Pregnancy
Is working right up until your due date safe for your baby?
Research shows leaving work sooner can benefit your baby's health.

How soon up to your baby's due date did you work?  

Considering Serena Williams earlier this year WON the Australian Open while pregnant, expecting a little one certainly shouldn't hold you back. 

However, could you be doing your newborn harm with the modern-day 'gung-ho' attitude?

Previous research warns possibly so. Indeed, one found that women who work beyond their eighth month of pregnancy are more likely to have babies with lower birth weights.

On average, their newborn could be up to half a pound lighter than those born to mothers who stopped work between six and eight months. It is the same effect seen in babes born to women who smoked while pregnant.

Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe from the Institute of Obstetricians And Gynaecologists has in the past said that is an issue that warrants further research. She also cautions that the study doesn't distinguish between babies who are naturally small and those who weight less for other reasons.

“Some babes are destined to be small and that's entirely normal,” says Professor McAuliffe.

“It's the ones who don't reach their growth potential that you have to be worried about.

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“Down the line, that baby would be at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity,” she says.

The age of the mother also seems to be a factor. Babies born to women under the age of 24 didn't seem to weigh less than average.

maternity leave in ireland

“Older mothers are more likely to have blood pressure problems in pregnancy. I wonder if that's the effect we're looking at here. Blood pressure problems can interfere with a baby's growth, and that's why older mothers are over-represented in this group of smaller babies.”

In Ireland, pregnant women must go on maternity leave at least 38 weeks, but Professor McAuliffe advises her patients to stop work earlier.

“I think 36 weeks is a nice time to finish up,” she says, "I think neither the employer nor the pregnant woman benefits from working late into pregnancy.”

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pregnancy, maternity leave, working, birth weight