Intraoperative nursing and pregnancy

Specialties Operating Room



I have been a nurse for 6 months on a neuro med/surg floor. My husband and I are planning to move back to our hometown in another 6 months so that we can buy a house and start a family. I am very interested in working in the OR when we move. When I was in nursing school I remember that one of my instructors said that rates of miscarriages and birth defects are higher in nurses who worked in ORs due to all of the hazardous materials that one may be exposed to. I was wondering if anyone could comment on this information. Is it your experience that this is the case? Or is this another thing that we learned in school that is 50 years old and out of date? I am not pregnant now but I plan on working through my pregnancy when the time comes so I want to be as informed as possible about any area where I may work. Thanks for your input.


1,260 Posts

Specializes in O.R., ED, M/S.

In my 28 years of OR work I have not heard that one. It may be true in some repect but it has never been an issue with the girls that have been pregnant here. We just make a point that they are no where near flouro or port x-rays and that is about it. Unless you have a leak in your anesthesia machine where gasses are being let out into the room I see no problem. There are a few hazardous materials in the department but you would have to be around everyday for quite along time to have any effect. We don't use ETO anymore and that was probably the biggest hazard since you could usually still smell it on wrapped goods. I wouldn't worry about it too much about it, just be aware of what materials are in your department. Mike


314 Posts

Nellie, neither myself or my friends who work in the or have had any problems at all. You just have to be aware of which specialities you need to be cautious of . good luck.


101 Posts

I agree with the others. Where I work, we've had several girls be pregnant and go on to have healthy babies. I don't know where your teacher got her info from (I would ask her about her source of info), that may have been true way back when but not now. If you're pregnant avoid cases where there is x-rays/C-arm/fluro and bone cement. Now, I don't know how it is with anyone else here but where I work we semi-joke about something being in the water because somebody in our department is pregnant all the time, and I do mean ALL THE TIME.:rotfl:


29 Posts

I was pregnant 2 years ago with my son and I didn't have problems working in the OR. My manager was accommodating in putting me in non-flouro rooms and I was assigned 1st or 2nd lunch instead of 3rd or 4th lunch. The tough part for me during my pregnancy was lifting the heavy instruments and positioning the patients. I changed from working 12 hour shifts to 8 hour shifts during my 2nd trimester and my manager was acommodating to that also.


37 Posts

I worked in an O.R. that was about 30 years old. (we are in new ones now) But before I came many of the girls that worked in Recovery Room did miscarry. The thoughts were that is was from accumulation of exhaled anaesthetic gases. Once a proper scavenging system was in place there were no more instances of cluster miscarriages. Just something to ask about

Nellie Nurse

58 Posts

Thanks for the great info. I feel more confidant now about working in this area and not harming a baby in utero. :)


11 Posts

gluteraldehyde(SP?), a known cancer causing agent is still common in the OR. There are many chemicals(i.e. cleaning) that are not conducive to pregnancy. I had three co-workers die in a year period of breast CA and we were all on the same OR service. That all being said. I wouldn't risk my child's welfare on a chat room no matter how well intentioned. I would resource several OB/GYN's who routinely operate and are familiar with OR work. I would check with an oncologist who specializes in female forms of cancer.

By the way, I have been a (male)surgical nurse for about 7 years and last December my only child was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Sarah was born with an underdeveloped left ventricle and aorta. Her left ventricle will never function. She is 11 months old and has survived two open heart surgeries and has at least one more to go. Is there a relation to my OR work, my military service and my daughter. Who knows. If I had to do it all over again, I would have been a librarian.

I'm not trying to scare you. Just look before you leap and remember that OR work is high stress work and long hours(when you are on call).

What about a same day surgery center instead?

best of luck to you and may God Bless and keep you and your child to be:)

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