Is working up to the due date bad for your baby?

Most of us probably felt quite lazy, plonked on the couch with a bar of chocolate watching the Olympics last week. But one lady would put you to particular shame.
Take a bow Malaysian Nur Suryani Mohammed Taibi, who competed in the 10-metre air rifle event, despite being eight months pregnant.
Nur joins the ranks of other famous supermothers, who refuse to let pregnancy slow them down.
These include West Ham United boss and businesswoman Karren Brady, who worked right through her two pregnancies, and was back at work three days after giving birth to her daughter.
And Rachida Dati, the former French Justice Minister, who was back at her desk five days after having a Caesarian at the age of 43.
But could these women be doing their babies more harm than good by working so close to their due dates?
Quite possibly, according to new research. It found that women who work beyond their eighth month of pregnancy are more likely to have babies with lower birth weights.
On average, their baby could be up to half a pound lighter than those born to mothers who stopped work between six and eight months. Shockingly, it's the same effect seen in babies born to women who smoked while expecting.
It's definitely an issue that warrants further research, according to Professor Fionnuala McAuliffe, from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
But she cautions that this research doesn't distinguish between babies who are naturally small and those who weigh less for other reasons.
"Some babies are destined to be small and that's entirely normal," says Prof McAuliffe.
"It's the ones who don't reach their growth potential that you have to be worried about.
"Down the line, that baby would be at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity," she says.
Age also seems to be a factor. Babies born to women under the age of 24 didn't seem to weigh less than average.
"Older mothers are more likely to have blood pressure problems in pregnancy. I wonder if that's the effect we're looking at here", says Prof McAuliffe.
"Blood pressure problems can interfere with a baby's growth, and that's why older mothers are over-represented in this group of smaller babies."
In Ireland, pregnant women must go on maternity leave at 38 weeks, but Prof McAuliffe advises her patients to stop earlier.
"I think 36 weeks is a nice time to finish up," she says. "I think neither the employer nor the pregnant woman benefits from working late into pregnancy."
Tracy Donegan, founder of GentleBirth, which promotes a holistic approach to pregnancy, puts the phenomenon of smaller babies down to the impact of stress on their mothers.
It's something that has been well proven, she says.
"In situations where women are stressed about things like not having enough food to eat, that affects the brain development of the baby.
"It's not the fact that the baby isn't getting the food, it's the fact that the mother is stressed about it."
SOURCE:  Independent

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