Working During Pregnancy – Taking Care at Work
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Pregnancy need not spell an end to your career. A woman can very well manage to work even during pregnancy, although she may be required to consider some things and accordingly make a few changes at her workplace. In this respect, her employer may also have to make certain alterations. But, as long as her doctor doesn’t advise her to stop working, there is no reason to give up working at this time. Moreover, a pregnant woman has a right to maternity leave and may also be granted flexible working hours. She is eligible for paid sick leave as well if she experiences sickness or has health issues, due to pregnancy. She may be given time off for her scheduled medical check-ups with the doctor. If her usual job profile presents health hazards for her or carrying out a particular task leads to sickness, she can refuse to do it and ask for a transfer to an alternate, safer job. If a secure job is unavailable, she may be allowed leaves on this account.
Is There a Reason That You Shouldn’t Work in Pregnancy?
Being pregnant may seem like a full-time job in itself. And, being pregnant at work may seem like a lot to manage. This is because, during pregnancy, a woman goes through a lot of hormonal and physical changes that may take a toll on her health and ability to work. Aches and pain, fatigue, mood swings or morning sickness are some of the things that a pregnant woman may have to deal with, on a daily basis, during her pregnancy. All this, coupled with the stress of work and tiring working hours, may increase her distress during pregnancy. Therefore, a pregnant woman may find it tough to handle both the job and taking care of her health at the same time. Travelling for work, posture, sitting or standing for long hours at work, the stress of deadlines and meetings may heighten her discomfort during pregnancy, leading to aches and health troubles.
It is not entirely inadvisable for a pregnant woman to continue working. It is advisable to take into consideration aspects like the nature of the job, the conditions at the workplace and whether the employers are willing to make allowances for you, before taking a decision. If you are experiencing a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, you may surely continue working. It is always sensible to consult your doctor and discuss the issue with him.
How to Stay Comfortable at Work?
Pregnancy presents its own share of difficulties. Pregnant women may keep in mind certain tips to manage and balance the pressures of work, along with their health needs.
1. Managing Fatigue
Combating fatigue may be your most significant challenge during pregnancy. This is because of the physical strain pregnancy can place on your body. You may tire easily or feel tired all the time. To enhance your energy, you may like to get up and move after regular intervals. A short walk during your break can refresh you. It is essential to pay attention to your diet. Include foods that are rich in protein and iron like poultry, green leafy vegetables, red meat, sea-food, iron-rich cereals and beans. Keeping yourself sufficiently hydrated by drinking lots of fluids may prove useful.
Also, always remember to take short breaks while working. Avoid working at a stretch and try to reduce your workload by hiring help or shopping online. Although the thought of exercising at the end of a long working day may seem exhausting, maintaining a workout routine may help increase your energy levels. If you are required to sit at work all day, going for a walk after work can be beneficial. You may also enrol yourself into a prenatal fitness class. Above all, you need to sleep for at least eight hours every night.
2. Managing Morning Sickness
Most pregnant women are troubled by morning sickness or may experience some kind of nausea or uneasiness throughout their pregnancy. To manage the illness, you can try and stay away from all your triggers that may intensify the feeling of nausea like the smell of certain foods. Frequent snacking may also aid in fighting nausea. Keeping crackers or biscuits handy at work can be a good idea. Drinking ginger tea or ginger ale may also help.
3. Managing Aches and Pains
During pregnancy, women may experience several aches and pains as the posture drastically changes, owing to the increasing weight one is carrying. It is best to avoid sitting or standing for long. Stretching the back occasionally through the day, taking short breaks to move around, may help in easing the tension in the muscles and promoting blood circulation. Sitting on an adjustable chair which provides decent support to the lower back can relieve backache.
A small cushion can also be placed at the back for additional support. While sitting at the desk, you may rest your feet on a footrest to avoid swelling at the ankles and fluid retention in legs. If you need to stand for a long time, alternately shifting weight on both the feet may help. You may like to wear comfortable footwear to work. If you need to turn, refrain from twisting at the waist. To lift things, try bending at the knees to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the back.
4. Managing Mood Swings
Pregnant women are prone to frequent mood swings due to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Stress and fatigue at work can add to it or make it worse. Practising meditation and relaxation methods like conscious deep breathing and yoga may benefit. Getting massages, listening to music, taking naps, spending quality time with friends may also assist in brightening up the mood. Going on a walk with a good friend and talking out your frustrations and problems can also make you feel better.
When to Announce Pregnancy at the Office?
There is no specific time to announce your pregnancy at the office. But, it is sensible not to disclose your pregnancy until after the end of the first trimester. By this time, the chances of a miscarriage lower dramatically. You may make an announcement whenever you are comfortable with the idea of people at the workplace knowing about it. Though, be certain to inform your boss first. He will like to know it from you rather than the gossip mills directly. Fix an appointment with your employer to apprise him of your pregnancy and the due date. This may be necessary to plan your maternity leave and other details like taking off from work for your scheduled medical check-ups, ascertaining a safe working environment or comfortable working hours for you. You may also like to assure your boss of your continued commitment and efficiency. It is always wise to acquaint yourself with the firm’s maternity policy and terms of the contract. After informing your boss, you may then share the news with your colleagues. You may need to submit a written-notice, about ten weeks in advance, before proceeding on your maternity leave.
How to Remain Professional at Work?
Here are some guidelines to follow that may not only help you to remain efficient and professional at work but also help cope with the changes that pregnancy is bound to bring about.
- Prepare yourself for the inevitable changes that every stage of pregnancy is expected to bring about. As the pregnancy will progress, you may tire easily; the discomfort can increase. Try and accept these various changes and make suitable adjustments in your lifestyle and working schedule.
- Plan in advance if you are required to travel for work. You may need to reschedule your prenatal appointments. Ideally, you may like to schedule your trips during the second trimester because by then, the sickness and risks involving miscarriage will lower considerably. It is always advisable to consult your doctor in this respect.
- It is always reasonable to inform well in advance before taking time off from work. You may also like to find someone to fill in for you so that your work is not affected. You may refrain from setting up your prenatal appointments on weekdays, during office working hours. You may schedule them for weekends or during the lunch break or for evenings, after office hours.
- It is best to avoid voicing your frustrations or talking too much about your pregnancy discomfort at work. Stay focused on your work so that you are perceived as a sincere and dedicated worker by your boss and colleagues.
- You may like to keep your office attire comfortable yet smart. During the first trimester, you may continue to wear your usual work clothes, but you may require making certain changes in the second and third trimester because your size is likely to change during this time. You may also like to go in for comfortable footwear.
- It may be a good idea to manage the initial interest and excitement your pregnancy may generate in your colleagues. Deliberately, you may diplomatically steer the conversations back to work-related issues.
Advantages of Working When Pregnant
There are several advantages of working during pregnancy. By continuing to work, you may benefit monetarily, which can be useful given the likely added expense of pregnancy. It can take your mind off the problems of pregnancy. You may also gain a great support system from your colleagues. If your pregnancy progresses normally and you can work through your pregnancy, you may avail your saved-up maternity leave after delivery. This may help you spend more time with your new-born before you re-join.
Disadvantages of Working When Pregnant
Working during pregnant may encompass some risks as well. The pressure of work may take a toll on your health. Stress and long working hours may add to your discomfort and aggravate the aches and pains. Most pregnant women like to enjoy the “nesting” stage, during which they ready themselves for the childbirth. Working women may not get sufficient time to relish it.
Taking Care While Working
There are several things a pregnant woman can undertake not only to make her working experience comfortable but also to care for her health.
- Take suitable steps to prevent aches and pains by making the workplace as comfortable as possible.
- Be open to the idea of accepting assistance and support from your colleagues and friends.
- Consider managing work stress by relaxation methods like deep breathing, yoga, meditation, listening to soothing music.
- Always go in for regular short breaks at work while pregnant. Sit comfortably, and every-now-and-then, get up to move around, take a small stroll or simply stand up and straighten your back.
- Incorporate healthy foods into your diet to boost your energy and fight fatigue. It is best to avoid excessive coffee or tea, spicy and fried foods. Frequent healthy snacking at work may prove useful to keep nausea at bay.
- Avoid wearing heels to work. It may be a good idea to opt for comfortable footwear instead. Flat shoes that can cushion and support the feet may be a better choice during pregnancy.
- Keep yourself adequately hydrated by drinking lots of water.
- Select comfortable office-wear that suits the workplace but also provides the much-needed ease.
- It can be tricky to manage travelling for work while pregnant. Always select the time and means of travel which best suits your pregnancy conditions.
What Should You Avoid Doing?
A pregnant woman can avoid doing certain things at work to safeguard her health and ensure her baby’s wellbeing:
- Refrain from lifting heavy objects or moving weighty furniture at work. Be very careful while climbing or going down the stairs or escalators.
- Avoid sitting or standing in a particular position for long. Keep changing positions and be mindful of your postures.
- Try and handle stress at work by organising your work and planning.
- Avoid drinking too much tea, coffee or aerated drinks.
- Withhold dressing in tight or ill-fitting clothes. Wear suitable office wear that is comfortable and accommodates your body changes.
- Keep away from late-night office parties or long working hours so that you may get adequate rest and sleep.
- You may tire easily when working during the third trimester. Take the day off from work, if you don’t feel up to it. Some days can be particularly rough. So, you may not like to push yourself beyond reasonable limits.
- Stay away from any possible health hazards at work like exposure to chemicals or harmful materials that can expose you and your baby to unnecessary risks.
The decision to work during pregnancy should be made by taking a holistic view of the whole situation. The importance of evaluating the risks and challenges of working while being pregnant cannot be stressed enough. It is essential to deliberate upon, the emotional and physical demands your job may have on you, during pregnancy. Though it is not entirely irrational to continue working when pregnant, proper care should be taken to safeguard your pregnancy and your health.