More and more women are choosing to work during pregnancy; some out of need and others out of desire. Basic pregnancy rules state that standing or sitting for extended periods can be harmful to the pregnant woman and fetus. Despite the warnings doctors treat women every year for pregnancy complications and health problems associated with edema, blood clots and other complications of standing or sitting too long during pregnancy. A recent study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine gives pregnant women one more thing to think about regarding working long hours during pregnancy. Obstetricians can use the new research to educate pregnant women on the importance of sitting often and skipping the long hours during pregnancy.  

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The Impact of Working on Your Pregnancy and Fetus
The study did not find any negative connection between working for the majority of the pregnancy and preterm labor or deliver, but there was a connection between standing for long hours and fetal development. Among the study participants, the women who stood for long hours gave birth to infants with a head measurement about 1 cm smaller than infants born to women who did not stand for long hours. Researchers believe this could represent slower fetal growth and development. 

Previous research has already found that working women have healthier pregnancies, so the impact of work on pregnancy is positive overall, but the specifics of work are what matter most. Women who are working while pregnant should sit down at least 15 minutes every hour. They should prop up their feet if swelling is an issue later in pregnancy and they shouldn’t work in positions that require heavy lifting and excessive amounts of stress. 

Working women are just as much a part of society today as stay-at-home moms were in the 1950s. We’ve changed as a society, but that doesn’t mean we can disregard the health of our pregnant women and the unborn fetus for the sake of a job. A balance needs to be maintained between working during pregnancy and proper pregnancy care. 

Source: The study mentioned was originally published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine in June 2012.