In Your Home
Pregnancy may be the perfect opportunity to get your partner more involved in housework. Though many cleansers are safe, even if they contain chloride or ammonia, you may find their strong odors nauseating. If you're doing most of the cleaning, always wear rubber gloves, and keep your windows open. Perhaps most important, never mix cleaning products together; such combinations can produce fumes that are dangerous whether you're pregnant or not.
Natural cleaners that you can make yourself are good choices, too. They're safe and usually don't give off nauseating fumes. For example, baking soda can be used as a powdered cleanser to scrub pots and pans. A solution of vinegar and water is great for cleaning glass and countertops.
You may wonder if it's safe to cook with your microwave open during pregnancy. Fortunately, microwave energy does not lead to cancer or birth defects, as high doses of x-ray radiation can. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't take precautions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that you never use your microwave if it's damaged or has a door that doesn't close well, and never lean against it while it's operating.
As eager as you may be to decorate your baby's nursery, let someone else do the painting. While there's no known risk from exposure to unleaded, water-based indoor paints (also called latex paints), all paints contain solvents and other chemicals that have not been proven safe for pregnant women. When the job is done, remind the painter to open the windows to clear vapors from the air, and stay out of the room for a minimum of two days.
Take the same precautions if existing paint needs to be removed. If your home was built before 1980, the paint may contain lead, and exposure to high levels of lead has been linked to miscarriage, preterm delivery, and developmental delays in the infant.