While pregnant, women face new challenges in the workplace. After all, they want to remain productive in their careers or business. They still want to get the job done while ensuring the babies in their wombs remain healthy and safe.
To accomplish this, it’s crucial to anticipate and prepare for common problems you might encounter while pregnant and working. This way, you and your baby will remain safe while getting things done in an efficient and effective way.
This is one of the most common problems you might encounter. Hormonal and metabolic changes plus blood pressure fluctuations can make you feel sick by the time you wake up and the first few hours of work. This can affect your focus and productivity levels in the workplace.
Around 50% to 66% of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. They experience nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Some of them even experience depression and anxiety. It’s the result of biochemical changes happening inside the body and undergoing this huge change and transition of having a baby. Current responsibilities plus worries about the future can have physical and psychological effects including stress and fatigue.
To help deal with morning sickness, it’s crucial to recognise the “triggers” and then avoid them as much as possible. For example, many expectant mums have found that while preparing or cooking foods they experience nausea. It could be a certain ingredient or meat that triggers the nausea. As a result, expectant mums avoid cooking and they ask someone else to do the food preparation as much as possible. They make arrangements where during mornings someone else prepares the food. The goal here is to avoid getting exposed to odours that might trigger the nausea.
Aside from nausea and vomiting, we also have to deal with stress and fatigue. As mentioned earlier, expectant mums experience metabolic changes which then alter their blood sugar levels as well as their biochemical makeup. This could then affect their emotions, mood and focus levels. To respond to and better manage those changes, it’s important to go to the root cause which is metabolic changes. In other words, you have to keep your blood sugar levels within normal levels to keep your energy levels consistent as well as avoid triggering nausea. Many expectant mums found it helpful to eat sweet biscuits or dry crackers right after waking up. They also found it helpful eating small meals regularly so that their blood glucose levels don’t drop. Your digestive system can also better manage eating small meals regularly rather than seldom big meals. The goal here is to make it easy for your body to get the energy it needs throughout the day.
It’s normal to feel unwell from time to time. After all, the body is going through physical and biochemical changes. And yes, during ordinary days even before pregnancy you occasionally get sick. Perhaps it’s the body’s way of telling you that something is quite wrong or changing and you should rest and take it slow.
While pregnant, it’s also important to take it slow whether at home or at work. This could be a challenge because you’re used to getting busy and getting several things done at each day. Also, you want things to stay the same as much as possible and you don’t want your pregnancy to get in the way. It’s not an illness after all and you look at it as just a necessary transition.
However, things might get serious if you push too much. Although it’s relatively rare, morning sickness sends women to hospital because of dehydration and repeated vomiting. Electrolyte imbalances might then result which make women feel weak. In addition, the baby inside the womb might not get the nutrients he/she needs because the foods and supplements were not processed in the first place.
When you start feeling nauseous, you should breathe and slow down because moving around further can aggravate what you’re feeling. It’s also important to avoid long working hours so that you can get enough rest and sleep each day. Depending on the nature of your work, back then you might be used to going to bed late because of work demands. However, it’s a bit different now because you’re pregnant. Pushing yourself too much can lead to serious illness or injury which could then prevent you from working for months.
To better cope with work demands and your pregnancy, it’s important to tell your employer about your pregnancy. This way, you and your employer could better assess the risks and come up with arrangements to help you stay productive at work. For instance, some expectant mums have been able to secure a lighter or part time work arrangement. The reduced work hours are a huge help in getting more rest and sleep.
Many other expectant mums have also secured arrangements that allow them to avoid potentially hazardous tasks and environments. For example, there are jobs that require sitting for long periods with very occasional breaks (e.g. customer support and frontline jobs where interacting with customers is a must). A reasonable arrangement could be getting a 10-minute break each hour so that the expectant mum can take a quick snack and walk around a bit to get the blood flowing.
There are laws and regulations in place to ensure expectant mums are protected from risks and hazards. Your immediate manager or human resources manager can help you come up with arrangements that can benefit you and your organisation. It’s a matter of communicating early and clearly so that your organisation can make the adjustments and minimise the disruption to their operations.