Doctor: Solène Vigoureux

Title: Evolution of Occupational Activity of Women during Pregnancy in France : French National Perinatal Survey from 1972 to 2016.

Supervisor: Marie-Josèphe Saurel-Cubizolles

Doctoral school: ED 420. Doctoral school of Public health, University Paris Saclay

Date of thesis defense: 06/2018

Jury: Virginie Ringa, Marie-Josèphe Saurel-Cubizolles, Pascal Guénel, Laurent Toulemon, Laurent Mandelbrot, Agathe Croteau

Thesis summary:

The occupational activity rate of women is steadily increasing since the 1970s, and women are more and more often in employment when they are in childbearing age. The main purpose of this work is to describe and understand the links between occupational activity and pregnancy. First, by comparing employment rates according to whether women are pregnant or belong to the female general population. In a second step, by observing how their occupational group and status is linked to the timing of prenatal leave. Finally, the third part analyzes the impact of the social position, defined by the employment status of women and taking into account their couple status and the employment of the partner, on the antenatal care and perinatal outcomes.Methods and population: The data were extracted from the French National Perinatal Surveys of 1972, 1981, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2010 and 2016 and the Census. A comparison of the employment rate of pregnant women and the general population of women in continental France, by age and level of education, was carried out. A modelization of the employment rate of women during pregnancy was realized according to the socio-demographic characteristics, the survey period from 1972 to 2016, and the birth generation. An analysis of women working during pregnancy in 2010 and 2016 was conducted to determine the time of prenatal leave, according to the medical situation and the social position of women, focused on early leave, before 24 weeks of gestation (WG), and late leave, after 36 WG. For the period 1995 to 2016, prenatal care and perinatal outcomes were analyzed according to the employment status of women, taking into account their couple situation and partner’s employment.Results: As in the general population, rate of occupational activity of pregnant women shown a steadily increasing, between 1972 and 2016, from 53% to 74%. In 2016, 32% of women working during pregnancy leave their job before 24 WG, and 2% after 37 WG. Social inequalities exists around maternity leave: women with the most unfavorable social situations stop early, while self-employed women and those with more favorable social and occupational situations leave late, even after stratification for the medical situation. From 1995 to 2016, the differences in antenatal care and perinatal outcomes according to the social position of pregnant women are always observed despite a reduction.Conclusion: The major changes in the relationship to women’s occupational activity in recent decades may change the practices of caregivers for pregnant women. A majority of pregnant women had a paid job and the date of prenatal leave should be discussed in relation to the medical situation but also considering the social and occupational status. Special attention should be given to the most disadvantaged women, either unemployed or without a legal job, or having a precarious occupational situation, since these women have a later initiation of care and more unfavorable perinatal outcomes.

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