Chemicals to avoid during pregnancy
Many pregnant women wonder what’s okay during pregnancy and what is not. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can definitely harm your baby. But the effects of other substances, such as hair dye, are uncertain. If you don’t have to expose yourself to unknown risks, it’s probably best to avoid them.
Talk with your doctor about any medication you take (even those you take occasionally, like asthma medicine). Some medicines can harm your baby, whereas it is important to keep taking others for your health. This includes prescription drugs and any over-the-counter medicines you buy in a drug store or supermarket. If a medicine you use is not safe, your clinician often can suggest safer ones. Although it is important to take certain medicines, in general, avoid all medicines except acetaminophen (such as Tylenol), and prenatal vitamins (if prescribed) if possible.
Colds or respiratory infections are the most common reasons pregnant women require medication. The following medications are considered safe during pregnancy:
Cough drops (with the exception of zinc)
Saline nasal spray
Some chemicals are known to cause birth defects, but not enough is known about many others. Anything you touch or breathe may get into your bloodstream and reach your baby. So ask someone else to handle any items that may be harmful, including the list below, or at least think carefully before you do so:
Cleaning: Avoid oven cleaner, aerosol spray cleaners, dry cleaning fluids, spot removers
Painting: Avoid latex or oil-based paints, varnish, shellac, turpentine, paint strippers
Lawn or garden: Avoid insecticides, weed killers, fertilizers
Home renovation: Do not remove paint or do home renovation on any area in your home where lead paint might have been used. Even small repairs of painted surfaces can stir up lead dust.
Always read labels and follow directions and warnings exactly. Wear gloves and carefully wash any skin that touches chemicals.