Pregnancy and workFor working women pregnancy becomes a big hurdle. And if it is your first pregnancy then you may wonder as to whether it is safe to work during pregnancy, how long you should continue working, how will you cope up with morning sickness etc. We have tried to answer a few queries, which creep up in the minds of pregnant mothers and also tried to give tips and handy solutions to many problems faced by pregnant working women.

Are there any problems associated with working during pregnancy?
Normally a woman can work during pregnancy and many women safely work until only a few days before the birth of their babies. But there are certain jobs where it is advisable not to work since it involves a certain amount of risk.

There are certain types of work, which increase the risk of low birth weight (LBW). These includes:
o standing for long periods and doing heavy work
o working more than forty hours per week
o commuting more than one hour every day
o a stressful working environment.

Exposure to toxic substances such as lead, toluene, PCBs, solvents, or toxic wastes may be associated with low birth weight or birth defects and should be avoided .

Jobs with known hazards - computer chip factories, operating rooms, dark rooms, or air travel should also be avoided.

Working in a bar, restaurant, or office where there is second-hand cigarette smoke.

Exposure to radiation, by working with some x-ray equipment.

Jobs that require a lot of physical activity is dangerous and should be avoided. Doctors recommend that expectant mothers should stop working at week 20 if her job requires heavy lifting, climbing stairs (or ladders or poles), pulling or pushing, or bending below the waist. If your job calls for moderate amounts of such actions, then stop working after week 28. If your job is very strenuous, then try to talk to your employer about a job reassignment. If you're a waitress, sales clerk, or spend more than four hours a day on your feet, you should consider stopping work about 2 weeks before your due date.

Thus if you're having a low-risk, normal pregnancy, you can certainly continue working. Thus depending on your job, your company's benefits and maternity leave policies; you may be able to continue working until the time of delivery or close to it. But toward the end of your pregnancy, you may tire more easily, so take it as easy as possible.

If I have complications during pregnancy, when should I stop working?
This will basically depend n your past history of complications and also on your condition. Thus if you've previously given birth to more than one premature baby or have a history of miscarriage then you will be advised to stop work. Similarly if you are a diabetic patient or have high blood pressure, then it is advisable to discontinue working and take as much rest as possible. Doctors will also recommend rest and no work if you are expecting twins.

How do I manage morning sickness at work?
Sixty to 90 percent of women experience morning sickness during pregnancy. Thus is you are experiencing morning sickness and you're prone to vomiting, keep towels and mouthwash in your desk drawer, figure out the quickest way to the bathroom, and - if you haven't told your office your news yet - try to come up with a few convincing lines like "food poisoning" etc. If you experience severe morning sickness and it cannot be concealed then you will have to break the news. But before that try to figure out what you want and how much commitment you are willing to give in. If possible try to get a flexible work schedule till the end of the third month when you will get through the worst of it.

Here are some things to do at work to feel more comfortable:

  • Change your position often. Get up every 15 minutes for a stretch break. Put up your feet if you've been standing If you have been sitting get up and move around the office, or get a drink of water. If you sit at a desk, try to keep your feet up while sitting. It may help to prevent varicose veins and swollen feet and ankles. Keep a box or stool under your desk. Throw in a few stretching exercises to protect your back.

  • If possible, lie down during your lunch and coffee breaks. Even 5 to 10 minutes rest will be beneficial. Don't overexert yourself at home or at work. Wear comfortable shoes and loose fitting cloths.

  • Eat properly. Choose lunches that are balanced and nutritious. Add fiber to your diet to ease constipation. Choose high-energy foods, like yogurt with raisins or fruit, or cheese and crackers. Avoid candy or other sweets.

  • Drink lots of water. Keep a tall water glass at your desk and refill it often. (This will also give you a chance to take a break.) You need extra fluids in pregnancy. Avoid caffeinated coffee, tea, and sodas.

  • Don't hold it in. If you have to go to the bathroom, do it.

  • Reduce stress. If you can't eliminate a stress factor in your workplace, try to find ways to manage it, such as deep-breathing exercises, yoga, stretching, or simply taking a short walk.


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