7 Smart Safety Tips for the Pregnant Art Teacher

Last week we received a reader-question from an art teacher and newly expecting mom, in Texas. Since about half of the AOE Writing Team has had a baby in the past 3 years, including me, I decided to pass the question around and assemble a quick list of safety tips every pregnant art teacher should consider


An AOE Fan Writes: 

Now that my husband and I are thinking of adding to our family, it has me thinking a lot about the various materials I come into contact with and how pregnancy may affect my job. I haven’t been able to find any clear cut resources, but I thought maybe you might have some advice or past experience that might give me a better idea about what would be considered safe vs. dangerous in the high school art room. I’m using common sense of course, but never hurts to ask!


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You asked, AOE Answered. Here are some of our team’s top tips for safety in the art room while pregnant.

Tip #1: Websites like Blick have MSDS sheets on their website, like this one for Speedball Photo Emulsion & sensitizer (for screenprinting). This makes it easy to look up an item that may send up a red flag in your mind. Here is the link to Blick’s Health and Safety page.

Tip #2: There is a document online called Art Room Safety, from the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium in Florida that is pretty great.  It lists major (catastrophic) risks and has a great checklist for hazardous things to look for.

Tip #3: Wash your hands ( A LOT) and wear gloves. Invest in a cheap pair of cleaning gloves and wear those whenever you feel unsafe about something (like glaze). Hand washing also helps prevent overall germs from spreading.

Tip #4: Sit down when possible. You can teach from a chair (even with kindergartners) and save some of your energy especially if you have heath issues like varicose veins or dizzy spells.

Tip #5: Be safe around clay and ceramics. Several safety articles can be found on Digitalfire Reference Database specific to clay.  Some are more about mixing glazes, but this one gives a pretty good overview of the possible hazards of clay, ventilation during firing, and keeping a neat and clean studio.

Tip #6: Watch out for fumes. Keep your hood vent running more often (not just during ceramics) such as when you are using Sharpies or paint with a pungent smell.

Tip #7: Be aware of the dark room. There are also a bunch of darkroom safety websites, checklists, etc.  This one has some good info to draw from.  Ilford has a general safe practices page and a page devoted to pregnancy and lists its MSDS sheets online also.

The best tip, however, is to generally take care of yourself. Think about your energy and overall heath. Get to bed early. Eat frequent, nutritious meals, and be sure to take some time for yourself. Find a quiet space in your day (even if it’s 5 minutes) to enjoy a quiet moment. This can be beneficial both mentally and physically.

 What other safe pregnancy tips would you add to the list? 

Psstt.. We are not health experts – just art teachers like you trying to gather some helpful hints.  Please check with your healthcare provider for more detailed information pertaining to you and your individual heath situation. 

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Sara

    A couple other common sense but often over looked precautions for every day that apply to the art room- shoes and weight! Wear comfortable shoes with enough support and traction to help minimize falls and strain on your body. Your body will be changing rapidly and your center of gravity will be shifting too. Spills happen and art rooms can be full of happy chaos and debris. Do not push the desks around and lift the heavy stuff off the shelves, ask for help.

  • Brigid Howard

    THANK YOU! I am 4 months pregnant and had the same questions. Its so nice to have all these reference lists in one place.

  • Kristin Tetzner

    When I was pregnant last year I swapped the usual oil paints and thinner for water-soluble oils to avoid exposure to the solvent fumes. They were pricey, but worked great and were well worth the peace of mind (plus easier for the students to clean up!).

  • Patricia

    I’m pregnant now (and teaching art) and my doctor suggested wearing knee high compression socks. They have been great for relieving achy feet and legs. They are also supposed to help prevent varicose veins. Of course it’s easier to hide them and wear an extra layer in these cold winter months!

  • Ashley Fournier

    Have the nurse make you aware of any contact you may encounter with fifths disease. While the risks of contracting it further along in pregnancy isn’t as great it can sometimes cause issues in the first trimester.

  • Concerned ceramics teacher

    Hello. I’m an art teacher who is mostly around clay and glaze (the kind you buy in a classroom pack from Dick Blick). Is there anything special you recommend doing to limit dust or contaminants in my classroom? I keep a very clean studio, and usually have the kids mop at least once a week. I also plan to have my kids do most of the grunt work of loading and unloading the kiln. I plan to talk to my doctor again, but they seem to think that the dust and other concerns I have are not problems.

  • Amanda Hartstein

    Hi Jessica,

    Of course the year we get a kiln is the year I get pregnant. I’ve been making sure the paints, underglazes, etc are non toxic. I am still nervous about operating the kiln. It is in a closet attached to my room which is vented and the kiln has the envirovent attached. Did you still work with clay when you were pregnant?