Artmaking and Pregnancy

April Arotin

Photo by Mustafa Omar on

Pregnancy is an incredibly exciting time, with no shortage of decisions to be made. The most important questions we ask during this sensitive time are generally related to keeping mom & baby safe throughout all of the trimesters and beyond!

The one thing that I can say as a mom and as an artist – the choices you make are yours and the more information you have to make the best possible choice, the better!

Some women elect to stop certain creative practices during pregnancy altogether, and that is a choice to be made by the individual and their healthcare provider.

*Please note that I am not a doctor and this should not be construed as medical advice.

I make choices for my family at the intersection of safety, ease and practicality. Others prioritize differently, and what works for one mama and family might not work for another.

It is absolutely possible to continue making art while pregnant, but additional precautions may need to be put in place.

  • First, additional personal protective equipment and ventilation will be necessary.
  • If you're not using a respirator, it might be time to consider this as an added layer of protection. Review your respirator for age of filters and replace if needed. Keep a close eye on how long the filters last – and store them appropriately. Some types of respirator filters continue to filter if left exposed to air, thus shortening their shelf life. You’ll also want to make sure that the mask you choose is rated for fumes.
  • Eating and drinking in the studio is one of the biggest places where chemical compounds are ingested – even when we are not pregnant, this is a practice that should be avoided. 
  • To avoid unnecessary contact with hazardous chemicals, wear an apron or other garment that adequately covers exposed skin and clothing and remove it before leaving the workspace.
  • Always wear adequate eye protection, regardless of pregnancy status.
  • Be sure that your space is adequately vented. There is no such thing as TOO much ventilation, so always err on the side of extra.
  • Finally, check your materials. For metalsmiths, most contemporary solder is cadmium and lead-free, however, double checking doesn’t hurt at all. For painters and other practitioners, the precautions are materials dependant.

Additional Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, midwife, nurse – or any sort of medical practitioner. I’m an artist sharing some helpful links that you can use to share information with your healthcare provider. This is not intended to be used as health advice – please consult a licensed and registered provider in your area.

With pregnancy, the risks of exposure to your baby and your body can be substantially different than they would be to a non-pregnant human.

Each chemical has an MSDS (material safety data sheet) that provides information on how to safely protect oneself, store and dispose of the chemicals used in artmaking. They also give information about teratogenic or reproductive effects, which are listed in each SDS.

The MSDS (or SDS) also provides information about the potential risks one might be exposed to in using a specific compound. They are provided by the manufacturer of a product, so bear in mind that one brand of liver of sulphur, used in metalsmithing for example, may have an MSDS that differs slightly from another brand’s product due to proprietary formulations or other factors. It’s important to be aware of the specific precautions advised by the manufacturer of a product. The MSDS also provides information about how to administer first aid in case of accidental ingestion or exposure.

The MSDS contains tons of valuable information that can contribute to a safe and healthy studio environment.

Disposal of used chemical compounds is equally important. When selecting materials, be aware of disposal guidelines. Many areas have a waste disposal organization that provides a service to help ensure these items do not enter the environment and cause harm. Look into your municipality for additional guidance on chemical disposal according to local laws.

Pregnant women should to print the ones for the items they use and bring to their doctor for review. Many things that seem somewhat innocuous, like liquid latex for example, carry with them a warning of reproductive harm. It's important to take extra care during this sensitive time, and you might find that your creativity is increased during your pregnancy.

With the support of a physician and adequate safety procedures in place, the practice of making art can continue during pregnancy for many activities as long as adequate ventilation and PPE are in place.

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Contemporary artist and jewelry designer. Advocate for radical self care. Meandering wordsmith, lady metalsmith. I write about radical self care through unapologetic creativity, outline strategies for living a more creative life and honoring the call to be creative.

Cleveland, OH

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