Updated November 21, 2022
Most crafts are safe for expecting women to keep doing during pregnancy.
But, is pottery safe while pregnant?
This question comes up because pottery clays (especially years ago) often contain lead.
Even the pottery we use every day has been a subject of interest for years because of the potential exposure to lead from the clay or paint used to make ceramic mugs or plates.
Is pottery safe while pregnant?
Possibly, but according to our OB/GYN Dr. Doug Penta, MD pregnant women should avoid doing pottery or taking pottery classes during their first trimester of pregnancy.
While there is no need to avoid pottery altogether while pregnant, there are a few precautions that should be taken.
First, it is important to choose ceramics that have been properly glazed and fired, as some clay materials can contain lead.
Many studies have been done to determine if exposure to pottery crafting poses a risk during pregnancy.
Though studies have demonstrated a risk of miscarriage associated with lead exposure, the risk of pottery crafting has shown a correlation, though there are two many variables to draw conclusions:
Some of the variables you might want to think about if you are considering pottery or ceramic crafts while pregnant include:
- What kind of clay is being used? (This not only includes potential lead clays but also PVC clays.)
- What precautions are being taken in the class to protect against exposure (ie gloves, goggles, mask, air ventilation)
- What sensitivities (allergies) or medical conditions do you have that might be exacerbated by exposure to wet clay or clay dust?
As a result, pregnant women should talk to their doctor before signing up for any crafting class (not just ceramics) that may involve exposure to materials that could be toxic to the mother or baby.
Toxic materials are not always apparent because of strong odors or irritation. Substances can get into your body not only through your lungs but also can be absorbed through your skin.
In addition, it is best to avoid eating or drinking from pottery that has been made with porous clay, as this type of clay can absorb bacteria.
Finally, pregnant women should avoid inhaling dust from sanding or carving pottery, as this can cause irritation to the lungs.
You should wear an N95 and wear gloves when working with clay.
Following these simple guidelines allows pregnant women to enjoy working with pottery without risking their health.
Is pottery clay toxic?
There are many types of pottery clay, though only two are considered the quality that one should use to create pottery that will last and withstand high temperatures.
All clay bodies contain some free crystalline silica.
Silica is known to cause scarring in the lungs which can lead to irreversible loss of breathing capacity.
Working with any clay products is to be avoided while pregnant for the reasons mentioned above.
If your occupation is ceramics and you cannot avoid exposure, an effective mask must be worn when working with any crafting materials.
Pregnancy and working in ceramics:
Craft activities are particularly appealing during pregnancy for a number of reasons.
- Crafts are a great way to keep busy especially if your pregnancy has limited your activities.
- Crafting activities can be a good way to socialize with friends during pregnancy.
- Many crafts have creative items that can be made for newborn
Unfortunately, many crafts use materials that are either known to cause pregnancy complications or at the least are of concern as a result of data accrued over many years of studying pregnancy exposures.
There are some exposures that are not in question most notably materials that contain lead. This includes solder, paint, ceramic glazes, oil paints, and other materials
For this reason, it is important not to use materials that may contain lead when pregnant. This, in particular, includes the use of oil paints.
When discussing Ceramics and pottery concerns, the question often arises as to whether Play-Doh is toxic to babies or older children.
Play-Doh, being a molding clay for children, is “essentially” non-toxic.
This being said, should your child ingest Play-Doh, it is important to give your child a few sips of water and watch for persistent vomiting or constipation, especially if you believe a large amount was ingested.
If your child has more than one episode of either vomiting or constipation it is important to call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.
FAQs for Pottery and Pregnancy
Can I use polymer clay while pregnant?
Polymer clay is a type of modeling clay that can be used to create a variety of different crafts.
However, there are some precautions that you should take when working with polymer clay.
You should avoid handling polymer clay during the first trimester of pregnancy.
It is important to avoid inhaling the clay dust, as this can be harmful to the developing fetus.
The clay should not be ingested, as it may contain harmful chemicals.
Wash your hands thoroughly after handling the clay, as it can contain bacteria that could cause an infection.
Oftentimes, you may read many different opinions about what materials can and cannot be used during pregnancy.
This is because it is often hard to study the risk of exposure during pregnancy simply because there are too many variables to control for.
Furthermore, it is not ethical to study exposure if there is even a theoretical risk of harm to the mother or baby.
The best rule of thumb is to assume that any materials that are known to be harmful to the human body be avoided during pregnancy to ensure the safety of you and your unborn child.
Is it safe to paint crafts while pregnant?
The most important precaution if you are considering painting crafts while pregnant is to make sure you do not use oil paints that contain lead.
There are many alternative types of paints that are safe to use.
If oil painting is your occupation, then the usual precautions need to be implemented including an effective mask (designed for paint fumes) and gloves that are impossible to oil paints.
Can you make resin jewelry while pregnant?
It is important to avoid any crafting that involves the use of resin during pregnancy.
What is resin?
Resin is a material that is hazardous if ingested, inhaled or if it comes in contact with skin.
Synthetic resin is an organic compound containing carbon, hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen and is the main component in plastics.