If you are healthy and have no pregnancy problems, you can likely continue to work without causing harm to yourself or your unborn baby. However, certain types of work and working conditions may pose an increase risk to the health of your pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about your pregnancy and the type of work that you do.

Standing for Long Periods

Standing for long periods of time can affect the blood flow to your baby.


  • If possible, avoid standing for long periods of time
  • Take short walks periodically during the day
  • Rest once in a while with your feet up
  • Rotate tasks whenever possible (sitting, standing, and walking)
  • Wear comfortable, well-fitted shoes
  • Ask for a chair or a stool at your workstation
  • If necessary, ask about the possibility of changing duties.

Sitting for Long Periods

Sitting for long periods of time may cause swelling in your legs and feet, less blood flow to your baby and muscle strain and tension.


  • Use a cushion to support your back
  • Keep a footstool and change the position of your feet
  • Avoid crossing your legs or feet
  • Rotate sitting and standing tasks
  • Stand, stretch or move around whenever possible
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing.

Heavy Work

Heavy physical work may increase your chance of having problems during your pregnancy. Heavy work includes lifting, pushing, pulling and other tiring work such as shift work and working more than 40 hours in a week.


  • Avoid heavy lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying
  • When lifting, be sure to bend your knees and keep your back straight
  • Alternate heavy work with less tiring work
  • Rest with your feet up, when possible
  • Think about working fewer hours or options such as leaves or part-time work
  • Avoid shift work as much as possible.

Physical Hazards

Physical hazards include radiation such as x-rays, loud noise, and extreme heat.


  • Take safety precautions if working with x-rays
  • Avoid long periods of loud noise when possible
  • Avoid long exposure to hot temperatures
  • Protect yourself from sun and heat
  • Drink enough fluids
  • If necessary, talk to someone at work about different duties.


There are many chemicals that can cause problems during pregnancy, for example lead, mercury, pesticides, cleaning products and solvents. Chemicals can enter your body when you breath, eat or drink, or through your skin.


  • Find out about risks and precautions before using any chemicals
  • Follow safety guidelines
  • Use safety equipment
  • Always wash your hands before eating
  • Suggest safer products to your employer
  • If you are concerned, request a transfer to a different area.

Biological Factors

Biological risks include infections by a virus, bacteria, fungus or parasite. Some of these include: rubella, chickenpox, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, listeria, and hepatitis. Infections may cause birth defects, miscarriage and other problems.


  • When possible, avoid contact with people who are infectious
  • Wear special protection such as gloves, mask, as recommended
  • Wash your hands often.

More Ways to Keep Healthy at Work

  • Bring your own lunch or make healthier choices at work
  • Keep healthy snacks handy
  • Drink enough fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine such as coffee or tea.
  • Avoid smoking areas
  • Take a walk on your breaks
  • Rest and relax when you can.

Adapted with permission by the Best Start Resource Centre