If you are a working woman, if you feel well during your pregnancy, and if your job is one you can continue without risk or strain, you can probably plan to work until your due date or until your labor starts! |
Consider your needs and decide how long you wish to work. Some women like to work as long as they can so that they don’t waste any maternity leave and can use more of it after their baby is born. Others get tired or uncomfortable and it becomes difficult for them to work, especially if they have a strenuous or stressful job or commute. Talk to your doctor about your situation. While you are working, you want to maintain your health and ensure that your baby has a healthy environment in which to grow and develop.
Here are some tips:
1. Some foods and smells can trigger nausea during pregnancy. The sweet roll you used to love for your morning snack may now cause your stomach to churn. Recognize these changes and stay clear of these foods and smells so you don’t make your nausea worse.
2. Keep crackers in your desk at work and use them to stave off nausea – a stomach that is very empty or very full will cause more problems.
3. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. Dehydration will make your morning sickness worse.
4. Get plenty of sleep and allow yourself more time to get ready for work in the morning. Fatigue and stress will also increase nausea.
5. You might feel tired much of the time, especially during the first and third trimesters and even more so after a long day at work. Take regular breaks, take a short walk (outside if you can) and move around. If your job is physical, try to take more rest periods. Rest periods will also help you concentrate. You may want to close your office door, put your feet up and close your eyes for a few minutes during lunch or on a break.
6. In early and very late pregnancy you may be tired by afternoon. In this case, change your work schedule if you can so that you can get the higher-energy tasks out of the way in the morning while you are feeling fresh.
7. If you have a demanding job, try to cut back on commitments outside work and get more rest after work so that you will be prepared for the work day.
8. Regular exercise will help your energy level as well. If you were exercising before pregnancy, continue to do so with guidance from your doctor. If you want to start exercising during pregnancy talk to your doctor about what you can do to stay active.
9. Don’t be too proud to accept help at home and at work where you can. You can always return the favor after you and your baby are on a regular schedule and you are feeling like your old self again. Cleaning, mowing the lawn, or grocery shopping can be done by others or, if you have the financial wherewithal, you can hire someone to do these things for you until you can take on these responsibilities again. That way, you can get the extra rest you’ll need to do your job every day.
10. Go to bed when you are tired! You don’t have to stay up until midnight to get that extra work done, just because you always did before. Your body is changing and you and your baby deserve a little extra sleep.
11. Move around frequently to ease the stress on your muscles and back. You may find that standing, lifting and even sitting for long periods of time will make you tired or sore now, so listen to your body. Many companies supply an ergonomic chair for office workers if you have a note from your doctor. Chairs with adjustable arms and height, and a firm back can help. You can also bring in a small pillow to support your lower back while you sit. Put your feet up on a box, wastebasket or stool to take the weight off your lower back and reduce foot and leg swelling.
Plan for those extra trips to the bathroom. Don’t try to hold it!
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If you have to stand a lot in your job, put your foot up on a stool or box to change your position and take the strain off of your low back. Change the leg you elevate every so often to be sure you pay attention to both legs throughout the day. Wear comfortable shoes (you may have to get a larger size shoe when you are pregnant) and use pregnancy or support pantyhose to support your legs.
If you have to lift during the course of your day, be sure your doctor is OK with the weight you are lifting. You may have to stop working sooner if your job is strenuous or requires you to lift heavy weight. Remember to lift the right way so you don’t strain your back. Your abdominal muscles are already strained so they can’t help much with lifting!
If your job is very stressful, you need to rest more and may need to stop working sooner. Stress can be much harder on a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
Talk to your boss, your co-workers and others to see if you can reduce some of the usual stress. Talk to your doctor so she knows what you are up against. She may suggest an earlier leave or other options.
Learn relaxation exercises, or take a Yoga class for pregnant women. You can use this to relieve stress and relax and you will feel much better.
Be sure you talk to your doctor about the demands of your particular job. Some jobs will increase your risk of pregnancy complications.
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Jobs that should be carefully evaluated include:
1. Those that require heavy lifting or require a LOT of lifting (a recent study found a significant association between physically demanding work and premature birth. Increased risk of low birth weight infants and maternal hypertension or pre-eclampsia)
2. Jobs with lots of standing or strenuous climbing or walking (prolonged standing at work is also associated with increased incidence of premature birth)
3. Jobs in toxic environments (hazardous chemicals, gas, dust, fumes, radiation, or infectious diseases)
4. Environs with constant loud noise or where machines are very loud or have lots of vibration
5. Jobs that require long or intense commutes
6. Jobs with very long hours or frequent shift changes (shift work and increased levels of work related fatigue are also associated with premature birth)
7. Jobs in very cold or very warm environs
8. Jobs that require a lot of flexibility or balance
If you must continue to work throughout your pregnancy and your job is high-risk, talk to your employer about taking a temporary position elsewhere until after the baby is born. Talk to your doctor and/or your midwife about what you are feeling and change your plans if your condition or health is being affected by work.
Copyright © Anne-Marie Ronsen
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