The Doctors share the story of a woman who continued working as a project manager on a construction site until she was eight and a half months pregnant. The woman posted a photo with the message “I’m building 2 things at once” on her belly which The Doctors thought was great, but they question, is it safe for her to be working that late in her pregnancy?
OB/GYN Dr. Nita Landry says typically it’s safe for a woman to work throughout her pregnancy if it’s not very demanding and hazardous. If the hazards she encounters are the same as she would in daily life, she could work until labor. However, if it’s a situation where there could be harmful chemicals or physical labor, it’s more concerning because a pregnant woman’s center of gravity could be off and the hormonal changes make the joints looser and more prone to injury. Also, it's not an ideal environment with heavy equipment she may have to lift and things she could trip on.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule; Dr. Nita suggests patients have a conversation with their physicians and discuss these matters. Women with complicated pregnancies such as those with diabetes or high blood sugar may not be able to work until labor or may have to make more modifications. Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra adds that the health of the woman before the pregnancy plays a factor.
Dr. Nita questions, why is this woman working? Is it because she wants to and understands the risks or because of the financial ramifications of not working and not being guaranteed maternity pay?
Dr. Batra says that from a policy level, things in this country need to change. She says both women and men don’t get enough paid family leave. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure this lady is working because she wants to, not because she needs to.”