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Being Pregnant and Being a Jeweler

Any know of any specific safety precautions I would need to take
once I become pregnant and want to continue being a jeweler? I am
most worried about using the acetylene tank with only an oven vent
hood. My doctor seemed to think that I should only be concerned for
the first six weeks and that is all the that I have. Any
resources and suggestions are welcome.

Kim O’Brien

There is much on this in the archives. Doctors will give you the
okay to “make jewelry” but they have no idea the kind of stuff you
might be using.

I recommend reading Charles Lewton Brain’s The Jewelry Workshop
Safety Report. Get all the MSDS sheets for everything you do.
Substitute with a less toxic process when possible, don’t do certain
things til later (til after baby is born, you know, when you won’t
have time to). : )

In the archives, you will read that some women worked straight
through their pregnancies, while others stopped all metalwork, and
some in between.


Hi Kim

You are right to ask this here- there is a wealth of on
the archives- 129 popped up for “pregnant” alone. This is where I
came for when I found I was expecting our son four years
ago. I found my comfort zone of still working in the studio but
wearing my heavy duty respirator more than usual. I don’t work with a
lot of acids and try to mini mize the chemicals I use daily where I
can anyway. A stove vent would not have been adequate for as much
soldering as I do- so it depends on how much and what sort- do you
sit or stand etc. Ultimately like all advice you will receive from
well meaning folks about all aspects of your pregnancy (especially
doctors- do you know many woman who even know they are even pregnant
the first 6 weeks?!) and then child rearing- take what feels right
and leave the rest.

Good luck and congratulations!


I am not pregnant yet, but thinking about starting a family in the
next year, and I also have some serious concerns about being in this
field. I have a fishmouth vent set up at my bench, directly behind my
soldering pad and one over the plating station, as well. I wear a
mask when polishing and plating so I do not inhale particles of
tripoli or fumes from the rhodium. Also, I wear gloves when I
polish- I figure the less contact I have with chemicals the better!
Maybe switch to cadmium-free solder? I plan on trying to use the
laser more, and torch less. I have heard of some women taking time
off from the bench while they are pregnant. Unfortunately, that is
not an option for all of us. It concerns me that your doctor thinks
that it is only the first 6 weeks that matter. While the entire first
trimester is the most critical, with the chemicals that we handle,
the entire pregnancy should be handled with care.

Good Luck!

Kim: I can’t give you much specific but I can tell you
that I have a five month old baby, so I just went trough the process
of being pregnant and a jeweler… before even considering having a
child, someone else asked that same question and I read all the
advice from the other jewelers in orchid.

Many said that they had children of their own and kept making
jewelry all along the pregnancy, others gave more “medical” advice on
what to avoid, but there was one lady who shared her story and I
could never forget it, she said that she had two children, on her
first pregnancy she didn’t work and her baby was born just fine, but
on her second pregnancy she continued working and her baby turned out
to be autistic, and of course she will never know if jewelry making
had anything to do with it (probably not), but she said that she will
live with that doubt for the rest of her life.

When I got pregnant I also wondered about what to do and how to do
it and the truth is that I ended up not working at all, even though
one day I tried to work and just wearing a mask all the time and
trying no to breath any fumes, or to touch anything toxic, etc, well,
I couldn’t feel creative… I was very lucky cause I didn’t HAVE to
work, if you must keep work ing then just follow all the suggestions
and trust that you are protecting your baby well enough and enjoy it
cause joy passes along to him, right? But if you decide not to work,
let me tell you that in a few months you will have a beautiful
little thing in your arms and you will find out that you actually
have spent months creating what would certainly be your real Master
Piece ever, believe me.

And, well… don’t count on working much when she or he is born, I
still haven’t figured it out even though I can finally see it coming
(with help, that’s for sure, loooooots of help). My midwife used to
tell me that life wants to live, and now I know is truth, babies,
even before they are born are stronger than we can imagine and
nature is wise, so just eat healthy, exercise but most of all, love
every moment. Oh, and try to avoid working at least for the first
trimester because that is when actually your baby will be formed,
then, is just about growing and growing. Love to you and your baby
and lots of luck.

Maria Bracho

It’s all about relative risk and your need.

Anything you do has risk. All you can do is to decide for yourself
what is acceptable and what is not.

One thing that gets my ire is the Oh we can’t take any chances with
my poor unborn baby, as they take a deep slug of their drink and puff
away on their cigarette type person…

All I can say is read up on the MSDS sheets of the materials that
you want to work with and pay special attention to the applicable

And please don’t become paralyzed with fear either, some posters
carry on about “it might happen, even though the science is not
there” or “this happened to a friend of a friend of mine” or :“This
happened to me and it MIGHT have been because I made Jewelry”…
yeah right…

First rule of life “Shit Happens” as per Forest Gump and yup that is
very true, sometimes you do everything right and a bad thing happens,
and other times you do a lot of bad things and nothing happens. What
I mean by this is that you shouldn’t get panicked by the “oh my god
the world is falling” crowd. By all means avoid substances that are
known or even suspected of having effects on a developing fetus, but
base it on science not fear mongering.


PS don’t forget that it is about you too, if making Jewelry is
essential to your financial health, or mental health this must enter
into the equation as well. The last thing a baby needs is a mother
who is near a breakdown because she has spent 9 months climbing
walls and paranoid about everything.