Supporting pregnant doctors in the workplace

by Lydia Akinola

The BMA is asking doctors to share their experiences of being pregnant in the workplace to inform new guidance

Location: UK
Published: Friday 27 May 2022
Lydia Akinola

Doctors are humans. Although it hopefully won’t be news to you, often during long days on the frontline and after tackling training commitments and heroic efforts during ARCP season, we can forget that we are normal people like everyone else.

We have lives and interests outside of work; we have medical conditions that we manage; we have hobbies and occasionally, we even have babies. Our bodies need care too. Unfortunately, we are not awarded superhuman status with our medical degrees.

Whilst doctors are human, just like everyone else, often our working patterns aren’t a simple nine to five. There is now significant evidence from a number of studies showing that exposure to certain shift work and long working hours during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including pre-eclampsia, intra-uterine growth restriction, stillbirth and pre-term birth.

What are we doing about this? The BMA is working to produce joint guidance with NHS Employers for pregnant doctors and their line managers. This will hopefully become part of a wider piece of work around improving the working conditions for pregnant doctors and we are also looking at the experience of breast-feeding doctors.

Your help is vital. We need your voices to inform this work, so we have launched a survey to collect this information. We want to hear about your experiences of what it is like being pregnant and working as doctor. Did you have a risk assessment?

How did your employer support you? What changes do you want to see for pregnant doctors in the workplace going forward?

The survey is open until Monday 6 June and takes approximately five to 10 minutes to complete, so please share it widely. No pregnant person is the same and every pregnancy is different, so it is essential that we hear from as a many people as possible from a range of specialities, workplaces, and training programmes. You don’t have to be currently pregnant; your past experience is valuable too so please share that with us.

Thank you for your time and help and remember – you are human and that is fine!

The survey is now closed. Results will be shared in due course.

Lydia Akinola is an obs & gyne trainee in the Oxford deanery, junior doctors committee equalities champion, and BMA representative on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists national trainees committee