Working Before the Big Day
Many women struggle to decide when to leave work before the baby is born. If you won't be working again for a few years, you might prefer to work right up until your due date. If you plan to return to work soon after you've recovered, you might appreciate more time to relax before the baby comes. Some women are simply worried about being at work when their water breaks. This is a personal decision each woman must make for herself.
When to Leave Work
Because staying at home waiting for your baby isn't productive or fun, you may choose to work right up until the birth. This does not necessarily mean you will go into labor at the office, but that you will work as long as is medically advisable. Some women leave work a day or two before the due date, while others actually head to the hospital straight from the office.
If there is a reason that you should not work during the final weeks of pregnancy, your midwife or doctor will tell you. You may need to leave work if you are experiencing a problem with preterm labor, bleeding, or other complications. You may also be asked to leave work sooner if your job involves physical requirements that are beyond the capacity of a pregnant woman, or if you work with chemicals or other potentially harmful materials or equipment.
If you decide to leave work well before your due date, be sure to schedule visits and outings with friends as long as you are feeling well enough to go out. Stock up on good books and movies, and try a relaxing hobby like knitting or painting to keep you productive and entertained.
There are several benefits to working until the baby comes. For one, working can help keep your mind and body occupied so you aren't consumed with worry about the birth or the baby. If exhaustion is a problem for you, see if you can cut back to part-time or schedule a few work-from-home days each week. Working longer will also mean more income to be spent on necessities for the baby or to put into savings. Just keep in mind that there is no way to know exactly when you will go into labor.
If you plan to work until your due date, you may very well find yourself in labor at work two weeks early. Likewise, if you allow too much time for relaxation before your due date and the baby is late, you might become anxious and frustrated. Be careful that these feelings don't lead you to induce labor. Inducing labor because you're tired of waiting can have serious effects on your labor and postpartum, including increased risk of a cesarean surgery. Labor is easiest when your baby and your body are both ready.
Your doctor will probably give you a due date, or a projected date for the birth. Don't make the mistake of counting on this being the exact date your baby will be born—it's really just a guess. Your baby can safely be born two weeks before or even two weeks after that date. Many women give birth a week after their due date.
Only about 5 percent of pregnant women give birth on their due date. Most give birth between two weeks before and two weeks after that date. You can still circle this little box on the calendar—just be prepared for your baby's early or late arrival.
If your due date has been changed because of the size of your belly or the size of your baby, the new date may not be very accurate. Ultrasound due dates made after the first trimester are not very accurate either, as babies grow at different rates after that point. A due date is merely an estimate given to help you prepare for the baby.