Can You Paint When Pregnant?

Painting While Pregnant Can be Done Safely, But is Best Avoided

The desire to look your best does not go away when you get pregnant, and the desire to redecorate and repaint your home can actually intensify as your nesting instinct kicks in. The main thing to avoid when pregnant are the toxic fumes released by solvents. The fewer, or milder, the solvents in any kind of paint, the less likely their fumes will harm your baby. No matter how mild, though, it's best to avoid any risk by always working in a well-ventilated room or outside and taking frequent breaks.

Painting Your Nails

Expectant Couple Taking A Break Whilst Decorating Nursery

Can Nail Polish Harm a Baby?

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There is little evidence to support the idea that polishing your nails can harm your baby, but some women do find the smell of nail polish nauseating, especially in their first trimester. If you want to apply nail color, do so either at an outdoor table or in a well-ventilated area. Professional manicures are slightly more problematic, because the air in most nail salons is pretty well saturated with solvent fumes. Many solvents might cause problems for your developing baby, so it's best to take care of your own mani/pedis until after your baby is born.

Painting Your Artwork

As with nail polish, there is scant evidence to conclusively prove that the fumes in artist's paint can harm your baby. Oil paints contain a higher percentage of solvents than watercolor paint, tempera and acrylic paints, so it's best to avoid painting in oils until after your baby is born. To be on the safe side, make sure that the area is well ventilated, both with open windows and fans to blow the fumes outside. Take frequent breaks. Make sure you're not using chemical solvents to clean your brushes. A solution of warm water and degreasing dishwashing liquid will effectively clean brushes used with watercolor paint, tempera and acrylic paints.

Painting Your Walls

Expectant Couple Taking A Break Whilst Decorating Nursery

Can the Smell of Burned Plastic Be Harmful to My Baby?

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The desire to nest is almost irresistible in many pregnant women, and this often includes the compulsion to paint the nursery or even to redecorate your entire home. Oil-based paints contain solvents that emit fumes. These solvents have not been comprehensively studied to determine their effect on a developing baby, so it's best to be cautious. See whether a partner, friend or family member can paint the nursery for you. If you're on your own, use water-based latex paint and a filter mask and keep the room well-ventilated. Take breaks every 15 to 20 minutes and go outside to breathe.


Tell your doctor if you've been exposed to paint fumes, especially those from spray paint, in your first trimester. Chances are that no damage was done, but the more information your health care provider has about your pregnancy, the better care he can give to both your baby and you.