Source: Press of Atlantic City
Some researchers are beginning to say that the workplace — and specifically the stress than can come from holding down a job — might be bad for your baby.
“We’re starting to see that we have to respect pregnancy as a stress on the mother. Not necessarily a bad stress, but recognize that as something, that we have to alter activities while we’re pregnant,” Yvette Bridges, AtlantiCare obstetrician and gynecologist, said. “We need to reduce unnecessary stress and let them know it’s okay not to be superwoman.”
Bridges has delivered thousands of babies through her long-standing career in the field. She said she has seen women who are reluctant to take a break from their demanding jobs for fear of being seen as weak – a concept, she said, that needs to change.
In a recent issue of The Atlantic, science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff said he began to worry about what his wife’s high-pressure job as an advertising agency manager might be doing to their child. He delved deeper into the medical research on what impacts a mother’s health during pregnancy. His conclusion? He learned he had to trust his wife to know when to slow down and put her and the baby’s health before her job.
Tiffany Unsworth, 31, learned exactly what she could and could not handle while she was pregnant last year. Her job as a health and physical education teacher at Jordan Road School in Somers Point could be stressful at times, she said. Not only was she exposed to her school’s environment, but she also stayed physically active up until 5 months into her pregnancy as a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader. “Everyone can handle different stress levels. I think it all depends on the job and how well you handle stress. I did what was best for myself.”
Michele Weatherby of Mays Landing is another mother who knows what it’s like to be on her feet all day while pregnant. As the lead ultrasound sonographer in the radiology department at Shore Medical Center, she has a job that can be stressful for a 36-week pregnant woman working 40 hours a week.
“The girls I work with are great,” Weatherby said. “Now that I’m further along, they try and not let me do much,” she said, laughing. And when she has a chance to sit down and put her feet up, she takes it.
Looking into the future, Bridges said that in addition to needing more concrete research on the direct links of stress on fetal health, there needs to be more structure and direction for medical professionals to use when advising women on maternity leave and recovery.
“There are no national guidelines for pregnant women on the benefits they should have in the workplace,” she said. “We should lobby for these guidelines and more research being done that can help future generations and decrease preterm births. If we can do it, we’ll be a healthier society in general.”