By Elina Bolokhova
Mixing a career with mommyhood is never easy. There are dozens of questions that can plague a new, working mom: will she go back to work? If so, how soon? Will she have to work on her maternity leave (like a certain, high-profile CEO)? Questions that are, in short, mostly focused on what happens after the little bundle-of-joy arrives. But a new study from the University of Essex might inspire more consideration on the before, as it has found that working after eight months of pregnancy is as harmful to babies as smoking, reports the Guardian.
Women who continued to work after they were eight months pregnancy had infants half a pound lighter than those who left work between six and eight months. Babies whose mothers worked or smoked throughout pregnancy grew more slowly in the womb. Stopping work early in pregnancy was especially beneficial for women who had fewer levels of education, which suggests that performing physically demanding work while pregnant was strongly linked to lower birth weights. The effect was also more significant in older mothers, as babies born to mothers under 24-years-old were unaffected.
"We know low birth weight is a predictor of many things that happen later, including lower chances of completing school successfully, lower wages and higher mortality. We need to think seriously about parental leave, because-as this study suggests-the possible benefits of taking leave flexibly before the birth could be quite high," said Professor Marco Francesconi, one of the authors of the study.
How long did you work when you were pregnant?