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What to Expect as a Full-Time Working Mama-to-be

 

It is fairly common for women to become pregnant and remain working at their full-time jobs. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do, especially when you have a job that requires large amounts of walking, constant interaction with patients, and being on your feet for long periods of time, such as a nurse working in a hospital or clinic.

For nine months during pregnancy, your body is changing and adjusting to growing the new life inside you, and on top of everything, it can get very complicated along the way. Not only are you eating more, sleeping less, and experiencing hormonal changes every minute, but there are common maternal health conditions and problems that women can experience during pregnancy, making it more complicated to endure.

With all the day-to-day stressors that come with working a full-time job, can it actually affect your pregnancy in the long run? There’s no scientific evidence to prove one way or another, but there are certain precautions that you can take to ensure a safe pregnancy along the way.

The Do’s & Don’ts in the Workplace

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So, maybe this is your first go-around with being pregnant and you’re not sure whether or not you can handle being employed full-time? Typically, most women can continue to work during pregnancy, however, there are a few different ways to make life a little easier while at work:

  • Handling “morning sickness”: Even though it has the word “morning” in its name, morning sickness can hit any time of the day and can last longer than you realize. Some women experience mild cases of it, while others endure long, horrible episodes of morning sickness. To ease this common symptom, try to avoid nausea triggers, such as foods or general smells that make you queasy. Another great tip is to snack often on crackers and other bland foods, as well as drinking ginger ale or ginger tea.
  • Battling fatigue: While growing the new life inside you, your body may be working overtime to get you through your day. To help with fatigue, try eating foods rich in iron and protein, take short, frequent breaks, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, keep up with your fitness routine, and try to go to bed early in order to let your body get some much-needed rest.
  • Staying as comfortable as possible: Towards the end of your pregnancy, you may notice that it’s slightly harder to be comfortable. You may find that sitting and using an adjustable chair with good lower back support can help make shifts easier. However, if you have a job that requires a lot of standing, try putting one of your feet up on a footrest, low stool or box, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
  • Managing stress: Having stressful moments at work could reduce your energy throughout the day. Try to make daily to-do lists and prioritize your tasks, talk out your frustrations with a supportive co-worker or friend, and most importantly, try to relax.
  • Proper job precautions: While working on the job, try to avoid exposure to harmful substances, restrain from doing any heavy lifting, climbing or carrying, and try to stay away from extreme temperatures.

So, as long as you stick with these tips and take your prenatal vitamins daily, you should be fine to work a normal day, right? That depends! With every pregnancy, there may be one or two complications that arise that could make working more difficult. It may not be a reason to totally quit your job, but it may require additional days off or time to heal.

Pregnancy Complications

It’s no secret that sometimes pregnancy can come with positive moments (like finding out the gender of your perfect angel) and, of course, negative moments (like weight gain, multiple trips to the bathroom, gestational diabetes, etc.). It’s important to know that pregnancy complications can commonly happen, and that you are not alone.

Complications that can happen during pregnancy include: Anemia (having lower than normal healthy red blood cells), Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), mental health conditions, such as depression, hypertension (high blood pressure), gaining weight and obesity, infections with HIV, STDS and TB, and hyperemesis gravidarum (severe, persistent nausea and vomiting).

Other pregnancy complications and situations include:

  • Diabetes during pregnancy: A CEUfast training course that goes into detail about diabetic complications states, “Women who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and who are planning pregnancy or who have become pregnant should be counseled on the risk of development and/or progression of diabetic retinopathy.”
  • Decreasing C-Section Rates: CEUfast also states that, “Maternal morbidity and mortality are still on the rise in the United States. Severe maternal morbidity has risen over 200% in the United States from 1993 to 2014. Registered nurses working in labor and delivery should know how to lower c-section rates. This course looks at acceptable reasons for c-sections, as well as interventions that may decrease the frequency of c-sections.”

Although pregnancy complications can happen to anyone, it’s also good to know that with advanced medical practices, these complications and scenarios can be treated the majority of the time. So, it should be safe to continue to work even if you need a few days here and there to go see a doctor.

Another great benefit to working while pregnant is that your job, depending on which state you work in, should come with pre-implemented plans for expectant mothers. There are pre-existing laws and rules that companies have to follow in order to meet non-discriminatory regulations in the workplace.

Know Your Rights during Pregnancy

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So, let’s say you just found out that you are expecting a beautiful healthy baby in nine months or so, what are the first steps to take with your employer?

  • Know your rights: Once you know that you are pregnant, take a look at your employee manual and learn about the rights you have as an expectant mother. Don’t rely on your boss or anyone in HR to know everything because some laws are complicated to learn and you may be their first pregnant employee.
  • Make sure your boss knows you are pregnant: It’s a good idea to let your boss know that you are pregnant so that they’re aware of the situation. Morning sickness in the first trimester of pregnancy is very common and could affect your work attendance.

By letting your boss know about your pregnancy in the early days, they won’t be as surprised when you decide to take some time off right before and after the baby arrives. Review your employer’s policies about leave and talk with your supervisor or HR contact; find out if you qualify for FMLA leave and be sure to check whether your state has a leave law that may apply to you.

  • “Light Duty”: Sometimes, during a pregnancy, you may be required and encouraged for working “light duty” from your doctor. However, before coming in with a note to your employer, try doing some research on your own to find out about what kinds of accommodations would make it possible for you to continue your work safely, so that you can have a constructive conversation with your boss.

Most places of employment are understanding about the circumstances that you are under while being pregnant. In fact, most employers should have experienced this type of situation before and should know what to expect.

As a good rule of thumb while being pregnant on the job or even at home, you should try your best to listen to your body. If you’re feeling a little under the weather or your muscles are straining a little too much, try sitting down for a minute or two to rest and give your body the attention that it needs. After all, you and your baby are what’s most important at the end of the day.