Updated: Aug 31, 2021
I didn't get the memo of what to expect when working while being pregnant. In fact, the first time around, I had absolutely no idea what was expected of me as soon as I became pregnant. Yes, I do confess that I was somewhat terrified at first.
My initial thoughts were, hey, can I do this? Will I be able to accomplish what I needed to do while working? It is obvious, at 7 months, I am walking around with a huge soccer ball-shaped belly and thought that everybody should be accommodating right?
This is my experience, and yours may be different based on your career and job description. However, I can only provide you with advice based on what I encountered while working both times during my pregnancies.
I worked in a fast pace environment. My background as a pharmacist at the time required me to be flexible working in a highly stressful environment. I rotated between two different positions of standing or sitting while working for long 10-12 hour shifts at any time.
The length of time I spent in the workplace and my job responsibilities varied for both pregnancies. With my first child, I worked only during the later stages of pregnancy (starting at 7 months) shortly after relocating to a new state, while for my second child I worked the entire length of pregnancy until birth (9 months).
Be reminded that your ability to work while being pregnant is based on your job responsibilities and requirements. It is different for everyone.
As always, I recommended speaking with your healthcare provider, whenever you make any changes that may affect your health or progress.
Are you currently working while being pregnant? What are your concerns? Let me know. Please feel free to share your own experiences or ask your questions or concerns in our FORUM section. I will be happy to help you!
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“Working while being pregnant and knowing your limits is essential for a successful pregnancy"
Self-care is the most overlooked area that we don't really think about much sometimes when we are pregnant. We are constantly focused on the growth of our child but we also need to be aware of our own health and well-being.
Self-care is very important while being pregnant. It is a constant reminder each day that you are taking care of a growing child. Your emotional and physical well-being has to be in balance in order to ensure a successful pregnancy, especially while working.
Here are a few of the self-care areas that I highly recommend that women should be aware of and be able to manage effectively while working during pregnancy.
This is the most important factor in any given situation or work environment that needs to be addressed as a mom while working. What are your stress levels at your job? Are you working in a high-paced environment? What is the workload like for you? It is important to be aware of the levels of stress and to plan accordingly with your doctor what to expect in that situation.
Stress is a huge problem while being pregnant. When not addressed immediately or taken into consideration, it can affect your growing baby and may even cause other medical problems and issues later on throughout the duration of your pregnancy.
The key, however, is to identify it quickly and find ways to reduce the stress. It may also involve asking for accommodations to be switched to a lighter workload, change of work environment, or reducing the work hours depending on the situation.
Eating healthy foods
I was a busy mom with both pregnancies trying to balance everything with home and work. Sometimes during this busy time, I didn't get the chance to eat healthy, balanced meals. I was definitely guilty of a fast-food binge, especially in the middle of the night when I had a pregnancy craving. My poor hubby suffered through that time (yikes!).
Eating healthy meals is therefore important and it doesn't mean that you can't visit your favorite restaurants, but just try to select more nutritious foods while doing so. This will definitely help with your growing child.
For more information about eating healthy during pregnancy, visit my blog post on What to eat when you're expecting in the 1st trimester or 7 foods to avoid during pregnancy
Getting enough rest
Please do not stay up and watch every single episode of a baby store (guilty). Try to get as much rest as you can each day. Rest is so important during pregnancy. Your body is constantly changing each day as you progress throughout pregnancy.
You will need more time to rest to ensure that you are more alert and productive at work. When you are well-rested, you are more likely to be prepared to take on the challenges of work ahead.
Try to aim for a minimum of 8 to 10 hours of sleep, so that you can be fully productive. This is also a reminder that your baby will benefit greatly from you taking the time to rest.
Sometimes as moms in our busy work schedules, we tend to neglect the basic things that our bodies need, especially during pregnancy.
Staying hydrated is very important to our health. Water keeps us functioning and also provides amniotic fluid to our bodies.
When at work, try to have water readily available for quick and easy hydration as you go throughout your day.
Following up with your pregnancy checkups and other medical appointments
This may take a huge chunk out of your working hours, especially for those who work during office hours, or in restricted fields such as health care.
I do know that it may get complicated in some work environments to get the time off to visit your doctor for appointments, but I strongly urge you to try not to miss any of them.
Appointments are very important because it helps you to keep track of your pregnancy while you're at work. It also helps your doctor to identify any concerns, problems, or issues that may arise during your pregnancy.
KNOWING YOUR RIGHTS
Knowing your rights at work is key while being pregnant and working. The first thing to do is to contact your human resources and get information on what is expected of you while being pregnant and what arrangements, recommendations, or policies are in place for you while at work.
Sometimes as you progress during your pregnancy you may need workplace accommodations, for example moving to a sitting position from a standing position, or getting time off to attend doctor's appointments, etc.
Most companies may cover this under short-term disability depending on the scenario. Research everything thoroughly from the moment that you find out that you are pregnant, to ensure that you are aware of your companies policies and procedures for pregnancy.
Some companies may also require more time in advance to process any disabilities or leave of absence. Therefore the earlier you start the process, the better it is for you.
Not knowing the accommodations available can sometimes cause unnecessary stress and strain on your pregnancy experience.
Get the information from the start so that it enables a smoother transition while at work.
KNOWING WHEN TO GET HELP
Sometimes throughout your pregnancy, you may need help, especially at work. Pregnancy has unexpected events that may occur. It could be a serious case of morning sickness, cramps, swelling of the legs, high blood pressure, etc.
In the later stages of my pregnancy, I had swollen legs that made it difficult for me to work in a standing position. As a result, I had to ask for accommodations to be able to continue working in a sitting position.
When you know something is not normal, alert your employees right away and ask for any adjustments or help when needed. A doctor's note from your physician, or your workplace accommodations policy and procedures are helpful in order to get the accommodations you may need.
Do not be afraid to take them. Remember to put your health and your baby's health first.
RECOGNIZING YOUR LIMITS
Know your limits and know when to call it quits if needed. I know that as a mom, we want to be “superheroes” in every aspect when it comes to being pregnant. We want the ability to manage it all. The career, home, children, etc. But we have to be aware of our limits and how much we can take as a mom.
Sometimes It can be a stressful work environment or a complicated pregnancy. Whatever it is, be accepting of your limits as a mom and get advice from your employee or doctor when it's time to make necessary changes.
The worst thing for any mom to experience is heavy unbearable stress or even depression. Be quick to recognize the signs and symptoms and be ready to move away from anything and everything that can cause harm to your growing child.
PREPARING FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Unforeseen events can happen unexpectedly during pregnancy. Everything could be progressing well, until suddenly changes may occur that will cause you to have to reduce hours at work, work in a different position or environment, or stop working completely.
This happened in my first pregnancy at around the eighth-month mark. Everything was progressing smoothly until I went into pre-term labor as a result of pre-eclampsia.
Which in medical terms is high blood pressure.
When I went into pre-term labor my, initial response to this was, “should I have waited until after having my child before I returned to work?” I had just gotten this new job and I was so excited about my career. I don’t know if this would have changed the outcome of my choice, however, I do advise every mom to consider the risks involved based on the environment in choosing to work while being pregnant.
The best thing that you can do for yourself is to put your health and the health of your baby at the forefront of every change in workplace accommodations that you make.
KNOWING WHEN TO STOP WORKING
Sometimes, as women, we want to prove that we are capable of handling it all. That was me. The demands of work, our household, health, etc. When it comes to pregnancy and the health of your child, priority should be given to you and your child.
When it becomes too much for your child or your mental health, to continue working, know when to move on, and be at peace with your decision to keep the safety of your child in perspective.
Depending on the scenario, that may include leaving your working environment to continue with the care of your health and your baby's health for the rest of the pregnancy.
I completely understand that It may be a tough decision for every family especially financially for some. Make the best decision that you can for your health and your baby’s health.
Taking care of your physical and emotional health first and foremost is key to having a healthy pregnancy while working. Knowing your limits and what you can and cannot do will help tremendously, when making decisions during the duration of your pregnancy.
Trust your internal instincts and don't be afraid to ask for help or to request accommodations when needed. Also, put your health and your child's health first when making the best decision.
If you need more information on how to reduce stress while being pregnant, visit my blog post on A mom in need of a timeout.
Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.
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