Pregnancy

Pregnancy and work: all the useful information

Pregnancy and work: what questions does a working woman ask herself when she discovers she is pregnant or plans to become pregnant?

Can I work throughout the pregnancy?
How do I handle morning sickness at work?
How can I stay calm at work?
What pregnancy complications might mean I have to stop working?
What if my boss isn’t supportive?
What if I have to travel for work?
What if my job is tiring?
What should I do if I work with toxic substances?

But let’s go in order and answer all the questions to provide as complete a guide as possible.

Can I work throughout the pregnancy?

If you’re a healthy woman having a normal pregnancy and your job doesn’t involve exposure to harmful chemicals, you may be working right up to or close to the day you give birth. If you can afford to start maternity leave a week or two before your due date, consider using that time to rest and prepare for this new life full of changes.

How do I handle morning sickness at work?

Most women experience nausea or vomiting at some point during their pregnancy, and chances are this can happen when you’re at work as well. Your ob-gyn may be able to help recommend treatments to relieve morning sickness. To avoid unpleasant accidents, always keep plastic bags, towels and mouthwash available at your desk or in your car and find the quickest way to go to the bathroom.

How can I stay calm at work?

Make an effort to take care of yourself during pregnancy. Take breaks. Keep moving. Get up and walk around every two hours. This will relieve swelling in your feet and ankles and should keep you more comfortable. Dress comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing. You could also try wearing maternity tights. Drink plenty of water. Keep a tall glass on your desk or work area and refill it often. This will also give you the chance to take a break and go to the bathroom. Don’t skip meals. Eat regular meals and snacks, which can prevent morning sickness and blood sugar drops. Choose balanced and nutritious lunches whenever you can. Add fiber to your diet to relieve constipation.
Request workplace changes. If your workstation begins to cause pain, ask for an ergonomic assessment. Reduce stress. If you can’t eliminate a workplace stressor, try to find ways to manage it, such as stretching, deep breathing exercises, or yoga.

What pregnancy complications might mean I have to stop working?

You may need to stop working or reduce your working hours during pregnancy if:

  • You are at risk of preterm birth. This includes women who are expecting twins or more multiples.
  • You have high blood pressure or are at risk of preeclampsia.
  • You have been diagnosed with placenta previa.
  • Your baby is not growing properly.

What if my boss isn’t supportive?

Some employers are very understanding when it comes to their employees’ pregnancies and go out of their way to make things easier. Others are much less compassionate. Some even make rude comments or openly complain about how pregnancy is making things difficult for them. But no one can discriminate against you because you’re pregnant. If you can’t do the things you used to do, like stand for long periods of time or do heavy labor, your employer should treat you like any other employee with a temporary disability. Some bosses are reluctant to accommodate pregnancy-related changes and may not be empathetic to your needs. If you find that your boss is being particularly hard on you, it’s up to you to decide whether to consider early motherhood.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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