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At the best of times, housework can feel like something that is ever-present in our lives. As soon as one thing is clean, another is dirty. There is always something to fix or set up at home.
This is a struggle for the best of us, so what should you do when you are pregnant? Are there household chores to avoid during pregnancy? Or should you give up housework completely?
The simple answer is that housework is still possible with some alterations to your approach and the tools you use. A little bit now and then is beneficial, but there are certain types of chores to avoid or adapt whenever possible.
Why is it important to do some housework while you are pregnant?
There will be some people that decide they shouldn’t have to do a thing around the house when pregnant. Others will want to continue doing everything that they did before.
The best approach is actually to find some middle ground. You shouldn’t overwork yourself or do anything that might put you or the baby at risk.
But, there are benefits to light housework and the risks are minimal in the early months.
One of those benefits of light housework while pregnant is that it keeps you active. Activity and fitness levels are important when pregnant to stay fit and healthy.
You don’t want to put on too much weight and you want good blood flow to your organs and your baby. Short bursts of simple household chores can help get the blood flowing and muscles working.
Then there are the mental health benefits to doing housework when pregnant. Pregnancy can be a tricky time where you feel like you can’t do things that were once easy or commonplace.
Achieving small goals around the home helps, while also emphasizing a sense of worth. You can still contribute to the family by doing more than just growing another human inside you.
How much is too much?
This is where things get a bit more complex. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to stick with some common tasks – nothing strenuous – for the first few months, and then cut back as the pregnancy progresses.
The risks of damage to you and your baby can increase.
But, ultimately, the choice is up to you. You shouldn’t feel pressured into giving up entirely, nor to do anything you don’t want to do.
The best approach is to still with small tasks with easy and light work and evaluate each challenge on a task-by-task basis. Weigh up the pros and cons and look for compromises or substitutions where possible.
The following list talks about six important areas of housework that are best avoided and how to find a solution to suit everyone.
6 household chores to avoid during pregnancy
1) Avoid anything with heavy lifting
First up, we have something that is a big risk, especially late into the pregnancy. When you go to lift a heavy object, you are putting strain on the body in multiple areas.
You might strain your back or your knees getting it off the ground, hurt your arms carrying it, or get out of breath. This is true for anyone.
For pregnant women, there is also greater strain in the delicate pelvic region and a risk around the womb. Some doctors talk about the risks of tears in the amniotic sac of early labor.
It is best to avoid anything heavy rather than assume that you can manage and put yourself at risk. One option is to simply leave the heavier tasks to someone else. (like your partner)
You might find that you can plan ahead if you have deliveries due or need something moved in the house. Friends and relatives could come by during the designated delivery slot.
Also, don’t be afraid to put a note on your delivery form that you might need some help due to pregnancy.
When it comes to moving furniture around, such as for the nursery, there is nothing wrong with giving directions while others do the hard work.
With other tasks, such as carrying groceries or laundry around the house, try and do it in small batches.
2 Avoid reaching too high to clean or fetch things
On a similar note, pregnant women also put themselves at risk by reaching or stretching too high. This can put undue strain on the body.
However, it is no better to start climbing up on chairs or on step-ladders to get what you need.
It is too easy for pregnant women to become dizzy or unbalanced. Your center of gravity has shifted, especially later into the pregnancy.
This could then lead to falls, which could cause severe injury or even miscarriage.
The best solution here is once again to either get a loved one to help you out or to prepare for some of these problems in advance. The latter is easier said than done depending on where you are in your pregnancy.
If you are in the early stages, you can make a plan to deal with certain problems now so they aren’t even on your mind in later months.
You could go room by room and have someone relocate important items to shelves or drawers at a more comfortable height. Why keep the mixer or other important kitchen appliance in the top cupboard during this time?
You could also make a point of replacing all the lightbulbs so there is less chance of any blowing when you are 8-months pregnant.
Dusting for cobwebs is a different matter. But, you can get a duster with a telescoping handle like this one for a simple chore you can do without stretching.
3) Avoid standing too long in one place
This is something that you could end up doing during a few different chores without realizing it.
For example, you might be stood at the counter prepping a meal as an easy way to help out. But, you might soon find yourself getting a bit fatigued or painful.
Another example is ironing, something that can drag on longer than expected if you aren’t careful, these long tasks on your feet can be tiring and also aren’t great for those dealing with morning sickness.
The best solution here is simply to break down your chores into smaller tasks. You don’t want to be on your feet for an hour getting strained and tired.
So, look at the problem as a series of mini-tasks and go and rest between them all. The job isn’t “clean the kitchen”. It is “wash the dishes, wipe down the counters, sweep the floor”.
How do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece my friend.
You can do these in three separate tasks and still feel like you have achieved something.
4) Avoid working with chemical cleaning products or pesticides
For this next issue, the problem lies less with the act and more with the products used. As mentioned above, there is nothing wrong with a little light cleaning now and then to keep on top of things.
You can spray some surfaces and wipe them down. But, you can’t do so with any aggressive chemicals.
Some harsh chemical products, such as those with bleach or ammonia in them like these cleaning products, could be dangerous if inhaled or if they get on your skin.
This is one that some expectant mothers may struggle with over the months of their pregnancy. You may feel a strong urge to clean more as you get into “nesting” mode, and a desire to use the best products possible.
But, it is better to either let other people do the cleaning when you aren’t around or to use eco-friendly substitutes like these.
There are lots of natural formulas now that are gentle and effective. The botanical ones like these also smell pretty nice.
You could have family come once a week to give the bathroom or kitchen a clean – on a rota system if they would prefer.
You could hire a cleaner depending on your budget.
Still, there are some great natural products around that don’t have those harmful chemicals and are safe for you to use during short tasks.
5) Avoid using any toxic paint for similar reasons
Next up in these household chores to avoid during pregnancy, we have some chemicals of a different kind. One of the joys of preparing for a new baby is creating the perfect nursery for them.
You might have a color scheme or an interesting theme in mind. However, the chemicals and fumes emitted from tins of paint are not good for our health.
Even in a well-ventilated room, or with a mask on, there are potential risks.
Besides, the act of painting the walls or a piece of furniture requires a lot of time on your feet and potentially bending and stretching.
There are ways around this problem if you need to get the nursery looking fresh for your child’s arrival. The first is to call on help to get the place painted in good time.
This could be a group of friends happy to pitch in with the promise of dinner, or a family member that’s handy with a roller.
You could also consider staying at someone else’s house while the renovations take place so that you don’t have to be anywhere near the fumes.
Another alternative is to consider wallpapering the room.
Again, this should be the work of friends and family, as you shouldn’t be climbing or reaching to hang the paper yourself.
But, it does eliminate that risk of paint fumes.
6) Avoid cleaning out the cat’s litter tray
Finally, there is the task of cleaning out the cat’s litter tray.
Obviously, this isn’t something that you can avoid doing because the cat is still going to poop every day and you can’t leave that mess lying around.
The problem is that cat feces contain bacteria and pose of risk of toxoplasmosis.
This can be highly dangerous for pregnant women and unborn babies, so it is important to avoid going near the dropping as much as possible.
The good thing is that cats are quite particular about where they go.
But, unless you train them to use a human toilet, (which I do NOT recommend) someone has to clean up.
The best thing to do instead in this case is to give the job to someone else throughout your pregnancy.
There is no point in putting yourself or your unborn child at unnecessary risk when there are other people that can help.
Your partner should understand why this now falls to them. If they never cleaned it out beforehand, that’s on them.
But, if you want a different solution to this problem then you could always consider getting a different type of cat litter box.
There are some models out there that have a “self-cleaning” function like this popular one on Amazon.
What this basically means is that that poop is sifted or scraped down into a sealed container.
This is much more hygienic for you and possibly a lot more practical for your partner.
I would not use this in the long run though and ONLY as an alternative solution during pregnancy.
Talk to your partner and family about household chores to avoid during pregnancy
One of the biggest things to take away from all of this is that you are not alone and there is always an alternative option. If a task is now beyond your capabilities and a health risk, use some of these modifications or get other people involved.
It is important to get everyone on the same page and explain what is needed.
You could find that everyone is more understanding and willing to step up than you expect. They may also come up with solutions and a rota system to take some of the stress off of your shoulders.
Finally, don’t feel bad about the things you can’t do and simply show gratitude to those that can do them for you If that means saying no to certain tasks that were “easy” a little earlier than expected, so be it.
There will be other things you can do. You are putting the health of yourself and your child first and that is what matters right now.