A Guide to Safety at Home During Pregnancy

By Kerry Weiss
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
November 30, 2023

For the text version of this infographic on pregnancy safety at home, read on.

Pregnancy Safety at Home

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to be mindful of things around you that can affect the health of both you and your baby.

Some household activities and products can be harmful. But there are ways to stay safe.

Chose Pregnancy-Safe Cleaning Products

Check the Label

Some household cleaners contain chemicals that can be toxic during pregnancy.

List of Chemicals to Avoid During Pregnancy

As much as possible, avoid products that include:

  • Solvents, such as alcohols and degreasers
  • Glycol ethers, such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME)
  • Phthalates, which can be found in most products that contain fragrances
  • Aerosol sprays, especially those that contain alcohol, chlorine, glycol ethers, sodium hydroxide, acrylic polymers, or terpenes

These substances are common in:

  • Air fresheners
  • Carpet cleaners
  • Oven cleaners
  • Stain removers

Avoid Products That Make You Feel Sick

Some other chemicals like ammonia or chlorine are considered safe during pregnancy but have strong odors that can leave you feeling nauseated.

Next time you’re cleaning, try these tips:

  • Open the windows
  • Wear rubber gloves
  • Put on a mask

Or try cleaning with products with natural main ingredients, like baking soda, borax, or vinegar.

Make Small Kitchen Swaps

Plastic containers or nonstick cookware can contain harmful chemicals.

If possible, prep, cook, and store food in containers made of:

  • Ceramic
  • Stainless steel
  • Cast iron
  • Glass

Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard

Average everyday movements aren’t a cause for concern, but some physically demanding activities can be tiring or affect your growing baby’s health.

So when you’re doing tasks at home, try to limit:

  • Prolonged periods of standing. Take frequent rest breaks if you can.
  • Regular heavy lifting. How much can you lift while pregnant? Try to avoid lifting objects heavier than 20 pounds.
  • Repeated bending, stooping, or squatting.

Keep these tips in mind with household chores like sweeping, mopping, and doing the dishes.

Be Cautious with Home Projects

Can you paint during pregnancy? You can, but you must use paint that’s water-based or free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to avoid harmful chemical fumes.

Keep in mind that painting can require a lot of bending, which may be hard on your body.

If possible, ask friends and family to help, or hire someone to do the job. Open the windows and try to leave the house until the paint fumes have cleared out.

Lead Paint Hazards

If your home is older than 1978, it could contain lead-based paint or pipes.

Home repairs or renovations can release lead dust into the air.

Lead exposure is toxic to anyone, but when you’re pregnant, it’s especially risky for you and your baby.

Use a home kit or hire a professional to test the lead levels before doing any projects in an older home. If lead is found, you should leave it alone and/or call a professional to remove it.

If you’re renting, contact your landlord. In many cases, they will be required to remedy lead paint hazards.

Check Your Medicine Cabinet

Not all medications—even over-the-counter ones—are safe to use during pregnancy.

Some medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are often okayed during pregnancy. But everyone is different. It’s always best to ask your doctor before taking any medications or supplements while pregnant.

Avoid Smoke

It’s important not to smoke or vape during pregnancy.

Avoid second hand smoke in pregnancy, too.

Ask smokers to smoke outside. Stay at least 20 feet away from them while they smoke.

Practice Safe Self-Care

Getting overheated can be dangerous during pregnancy. If your body temperature rises above 102.2 degrees F over long stretches of time, it can pose health problems to you and your developing baby.


  • Getting in hot water, such as long, hot showers and hot baths while pregnant
  • Saunas during pregnancy
  • Hot tubs during pregnancy
  • Electric blankets during pregnancy
  • Exercising outdoors on hot days while pregnant

Still, research suggests that self-care can help improve well‑being during pregnancy.

Choose pregnancy-approved self-care strategies, like:

  • Prenatal massage
  • Spending time outdoors (as long as it’s not too hot!)
  • Spending time with a friend
  • Prenatal yoga
  • Taking a nap

Take Care Around Pets

Exposure to cat feces can increase the risk of getting toxoplasmosis, an infection that can pose serious risks to an unborn baby.

It's a good idea to have another person clean the litter box. If that’s not possible, protect yourself by wearing disposable gloves and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly when you’ve finished.

Keeping your cats indoors and feeding them dried or canned food can help keep you and your baby extra safe.

FACT: Toxoplasmosis can also be found in the soil, so if you’re gardening or spending time outside, remove your shoes when you go indoors and wash your hands thoroughly.

Avoid contact with any flea and tick treatments you may apply to your pet’s skin. Wear gloves during application and wash your hands immediately after. Avoid touching your pet until the treatment has dried or absorbed.

Stress and Pregnancy

Try not to stress. It’s important to be safe, but it’s not good to worry about every little thing during pregnancy. Stress can also have harmful effects!

If you want to do something or use a product and you’re worried or unsure whether it’s okay, ask your ob-gyn or midwife before you proceed. They can give you peace of mind and help you keep yourself and your baby safe.