Being pregnant at work is not easy. A woman is literally growing a human being inside her body. That takes energy, sustenance, fluids, everything. So it is not rocket science to get to an acceptance that pregnant women MUST have consideration in the workplace.
Important to also point out that all women experience pregnancy and its side effects differently.
Nevertheless, whatever your situation it is important to take care of yourself during pregnancy.
The majority of women can work up until very close to their due date, contending with only minor aches and pains.
Legislation requires that a woman commences maternity leave four weeks before her baby’s due date. However, you may push this closer to the due date as long as you have the sign off from your doctor.
Here are a few tips to make your life easier when pregnant at work:
- General Tips to Make your Work life more comfortable
- Dealing with morning sickness at work
- Your Rights: Health and Safety at Work (including expressing)
Being Pregnant At Work: Tips to Make it Easier
Get off your feet
Put your feet up during the day as much as you can. If you stand a lot during the day, now is the time just to sit down! Similarly, if you sit a lot, aim to have your feet up and take brief walks.
Drink enough water
During pregnancy, you need more water than the average person, to ensure that your baby and your placenta is developing as required. Therefore, keep a water bottle on you throughout the day.
You will find yourself wanting to eat a bit more during pregnancy (especially the third trimester). Ensure that you pack snacks so that you can eat food which is healthy for your baby.
Growing a human is hard work.
Pregnancy fatigue is a harsh reality. Especially during the third trimester, when your baby is getting heavier, and you have to carry that weight every day. Also, you will find that a comfortable sleeping position eludes you.
Tossing and turning, and needing to pee five times during the night can wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns. Therefore, go to bed early so that you can get as much rest as possible.
Dealing with morning sickness at work
Morning sickness is a very common side effect during pregnancy. Here are a few tips, but it is really up to what works for you.
- Stay hydrated and drink sufficient fluids.
- Eat salty and bland food (this will be based on your preference).
- Avoid foods and smells which will trigger your nausea.
- Take breaks, and get some fresh air.
Herewith a few further tips, on how to deal with morning sickness at work. If your nausea is debilitating and severe do raise it with your doctor.
Your Health & Safety while pregnant at work
In South Africa, we have legislation providing protection for pregnant employees.
If your job involves working with chemicals, prolonged standing, extreme temperatures, or anything that can potentially harm you or your baby, talk to your doctor and employer as soon as possible.
If your work requires you to work between 18h00 – 06h00 (deemed ‘nightwork’), your employer is encouraged to provide you with alternative work (where possible). The same principle of night work applies in the first 6 months of your baby’s life.
Expressing at work is important if you plan on breastfeeding.
It is essential to engage your company to understand where you will be able to express. The BCEA allows mothers at least two 30 minute breaks for pumping breast milk.
Working and being pregnant is not easy! However, take care of yourself and know your rights. You may also read our article further on: Returning To Work After Maternity Leave: You, Your Baby and Your Rights At Work.
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