Challenges of the Pregnant Working Mum
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Pregnant and working? We applaud you!
For some women, especially those who are lucky enough to not suffer from any form of pregnancy sickness, working is one way to wait out the nine months while still generating an income. There are women who want to work right up until their due date while others may need to take time off to prepare for their baby’s arrival. Whichever category you find yourself in, there are bound to be challenges when you’re a pregnant working mum. So, here are some tips which we hope you’ll find useful.
If you’re pregnant and need to contend with pregnancy illnesses at work, you’re not alone! Knowing how to alleviate common pregnancy discomforts will help a lot. You should also recognise when a work task is too much and might jeopardize your pregnancy.
Don’t take fatigue too lightly
When you’re carrying a baby, it’s natural to feel more tired than usual as your body uses more energy to support the development of your pregnancy. When you’re at work, resting during the workday can be tough, or for many, totally out of the question. Tiredness and fatigue can be symptoms of iron deficiency anemia, so adjusting your diet might help overcome this. Try your best to include foods such as red meat, poultry, seafood, leafy greens and beans during your break time (or even breakfast!). Whole-grain products also help to keep your energy levels up. Other than this crucial diet adjustment, you can also try:
- Taking short breaks from sitting down. Getting up and moving around for a few minutes can be invigorating for your system. If you have the good fortune to be able to spend just a few minutes with your eyes closed and your feet up without offending anyone, grab that opportunity!
- Keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration is often a big culprit in fatigue cases, so drink plenty of fluids. Keep a water bottle at your desk or in your work area and dutifully sip at it throughout the day.
- Cut back on activities back home. This can help you get more rest when your workday ends. Consider doing your shopping online or hiring someone to take care of the household chores.
- Stay physically fit. Exercise might not seem like an attractive idea at all, but exercising, especially as a routine, can help boost your energy level and can be really refreshing after a long day of sitting down at the office. Joining a prenatal fitness class would be a great idea, as long as your doctor approves of it. Other than that, a half-hour walk after work may do wonders too.
- Early to bed, mama! Getting enough sleep every night is a must to feel refreshed and healthy! Aim for at least seven hours of snooze. Tips for a better night’s rest: Lay on your left side. This somehow maximises blood flow to your baby and prevents/eases swelling. Place pillows between your legs and under your belly for added comfort while you sleep. Your efforts in acquiring a better night’s sleep will pay off when you find yourself refreshed and energised while at work.
Keep as comfy as possible
While no two pregnancies are alike, one thing we can tell you is, it hardly gets more comfortable as it progresses, so everyday activities such as sitting and standing can get quite cumbersome. Short, frequent breaks will help a lot, as will moving around every few hours. Moving around helps to ease muscle tension and help prevent fluid buildup in your legs and feet.
If your office chair is uncomfortable, request permission to bring your own. Ensure that your chair has good lower back support. This is especially important as your weight and body changes. You could also use a small pillow or cushion to provide extra support for your back.
If your job requires you to stand for long periods of time, put one of your feet up on a footrest, low stool or box. Switch feet every so often and take frequent breaks. Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Consider wearing support hose for added comfort.
Be wary of actions such as bending and lifting objects, for even if you bend to lift something light, improper form can spell trouble for your back! Always bend with your knees and not your waist. Keep the load that you’re lifting close to your body and use the strength of your legs and not your back to lift. Lift the load up straight and do not twist your body while lifting.
Keep an open mind
Anything can happen once you reveal that you’re pregnant at work. While discrimination is frown upon, you might still feel it to some extent, for the corporate world can sometimes be unforgiving towards any kind of slow-down in one’s productivity. There is also the possibility of a promotion you are in line for being jeopardized by the fact that you’re pregnant. Meanwhile, you may even be given less challenging assignments because you’re pregnant, and how your coworkers will react to this will be anyone’s guess. Some may be sympathetic to your condition and agree with your superior’s decision to minimise your workload, while other will simply not see things your way. For your part, it’ll serve you best to do what’s comfortable for you and give the utmost priority to your health.
Nausea and vomiting while at work
Nobody knows why it’s called “morning” sickness, for pregnancy queasiness can hit at any time of the day or night! The first step to ease the uncomfortable feeling of nausea at work is to avoid any possible triggers. There is no use of trying to comprehend why the food and drinks you used to love before you became pregnant are now causing your tummy to churn! The best you can do is to just steer clear of them all for now! Crackers and other bland foods can be lifesavers when you feel nauseated, so keep them handy as snacks. Sweets, ginger ale or ginger tea might help too when nausea hits.
What you can do without: Stress
It’s hardly a secret anymore that stress is the number one cause of all sorts of sickness, from mild to serious ones. When you’re pregnant, stress can also harm your baby, so to minimize workplace stress, do whatever it takes to make things as easy as possible for you to handle. If chaos causes you to stress out, then make daily to-do lists and prioritize your tasks at work. Consider what you can delegate to someone else and do not hesitate to ask for help if you need it!
If there is something troubling or upsetting you at work, so much so that it gets stressful for you, avoid keeping it bottled up, so to speak. Try talking it out with a close friend and if that is not an option at your workplace, then try sharing your frustrations with a family member instead.
Practice relaxation techniques, such as breathing slowly or imagining yourself in a calm place. A prenatal yoga class would be a perfect way to relax, as long as your doctor approves of it.
Working conditions and precautions
As much as you do not want to play the pregnant mummy card, certain working conditions are just not good for you if you’re expecting. These include:
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Prolonged standing
- Heavy lifting, climbing or carrying
- Excessive noise
- Heavy vibrations, such as from large machines
- Extreme temperatures
You can try voicing out your concerns about them to your superiors and ask for either modifications in your work duties or a temporary transfer, just while you’re pregnant.
Know Your Company’s Policy
If you’re pregnant and working, it would be wise to be fully informed of what your company’s policies are when it comes to your situation and also on other issues, and be sure to fully understand the following:
- Maternity leave: Is it paid, unpaid or partially paid?
- Are you eligible for disability insurance benefits and if you are, is it complete or partial?
- How much time off are you allowed?
- Can use your present benefit days (sick leave, personal leave, vacation time) to extend your paid maternity leave?
- What the company’s provisions are for extended maternity leave – paid, unpaid, partially paid, working from home?
- What the possibilities are of continuing your present job during and after your pregnancy by working part-time at home, and what are the procedures?
- What options are available should medical complications or maternal desires necessitate a change in plans?
- Will your working health plan still be in effect while you are on extended leave, and whether it is a partial or full coverage. How long will they keep you on the medical insurance policy at full or partial benefits?
Questions to ask yourself as a pregnant working mum
Take a pen, a notebook and begin this self-interview. This may sound silly, but it will help you to make some important decisions and may save you the trouble of having to cope with unprecedented issues in the near future. Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly.
Can you handle the added responsibilities and discomforts of working while pregnant and do you want to? Remember though, that complications or situations during your pregnancy (or after delivery) may make some of these decisions for you.
- Could you work throughout your pregnancy?
- When do you intend to start maternity leave?
- Do you wish to go on your maternity leave early. If so, do you wish to continue your job on a part-time basis from home?
- After the baby is born, do you want to come back to your present job, or would you rather look for another which is more compatible with your family life?
- Would you want to work full-time, or part-time once you’re a mother?
Upon answering the questions above, or at least pondering over them, you can begin to make plans and take appropriate actions toward achieving the kind of life you want in the near future.