Monday, January 5, 2009

Pregnancy and printing

It’s going to be a hot day here in Canberra today (32C/90F) and it’s just going to get hotter as the week progresses. I’ve got the new house all locked up in an attempt to trap what cool air is left inside.

Heat is just one of the problems pregnant women face. It always seems so much hotter than it really is, so now that summer’s in full force, I’m finding myself hot an exhausted all the time.

I posted a while ago about how temperature affects printing
. Yes, printing is better for the press in summer, just not me when I’m pregnant! (Also, note the last paragraph of that entry – me dreaming of having a new studio. See? Dreams do come true!)

Another big factor that affects pregnant women in the studio is toxic fumes. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I started wearing a respirator to block out the fumes. It works exceptionally well, and it’s nice finishing up the day without having a head full of toxic smells. The downsides? They’re hot, and it’s like having a mini steamroom on your face. You can’t sing with it on (which I do a lot of when I print) because of the restricted airflow. And sneezing is like a monsoon. Ew.

There have been studies into the affects of offset printing ink fumes on the unborn baby, and it’s all bad news, so putting up with the respirator is worth it. I also wear an apron and gloves, which is a good idea when printing regardless of who you are.

Morning sickness and constant tiredness have been the biggest issues though. I was one of those unlucky women who gets morning sickness for a few months, and it was the sickest I have ever been. It started at the busiest time for Poppy, too. Now I’m not sick anymore, but the tiredness looks like it’s here to stay. So I’m getting used to limiting what I can do in one setting, and how much work I can take on.

Of course, the most obvious thing I’m dealing with though is the big belly. And it’s already big at 20 weeks. Very cute until you need to stand at the press and reach for the paper while the press is running. Or stretch up to grab the guillotine handle. Or reach across the desk to grab a pen.

I’d love to hear about the experiences of other women who have worked through pregnancy, whether in printing or elsewhere. What restriction did you have? How did you cope?


Kat said...

Hi poppyletterpress, i just discovered your blog after searching for letterpress in australia and had to comment! I was pregnant last year and was struck with morning sickness everyday up until about 4 weeks before my bubs was born! :(
It is hard when you have to soldier on to work, but i usually found once i had a chuck in the am i was fine the rest of the day, sorry i know it sounds horrible!
I worked as a textile designer for company in brisbane - luckily away from stinky fumes, although i was always worried about fumes from perfume to pollution! Sounds like you have it sorted with the mask, as painful as it must be in summer, it will be worth it.
Good luck with the pregnancy and birth, i'll check back to see your progress :)
Beautiful work by the way :) xo

Jennifer said...

Hi there,
Congratulations on your pregnancy!
I am a letterpress printer hoping to become pregnant soon, and concerned about fumes as well. Wondering what kind of respirator you purchased? We use oil based inks and california wash, but I think I will also need something for spray mount as well.
This baby will be baby no 2 for me, and as the previous commenter said all the morning sickness and annoying precautions will be worth it! Curious, are you planning on breastfeeding?

Poppy Letterpress said...

Hi Jennifer, I'm using disposable respirators at the moment, as they're lighter and less bulky than the durable ones with replacable filters. I get them from my local hardware store. They're graded from dust & pollen up to fumes, which is the one you'd need.
Yes, that's the plan.