As an expecting mother, you might want to clean the house, create some extra space, shop for new things, and redecorate the rooms for your future newborn. But, these chores might not be safe for you and your developing fetus as they might be either physically strenuous or toxic or both. So to ensure that the health of both the mother and the baby are fine, The Week with inputs from Dr Rangina Laikangbam, laparoscopic gynecologist at Alka Hospital in Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, brings to you a list of several household chores that you need to avoid if you are pregnant.
Chores that require you to bend
Bending for a long time while sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming can leave you tired and cause backache later. Such chores can also aggravate sciatica, a painful swelling of the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back to the legs. Though the swelling is common during pregnancy due to excessive weight gain or the pressure of the heavy uterus on the nerve, chores that require you to bend can worsen it. So, take a break and get off your feet in between to relieve the pressure from the nerve. Similarly, the vibration produced by the vacuum cleaner is also not good for you when there’s a baby growing in your womb. And, try not to change the filter by yourself. The filter contains dust, spores, and hairs that can irritate your sensitive skin, eyes, and, at times, even the lungs.
Cleaning the litter box
Pregnant moms should completely avoid cleaning the litter made by their pets for this can expose them to dangerous parasites and germs. Likewise, it can bring a threat of toxoplasmosis to both the mother and the child. This is an infection that is transmitted by parasites present in the feces of animals. But if there is no one else at home who can handle your pets for you then proceed with extreme caution. Wear gloves while doing the chore and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Using harsh household cleaners
You might want to get rid of cockroaches, ants, and other pests from your home but try not to use insecticides. There are various chemicals in the mosquito or cockroach sprays available in the market and such fumes might lead to neural tube defects and deformities of the heart and limbs in your unborn baby. Many women also have a high chance of facing various skin irritations. So, try skipping these chemicals and instead tackle the problem with natural alternatives. Baking soda, lemon, and vinegar are some natural substances that can help you get rid of household pests. If you must use chemical products, then make sure you wear protective gloves and cover your mouth to avoid accidental inhalation. But Dr Laikangbam still recommends you do away with insecticides as far as possible.
Walking 1000 steps to buy groceries from a nearby departmental store is no big deal. In fact, this helps mothers get some fresh air and some light exercise as well, which is actually good for both the mother and the baby. But, never struggle with large shopping bags or travel to distant shops on foot. This may put a strain on your lower back and that is the last thing you want when you are pregnant. Take along a family member or a friend to help you if you must go shopping. Or shop online. Don’t roam around on busy streets and try to avoid crowded public transportations as much as possible.
Standing for too long
During a certain phase of pregnancy, women might get these bursts of energy that make them want to do a whole lot of chores or tackle everything they have been putting off at once. For instance, you might feel like cooking dinner for the entire family or ironing a round of laundry, or even rearranging the furniture. But these chores require you to stand for long hours that can be problematic, especially if you are in the later stages of pregnancy. Standing for long can leave you with swollen feet and, in some cases, even disrupt the blood flow leading to the premature delivery.
Reaching above and beyond
There is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain a clean environment and cleaning the corners of big shelves, roofs, windows, or fans. But climbing on stools, ladders or even low steps to do so might be very risky. With a growing belly, the center of gravity changes making pregnant women extremely vulnerable to falls. This may lead to bleeding, abdominal pain, and, in worst cases, even miscarriage. So, try not to do chores that require climbing or balancing on chairs or ladders.
Many paints contain petroleum-based chemicals. This can bring about health complications if you are pregnant. So limit your exposure to paint and its fumes. However, if you have no other option but to help your family members in decorating the rooms then pick only those paints that have less harmful solvents or have volatile oil compounds. Make sure there is good ventilation in the room you are painting to avoid inhaling the fumes. Do not eat or drink in the room you are painting and leave the area immediately if you feel nauseous or dizzy.