July 02, 2015

Q: I am an RN in a hospital. Are there certain patients I should not care for or lifting I should not be doing during pregnancy? Also, how should I avoid these patients if it is too early to tell my coworkers I'm pregnant?

A: Lifting is a restriction in pregnancy that changes as time goes on.  What that means is that early in pregnancy, you can lift anything you want.  The uterus is protected by the bones of the pelvis until about 14 weeks, when it becomes an abdominal organ.  Even falls early on, although scary, never do any damage to a growing fetus.  And, contrary to popular belief, you can't miscarry from lifting something too heavy.  What does happen, however, as your uterus grows in the second and third trimester, is the curvature of your spine changes.  The change in the spine gives women that classic "sway back" look as their bellies get bigger and bigger.  Because of this, when you attempt to lift a heavy object later in pregnancy, although you won't hurt your growing fetus, you can very easily throw your back out.  So, heavy lifting is not recommended for that reason.

Patients with infectious diseases should be approached with the same caution that you would use if you weren't pregnant.  Handwashing is paramount and obviously if possible, keep away from patients with easily communicable diseases such as tuberculosis.

Answered by Dr. Michele Hakakha