Posted by: Blue | 2004/10/27

The effect of stress on pregnancy

I just wanted to know if you know the effects of stress on pregnancy either through experience or scientific study.

I'm asking this because I have a very demanding job -time wise ( sometime 12/14 hour days) and I've just discovered that I am pregnant. I've had a miscarriage before and my child was born early due to high blood pressure. I worried about this pregnancy now as I don't know a single woman at my work that has had a normal pregnancy till the end. After the birth of my child I swore if I ever got pregnant again I'd go on leave at 6months , now that I'm really pregnant I wonder if my employer would approve this (it would obviously be unpaid). The other option is to resign when I'm 6 months pregnant - the only problem with this is that I need my medical aid to pay for the birth - I don't think I can stay on this medical aid if I don't work for my current employer.

I hope you some info on this.

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Our expert says:
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Hi Blue,
Actually, the issue is very complex. In general excess stress is not a great idea for us at any time, and pregnancy itself includes a degree of stress beyond our ordinary life. A history of High Blood Pressure would add to my concern, though, as if it was raised in one pregnancy, it's more likely to be raised in another. Similarly, having had a previous miscariage, one would want to be more cautious this time round. When you comment that all other women who have fallen pregnant at your workplace have had pregnancy problems, it suggests there may indeed be rather too much stress there to be altogether wholesome. From what you say, it'd be wise to look after yourself and your pregnancy, and reduce the degree of stress to which you seem to have been used to accepting. Maybe even some part-time of work-from-home deal might be useful.
Check out with HR and Dept of Labour your rights, as I think you may have a right to some pregnancy leave, especially with a history of prior stress-related problems, and maybe even some paid leave for this. And I don't think any employer is entitled to penalize you in any way for taking such leave as you need in this regard. So be very cautious about any idea of resigning, to your detriment. I think your rights to take proper care of your health and that of your baby are protected, as they should be.
In fact, I think the law and activists may have been unwise in pushing further for pregnancy-child related leave AFTER childbirth, rather than first emphasizing the right to enough leave during a pregnancy so as to protected maternal; and child health adequately.

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