Painting and Decorating

I've got myself in a tis and just had a little cry :(

We've been doing painting and decorating on our new living room and dining room. My job has been the cutting in (Im an Art teacher so have a steady hand with a paintbrush!). I'm not worried about using the emulsion paint at all -the rooms are all open plan and we've had the doors and windows all open, all of the time. However, my other job was the skirting boards so I've been using a solvent based primer and of course the solvent based gloss top coat; and you can't help but breathe in the fumes when you're that close to it. I'm now cr*pping myself that I've harmed our baby, and I'm really upset about it :( :(

I just wanted to do a good neat job in our new home (as my husband can't paint in a straight line for toffee, bless him!), but now I'm really scared. I don't want to talk to him about it because he kept asking me if I wanted him to do it, but I insisted that it was my job. And now I feel so stupid :(

20 Replies

  • Don't feel stupid, and please try not to panic. As you said, the room was well ventilated. The following is from the NHS Choices website:

    "Very little research has been carried out into the effects of paint fumes on unborn babies, although the few studies carried out show that the risk is extremely low."

    It goes on to say that long-term exposure to solvent paints may be harmful, but that's talking about if you work every day with solvent paints, which you don't. As you're worried, it might be best not to do any more painting in the future, but the chances that what you've done has done any harm at all is really, really low. Please don't beat yourself up about it! You are nesting - you want to make your home beautiful and ready for your baby!

    Loads of hugs and love heading your way x

  • Thank you :,(

    I just spoke to my husband about it and he was very reasuring. He said for me to not do anymore, but did point out that I have only been painting for a couple of hours a day and taken big breaks in between, and the solvent warnings are more for people that are exposed all day every day for a long period of time.

    I feel a little better. I think I'm mainly stressed and tired.

    Normally I wouldn't be bothered at all by using those kind of paints; it's just because I'm pregnant that I'm bothered.

  • I know its not comfortable but what about wearing a dust mask to reduce fumes too the big white ones I am talking about.

  • If your husband's not good at straight lines, I can recommend Frog Tape. It's the only way I can get a straight line!

    It's the job of pregnant women to worry. Guess it's preparing us for being mums, when we'll worry all the time! :o)

  • I told my Mum I was worried yesterday and she almost told me off.

    She said that she thought that she had been over protective when I was a baby but that I was even worse and that getting stressed and upset about it would probably do the baby more harm. I hate to say it, but my Mum is (probably) right (maybe).

    Thanks for the advice. We have some frogtape now :)

  • Hey hun,

    Don't panic. I actually work for a paint company! The actual VOC's (volatile organic compounds) in modern solvent paints is very low. As long as you had good ventilation and took breaks between painting then you will be fine. I have been risked assessed at work and I'm still allowed to use and test the solvent based paints, as they are deemed as low risk.

    I hope that helps and reassures you, any more questions just ask :)

  • Oh thankyou! That's just the reassurance I need; I've been so worried :(

    Our downstairs is all open plan (so it's not like I was painting in a little box room with the door closed), and we had the windows open -but when you're painting the skirting boards, you can't help but have the tin near you and you need to be near the thing that you're painting.

    Just had a look on the back of the gloss paint and it says 'high VOC 25-50%', is that still going to be ok?

  • Me again...

    I've been looking online, and from what I gather, in a perfect world we wouldn't come into contact with ANY chemicals when we're pregnant...but this is not the way things are. No contact with solvents is safest. The more contact you have, the greater the risk. Some home decorating is fine. If however I was sniffing gloss paint for 8hrs a day, for 9months, then no it's not very good for me or baby. Bleach and other cleaning chemicals contain VOCs, and we come in contact with them all the time without thinking anything of it. I also gather that aerosol paints are more of a problem because you actually take the particles in. Is that pretty much what you think?

  • Hi Queenie,

    Sorry was busy over the weekend!

    Yep, you're right. There's VOCs in most household products so we should try and limit sniffing cleaners etc too.

    There are some chemicals that we should avoid completely as they have special implications when pregnant. For example, I'm not allowed near hexane as it has an R62 risk phrases, which is dangerous when pregnant.

    All consumer products though will be checked and tested and have a legal limit of VOC.

    Don't worry, it'll be fine. Just make sure you ventilate the area well if you need to do anymore.


  • Hello I'm 25 weeks pregnant and on weds night at 12 midnight I had the urge to paint the baby window sill with dulux gloss paint ( high in voc) it took me 30mins and I didn't open any windows whilst painting as it was late and I didn't want any bugs flying in. There was no door to the baby room as we took it down to replace with a new one. Anyways after I finished i did open the windows in the room (hence no door to the baby room so couldn't shut it) slept next door in my room with the door closed and had my room windows opened, but the fumes was so strong I could smell it all night long in my room. I got up at 11am as I couldn't sleep all night and now I'm so worried I harmed my baby in any way. I feel so stupid, I just wanted to get it painted. It's been a week now since the incident and I've ventilated but I've developed a little sore throat? It was mild but my sis came over for 12 hours and we chatted all the way through and it has made my throat gone more sore.. Was the painting that caused my sore throat? I never get sore throat unless I'm coming down with a cold and that's the 1st sign?? I'm really worried but I don't understand why it took 1 week for me to develop the sore throat..maybe from all the fumes breathe in during the week? Please help!! :(

  • Thank you :) My husband has cheerfully volunteered to do the rest 'tonight' (just to be on the safe side)...that was TWO WEEKS AGO ;)

  • Hi me again just wanted to add, on the night of me painting, it was a very humid night therefore even though windows was opened, there wasn't really any breeze and when I got up the next morning and went out for an hour, when I came back my room really smelled of fumes and I had my room shut. Sorry for such a long rant but just feel so down from it. Many thanks

  • That's exactly what I was like: at the time of painting I had no issue with it. Yes, I know solvents aren't very nice and can cause headaches etc, but at the time it didnt even occur to me NOT to, because I was pregnant. I didn't feel unwell so I didn't give it a thought. I undercoated and glossed the whole skirting board of our lounge and diner, while laid on the floor on my side. Wasn't until 2 days later all of a sudden I just got really upset about it. I cried and cried and had to be consoled by my husband. I felt so guilty and so stupid that I might have hurt poor little Baby Nutella :(

    I did a lot of research on the internet and you get loads of mums-to-be saying that they wouldnt dream of painting, not even when using non-solvent based paints, and only eat organic air and shampoo their hair in larks breath etc etc. Then I found posts from REAL people who said things like ''My Mum stripped, sanded and varnished my nursery when she was 7 months pregnant and I'm fine!'' and people saying 'I painted the window sills and the fumes made me vomit so I gave it 20mins before starting again'' and it made me feel much better.

    I felt guilty for a few days but within a week I'd 'gotten over it' to be honest, I think yours and my reactions are driven by hormones. I'd tried SO hard not to eat raw eggs and be careful to eat all the right vitamins and minerals...and then I'd gone and done THIS to my baby and just felt SO stupid. But I'm 23 weeks now and I don't feel bad anymore, just excited. I promise you that you will feel better about it soon. Just think, our Grandmothers probably smoked and drank through their pregnancies, and didn't think anything of it! I'm not saying that's ok (because we know much more about the effects of smoking and drinking on babies now), but my Dad is 70 and healthy and looking good (despite anything my Nan did or didn't do while she was pregnant).

    Hope this helps ? xx

  • My husband also likes to remind me that getting stressed and upset about it will do more harm to the baby than paint fumes. And he's right much as I hate to admit it! ;D

  • Thank you.. All the best to you. When's ur due date? Boy/girl?

  • My husbands Nan came over today: ''How's your little bump?'' she asked.

    ''Not so little now'' I replied.

    ''I think you're doing very well, considering you're due in November'' she said.

    ''I'm not due in November; I'm due in January'' I said.

    ''Oh'' she said.


  • I'm due 2nd January. And we're having a little girl. How about you?

  • I'm due end of nov and its a boy.. Got any names yet? We like jayden just can't wait to hold him now.. Feels like forever being pregnant x

  • Ahhh lovely :) Yes, I think were sorted for a name -as long as it suits her when she 'pops out' <-- labour optimism

  • Hi ya, just been on the google and have come across this link searching for info, as painting and decorating is my job that I do full time, and have recently discovered that I'm pregnant (about 5 weeks) I'm just abit worried on how this is going to effect my job, as I don't want to put myself in harms way. I work off ladders daily which can be quite heavy, also use all types of paints, i don't want to let down my clients that ive already booked in, but also i don't want to put me and baby out of over doing it.

    Also this is my only income, so if I quit now being self employed I have no maternity pay. Just not sure what to do.

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