May 28th, 2018

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Obstetriciansí Practices and Recommendations for Occupational Activity During Pregnancy
Authors:  L. A. Pompeii, Ph.D., K. R. Evenson, Ph.D., and G. L. Delclos, M.D., Ph.D.
  OBJECTIVE: To examine, in light of vague professional guidelines, current obstetrical recommendations for pregnant women engaging in occupational activities.

STUDY DESIGN: A survey mailed to obstetricians/ gynecologists in Texas ascertained data about occupational activity information collected from patients in the prenatal period and recommended activities to avoid, including activities addressed in the American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines.

RESULTS: Of 961 obstetricians 427 (46.6%) responded to the survey, with 384 used for these analyses. A large proportion (96.3%) asked women about employment status, while fewer (46.2%) asked about occupational activities (e.g., lifting). Obstetricians were more likely to recommend that women avoid lifting >20 lb (68.6%) and ladder climbing (87.9%), while fewer recommended avoiding night/shift work (15.5%), standing >4 hours/ day (26.0%) and bending/twisting at the waist (34.0%) (third trimester), with an increase in recommending limitations on activities as pregnancy progressed. Obstetricians reporting having patients in physically demanding jobs and those with more years of experience were more likely to recommend avoiding these activities. Respondents agreed with the AMA guidelines, except 62.2% disagreed that women should minimize bending at the waist while lifting.

CONCLUSION: These findings highlight the need for professional organizations to develop new or to revise existing guidelines. Rigorous studies that examine adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with exposure to occupational activities are needed to inform guidelines.
Keywords:  occupational activity, pregnancy, pregnancy guidelines
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