As much as you want to apply for maternity leave with the first round of nausea, it isn’t always a good idea. Millions of women around the globe work through their pregnancy, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. For women with low-risk pregnancies, there’s no harm in working until just a few days or even hours before labor. According to research, less than 40 percent of women get paid pregnancy leave in the United States.
Working during pregnancy also depends on the kind of work you do. For instance, if you have a 9 to 5 desk job, then the chances are that your gynecologist or ob/gyn would easily give you the green light to go ahead and continue working. However, if your job demands manual work like lifting heavy objects or standing on your feet all day, then the doctor might recommend otherwise.
Hence, it’s important to speak to your doctor before you can continue working during pregnancy in order to eliminate all potential work-related risks. Following are some important factors you should keep in mind when working during pregnancy. These considerations not only make sure that you stay comfortable, but they also promote the health and well-being of you and your growing baby:
7 Make Sure the Chairs Are Comfortable Enough to Accommodate Your Growing Needs
Ergonomic rules, wherever applied, demand that employers provide comfortable furniture for their employees. Make sure that your workplace is designed to provide apt comfort. Bring a back and/or neck pillow for extra comfort. If possible, opt for a chair with height adjustments. Set the chair such that your knees bend at a ninety-degree angle.
If your work chair cannot be adjusted then get a foot stool or simply place your feet on a stack of books or a small cardboard box. The backrest should also fit to the curvature of your spine. Chairs with curved backrests are ideal for that. Again, if unavailable then use a small throw pillow.
Make sure you don’t make any quick movements. When getting up, ensure your back is straight and that your one foot is resting in front of the other. Stand up by pushing your hips forward. Many women mistakenly opt for deep cushy chairs when pregnant. While they are fine during the first two trimesters, they can get very uncomfortable during the third. They also make it difficult for the mother-to-be to sit and get out of.
Proper sitting posture is essential during the third trimester when the baby has grown large enough to exert pressure on your vasculature, lungs and bladder. This pressure is almost always the underlying cause of frequent urination, shortness of breath and even swollen ankles. By sitting in the right position, so as to not let the baby put added pressure on the lower body, expectant mothers can easily avoid many workplace discomforts.
6 Avoid Sitting for Long Intervals
Restlessness is pretty much second nature when you’re pregnant. No specific position would be comfortable enough for long. Solution? Get moving. The pressure on your bladder would hardly let you stay put for long anyway, but whenever uncomfortable just take a small walk. Sitting still for longer periods can compromise blood circulation and cause your legs to ache.
You may want to just get a little more work done before you take your break, but that would only tire you out much sooner and compromise the overall quality of your work.
You may have pulled all-nighters at work before, but your body is experiencing some serious changes, and they demand that their growing needs be met. Sitting for prolonged periods can cause added pressure on the uterus as well as lead to back pain. The only way you can ensure a healthy pregnancy without affecting your work quality is heed to your body’s signals.
Also try not to sit cross legged as it can add more pressure on your pelvis. However, don’t use this as an excuse to stay on your feet all day long. It’s just as bad for your and your baby’s health for you to stand for longer periods. Make sure you change sitting positions every 30 minutes or so and don’t stand for longer than 10 to 15 minutes at a given time. If your job requires a lot of footwork, then try to take 20 minute rests in between work.
5 Wear the Right Clothes to Work
Sweatpants would hardly be a part of your company's dress code and pencil skirts would scarcely meet your growing body's needs. So what do you do? Proper clothing during pregnancy doesn't necessarily mean spending a fortune on maternity clothes. For the first three months you'd easily fit into your regular wardrobe. You might feel that your fitted clothes feel a little tighter around the chest, but you'd easily manage.
However, every pregnancy is different and you may start experiencing body changes earlier on. So if you feel bloated or even the comfiest of pants start to feel tight around the waist, then don't force yourself into them. What you can do is leave the button open on your pants and pair them with a loose hanging blouse.
Your body will ideally start to grow in size during the fourth month, but that too would look more like you’ve just put on some extra pounds and wouldn’t necessarily make you look pregnant. So if you haven’t revealed your pregnancy to your co-workers, then you can easily hide your pregnancy up till the final trimester by opting for loose clothing.
Most pregnant women tend to feel quite warm, so make sure that you opt for breathable fabrics. Also, when purchasing maternity clothing, be sure to invest in items that would last up until labor and perhaps even beyond, until you recover from additional baby fat. Look for elasticated pants and stretchable fabrics that have enough room to accommodate your growing body till the end of the third trimester.
4 Make Sure Your Work Environment Doesn’t Propose Any Health Risks
Even though you might want to delay announcing your pregnancy to your co-workers, it’s a good idea to inform the human resources department or your boss that you’re pregnant. Doing so would ensure that your workplace is safe for you and the baby. This will also enable you to openly speak about the tasks that you may or may not be able to easily do.
This is particularly important if you work with chemicals or do heavy lifting at your work or do other physically exhausting work. You may also need to take added precautions if you work with animals. Your employers will need to reassess risks associated with your job. Other possible workplace hazards include extreme temperatures, heavy vibrations like those from large machines and constant and excessive noises.
Safety issues not only include physical or environmental problems, but other factors like mental fatigue, correct postures during travels, physically challenging works and excessive noise are all causes for concern. Many employers ask for a ‘fit for work’ certificate that you’d have to get from your doctor in order to confirm whether specific work demands and environment are secure enough for you and your baby.
3 Managing Morning Sickness at Work
Most women experience some level of morning sickness or nausea during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. While most women opt to simply ‘call in sick’ three days in a week there are other professional ways to deal with morning sickness at work. The idea behind working during pregnancy is to get a head start on managing multiple life goals simultaneously. Hence, the solution to morning sickness is to get it under control.
The fact is, you will be nauseated whether you’re at work or at home, and morning sickness will stay for almost the entire first trimester. So unless you are suffering from severe or prolonged morning sickness, try to keep it under control. The best way to control morning sickness is to avoid foods, drinks and even smells that cause morning sickness.
If there are specific smells at work, for instance the smell of brewing coffee or specific air fresheners, then request the human resources department to change your desk or request your co-workers for a little cooperation.
Working from home during pregnancy has become easier than ever now. Not just specific jobs that are designed for professionals looking for flexible work environments, but many businesses, thanks to technological advancements, now offer ways you can take your work home. Speak to your boss about working from home for a few months or until morning sickness subsides.
Make sure that you take your daily doses of essential vitamins and avoid keeping yourself hungry in order to prevent morning sickness. Doing so can lead to serious health problems for you and your developing baby.
2 Handle Fatigue Like a Pro
Your body is working overtime during pregnancy, therefore it needs your relentless support to do its work unfailingly. Make sure you eat foods that are rich in iron and protein. Foods like seafood, leafy green vegetables, beans, whole-grain cereals and poultry will provide the much needed iron to your body. One of the major causes of fatigue during pregnancy is iron deficiency anemia.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluids as they’d help reinvigorate you. Although avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and soda drinks as they are harmful for your baby.
1 Take it Easy When You Can
Make sure you aren’t over exerting yourself. If any, then this is the time to take things slow and allow your body to do its work. You may not be able to witness it, but your body is working continuously to create a new life. Your baby’s organs and features are being developed by your body, and that’s some heavy work. No wonder pregnant women feel tired all the time!
Make sure you allow your body to do its work properly without any interference on your part. What this means is, you should be providing substantial nutrients and rest to your body. Cut back on activities if need be and allow yourself to rest from time to time. Speak to the human resources department if they can manage a makeshift day bed for you to rest on when need be. Or just lie down on a sofa during lunch breaks or whenever convenient.
If your job is taking a toll on your health, then it’s better to take it slow. Speak to your boss regarding flexible working hours if you’re having trouble coping with strict timelines and to reduce some of your workload. It’s better to take it slow than expose yourself and your baby to unnecessary complications that could majorly impact your child’s entire life.
Your primary task during pregnancy is to ensure your and your baby’s safety. Make sure you have all the right medicines with you at all times. Keep a first aid box handy and all your emergency contacts with you at all times. Confide in somebody at work and give them your doctor’s contact details and any brief them regarding any emergency occurrences.
Make sure you manage your social life accordingly too. Don’t over exert yourself after work and try to rest as much as you can when you get home. Sleeping early would give you a head start the next day, so avoid cleaning up or doing tiring chores when you get back home. Take any support you can from your loved ones to make this time as easy as possible.
There is no reason why you shouldn’t work if you have a low-risk pregnancy, but make sure you take all the necessary precautions. Women make a good chunk of the workforce, hence, employers too have reevaluated their policies to accommodate their needs and to make their workplaces friendlier towards them. There are specific laws that guide work environment rules, so it is easier than ever for women to manage their professional and personal lives effectively. All the best for your beautiful journey.