Since this isn’t my first time being pregnant amid approximately a million home improvement projects, nor is it the first time that being pregnant necessitated some of those projects, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned so that I can DIY while also building a little person.
First of all, just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you’re incapacitated (unless you’re on bedrest, which then it does). So barring any doctor’s orders, you’re still fully capable of being of use with your DIY projects, and don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
In my experience, when it should be the easiest for you to climb ladders or haul things — the first trimester — is usually the hardest between being inexplicably exhausted and puking your guts out every five minutes. From there, you’ll typically find yourself with growing energy — and a growing belly to match, which can severely limit your physical capabilities. That’s probably the most frustrating part for me because my brain wants to do things and knows under normal circumstances doing said things would be a non-issue, but my impending child is increasingly in the way. Stupid nesting instincts.
Anyway, here are some suggestions for still contributing to your household (you know, more than just the family member you’re growing).
Get A Mask
No matter what task you have at hand, there’s a mask for that. Even if you’re just painting the nursery with VOC-free paints or sanding a nightstand, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Look for ones that are task-specific, because they’ll let different amounts of particles through — so your painting one won’t quite cut the dust from sanding, and the sanding one probably won’t keep all the paint fumes away from your extra-sensitive nose.
When you’re painting, latex gloves will do. If you’re outside or handling harder construction materials, canvas gloves are great. I know you’ll think you don’t need them, but trust me, you will.
Your dexterity will decrease as swelling and weight gain impair your joints (especially in your hands) and the bigger you get, the sweatier you’ll be due to weight gain and hormone-induced hot flashes. The last thing you want is to drop/lose/break an important part of your project or hurt yourself due to a loss of grip. Plus, the extra protection is just a bonus no matter what your gestational state.
Embrace The Brace
Between weight gain and carpal tunnel, it’s nearly guaranteed at some point, some joint will go funky on you. So to at lease lessen the trauma, if you’re going to be doing a lot of work with your hands, like painting, get wrist braces. If you’re going to be bending your knees a lot, get a knee brace.
Spending a lot of time on your feet? Get yourself some ankle braces and arch supports. I promise it’ll make your days (especially closer to your due date) just that much more bearable.
As you can see from the picture above of me in all my home reno glory, I’m a barefoot kind of girl. But you know what sucks worse than being huge pregnant while trying to accomplish simple tasks? Trying to do said tasks with an aching back because you don’t have any foot support, or worse, hurting yourself and not being able to do anything because you’re on crutches.
Yes, I’ve been pregnant and on crutches. I wouldn’t advise it. Ever. There’s a hormone released when you’re pregnant that helps loosen up the ligaments around your joints (so you can push that baby out when the time comes), which means your chance of twisting an ankle, spraining your neck, twerking a wrist, or throwing out your back are even MORE possible. Shoes will help you balance your weight and grip whatever surface you’re standing on, lessening your chances of gimping around for a few weeks.
Take It Slow
The thing about welcoming a new member of your family is that it’s on a timeline, and that can put a lot of pressure on a new Mama-Fix-It-To-Be. It’s easy to get caught up in projects needing finishing and nesting urges keeping you up all hours of the night. Take a deep breath and give yourself some time. It’s going to take you longer to accomplish things the bigger the baby gets, and that’s okay. Yes, you used to be able to paint a room in a day.
Now, give yourself the weekend, maybe even a long one. You now need to figure in eating (no more skipping lunch missy), water and potty breaks along with your DIY timeline. Also, listen to your body, and if you’re tired, don’t push yourself. The project will be there tomorrow, and chances are your baby won’t be. Take frequent breaks to just catch your breath and sit still a moment. It’s good for your body, your baby, and your sanity.
Only Do What You Can Handle
When I was pregnant with my son, I noticed over time that the bigger I got, the smaller the projects I was handling got. So if you’re feeling frustrated that you can’t climb a ladder to hang a light without adult supervision, find little projects you can do. Paint the baseboards and leave the door frames for someone else.
Perhaps work on some of the more decorative details of the nursery (or whatever room you’re working on) so you have a sense of accomplishment. As long as you’re doing something, you’re helping, even if it doesn’t feel like it. And then, someday you’ll be able to tell your little one of ALL the DIY projects you accomplished for them before they were born instead of lamenting all the things you couldn’t do while you were pregnant.
Ask For Help
I know you’re a fully capable woman and don’t need no stinkin’ man (or woman) to do something you normally could do. The thing is, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, you can’t do everything you think you can, especially in the DIY realm.
You have to think about both you and your baby’s health, so when it comes to projects that could involve lead paint, noxious fumes, asbestos, or any other potentially harmful substance, you shouldn’t even really be in the house, never mind trying to help out. If you don’t have family and/or friends readily available to be an extra set of hands and you have a little extra money lying around, hire a handyman(person) for a day. Or, if you can, just wait until after the baby’s born to tackle that on project — but know that if you can’t be around it pregnant, your newborn shouldn’t be around it either.
I’ve been an injured pregnant woman more times than I care to admit, and you know what? Constantly going to the hospital (and paying those copays) is no fun — and that’s exactly what your OB will tell you to do EVERY TIME because it’s better to be safe than sorry. I just got back from the hospital, to be completely honest, and my ability to do much of anything is suspended for the next couple of weeks.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to count yourself out because you were too hasty to complete a task instead of careful and purposeful in your movements. So if you have issues climbing a ladder, settle for a step-stool. Move slowly while looking straight up so you don’t throw yourself off balance.
Maintain AT LEAST two points of contact with a stable surface while working with power tools, heights, and chemicals. And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if anything ever feels funny, wrong, or off, call your OB ASAP. The last thing you want is to threaten your pregnancy and baby because of a careless mistake.
All in all, just use your better judgment, and if you’re not sure if you can handle something, then ask someone else to do it. You’re already pretty busy creating life as it is.
And for those of you curious, I’m 25 weeks along in the photo, and I was on my way to paint our newly-drywalled bedroom so that we may move our clothes out of the room that will belong to my daughter, i.e. the belly, once we redo the floors in that room. That belly is now almost six.
This post originally appeared on Charles & Hudson.