Do Working Women Have Smaller Babies?

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Pregnant WomanA new study led by Dutch researchers reports that women who spend a lot of time on their feet and work more than 40 hours a week may give birth to smaller babies.

Pregnant women who work in fields that require a lot of standing like childcare, teaching and sales gave birth to babies that were smaller than average. Similarly, pregnant women who worked more than 40 hours a week had smaller babies than those who worked less than 25 hours a week.

But let’s not panic: The differences weren’t too dramatic. The measurements taken were the baby’s head size and weight from the third trimester onward. The good news is that there were no differences in rates of preterm delivery, low birth weight or babies being born too small for their gestational age.

It is not yet known whether the size differences affect a baby’s long-term development, but the results of the study are enough to suggest a change in work patterns for pregnant women.

The researchers suggest that more limits need to be set in the workplace to accommodate pregnant women, especially those who are in the third trimester. This would include limits on shift work, night hours, standing, lifting and noise.

While these results may be disconcerting, especially for many women who don’t have the option of not working or adjusting their work hours during pregnancy, it’s worth remembering that everyone has different experiences with working motherhood. You can read more on that here.