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When Should I Stop Working in Pregnancy?

Once you get a positive pregnancy test, you will probably start wondering how your new baby is going to affect all the aspects of your life. For women who work outside the home, many start to think about when to tell their bosses they are pregnant and when they might need to stop working. When this varies for every woman and can depend on a few factors.

For most women, pregnancy does not mean they have stop to working. Most jobs are perfectly safe with regards to pregnancy. You might need to make some minor adjustments, such as taking more frequent bathroom breaks or putting your feet up more, but usually, these are not major issues.

However, some jobs actually can pose a threat to a developing baby. These can include working with certain chemicals or radiation, or ones where you may be prone to abdominal trauma or falls (as they can lead to complications like placental abruption or miscarriage). While we don’t have strict evidence-based guidelines on lifting in pregnancy, extremes should be avoided.

If any high-risk complications develop, such as hypertension or vaginal bleeding, you may need to change how you work or stop working altogether. Other scenarios where this may be necessary include twin pregnancies or if you’ve had frequent scares with preterm labor. Your doctor or midwife can decide what’s safe and provide a note with their recommendations to your employer stating this.

For women who have no issues in their pregnancy and have a job that is not dangerous, the question then becomes when is exactly the best time to stop working. Should you work right up until you go into labor, or should you stop once you are early term so you can rest up and prepare for your impending arrival?

The answer to this is very personal. Some women who have a limited amount of time off or who want to save up that time for after the baby is born may opt to work until they deliver (the Family Medical Leave Act covers your rights during pregnancy and immediately after birth). Other moms may want to use the few weeks before they give birth preparing for their baby and ensuring all their checklists are completed. Still, others may want to continue to work but have found the common third-trimester symptoms make it too uncomfortable, so they may stop early or cut back their hours.

Whatever you decide, be sure to take a few things into consideration. What is your financial situation, and if you stop working early will you still receive pay through covered leave? If not, can you afford this? Are you still covered by your medical insurance if you stop working before you deliver? What has your boss said, and will this affect whether or not your job is waiting for you when you decide to return?  It is best to think about all these things far in advance so that you aren’t left scrambling at the last minute!


  • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Canada
  • Working during pregnancy.

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