Features  |   June 2020
Life Gets in the Way: Balancing Modern Parenting With the Demands of Work
Author Affiliations
  • Tal Levy, MD, MBA
    Committee on Occupational Health
Article Information
Obstetric Anesthesia / Pediatric Anesthesia / Features
Features   |   June 2020
Life Gets in the Way: Balancing Modern Parenting With the Demands of Work
ASA Monitor 6 2020, Vol.84, 18-20.
ASA Monitor 6 2020, Vol.84, 18-20.
The decision to start a family is fraught with multiple pitfalls. If you start while in training, financial difficulties may abound. Wait until you are more financially secure, and your biological clock may make the process more difficult. Many physicians choose to delay childbearing to their 30s and beyond. This becomes problematic as fertility issues can come into play with delayed childbearing.1  On the other hand, having children early in your career can have dramatic effects on career trajectory, such as lower salaries overall and less opportunity for promotion.2  The answer is very different for each individual.
Currently, women make up roughly one quarter of the anesthesia workforce3 , and about 80% of women in the U.S. become pregnant at some point in their working lives.4  This is something to consider when deciding how to time pregnancies, as there are many occupational hazards that can arise when working in an operating room.5  The pregnant anesthesiologist may have to protect herself from exposure to varied things such as radiation (definite risk but can be shielded), MRI (unclear risk), methyl methacrylate (unclear risk) and inhaled agents (unlikely to cause risk per current literature, especially with modern waste gas scavenging systems).6  Back pain and fatigue is exacerbated by the physical nature of the job, such as lifting patients and equipment. Long work hours, rotating day/night shifts and fixed night shifts have also been shown to cause an increased risk of adverse outcomes in pregnancy.7 
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