house construction during pregnancy

House Construction During Pregnancy – What You Need to Know

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I bet you’re wondering about house construction during pregnancy.

Is it safe to do home renovations while pregnant? Is dust from renovation harmful? What are VOCs and do they still matter? Are power tools a problem?

What’s safe, what’s not, and am I crazy?

Quickly, those last 3 answers would be: it depends who you ask, it depends who you ask, and …maybe a little. 

We have worked a renovation project during all of my pregnancies and have some advice for you. While yes, there are times to take extra precautions and sit out, there are also things you can do for your home remodeling project.

Let’s explore our top 15 tips for renovating during pregnancy!

House Construction During Pregnancy: Physical Safety Tips

Before we start: you should know that Our Two Family blog will not be held liable for any medical problems you or your baby encounter due to house construction during pregnancy. We’re just a couple on the internet sharing what we learned. This is not medical advice.

Alright, let’s go!

Ask Your Doctor

The first thing to do is talk to your OBGYN about your house construction project.  

Explain the scope of work, how long you expect it to last, and your role and proximity to the project.  Your doctor should have guidance for you, particularly in light of your specific pregnancy.

Here’s a comical exchange that occurred between me and my doctor:

Me: “We’re renovating a room, what do I need to know?”

Doctor: “Oh that’s great, it won’t be a problem.”

Me: “So like, I can do demo day?”

Doctor: “You mean, like check on it at the end of the day?”

Me: “No.  Like, I swing the hammer.”

Doctor: “Ohhhhhhhhh you mean…”

Me: “We’re DIYers.”

Doctor: “Welllllll… um, maybe not the whole day…”

And thus a conversation ensued about how I should probably not do demo for more than a few minutes, I should mask, and of course avoid any trauma to my body.  Which, like… you should probably do even if you’re not expecting a baby.  

Here’s more on demo day, by the way: Home Renovation Demolition – 12 Best Tips for an Easy Demo Day.

Avoid It if You Can

Avoid house construction during pregnancy if you can, for both physical and emotional reasons.  Pregnancy is stressful enough, and adding a renovation on top of it can really send a household into a tailspin.  

Physically, construction dust isn’t great for anybody, never mind the little peanut growing underneath your heartbeat.  

But, if you’re determined to power through, or honestly have no choice (I feel that!) here’s more advice.

sanding while pregnant
masking, but make it fashion!

Mask Up

If you need to go near your remodeling project, wear a mask!  An N-95 is your buddy here.  

When we were doing our Kid’s Bedroom Makeover, I would wear a mask anytime I set foot in the remodel room.  Paint, sheetrock, taping, taking a picture – anything! – I wore a mask every time. 

Order up a stack of N95s!

Open a Window

Need to go in construction area?  Open a window.  This is good for everyone working, by the way.  Fresh air will do you good no matter how pregnant you are.

Furthermore, it gives a way for the workspace to vent.  Do this when working with dust, paint, varnish – anything!!

construction dust and pregnancy
5 months along, I was painting a ceiling, hence the face shield. Windows were wide open, and I checked the VOCs!

Hire It Out

Consider hiring out your project to shorten the length of construction during your pregnancy.  (See also: Why Hire a Contractor? Five Reasons it’s Better!).

I do realize that some contractors take more time than if you’d DIY.  This all depends on your contracting company and their availability.  But, if you know you can get the project done faster by hiring the help, it will benefit both your body and your brain.  

Tape off the Workspace

One of the best things you can do to mitigate the spread of dust and smells is to physically tape off the workspace.  

I’m not talking hang a tarp – I’m talking legit take a roll of tape to the door frame and shut it for good.  There are particles that you can’t see that can travel into your living space from your project through little cracks and crannies.  Tape it off!

house renovation during pregnancy
tape. it. off!

Check the V.O.C. Info

VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds – basically, gasses in the air from smelly products like paint or varnish.  

If you read the fine print on the back of a paint can, you’ll find information about VOCs.  There is research linked to bad outcomes with exposure to VOCs – read all about it at the NIH a study here

The EPA also has a great Appendix here about prepping home for baby.

Basically – VOCs are bad, and “low-VOC” or “zero VOC” paints are better.  

Open the windows if you need to paint – and leave them open for a few days after if you can.   You should also paint the nursery a few months before baby is expected to arrive, ensuring that your little nugget won’t inhale those fumes, either.

…And Skip That Lead Paint Rehab

Lead paint is a no-no for kids, babies and pregnant women. You should vacate the premises if there is lead paint abatement going on. This is serious!!

Lift Within Your Limits

Old school practice would say that pregnant women should not lift anything at all – rest all day! Recline!  Eat for two!  You’re pregnant!

Annnnnd anyone with a toddler while pregnant knows full well how that’s a total pie in the sky, and you’ll be carting a wiggling, screaming 28-lb ball of energy through the library parking lot post- story time (just me?).  

Anyway, my point is – if you’re renovating during your pregnancy, maybe try to avoid heavy lifting – whatever that means for you.

And, watch your form.  Weight distribution is a funny thing, depending on your trimester, and your joints will be looser than usual.  Twist and bend with care!  

diy while pregnant
there’s a lot you CAN do to help, though!

Ladders When Pregnant

This is another thing that might be good to avoid depending on your trimester.  Obviously, falling with baby in belly is no bueno.  

However, sometimes using a ladder or stepstool can’t be avoided.  You must do what you’re comfortable with and what your doctor says is best for you.  

Personally, I was good on 6ft ladders up until about month 6.  I took my time and watched my step as much as possible.  After that, my bump got in the way of safe climbing, so I just pointed and asked someone else to do the job.  

A Place to Wipe Feet

Work boots are the perfect place for construction dust to hitch a ride.  However, there are ways to mitigate this!  

Keep an old doormat or drop cloth outside the door of your renovation space for people to wipe their feet. Better yet, have them remove their shoes altogether before exiting the workspace.  

During our Kid’s Bedroom Makeover for our toddler, we were diligent about shoe removal and even a layer of clothing removal – like a sweatshirt or switching jeans.  

Anything is better than nothing when it comes to minimizing the spread of dust!

Take Breaks

It’s important for everyone on your crew to take breaks.  And when you’re pregnant – even more so!  

Remember, you’re growing a human being.  For nine months, you’re never not growing a human being!  So, rest when you need to.  

This need might arrive more frequently than when you weren’t pregnant.  That’s ok!!  

Take breaks for your health, your baby’s health, and your sanity.  

House Construction During Pregnancy: Sanity Saving Tips

Time It Right

Do not – I repeat, do not try to start a project when you are in your third trimester.  Keep your project to first and second if at all possible. (Side note: you might want to avoid smelly stuff like painting during your first trimester due to morning sickness aka morning-in-every-time-zone-sickness).

Third tri is a different animal, and aside from the physical discomfort, the emotional can be daunting as well.  The third trimester is the time for your baby shower, nesting, resting, freezer meals, pedicures, and dreaming of that first postpartum glass of vino with a side of sushi.  

Please don’t self-impose a renovation during your third trimester.

Plan, Plan, Plan!

This is for anyone who wants to renovate without losing sanity: the best thing you can do is to PLAN AHEAD!

We can help with that – snag your kitchen and bathroom renovation planners on Etsy!

Read all about How Do I Plan a Home Renovation in 13 steps.

And, if you do reach a breaking point with your sanity, check out these posts:

Make a Budget

If you’re going to renovate, you need to budget.  We have completed all of our renovations (after our FHA 203k Loan finished up) in cash.  

You should do the same.  Debt + reno + baby = too much stress.  Don’t do that!

Check out our best home renovation budget advice here.

Give Yourself Grace

Pregnancy has the potential to include ALL the emotions, sometimes within the same 5 minutes.  

If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or any number of feelings, it’s OKAY!  Your hormones are going nuts-o.  

Give yourself (or your spouse/partner) some grace and some space.  This too shall pass.  

Final Thoughts on House Construction During Pregnancy

For pregnant women staring down a home renovation, it’s hard to know what is best for mama and baby.

Hopefully these tips help you consider safety precautions, talking points for your next doctor’s appointment, and the confidence to finish up those last projects before baby arrives.

From our two family house to yours – congratulations!

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