How Does Your Work Pattern Affect Your Pregnancy?

A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before 24 weeks – unfortunately, around one in five pregnancies suffers this fate, and most occur in the first 12 weeks. You’re classified as having recurring miscarriages if you’ve lost three or more pregnancies in a row, and although this is uncommon it does occur with one in every 100 couples. Studies show that nearly half of all early miscarriages are due because the pregnancy has not developed properly. This may be due to the genetic material in the pregnancy, when the egg is fertilised, but nearly half of these losses have no specific cause attached to them. It’s likely that when you miscarry there will be no cause to explain it – it will most likely be due to chance as opposed to a problem with the pregnancy. There are certain illnesses associated with this issue which increase the risk, although they are very rare, and smoking also increases the risk. As a woman ages, her risk of miscarriage also rises. The most common symptom of this concern is bleeding from the vagina, and lower abdominal pain. However, some women don’t experience any symptoms and the miscarriage is only detected when they attend their first ultrasound scan – naturally, this can be extremely distressing for the couple involved. If you suspect that you may have miscarried, it’s vital that you seek help from your GP or midwife as soon as possible. If you’re bleeding at a rate that you need more than one sanitary towel every hour, if you bleed and start to feel dizzy or faint, if you have stomach pains that may be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, or if you have a fever and vaginal discharge that may indicate an infection, you should seek medical advice immediately. If you suffer from a miscarriage, there is nothing that can be done to stop it – as distressing as it is, you must allow the body to run its natural course during this time.

Studies show that women who work the late shift at work may be at an increased risk of suffering from a miscarriage, compared to those who work regular office hours. The study was carried out by Dr Linden Stocker and Dr Ying Cheong at the Southampton’s Princess Ann Hospital, and found that those who alternated and changed their shift were also likely to take longer to conceive and suffer from menstrual disruption. The team of researchers assessed the impact of a varied work schedule on the reproductive outcomes of 119,345 women. What they discovered was that almost a third of these women (29 percent) who worked night shifts just had an increased risk of miscarriage, and a similar number (22 percent) who worked alternating shifts also suffered menstrual disruption which affected their ability to conceive in the same way as regular workers. Dr Stockers stated that the study provided strong initial evidence that women who are trying to get pregnant could benefit from re-assessing their work patterns and switching to a regular working schedule. The study was presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Following a miscarriage, it’s advised by medical experts that you take a few days bed rest and take a few days off from work. This is an upsetting and frightening time, fraught with feelings of anger, sadness and guilt, during which you should take time to rest and recuperate. Women shouldn’t ignore the experience or feel guilty (though this is a natural reaction for many women). There is no rule as to when you can try for another baby, but it’s advised to take some time to let your body return to full health and to wait until you are emotionally recovered from your ordeal.

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