Three out of four working women who take time off from their jobs to have a baby require just two months of sick leave, a new study has found.
Researchers who conducted the study, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, also found that employers can help reduce the amount of leave pregnant women take by making flexible hour adjustments to their work schedule.
"We found that a large number of pregnant women take time off work as sick leave. The factors associated with sick leave varied according to the trimester of pregnancy but some of these factors are not necessarily caused by pregnancy alone,” said researcher Dr. Signe Dorheim, with Stavanger University Hospital in Norway.
"While past medical history and socioeconomic conditions can influence the occurrence and length of time taken off as sick leave, women's working situations during pregnancy were significant contributors to our findings,” Dorheim added. "Women who suffer from work-related fatigue, such as insomnia, are likely to require more time off, especially during late pregnancy.
For the study, researchers tracked nearly 3,000 working women scheduled to give birth over an 18-month period and the reasons for and factors associated with sick leave during their pregnancies.
The results showed just over 75 percent took an average of eight weeks sick leave, with the range from one to 40 weeks. Overall 35 percent of women cited fatigue and sleep problems as the main reason for taking sick leave, followed closely by pelvic pain, nausea or vomiting.
About 60 percent of the women reported work adjustments made to their job situation to accommodate their pregnancies