pregnant womanCredit: Benjamin Earwicker

[1][2]"A grand adventure is about to begin." This quote from the adorable character from child literature, Winnie the Pooh, sums up succinctly and eloquently the adventure upon which pregnant women and new mothers are about to embark. All mothers want their adventure into motherhood to be a positive and healthy one. There are precautions, however, that need to be observed to better ensure that.

Pregnant women have always been advised to avoid smoking while pregnant. Now a study shows there is an additional potential risk to the health of an unborn child. Pregnant women working far into or beyond the eighth month of pregnancy can potentially cause as much harm to an unborn child as smoking has long been known to cause.

How to Maintain a Healthy Pregnancy

Most doctors and other health care practitioners claim that, in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy, an expectant mother must visit a doctor as soon as pregnancy is expected and keep appointments for regular check-ups and prenatal care. It is also important for her to eat a balanced diet and, if her pregnancy is one that is not in the high risk category, she should stay active with regular aerobic exercise and strength training activities. It is also important that an expectant mother get adequate rest, check with the doctor about medications before taking them, avoid harmful substances, and take extreme care to avoid falls or accidents.

The Significance of the Eighth Month of Pregnancy

Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE, childbirth and postpartum educator, as well as being a mother of eight children herself, asserts that the eighth month of pregnancy is medically significant. This is the stage in which the baby is approaching full term and getting ready to be born. It’s also true that the eighth month of pregnancy is the month in which the mother is getting anxious to welcome her little one into the world. The eighth month is the month in which the baby’s production of red blood cells is achieved completely by the bone marrow of the baby. Doctors believe that each day that a baby spends within the mother’s uterus through the eighth month reduces the necessity for longer hospital stays post birth. Protection of the unborn child at all stages, especially in the eighth month of pregnancy, is of the highest priority for expectant mothers.

The Risks of Working into the Eight Month of Pregnancy

Research done at the University of Essex in England discovered that pregnant women who continue to work until the baby's due date can pose the same risks and harmful effects on newborns as smoking during pregnancy does. The research is controversial and not all health care practitioners agree that the study should be of concern.

According to one of the authors of the study, Professor Marco Francesconi, working throughout the eighth month and beyond can potentially contribute to a slightly lower birth weight and possibly even slightly delay development in newborns.  The study determined that pregnant women who stopped work between 6 months and 8 months had newborns with somewhat higher birth weight and fewer developmental challenges.

However, not all mothers are able to stop working that early into their pregnancy. Some must continue to work right up to their due dates. How a mother who stays on the job through the late stages of pregnancy will feel may vary significantly from day to day. There will be days in which the mother feels super and days in which she will feel tired, sleepy, and quite uncomfortable. Some mothers find it more difficult to concentrate on their work in the later stages of pregnancy too.

For those mothers who must continue to work through the late stages of pregnancy, however, the Baby Centre Medical Advisory Board suggests safety precautions that should be heeded. It is important that mothers who continue to work throughout their pregnancy carefully asses their stress on the job. Stress would not be good for the mother or her baby. It’s important to take breaks, as needed, and not feel guilty about the need to do so. Most employers and co-workers will understand. It is also important to keep healthy snacks in the workplace to better ensure proper nutrition.


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional.