Spring is in the air (unless of course, you're buried in snow -- sorry!), and for some, the fresh air and budding flowers prompt the need to clear out and clean out the house. Of course, preparing for the arrival of a new baby can also make you feel like you need to prep, clean, and organize (nesting anyone??). If you're pregnant and in the mood to clean, there are steps you can take to make the job easier and safer.
Plan before you start - Before you lift a broom, sit down with pen and paper. Map out what/where you want to clean. You can find gads of online spring cleaning checklists, like this one from I Dream of Clean or this one from The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.
Consider the top priorities - It's easy to say "clean all the things!" but it's more realistic, especially when you're pregnant, to start with the most important areas or items to tackle. Maybe instead of washing the baseboards you need to spend time going through your drawers and closet to get rid of clothes you haven't worn in years. Break down your cleaning needs in three tiers -- most important, nice-to-have-done, and bonus.
Baby steps - I don't know many people who have the time to tackle their whole house in a day, but even if you do, there's no reason to deplete your energy by doing it all at once. Doing so while pregnant could leave you feeling zapped for a couple of days afterward. It's best to take it easy and break down your cleaning goals into steps. Give yourself deadlines if it helps! Tackle one zone a week or one room a day.
Find helpers - If hiring professional cleaners to clean your house while you're pregnant isn't in your budget, seek out other helpers with cleaning jobs that feel overwhelming to you. Involve your partner, a friend, a family member, a neighbor -- most people are happy to help when they can!
Seek dust first - When it comes to prioritizing, consider your dustiest areas first. Pregnancy is known to bring on sinus issues and dust in your house can only add to the discomfort. Dust off furniture, ledges, shelves, and other dust-collecting surfaces. Clean the tops of ceiling fans. Vacuum carpeted areas and be sure to empty your vacuum afterward and change the filter if needed. Shake out or wash rugs.
Reduce your chemical exposure - Cleaning products are full of fumes and chemicals, some of which can be both unpleasant to smell for a sensitive pregnancy nose as well as potentially harmful with exposure. You can reduce your exposure by purchasing fragrance-free cleaning supplies or cleaning supplies with more natural ingredients (or by making your own with ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, etc); opening the windows and doors to increase ventilation; wearing gloves to reduce your skin exposure; and finding someone else to do the dirty work!
Easy on your back - Deep cleaning usually involves some heavy lifting. Be sure to lift safely -- bend at the knees, not at the waist (perfect your squatting form!) -- take breaks before your back feels sore, and stretch your back after a long cleaning session. Oh, and schedule your post-spring-cleaning prenatal massage for later in the week.
Give it a rest - Take breaks when you need to, don't stress about getting it all done (with cleaning, think treadmill not finish line), and take pride in the progress you make.