The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Some jobs expose women to agents known to cause miscarriage, low birth weight, preterm delivery or birth defects, says Elizabeth Whelan, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Cincinnati. Limit (or, if possible, eliminate) your exposure to:
-Chemicals, including lead and solvents used in various industries (such as home remodeling and the electronic and semiconductor industries), as well as cancer-treatment drugs.
-Radiation from X-rays, which health care workers, dental-office personnel and laboratory researchers may be exposed to. The electromagnetic fields emitted from computer monitors are not thought to be a risk.
-Disease-causing agents, including cytomegalovirus, hepatitis B, HIV, rubella and chicken pox, which may affect health- or child-care workers, teachers and other people who come into contact with children; and toxoplasmosis, which could affect animal-care workers.
-Strenuous physical labor, such as prolonged standing, heavy lifting or other similar tasks.
Other potential hazards include:
- Dry-cleaning fluids.
-Various anesthetic gases, which medical, dental, veterinary and other health-care workers may be exposed to.
-Rotating shift work or long shifts.
If you’re planning to return to work, start thinking about child care while you’re pregnant. There are three main options, explains Laura Castergine, a Boston work/life consultant for Ceridian, a benefits-consulting company:
Family child care- A caregiver watches children in her home. Advantages: flexibility, a homelike setting, a small group of children, affordability. Main disadvantages: no standard of quality in states that don’t require registration or licensing; potential lack of supervision.
Child-care centers- Advantages: structure, educational activities, socialization, more accountability. Main disadvantages: rigid schedules, less personal attention.
Nannies, baby sitters and au pairs- Advantages: flexibility, convenience, one-on-one care in your own home. Main disadvantages: cost, no standard of quality (they’re not licensed or registered), responsibility for paying employer taxes.