This seems to be the ten million dollar question for the modern working woman. With working outside the home now the norm, working throughout pregnancy is also typical for women who choose to also have families. While there are certainly some challenges to working throughout pregnancy, most women make adjustments and plans and work as long as they can-both for the income and the need to maintain work and career. Figuring out how long to stay on the job is one of the more pressing concerns facing pregnant working women, and for most, it is not an easy question to answer.
The type of work and the work environment will likely be a strong factor in deciding how long to work. Work that is very physical or stressful may require an evaluation or consideration about leaving earlier in the pregnancy than word that is more sedentary. Other considerations will be the mother’s health (whether or not she has any pre-existing health concerns that may influence the outcome of the pregnancy,) the work environment (are there any toxins, or exposure to dangerous chemicals that may be risky for the pregnancy,) how the pregnancy progresses in terms of medical needs and health, and the mother’s own personal feelings as the pregnancy progresses. All of these factors can make decision-making anything but easy.
There may also be pressure from the work environment to make a plan. They may need to know if the woman plans to take a leave at some point prior to the birth, so they can hire a replacement or reassign work tasks and duties. In extremely physical or dangerous jobs, the expectant mother may be reassigned to “lighter duty” in the later stages of the pregnancy if she continues working.
The important thing is to try to make a plan for pregnancy and work as early as possible, but to allow for some flexibility in case needs change. Try not to put off making a plan for either your temporary absence at the end of the pregnancy and immediately after the birth, or for your changing your employment situation in anticipation for motherhood. The employer will appreciate being aware and involved and knowing what they need to do on their end to both support the pregnancy and plan for your inevitable absence. As an expectant mother, it will be less stressful if a plan is in place and things feel reasonably “set” from early in the pregnancy and you can focus on preparations for your changing role-both at work, and at home.
Every woman and each pregnancy is unique-only you will know what you are capable of and how you would like to handle working and pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, involve your health care professional if the need arises, and be prepared for some flexibility, but many women are able to work as long as they choose.