The new concise guideline, funded by the NHS Health at Work Network, is aimed at doctors to provide them with accurate information when advising healthy women about any risks that common work activities may pose to their pregnancy.
Five common workplace exposures are reviewed, including heavy physical effort or lifting, prolonged standing, long hours and shift work, to see whether they may adversely affect pregnancy outcomes (for example pre-eclampsia, preterm birth and miscarriage).
The guidance states that women who undertake strenuous physical activity at work can be reassured that all considered exposures are unlikely to carry much of an increased risk, if any, for such complications. They also emphasise the health benefits of keeping active during pregnancy.
Dr Tony Falconer, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), says:
“We welcome this new guidance as it reassures women that in the majority of cases it is very safe to continue working during pregnancy. This is particularly the case for low risk women carrying a single baby.
“Pregnant women should communicate with their employers to determine whether workplace adjustments need to be made but continued physical activity during pregnancy is fine for most women.
“The RCOG encourages women to stay active during pregnancy as physical activity is both safe and beneficial. Many women find exercise helps them to adjust to the physical changes that occur in pregnancy, however if a woman experiences any unusual symptoms, at work or at home, they should not continue to exercise.
“Women who are concerned about their physical limitations during pregnancy should consult their midwife or GP.”
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