I’ve written before about the benefits of being rested in the run up to the birth of your baby and personally, I’m a big advocate of taking time off work before having a baby to get your head in the space and to rest, unwind and reserve your energy for the big day. In reality for a lot of mothers this is a luxury that they can’t afford, whether they’re trying to maximise the time they have at home with their baby once they arrive or simply due to financial constraints where it’s just not viable to be not working.
That’s why headlines like this and this really get my goat. Somebody’s PR machine issued a press release over the weekend about an article in the new issue of The Journal of Labour Economics by researchers from the University of Essex who claim that women who work past eight months into their pregnancy have lower birth weight babies. We’ve a small problem here in that the press release has received blanket global coverage which draws heavily on the line “working after eight months of pregnancy is as harmful for babies as smoking” but unfortunately there’s no sign of the full press release anywhere or indeed the original research itself which would appear to be only available to subscribers of The Journal of Labour Economics.
So we don’t actually know if the research draws a direct comparison to women who smoke during pregnancy or even if the smoking line comes straight from the press release. Any quotes are from one of the researchers, Professor Marco Francesconi, and he doesn’t seem to have made the smoking reference himself.
One more stick to beat mothers with.
Seriously. If you are going to claim that working at the end of your pregnancy is the same as SMOKING CIGARETTES all through your pregnancy, then let’s see the evidence please! And if the evidence exists, then Governments across the world need to legislate now to make it the law that women will receive additional maternity leave to cover the end of their pregnancy because if it’s true, then you might as well be putting fags into the hands of pregnant women everywhere.
A significant majority of women have to work right up to the end of their pregnancies. This is because society and economics have made it so. Don’t make them feel bad when they’re already wrecked and dying to finish up so they can meet their baby. Fix it.