Pregnancy and Work

Staying safe and secure on the job

It used to be the norm for an expectant mother to stop working relatively early in her pregnancy, but yesterday's concerns have given way to a much more liberal outlook. Today, many women need or want to work through the majority of their pregnancy, and if you're having a low risk pregnancy, there's no reason you can't do so -- as long as you take some precautions.

 

When it comes to working during pregnancy, your baby's health and your own comfort are priorities, but they're not the only elements to consider. From maternity leave to requesting job accommodations due to pregnancy, navigating the workplace can be tricky whether you're beginning to show or ready to pop. You'll need to keep your best interests in mind at all times, but also relate to those around you in a manner that will help rather than hinder your efforts. Before you make any major decisions or announcements, learn what to consider when working while pregnant so you can sidestep any bumps in the road ahead.

Pregnancy Work Hazards to Avoid

Extreme heat, pollutants (like smoke or other chemicals) or dangerous machinery can put your growing baby at risk, and you are well within your rights to ask your boss to modify your position for the duration of your pregnancy. But other, less obvious threats should be investigated, too: discuss with your employer any concerns you may have with the electronics, tools or techniques you use or consult your local occupational health and safety organization for more clarification.

Since pregnancy can begin to change your body before you know it, even a sedentary position can lead to problems. Desk jobs put you at risk for conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or varicose veins, as a pregnant body is more vulnerable to repetitive stress injuries and circulation problems. The key is to balance rest and work carefully: if your job requires you to sit for most of the time, take frequent standing breaks, and be sure to sit as often as you need to if you're on your feet for most of the time. Fatigue is one of the earliest symptoms to arrive, and a tired body and mind is bound to interfere with your safety and productivity, so be sure you get enough rest and snack often to stay energized.

Negotiate your Pregnancy Employment

One of the most important things you can do is minimize your stress at work, since tension and anxiety will exaggerate your pregnancy symptoms and could even affect your baby's well-being. Learn how to say "no" to extra work, special requests and excessive traveling, but be sure to treat your job and your coworkers with respect at the same time.

Announcing your pregnancy is a personal decision, and you may want to hold off for a while when it comes to sharing the news at work. However, it's always best to be open and honest with your employer, especially if you plan to negotiate terms for your maternity leave. Take comfort in the fact that employment law is on your side -- look into your company's policy on extended leave and take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act if you need to.