Diseases & Conditions
Work and Pregnancy
Guidelines for working during pregnancy
Many women work during pregnancy without any complications. Being able to work safely, in some cases, until the day of delivery depends on the type of work performed and the mother-to-be's medical condition. However, the workplace can pose certain risks, depending upon the occupation. Knowing what these risks are and minimizing them will help increase the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy. Be sure the discuss the following job risks with your health care provider at your first prenatal visit:
Exposure to metals such as mercury and lead can lead to birth defects, miscarriage, and other problems.
Exposure to solvents such as household cleaning agents and pesticides can lead to fetal deformity and other problems.
Exposure to pharmaceutical agents, such as chemotherapy may increase the rate of miscarriage, low birthweight, and malformations.
Exposure to infections on the job, such as hepatitis, rubella, and other diseases can cause multiple problems during pregnancy.
Exposure to physical agents such as radiation and radioactive waste can lead to abnormal fetal development, miscarriage, and other problems.
Exposure to extreme heat on the job early in pregnancy may increase neural tube defects in the fetus.
Physical job demands, such as prolonged standing or walking, heavy lifting, working varying shifts, and job stress can adversely affect a pregnancy.
Taking proper precautions to avoid these risks on the job can help keep you and your baby healthy throughout the pregnancy.
The American Medical Association recommends the following for working pregnant women:
Take a break every few hours
Take a longer meal break every four hours
Drink plenty of fluids while on the job
Vary work positions continuously, from sitting to standing and walking
Minimize heavy lifting and bending
Proper lifting techniques during pregnancy
Weight gain during pregnancy adds strain to the back. Proper lifting can help reduce the strain and prevent injury. When lifting, a pregnant woman should keep in mind the following recommendations:
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
Tuck in the buttocks
Bend at the knees
Lift with the arms and legs, not the back
Limit the amount and weight of the items lifted
Computer use in pregnancy
Today, many occupations involve the use of a computer. Computers have also been associated with many complaints, such as neck, wrist, hand, shoulder, and back pain from prolonged sitting in the same position and eye strain. To alleviate these symptoms, the following may help:
Take frequent work breaks
Use detachable keyboards and adjustable chairs and tables
Use non-reflective glass on the screen, adjust the screen lighting and contrast, and install indirect lighting