Can You Sleep in a Freshly Painted Room When Pregnant?

For any parent to be, decorating is a rite of passage. You’ll have picked up the perfect décor colors and are ready to roll up your overall sleeves. Since you want to touch up your bedroom while you’re at it, can you sleep in a freshly painted room when pregnant?

If inhaled, paint fumes can prove detrimental when you’re pregnant. Birth defects and even miscarriages can result from extreme exposure to the Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs found in paint chemicals. If you inhale these gases, your baby stands at risk of developmental anomalies and childhood leukemia.

Exposure to paint fumes is the significant concern of sleeping in a freshly painted room when pregnant. Cancer-causing VOCs become airborne at room temperature, making toxic the air you breathe. Here are the available options for completing that bedroom décor before your baby arrives.

What Is the Harm of Sleeping in a Freshly Painted Room When Pregnant?

As a pregnant woman, you’re careful about what you eat and cautious of anything that could harm your baby. A freshly painted room might not strike you as a ticking pregnancy-harming time bomb. The fumes in paint are considered the occupational hazard of the professional painter, a high-risk component of the industry.

Paint is a mixture of Volatile Organic Compounds, chemical solvents, thinners, and binding agents. When exposed to the fumes, you’ll experience dizziness, headaches, respiratory disturbances, and restless sleep. Multiple bodily organs are affected by toxic vapors that accumulate in the air of a freshly painted room.

You can have allergic reactions to paint vapors, not to mention the acrid chemical smell. You’ll experience nasal congestion, coughing, have a sore throat, and a runny nose. While some people can get nauseated, you’ll most likely have watery or itchy eyes when exposed to these fumes.

It’s not only oil paints with their many VOCs that will harm you when pregnant. Chemicals in water-based coatings marked VOC-free are linked to congestion, eczema, and asthma. Your skin can break out in rashes, itchiness, and discoloration if you come into contact with any of the wet paint.

Is There Scientific Evidence Linking Paint Fumes to Problems with My Pregnancy?

Avoid exposing yourself to paint fumes by sleeping in a freshly painted room when pregnant. Prolonged exposure to VOCs, and chemicals in household paints results in birth defects, and miscarriages. According to one 2015 study, risks increase even by inhaling these vapors before conception. 

Research into offending paint fumes hasn’t been concentrated on pregnant women due to the apparent ethical issues. That’s to say there aren’t specific measurements of how much exposure is detrimental to your pregnancy. However, conclusions made included the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia to your unborn baby.

There are also risks of learning disabilities in children, especially when exposed to solvent-based paints. Risks to your fetus get exacerbated if the room you’re sleeping in is freshly painted with paint that has traces of lead.

Researches again looked at exposure to toluene-based paint fumes, revealing a loss of spatial memory functions in the offspring of laboratory mice. These were subjects whose mothers underwent prenatal exposure, and such impairments continued through to adolescence. That’s not to say you’re the same as a rat, but the study suggests that vapor inhalation puts your baby’s brain development at risk.

How Long Should I Wait Before Sleeping in a Freshly Painted Room When Pregnant?

During the first two trimesters of your pregnancy, the fetus is at its most vulnerable to toxicity. It’s when your newborn’s body is undergoing basic formation, also called organogenesis. Anything you get exposed to, such as through inhalation, could be harmful to your unborn baby.

As such, you should never sleep in a freshly painted room while pregnant. That’s because VOCs in paint turn gaseous at room temperature. Even when the room’s painting has dried for up to three weeks, chemicals in VOC-high paints can off-gas and remains indoors for days. The highest point of concentration for these fumes is when they’re new, and it’s safer for your baby bump if you stay away.

There’s no need to worry if your exposure to paint fumes while pregnant is short-term. That’s because paints today aren’t as toxic as they once were when common building materials included lead and asbestos. Prolonged inhalation is what results in health issues for you and your unborn baby. By continuously sleeping in a freshly painted room, you’re at risk of kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage.

How to Get Rid of Paint Fumes in a Freshly Painted Room

A freshly painted room gives off-gases from the paint, which contains VOCs that can harm your pregnancy. Commercial paints with a high compound content can off-gas for several days, even after the painting is dry.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you should avoid inhaling that room’s air for at least two or three days. Ways you can speed up this process or get rid of VOC gassing paint vapors include;

Ventilate the Freshly Painted Room

For those days, keeping a freshly painted room must be well-ventilated by opening windows or using an exhaust fan. Depending on the paint type used, don’t sleep in such rooms for at least a week or two.

If you’re responsible for the painting, have the room done when it’s sunny. Humidity and dampness delay the drying process and keep the paint giving out VOC off-gas.

Use an Air Purifier with a HEPA Filter

 If two weeks have gone by and you’re still unsure of the room’s pregnancy-friendly preparedness, use an air purifier. It’s an essential item to have around when doing home renovations, preparing the nursery, or your bedroom prenatal.

An air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate or HEPA air filter removes 99.9% of particulates, dust, viruses, and bacteria. Composite cartridge filtration absorbs paint fumes with VOCs. These contain zeolite, potassium iodide, and carbon. 

Give Vinegar and Baking Soda a Try

Place several bowls of vinegar in strategic points of a freshly painted room work to absorb the fumes and odors. The same goes for baking powder with varied results, so remember to give the walls sufficient drying time.


Pregnant or otherwise, sleeping in a freshly painted room exposes your body organs to untold dangers. For the sake of yourself and your unborn baby, it’s best to keep off for at least two weeks or until the walls are dry and the air is free from fumes. You can also open windows, turn exhaust fans on or take on the malicious VOCs and other micro-particles with an air purifier.