When you are pregnant, you will have to adjust some of your work habits and make slight changes to your schedule to stay safe and comfortable at the office. These changes will make it a more comfortable experience for you and also for the co-workers.
Not only is there that extra weight to carry around, but planning a happy and healthy pregnancy involves navigating tricky issues like scheduling your doctor’s visits, whether it’s safe to travel, and how to deal with morning sickness.
Here are a few tips on how to make pregnancy a pleasure – or at least a little more pleasant! – Whilst you’re still at work.
Tell your employer
Before you break the news to your coworkers make sure to tell your employer, especially if you work in a small company. The last thing you want is for your employer to find out that you’re pregnant through the work gossip grapevine instead of directly from you.
Once your employer knows your condition, you can ask for a reasonable adjustment to your timings if it’s doable within your job. In which case you may find shifting your hours a little earlier or later will help, depending on your personal route and means of transport.
How to tell your employer/manager
Before you arrange to meet up with your boss/manager and inform them of your pregnancy try and assess beforehand what type of relationship you have with them.
- Anticipate their concerns and be prepared to talk about them, for example, how pregnancy and maternity leave will affect your job.
- Know your goals and career aspirations.
- Know your key achievements and demonstrate your value.
- Understand your organisation’s practices and policies.
- Understand your legal rights.
- Be prepared to discuss your options for flexible working and ask how it could affect your job and career in the future.
- Know (or have an idea of) your important dates, such as your baby’s due date, dates of antenatal appointments and dates for maternity leave as well as your qualifying week (the 15th week before expected week of childbirth [EWC]).
- Agree dates to create a handover plan, keep in touch plan, performance review and back to work plan.
Know about company policies
Speak to your HR and other colleagues who took maternity leave recently to know about company’s Maternity policies. Do your homework well and get complete information about all policies for maternity leave, sabbatical leave, leave without pay, medical reimbursement and child-care.
Organise someone to take your place while you’re on leave
Consider training someone to cover for you. Knowing someone is on the job will make your maternity leave calmer and more enjoyable – there’s no need to feel guilty about neglecting your work and you won’t be greeted by a backlog when you return.
Ask for help
Seek help in case you need it during work and you can always delegate responsibilities. Most people are willing to help in such circumstances. So, relax!
Take short, frequent breaks
Keep yourself awake by taking little breaks from your work at regular intervals – and use that time to walk around, take your eyes of your screen and do something a little different from your actual work
Eat lots of small meals and drink plenty of water
Make sure you always have water available to you during your shift, and if you can, stash healthy snacks within reach. Food such as dried fruit, whole fruit, seeds and crackers will work if you don’t have refrigeration, but if you do, sneak some string cheese and yogurt in throughout the day.
Early to bed: Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night so that you are refreshed and ready for work the next day. Lie on your side to enhance blood flow to your baby and to prevent swelling in your ankles and feet.
There are some simple action steps to minimize your stress levels. Making lists, identifying priorities, taking 3-5 deep breaths and drinking more water aid in reducing ongoing stress one step at a time.
Wear comfortable clothes
Wear loose fitting clothing in layers. When you feel warm, take off a few layers. If you get a chill, add a few layers. Always wear materials that allow the skin to breathe, like cotton or silk.
Tip. Leave the high-heels behind. Your feet are swollen and your balance is off thanks to increased progesterone. Leave high-heels behind for the duration of pregnancy.
In the Office
Copy machine toner, strong cleaning products, radiation, and pesticides may be harmful to your baby. Make sure the room is well ventilated.
Stretch at your desk
Take short breaks at work to stretch and release stiffness and tension from your muscles. Make use of every available opportunity to stretch – stand up and stretch when you are on the phone, go to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing him, or walk around while waiting for an appointment.
Your body changes in many ways during your pregnancy. Take those changes into account when considering how your office is set up! Make sure that you sit comfortably while working. Your desk should be properly placed and the chair should support your back. Working on computers is safe for your baby. Check out our article about correct office posture.
Know your limits
If you find you can’t work, then you can’t work! Again, talk to your boss.
Be sensitive to your audience
Be warned, some people are simply uninterested in anything baby related, try not to talk about baby stuff too much, and perhaps only if you are asked. While being pregnant may be an exceptional event for you, the reality is that it happens all the time and organisations adjust and cope.
There are plenty of women who choose to stick with a job throughout pregnancy. While in most cases work is not contraindicated, there are some things you need to do and other things you don’t to make life in the office safe and as enjoyable as possible.