Working During Pregnancy
Now that you are pregnant, you may be wondering whether or not you should continue working at your job. Many women love their jobs and are eager to continue working for as long as they can while they are pregnant. In fact, the majority of women in the United States now continue to work throughout their pregnancies, many right up to their due date. But is working during pregnancy safe? And what happens should any pregnancy complications arise? Here are some of the facts about working during pregnancy.
Should You Work During Pregnancy?
In the United States, it is your right to continue working during pregnancy. Unlike other countries, where pregnant workers must withdraw from work once they discover they are pregnant, women in the United States are free to work right up until their due date. As a result, many pregnant women like to take full advantage of this right: after all, few people can afford to stop working for the full nine months of pregnancy, and work can often help to ease the tedium that nine months of pregnancy can bring! Yet, this doesnï¿½t prevent women from worrying over whether it is safe to work throughout pregnancy.
Generally speaking, your health care provider will determine if it is safe for you to work based on three factors:
- your health
- your babyï¿½s health
- the type of work that you do
Women who are in good health, work in a safe job, and who are experiencing healthy pregnancies can generally continue to work right up until their due date.
What Work Shouldnï¿½t You Do?
If you are pregnant, there are some work-related tasks that you should try to avoid in order to ensure that you are safe and healthy throughout the three trimesters of your pregnancy. In particular, pregnant women should avoid:
- repetitive or heavy lifting
- prolonged standing
- exposure to heavy vibrations (such as those caused by large machinery)
- harmful or toxic substances
If your job requires you to participate in these types of activities, your health care provider might suggest that you perform a different type of job throughout your pregnancy or take early leave. Be sure to discuss your options with your employer and HR department.
Women who work in particularly stressful jobs should also think about trying to cut back on working hours. A recent study conducted in Holland has discovered that pregnant women who worked more than 32 hours per week at high stress jobs were more likely to have:
- low birthweight babies
- babies who cried excessively
The study, which involved 7,000 working mothers, suggested that women who work at high-stress jobs try to cut down their working hours to only 24 hours per week.
Leaving Work Early
Sometimes, it is necessary to leave work before your pregnancy due date arrives. Reasons why you might have to leave work include:
- Pregnancy Discomforts: Severe pregnancy discomforts like morning sickness, dizziness, or swelling may leave you unable to work effectively at some point during your pregnancy. Your health care provider might suggest that you take a few weeks off until these discomforts subside.
- Pregnancy Complications: If complications occur during your pregnancy, it is likely that your health care provider will ask you to take some time off of work. Complications including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or experiencing a multiple pregnancy sometimes require leave time from work.
In the United States, women who need to leave work early as a result of pregnancy discomforts or complications are entitled to claim disability support. Be sure to discuss this with your employer or human resources department should the need arrive. Alternatively, if your need to leave work within two weeks of your due date, your maternity leave will automatically begin. Employers of more than 50 workers are required to offer 12 weeks of maternity leave. This leave may or may not be paid depending upon your work contract.
Prenatal Care: Taking Time Off
If you are pregnant and choose to continue to work, it is expected that you will continue to work the number of hours that you have discussed with your employer. Sometimes, though, it is impossible to find a time outside of working hours to attend prenatal appointments. Women are entitled to take time off of work to see their health care providers throughout their pregnancies. However, it is best to schedule these appointments outside of working hours whenever possible.
Staying Healthy at Work
As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that work becomes more and more of a challenge. You may notice that you are particularly fatigued or suffering from swollen legs, an aching back, or unbearable morning sickness. Here are some tips on how to keep your body and mind happy while you are working during pregnancy!
- Take Frequent Breaks: When you are at work, it is important to take short but frequent breaks in order to maintain your focus and restore your energy levels. Get up and move around for a few minutes or so ï¿½ this will improve your circulation and minimize fatigue. Alternatively, if you are on your feet a lot, try to sit down for a few minutes every half hour or so. Use your lunch hour to put your feet up or catch up on a much-needed nap.
- Eat Nutritious Snacks: Be sure to keep a few nutritious snacks on hand when you are at work. Snacks like fruit, cheese, and crackers can really help to keep your energy up and your mind focused.
- Reduce Your Other Commitments: In order to perform effectively at work, you need to get your rest when you head home every evening. So cut back on extra commitments that you have outside of work. Instead, ask your partner or a friend to lend a helping hand and take over extra responsibilities.
- Ask For Help: Donï¿½t be afraid to ask your coworkers for help. If you are finding that certain projects are just too much for you, talk with other employees about sharing the responsibilities. Most will be more than happy to help out!
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