Beyoncé Cancels Gig: What Work Is Safe in Pregnancy?

Beyonce Knowles in New York City on Aug. 28, 2016. (Image credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty)

Singer Beyoncé has cancelled her performance at the upcoming Coachella festival in April because she is pregnant. But how much work is safe during pregnancy, and what kind of work is risky?

In early January, Coachella organizers announced that Beyoncé would be one of the festival's headline performers. But several weeks later, the singer announced she was pregnant with twins. On Thursday (Feb. 23), a joint statement from Coachella and Beyoncé's company Parkwood Entertainment said that the singer had to pull out of the concert, citing advice from her doctor to "keep a less rigorous schedule in the coming months" while pregnant, according to the Associated Press.

In general, it's safe for women to work while they're pregnant, said Dr. Jonathan Schaffir, an obstetrician/gynecologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. "Most women can continue to work right through the end of pregnancy," Schaffir said. [Beyoncé Expecting Two: 5 Fun Facts About Twins]

If a woman is otherwise healthy, and isn't at higher risk for complications during pregnancy, she typically isn't restricted in the types of activity she can do at her job, Schaffir said. Although pregnancy isn't the right time to start a new, vigorous work or exercise regimen, if a woman is conditioned to do a particular job, then she can most likely continue to do the activities of that job, Schaffir said.

However, pregnant women may need to be restricted in their activities if they are at higher risk for pregnancy complications — for example, if they have high blood pressure during pregnancy or a history of preterm birth, or if they are carrying twins, Schaffir said.

"Beyoncé has a special circumstance — she's carrying twins, which makes her a higher-risk pregnancy," Schaffir said. Women who are pregnant with twins or other multiples are at higher risk of having premature contractions and delivering early, Schaffir said. "Sometimes, activities are a little more restricted because of that concern," said Schaffir, who is not involved in Beyoncé's care.

Because every pregnancy — and every job — is different, women should speak with their doctor about the type of work that's safe for them during pregnancy, Schaffir said.

Women may need to take precautions if they have jobs that require heavy lifting, pulling, pushing or other physical labor, according to Stanford Children's Health network. That's because dizziness or fatigue in pregnancy may make this type of work dangerous. In addition, a woman's center of gravity changes during pregnancy, which can make her more likely to fall, Stanford Children's said.

A 2007 study also found a link between a demanding posture at work, such as bending, squatting or raising arms above shoulder level, for at least 3 hours per day, and an increased risk of preterm birth.

Prolonged standing at work can also lead to leg and back pain, particularly late in pregnancy, according to Stanford Children's. Women whose jobs require standing can ask if they can sit on a stool, if possible, or take frequent breaks to sit down, Stanford Children's said.

Other studies have found links between exposure to whole-body vibrations (such as from large machines), excessive noise and very hot and cold environments during pregnancy, and risks of complications such as preterm birth. Women should speak with their doctor regarding any specific concerns they have during pregnancy about these types of environments, Stanford Children's said.

Schaffir noted there may be another reason why Beyoncé chose not to perform at this year's Coachella.

"She's a very active performer who dances vigorously and well," Schaffir said. There might be concern that "it’s a little bit more difficult for her to move around and give the usual caliber of her performance when she's in the later stages of pregnancy," Schaffir said.

Beyoncé did not say when she is due to give birth, but she was showing a visible baby bump during her performance at the Grammys on Feb. 12. Women usually start showing a more noticeable baby bump in their second trimester, although with a twin pregnancy, it may happen earlier, Schaffir said.

Although Beyoncé won't be at this year's Coachella, the singer will be a headliner at the festival in 2018, according to the Parkwood Entertainment statement.

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.