Once upon a time, women seldom worked outside of the home. They especially didn’t work outside the home while they were pregnant. Since then, we’ve become liberated. The down side to that, though, is that many of us have little choice about working while we’re pregnant. It’s just a reality of life in the real world these days.
Now, we’re not suggesting a return to the days of June Cleaver and Carol Brady. Most of us are glad that we have the career opportunities open to us today that weren’t available to previous generations. Still, working while pregnant poses some challenges.
Most medical experts agree that it’s OK to continue working while you are pregnant, as long as your job doesn’t pose any unusual hazards to you or the baby. It’s important to recognize, however, that some of the symptoms of pregnancy can make things difficult for you in the workplace. Some pregnancy symptoms that can make life difficult on the jobsite include:
- Morning sickness. Unfortunately, morning sickness doesn’t restrict itself to mornings (and if you work in the morning, it would still affect you). Most people understand that pregnant women may need to make a sudden dash to the bathroom, but it’s still a good idea to keep a stock of saltines and ginger ale nearby.
- Fatigue. Even if your job isn’t particularly physical, it can be tough to keep up the pace when you’re battling fatigue. Make sure to stay hydrated, take plenty of short breaks, and get to bed early to help combat fatigue. You should also make sure you’re getting enough iron.
- Discomfort. As your baby bump grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to get comfortable, especially if you have to stay in one position for an extended period. Using an adjustable chair can make a lot of difference. Barring that, bring in a pillow. If your job involves a lot of standing, make sure you have comfortable shoes and take as many breaks as practical (with your feet up, preferably).
How much maternity leave to take is a personal decision, but not one that should be taken lightly. Talk with your doctor about how much time you should take off before and after the baby is born. Recent pregnancy studies have shown that working past eight months into your pregnancy can be as dangerous as smoking while pregnant. Only your doctor can give you specific recommendations, but you should strongly consider taking maternity leave at least a month before your due date.