According to recent Census Bureau numbers, more women are working later in their pregnancies than ever. Sixty-six percent of women who gave birth between 2006 and 2008 did so after working during their pregnancy versus 44 percent of women between 1961 and 1965. Moreover 82 percent of those pregnant women between 2006 and 2008 worked almost until they actually had the baby, a month or less. That figure was 35 percent between 1961 and 1965 and 73 percent between 1991 and 1995.
These statistics have repercussions for the babies that are born. A U.K. study finds that going to work at the eighth month is as bad as smoking. (!!) And a separate study found that women who work and spend a lot of time on their feet have smaller babies.
The Grindstone points to a couple of reasons for this trend: more women are working now than in the 1960s and many more are breadwinners for their families. We’ll add to that the fact that there are many more women who have businesses or careers that would be impacted by a lengthy maternity leave — promotions that will go to other people, missed developments at the company or in the industry while a new mom is at home with her baby. There are simply more women trying to do it all in order to have it all.
Of course this idea of “having it all” has been a big topic recently. We touched on ourselves: “Skill, perseverance, and ambition can be fulfilled,” we wrote. “You just may have to fulfill it by following your own unique path. It may take longer to get where you want in your career. Others may give you the side-eye for choosing family over that work conference. But in the end, it will all be worth it.” This new evidence that overdoing it can have medical repercussions for the baby is just one more incentive for taking your time and truly finding that balance.
“ …[I]f you’re realistic yet optimistic about your goals, you’ll do that in a manner that does allow you to have it all, because what ‘it all’ means is positioned in a framework that is attainable,”Laysha Ward, chair of the Executive Leadership Foundation, recently told The Root. Indeed.