Working in Oncology – A Nurse’s Fertility

There are many articles about preserving fertility and reproduction in young adults with cancer. However, there are fewer investigative articles about the nursing staff working with chemotherapeutic agents with their patients.

Exposures are not 100% risk free. Nurses who were highly exposed to antineoplastic drugs took longer to conceive than their other nursing friends. Exposures were also related to premature delivery and low birth weight. (Epidemiology. 2007 Jan;18(1:112-9).)

So what are the recommendations?

Long-term studies are needed to evaluate effects of low-level exposures to pregnant and lactating health care workers. However, especially during the 1st trimester, exposure should be limited as much as possible. During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, work may be allowed if standard safety precautions are followed.

Based on current evidence a recent article suggests the following:

  1. All staff involved in the handling and administration of cytotoxic drugs should be familiar with and adhere to local and national policies, and follow safe practice with cytotoxic drugs following standard operating procedures.
  2. Pregnant staff should be given the choice to avoid work activity in an area with increased risk of exposure to chemotherapy agents.
  3. It is the responsibility of the nursing staff to inform the employer regarding their decision to conceive, when they become pregnant, or when they lactate.
  4. Nursing staff should avoid working in high-risk areas during the first 84 days of their pregnancy.
  5. After 84 days of pregnancy, nursing staff can work in these areas if they adhere to standard precautions using PPE.
  6. Lactating mothers should also avoid working in high-risk chemotherapy areas.
  7. All staff involved in handling and administering chemotherapy must undergo appropriate training and education for safe handling of cytotoxic drugs.
  8. Employers should take responsibility to facilitate avoiding exposure and provide local guidelines.

Click here for the full article

pregnant nurse

Top 5 Books to Read During Pregnancy

These are the top 5 books I recommend women and their partners read while they are pregnant. These are a combination of books to prepare for a natural birth as well as what to do with the baby after it’s born and breastfeeding.

I want women to know that they have the capability to have safe and natural births. The media and movies make it look like a scary, impossible thing. However, our bodies know what to do and so do our babies. Trust in nature.

Enjoy reading and planning for your baby and life thereafter!


1. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

2. The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

3. Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

4. The Baby Book by The Sears family

5. The Womanly art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International


Dr. Whitney Young, ND and Jillian age 7 weeks