Q&A: I have been wondering if my job is dangerous to do while I am pregnant.
Is there a list of hazardous jobs for pregnant women based on exposures? What should I avoid while I'm expecting?
There are definitely many jobs and situations that you would do best to avoid while pregnant, especially during the first trimester when the risks of birth defects and miscarriage are highest. Chemicals and other substances (cleaning products, pesticides, solvents, and paints) have the potential to cause birth defects or miscarriage.
What should you avoid? Steer clear of the following toxins during pregnancy:
- Paint fumes
- Some cleaning products
- Cigarettes and secondhand smoke
- Carbon monoxide
- Leaded water or paint
- Products containing benzene or formaldehyde
Certain jobs may pose a risk to you and your baby during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you work in one of the following professions:
- X ray technicians (hazard: radiation)
- Nurses, doctors or other healthcare workers (hazards: chemicals, radiation, or viruses)
- Laboratory jobs (hazards: chemicals or viruses)
- Office or house cleaning (hazards: chemicals and their fumes)
- Hairdressing (hazards: chemicals and their fumes)
- Factory jobs (hazards: chemical vapors, fumes or direct skin contact; lead; or radiation)
During pregnancy, you can take extra steps to protect you and your baby. Here are some valuable tips from the March of Dimes:
- Wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves or a face mask.
- Let someone else paint the baby’s room and stay out of your home until the fumes have dissipated.
- Call your local water authority or health department if you are worried about the quality of your drinking water. (You can also drink bottled water while you are pregnant or trying to conceive.)
- Make sure your workplace is well ventilated.
It is important if you are trying to conceive or have just discovered you are pregnant to consider what hazards your job exposes you to, and just how flexible your employer may be if you feel you need a leave of absence or transfer to another department. If you think your job may pose a hazard, talk with your healthcare provider to assess possible risks to you or to your baby.