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Pregnancy: Work and School Issues

Topic Overview

Many women work or go to school (or both) while they are pregnant. It can keep you active and engaged.

If the things you do at work or school mostly involve sitting, and if there are no other problems with your pregnancy, you can probably keep doing them right up to your due date. Women with uncomplicated pregnancies can usually keep working until they go into labor. But women who have jobs that require long periods of standing or repeated lifting or who often have fatigue from their job may be at a higher risk for poor fetal growth, preeclampsia, and preterm labor.footnote 1, footnote 2

If you have to stand for more than 3 hours at a time or you have to walk a lot or be very active at work or school, talk with your doctor. See how long the doctor thinks you can keep doing the activity. Your doctor may tell you to just pay attention to how you feel and to keep from getting too tired. There are precautions you can take to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

Precautions

  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Avoid being around harmful substances. Examples include hazardous chemicals, fumes, and X-rays.
  • Don't lift heavy objects, stand on ladders, or use or be near machinery that vibrates.

Cutting back on or stopping work

Your doctor may want you to cut back on or stop working at some point in your pregnancy if you have:

  • A short or dilated cervix before 36 weeks of pregnancy. (These are risk factors for preterm labor.)
  • A malformed uterus that could threaten the pregnancy. One example is a bicornate uterus.
  • High blood pressure or signs of preeclampsia.
  • Signs that the baby is growing more slowly than expected.
  • Twins or more (multiple pregnancy).
  • A history of preterm birth.
  • Too much amniotic fluid. This is called polyhydramnios. It can lead to preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (pPROM).
  • A problem with the placenta, such as placenta previa or placenta abruptio.
  • A chronic illness or other problem from pregnancy that isn't responding well to treatment.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2007). Antepartum care. In Guidelines for Perinatal Care, 6th ed., pp. 83–137. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  2. Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Prenatal care. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 189–214. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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