Pregnant? Unplug the Vacuum and Put Down That Mop
In a scene reminiscent of recent Swiffer commercials, brooms and mops may soon be crooning "Baby Come Back" to pregnant women everywhere.
A study out of the Netherlands suggests the "boring and repetitive" nature of household chores increases the odds of giving birth prematurely, according to London's The Daily Mail.
Published in the journal Pediatric Epidemiology, the study compiled data from questionnaires completed by 11,759 new moms, who reported their daily physical activity during pregnancy -- including housework, paid work and exercise -- as well as their baby's birth weight and how many weeks pregnant they were at delivery.
Birth weight is a major consideration, as it has a great impact on the general health and survival of infants, according to the authors, while the length of pregnancy is one of the factors that governs birth weight.
"Mentally unstimulating" work, including tasks performed around the house day after day, were shown to increase the chances of giving birth at least three weeks early by up to 25 percent. Though the reason is not yet clear, the researchers suggest boring tasks may increase levels of the stress hormones involved in triggering labor.
Exercise during pregnancy, however, was found to be good for both mother and baby, a finding which has been confirmed by other sources. It can improve posture, relieve back pain and other discomforts related to pregnancy, and prepare pregnant women for childbirth, according to AOL Health.
And while even strenuous exercise was found to do no harm to either mother or baby, the research showed that sedentary lifestyles actually increase the odds of having an underweight baby.
One unexpected finding, the authors say, was that working night shifts during pregnancy was associated with a slightly higher birth weight. They suggest this may be because of the "healthy worker effect," where women who are employed generally tend to be in better health than those who are out of work.
"In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, pregnant women may safely continue their normal daily physical activities should they wish to do so," the authors conclude.
You may want to keep that bit of information to yourself until your nails are dry, and that helpful someone has finished folding the last load of laundry.
Related: Exercise During Pregnancy May Prevent Obesity in Baby
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.