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New Study Reveals Dangers of Long Commutes During Pregnancy

by | April 24, 2019

A new study published at the beginning of this year found a link between the distance traveled by a pregnant woman from her home to the workplace and the baby’s health, among other factors. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Lehigh University conducted the study and the outcomes gave some insights between a pregnant working woman and her baby’s health. Read on to learn more about the dangers of long commutes during pregnancy.

New Study Reveals Dangers of Long Commutes During Pregnancy
Photo by Ryan Franco on Unsplash


New Study Reveals Dangers of Long Commutes During Pregnancy

Researchers conducting the study at Lehigh University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed some insights on a baby’s health outcomes. These include a likeness of c-sections, low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction and baby not being able to reach an average size (as measured throughout the pregnancy) with the mother’s traveling distance to her work every day, according to Fortune.

Whereas earlier studies related the woman’s travel distance from home to the doctor’s office and its impact on the child, this study sheds light on the perspective of home to work commute.

What the Study Says About the Dangers of Long Commutes During Pregnancy

The study conducted used “unique data” with information of a woman’s employer’s address and not just her home address enabling researchers to calculate the overall maternal travel distance undertaken by a woman during pregnancy.

“Our study contributes to the literature on the relationship between maternal stress during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes by focusing on the understudied chronic stress induced by long commutes, rather than the stress triggered by a one-time significant event, such as a natural disaster,” said the researchers in the study.

According to the study abstract, among the pregnant woman who traveled a long distance, increasing the same by 10 miles is linked with chances of intrauterine growth restriction by 0.6 percentage points and chances of low birth weight by 0.9 percentage points. Apart from the long-distance travel, stress being a potential biological mechanism, researchers have even found suggestive evidence showing maternal long-distance travel while pregnant is associated with under-utilization of parental care.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

Commuting such distances by a pregnant woman also increases the likelihood of a cesarean section for mothers carrying a male fetus because they (male fetuses) have “shown to be more sensitive during pregnancy.”

Such research questions another instance: can lawmakers and employers help in negating health risks that commuting to work is imposing on pregnant employees by providing better-paid leave before childbirth? As of now, New Jersey and California are the only two states that allow a pregnant woman to take parental leave before delivering the baby.

Things to Keep in Mind to Avoid The Risks Posed by Long Commutes During Pregnancy

There is no denying the fact that for today’s working women traveling during pregnancy is inevitable. To prevent putting your life and work on hold, here are the few things you can keep in mind as you travel during pregnancy. I hope they’ll be helpful:

  • If traveling during your first trimester, nauseating while driving can be risky. Make sure to take occasional breaks all the way.
  • If you’re traveling really long, it’d be best if you avoid the driving duty or at least share the same with someone. If your baby bump is big enough already, avoid driving at any cost.
  • While pregnant it is easy to get swollen feet, and chances are more because you’ll be sitting for long in the seat. Learn a few feet and leg movements that you can safely perform while sitting on your seat.
  • Keep liquids and healthy snacks handy. You don’t want to make the morning sickness worse or nauseate and drop your blood sugar.
  • Use restrooms or inns to pee. During pregnancy, the urge to release the waters can hype up and it can be further kindled by the sudden jerks while traveling. You’d like to use any apt facility you have to relax your bladder.
  • Use a cushion while driving to ease you already cramped back.
  • Keep your smartphones handy in case of an emergency. And for any aggravated symptoms always consult your doctor at the earliest.

What is your view on the study and the question? Did you go through long commutes during pregnancy? How did you manage? Let us know in the comments.

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Debayan Paul

Digital Writer | West Bengal, India | [email protected]



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