, though, you're less likely to get this parasite from your feline than from gardening or eating undercooked meat. However, doctors recommend that you stay away from the litter box during pregnancy. (You can still snuggle with the cat.)
- Ask your partner or other willing adult family member to change the litter box daily. (This will reduce the risk of the parasite being passed.)
- If there is no one who can oblige, change it carefully. Wear gloves. Wash your hands well with soap and water when you're done.
- Keep your cat indoors.
To reduce the risk even more, feed your cat canned or dried food only. Don't give your cat raw or undercooked meat. And while you are pregnant, don't adopt an outdoor or stray cat. They're more likely to have eaten raw meat.
General Cleaning: Go Natural?
Now's the time to cut down or cut out your use of potentially toxic cleaners with loads of chemicals. Some can harm your growing babies. If you're not sure whether a product is harmful, check the label. It should say whether or not it's toxic.
If you decide to buy "green," look for certified green products. Labels that say "Green Seal" or "EcoLogo" meet green standards.
To minimize chemical exposure, skip or cut down on:
- Bug sprays
- Commercial oven cleaner sprays
- Air fresheners (which may also make you nauseated)
- Commercial household cleaners with multiple chemicals
- Boric acid for bug sprays
- Baking soda and water paste for oven cleaners
- Vinegar for bleach
- Baking soda for commercial tile cleaners
- Hydrogen peroxide for commercial stain removers
When you clean, open doors and windows so fumes will dissipate. Use the cleaning supplies according to instructions. Use just enough to clean well.
And as for clean clothes, don't forget to wash your maternity clothes before wearing. Clothing direct from the factory can be coated with chemicals.
Housework Body Mechanics
When pregnant, you are more prone to back strain when doing household chores. The pregnancy hormones soften your ligaments and joints.
You can reduce your risk by paying attention to your lifting and bending form.
- To lift, spread your feet apart, one foot a little ahead of the other. Bend your knees and pick up the object. Holding the object close, straighten up, using your thigh muscles, not your back.
- To move a lightweight object, push, don't pull it. Use your legs. If it seems like too much effort, get help.
Other Chores Better Done by Others
Ask your partner to do some chores that you really should avoid. You can say, "It's doctor's orders!" If your partner can't do it, hire a professional.
- Nursery painting. Pick the color, and then turn the job over to your partner or a contractor. Plan an outing or be at work when the job is in progress. Air out the house when the painting is complete. Feel free to step in when it's time to decorate.
- Filling the gas tank. Ask your partner to do the honors. Or splurge on full service where available.
- Heavy lifting. It's not in your "job description" during pregnancy, especially if you are at risk for preterm labor. If you've got furniture to move -- or are in the midst of a move to a new place -- ask your partner, relatives, or friends for help, or hire it out.