Things to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Stay away fromchemicals and fumes
Strong chemicals used for cleaning, and poisons used to kill pests in the fields or
at home, are dangerous for everyone. They are especially dangerous to women
who are pregnant or breastfeeding. These chemicals can cause miscarriage,
infertility, birth defects, cancer, and other
Poisonous chemicals include:
Any chemical with a strong smell is
probably not safe. Many dangerous
chemicals have no smell at all.
• pesticides (chemicals that
kill bugs or weeds) used in
If possible, everyone should avoid
these dangerous chemicals. But a
pregnant woman should have no contact
with them. She should not use them
herself or breathe chemical fumes or dust.
• pesticides used at home to
kill bugs or rodents.
• strong cleaners and solvents.
• some kinds of glue and paint.
Her family should not store food in
containers that once had chemicals inside.
• gasoline, oil, and other fuels.
Tiny amounts of the chemicals may be left
in the container even after it is washed —
enough to harm a person's health!
Families should try not to use
chemicals at all. But many people who
work with chemicals have no choice. It is
part of their job at a factory, on a farm,
cleaning, or somewhere else. People who use chemicals at work may be able to
talk to the other workers about the problem. Maybe all the workers together can
talk to the owner about using fewer chemicals or using safer ones.
If someone in the family must work with chemicals, he or she should:
• use as few chemicals, and as little of each one, as possible.
• keep chemicals away from places where food is stored.
• keep chemicals away from children.
• avoid breathing chemicals. Wear a mask or at least cover the mouth
and nose, and try to work where there is a good air flow.
• avoid getting chemicals on the skin. Wear gloves, long sleeves, and
• after working with chemicals, change clothes before coming in
the house. Pregnant women should not wash these clothes.
A Book for Midwives (2010)