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Too Good to be True? Study Indicates Pregnant Women Should Avoid Housework

Pregnant and exhausted? Well, this may be your lucky day. A recent study out of the UK suggests that  mothers-to-be should avoid doing housework. Yep, housework. Apparently, "boring and repetitive" household chores may raise the odds of giving birth prematurely.


According to the Daily Mail UK, researchers asked almost 12,000 new mothers how much they had exercised during pregnancy – including housework. The women were also asked about their jobs, the weight of their babies and whether they were born early. And the information showed that mentally unstimulating work, including doing jobs around the house day-in day-out, increased the chances of giving birth at least three weeks early by up to 25 per cent.

Although it isn't clear why, researchers think it may be that boring tasks increase levels of stress hormones involved in triggering labour. The study, published in the journal Perinatal Epidemiology, also threw up some other interesting results. For instance, women who work night shifts seem to have slightly heavier babies.

Well, as much as we'd like to never clean a toilet bowl again, we're a little skeptical about this one. We asked our expert, OB/GYN Dr. Jason Rothbart, to "clean up" the facts. Here's what he had to say:

This is the kind of anecdotal reporting that causes frenzies, either good or bad, in pregnant women. Anytime the phrase "It isn't clear why..." is stated in an article (in this one, twice), you know not to put too much stock in it. Working a day shift or a night shift, cleaning the house or not, exercising hard or not, has no bearing on preterm labor or birth weight. What's not stated is whether the women in this study who do housework and delivered early have other risk factors for preterm delivery. Perhaps the women with jobs requiring low mental stimulation are also low income families, with poor nutrition and poor prenatal care, which are of course documented risk factors for low birthweight babies and preterm delivery. But to make a blanket statement that doing housework or a "boring" job may predispose women to preterm delivery is careless journalism and just adds the needless fear and panic that plagues many pregnant women and their families.

Sooo... Should we chalk up your messy house to your baby bump, or will it be business as usual?


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