Expert Advice

When Should I Stop Working During Pregnancy?

By SP Turgon

Deciding when to stop working before baby makes her appearance is a choice that’s determined by a variety of factors. For many women, pregnancy health and personal comfort are the only reason to stop. Yet sometimes mom or baby’s health forces the question. “Well, given that __ has occurred, when should I stop working during my pregnancy?”

We often start to wonder when to stop working when we begin writing our birth plans. Because we’re immersed in the research around planning for birth, we start to think about the future. We may even begin making our hospital bag checklist.

We watch our bodies change by the week. We watch our energy level shift. Going to work is more challenging sometimes because growing a baby is using a lot of energy.

These two factors usually influence how you decide the right time to stop working:

1. Your work type

 Is your job very physical?

As your pregnancy progresses, the many changes your body goes through often creates strain on your back and legs. Nerves may get pinched. Core muscles weaken and don’t support your back like they did. Swelling may make your legs or feet ache or have shooting pains. Your energy level may not be as robust as it was.

TRY THIS:

You may be able to make changes in your job that will ease physical issues. Maybe you could take a different job in the company that fits better with your changing & growing baby body.

Does your job put you or your baby at risk?

Are you exposed to toxic chemicals, fumes, machinery, radiation or other workplace factors?

These factors can affect the development of your baby as well as your own health. Pregnancy changes your biology in so many invisible ways.

TRY THIS:

Maybe your employer has flexibility or a policy to protect pregnant workers. See if you can get a change in assignments or make adjustments in how you do your work.

If neither of these is available, are there other ways to protect yourself and your developing baby? Can you wear protective gear like a respirator or dust mask or shielding clothing?

Need more info? Check out this great website: http://www.motherisk.org

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada [1] says these are reasons to consider changing or stopping your current job:

  • Stooping or bending over more than ten times each hour
  • Climbing a ladder more than three times during an eight-hour shift
  • Standing for more than four hours at one time
  • Climbing stairs more than three times per shift
  • Working more than 40 hours per week
  • Shift work
  • Lifting more than 23 kg (50 lbs) after the 20th week of pregnancy
  • Lifting more than 11 kg (24 lbs) after the 24th week
  • Stooping, bending or climbing ladders after the 28th week
  • Needing to lift any heavy items after the 30th week
  • Needing to stand still for more than 30 minutes of every hour after the 32nd week
  • Working with chemicals, solvents, fumes or radiation

Numerous studies [2], [3], [4] have shown that physical work—especially standing for long periods of time—can affect baby’s weight at birth.

Other research found that jobs requiring standing didn’t affect baby as long as mom was healthy during her pregnancy.

2. Pregnancy Health Status

Has your health or your baby’s health changed?

 Many women have smooth pregnancies that seem to just blend in with life, despite the baby bulge that requires more room, new clothes, and pickles with ice cream.

Whether you’re low risk or high, regular prenatal checkups matter. They are your best bet to discover if you or baby need a change in routine or more rest. If your normal pregnancy health status changes into a more stressed state your work schedule or job may have to change to keep you and baby safe.

Maybe finances, profession or personal satisfaction means that you don’t want to stop working until your water breaks or that first contraction makes you stop and think, Is this it?

The Mayo Clinic has a lot of recommendations for handling some issues that could otherwise pressure you into deciding between work and baby.

Some women look forward to a scheduled date on which to say adios to the 9-5. Many schedule the beginning of maternity leave one week to one month before expected delivery date.

Or maybe you’d rather work up to the day of baby’s arrival.If all factors are go, then getting extra rest, drinking extra fluids, and eating extra well are going to be your best friends.

But don’t forget to finish your birth plan!

No matter what your plans are leading up to baby’s birth, talk with your care provider. Your midwife, nurse or doctor knows your body and your baby, and is your best source of health advice.

 

[1] http://sogc.org/publications/working-during-pregnancy/

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8824746

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7079037

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1405728/

 

To learn more about preparing for baby, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.

This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.

 

Published: January 19, 2017 | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: December, 2016

Sabriga TurgonWhen Should I Stop Working During Pregnancy?

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