News To Terrify You: Working In Your Final Month Of Pregnancy Is As Harmful As Smoking

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working motherBecause there are never enough ways to tell pregnant women that they’re doing it all wrong and ruining their children for life, a new study has shown that working during your final month of pregnancy is as harmful as smoking. Just like lighting up, working late into pregnancy leads to newborns that are a half a pound smaller, on average, than infants whose mothers quit work between months 6 and 8.

The research, performed by the University of Essex, showed more pronounced results for those who are over 24 and those with lower levels of education. Academics believed that the education level difference proved that it was more physically demanding jobs that made it difficult for pregnant women.

In the United States, women are still fighting to get decent maternity leave. Most just use their vacation time because they can’t afford to take unpaid leave, which is the only thing protected by the American government. Even then, women still struggle against stigma for taking their actual leave. I cannot imagine asking companies to let women take their last month of pregnancy off as well.

Personally, I took the two weeks before my daughter’s birth off work, but only because my blood pressure was getting dangerously high. I had to have a doctor’s note, which makes it sound a little like high school gym class. I remember my boss and co-workers talking about what a “luxury” my bedrest was.

In my personal experience, most women work straight up until their delivery day. If your water hasn’t broken, it seems appropriate to show up at the office. The New York Times recently ran a story about multiple women who barely took any maternity leave at all. They frequently mentioned answering email and taking work calls up until the second that delivery happened.

In some ways, I would love to see this study invite conversation about the time off necessary to have a child and why it’s so important. Then on the other hand, there are a million studies warning pregnant women what they should or shouldn’t do. Every month, we hear that we can have alcohol or that we can’t. We hear that we need to work out and that we shouldn’t. We’re warned about sushi and soft cheese and hair dye. Pregnant women cease to be humans and start to be walking wombs who shouldn’t exist outside of their childbearing duties.

What do you all think about this study? What do you think about the idea of pregnant women staying home for the last month of pregnancy. While it sounds a little idyllic, is it possible in our 24/7 work culture?

(Photo: RTimages/Shutterstock)


  1. Another Steph

    July 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I think that Mommyish needs to stop taking these studies so personally

  2. Katia

    July 30, 2012 at 3:14 am

    “walking wombs”? We’re generally the wombs for the children that we are keeping, right? So if we miscarry, likely it’s us, “walking wombs,” who will be the most devestated, or impacted by any birth defects. The studies are trying to help you prevent problems, not make you feel guilty or shamed. I guess those crazy scientists think some ladies can apply the studies to their own situations instead of having a panic attack and assuming that science is making them feel guilty. Every article on this site mentions either guilt or shame. It’s just slightly repetitive, you know? And especially lindsay if you are ttc, and you need a healthy pregnancy to flow well and produce a healthy baby(because you WANT to be a ‘walking womb’) for your bio kid, aren’t you grateful to know what to avoid so you have a bit more control? Can you not put 2 and 2 together about the value of the studies, and letthese repetetive formulaed articles take a rest?! I swear if they didn’t do studies about preventing miscarriage or birth defects or premise you would all be freaking out saying the scientists are sexists!

    I worked almost to my due date with #1 but the he was late. They were all late but my job is pretty lax and no one would dare to say anything rude about my pregnancy maternity leave. It’s not a perfect workplace but in that way, people are very careful. I was quite concerned about water breaking at work but have never experienced it. If you have a physical job you probably should stop early even without this study because mamas neck and back will likely be sore , not to mention swollen ankles and varicose veins

  3. Lindsay

    July 30, 2012 at 9:57 am

    “They frequently mentioned answering email and taking work calls up until the second that delivery happened.”

    Waiting to go into labor is really boring. Nobody wanted to ask the 9 months pregnant lady to do any work. 🙁 I was begging people to send me (sedentary) work because I was so bored and needed something to pass the time.

  4. Lori B.

    July 30, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Did the study say that the only consequence was a smaller baby by a half pound? I worked literally up to the day before I delivered and that was because my daughter was born on a Saturday morning. I had gestational diabetes and had this irrational fear that I was going to deliver a giant 12 pound baby, so I followed all of the rules set by my doctor which involved mostly lowering my carb intake, remaining active, and testing my blood sugar 4x each day. Luckily I have a higher education and a well-paying office job that made following these rules relatively easy for me. My daughter was 6lbs 5oz and healthy at birth, which was about 2lbs lighter than a number of the other babies born at my job around the same time and smaller than most of her cousins at birth. I thought the lower birth weight was a victory. Could it be that remaining active as far as possible into your pregancy is actually a good thing and slightly smaller babies are healthier? I am not trying to say my smaller child is better off than any baby born with a heavier birth weight. All I am tring to point out is that a difference of a half pound, may not be a bad thing. Just to add, I think smoking impacts more than just the birth weight of a newborn, like a higher risk of cancer, higher likliehood of asthma, a supressed immune system, etc.

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  9. vreyrolinomit

    January 2, 2021 at 11:34 pm

    Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your theme. Thanks

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