Working During Pregnancy
Follow these tips to get the most from your job while caring for your body’s changing needs.
Establish your comfort zone
Gone are the days when a woman was expected to resign from her job the moment she found herself “in the family way.” Pregnant women are as much a part of the modern office landscape as photocopiers and fax machines
According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, most women experiencing low-risk pregnancies can safely continue to work outside the home.
If, however, your job is physically demanding (e.g. it requires repeated stooping and bending, repeated climbing of ladders, poles, or stairs, heavy lifting, or a lot of standing); exposes you to radiation, toxins, or other harmful substances; or involves shift work or prolonged standing, you might want to consider switching jobs or requesting a job modification for all or part of your pregnancy
Jobs such as these can modestly increase your chances of miscarrying, going into labour prematurely, or having a low-birthweight baby. Even if your job doesn’t present any obvious threat, you’ll still need to make an effort to take care of yourself while you’re on the job. Here are a few tips
Get up and move around as often as you can – at least once every couple of hours. Sitting down for more than three hours at a stretch can lead to fluid retention in your legs and feet, reduced blood flow to your baby, muscle strain (particularly in your lower back), and tension in your back and shoulder areas
Find a position that’s comfortable for you while you’re working at your desk. Place a pillow behind the small of your back, prop your feet up on a footstool or an open desk drawer, and make sure you take regular breaks from typing if you work at a computer all day. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing repetitive stress disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome
Dress for comfort, not style. You’ve got the rest of your life to try to squeeze into those high heels and power suits. For now, focus on comfort. Choose loose, comfortable clothing, and dress in layers so that you can remove a layer or two if you begin to feel overheated
Energy in = energy out
Eat, drink, and be merry. Make a point of stopping for snacks and meals at regular intervals, no matter how crazy things may be at the office. Keep a bottle of water on your desk so that you can remember to keep yourself well hydrated. And try to keep your stress level to a minimum (I know, I know: It’s easier said than done!).
Master the art of the power nap. If you’re feeling drop-dead exhausted (a not uncommon condition during the first and third trimesters, by the way), then try to squeeze in a nap during your lunch hour or afternoon break. If that’s not possible, make flopping out on the couch for half an hour a sacred part of your daily arriving-home-from-work ritual.
Get your zzzz’s. You can’t expect to function well on the job if you’re sleep-deprived, so be sure to hit the hay early enough to get a good night’s sleep. Your sleep needs increase while you’re pregnant. Instead of getting away with seven or eight hours a night – what a typical woman of childbearing age requires – you may find that you need nine or ten hours.
Ann Douglas is an award-winning writer and author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the newly published Sleep Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler and Mealtime Solutions for Your Baby, Toddler and Preschooler. Visit www.having-a-baby.com