Are you worried about working while pregnant?
You’re afraid that your job may be too demanding for your condition? Will your coworkers without children be understanding and sympathetic?
I get it. I’ve been there too.
Can I be totally honest with you?
Being pregnant and working full time is not for the faint of heart but more and more women are doing it everyday. It can most definitely be done.
The question is what are your rights as a pregnant woman in the workforce and how do you navigate working while pregnant safely?
This was a struggle during my pregnancy. I worked a stressful, sometimes hazardous, fast paced job that often times required me to work 16 hour shifts!
All of that and more will be addressed today as we talk about pregnancy and work.
What you should know about being pregnant at work
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What is the law on pregnancy and work?
It’s no secret that employing women of childbearing age can be costly for an organization. But, that doesn’t mean they can treat you differently because of it.
Pregnancy discrimination is against the law. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you as an expecting mom in the workplace. Employers can’t discriminate against you for being pregnant any more than they can discriminate against you for intending to become pregnant.
Do you work in extreme conditions? Does your job require a lot of heavy lifting?
Sometimes your pregnancy status can make it difficult for you to perform your job duties. If your employee has made provisions for non pregnant employees with similar limitations, they will have to do the same for you.
These working while pregnant laws were created to protect you and your baby. Don’t be afraid to notify the proper agency if your employer is violating your rights or discriminating against you because you’re pregnant.
Signs of pregnancy discrimination at work
Pregnancy discrimination can take place in a variety of ways and most of them are subtle:
- You’re kicked out of the inner circle
- Important meetings take place without your knowledge
- You’re demoted or fired without warning
- The promotion you were promised doesn’t happen
- All of a sudden there’s a problem with your work performance
- There is a change in your role
- Your full-time position becomes part-time
- You feel like you have a big target on your back
- You are blatantly denied opportunities that others are receiving
If you feel your pregnancy status is causing you to face discrimination, contact the EEOC at 800-669-4000.
Do I legally have to tell my employer I am pregnant?
Despite what other sources may tell you, there’s no law stating that you have to notify your employer of your pregnancy.
But, at some point you probably should. Don’t wait until they can figure it out for themselves. It’s just the right thing to do!
When should you tell your employer you are pregnant?
Without a doubt, your pregnancy is a special time and a private matter. Ultimately it’s up to you when you want to let others in on your secret.
Most moms like to wait until after they are 12 weeks to make the big announcement.
According to healthline, this is when the risk of miscarriage drops significantly. By waiting to tell, you avoid having to deal with a potential loss publicly.
But, there are some perks to filling your employer in earlier rather than later:
- Earlier breaks
- More frequent breaks
- Better work assignments
- Lighter workload
- Extra assistance
- Flexibility in your schedule
- Consideration when you aren’t feeling well
- Increase in overall support
You also want to give your employer ample time to make arrangements for your maternity leave.
Do I have to disclose pregnancy at an interview?
You are not legally obligated to disclose your pregnancy at a job interview. And it’s against the law for you to be denied a job because of your pregnancy status. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects you from this.
If you are offered a position, it may be a good idea at that point to share that you are pregnant. They won’t be able to rescind the offer and you are being honest and upfront. According to Forbes, being transparent and setting expectations are key.
This also gives you an opportunity to assess your new employer’s attitude towards pregnancy and family life. If you don’t like what you see, this may not be the job for you. On the other hand, if the news is met with an extremely positive reaction, you may have landed your dream job!
In the event you develop pregnancy complications or become extremely sick, it’s also good to go ahead and apply for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
FMLA can be used at any point during your pregnancy but most times you need to have a request in at least 30 days in advance.
Now that we’ve gotten the legal stuff out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff!
Is it ok to work in early pregnancy ?
According to the Mayo Clinic, most women can continue working during pregnancy. Just make sure to avoid situations and conditions that could put your pregnancy at risk.
This means using Stanford Children’s guidelines and taking precautions with your exposure to:
- Heavy metals
- Extreme temperatures
- Excessive noise
- Large vibrations
The first trimester of pregnancy can be a scary time for you Momma. This is when your fetus is most susceptible to damage from it’s environment. During this critical time, be cautious and aware of everything you come in contact with during your work day.
If you have any concerns about your work conditions as it relates to your pregnancy, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Is it bad to sit all day while pregnant?
Working in an office setting could leave you sitting at a computer for extended periods of time. Sitting all day without any interval of getting up and moving around isn’t good for anyone. It’s especially not good for a pregnant person.
Pregnancy increases your risk of developing a blood clot. You can offset this by not crossing your knees or sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
Try taking frequent short walks, getting up and stretching your legs, and staying active while getting your work done.
Is it ok to bend during pregnancy?
According to the CDC, bending a lot during pregnancy could increase your chances of miscarriage, pre-term birth, or injury during pregnancy.
If you are bending at the waist more than 20 times a day, it’s time to talk to your employer about making some adjustments. It may not seem like a big deal in the earlier weeks but as your pregnancy progresses it can become more challenging.
When you do find yourself having to bend, make sure to use good body mechanics. Don’t bend your back, instead use your knees. You are bending correctly if when you find yourself in the squatting position. When it’s time to get back up, take your time. Use your hands to help you.
Working While Pregnant
It’s inevitable that you’ll experience some of the dreaded pregnancy symptoms during work hours. But if you follow these steps, you’ll get through it!
Some pregnant women (like me) walk around with a constant metallic taste in their mouth. The only thing that seems to mask it is eating! Try keeping some of your favorite snacks handy to help you get through the day. Having a water bottle nearby is also helpful. You want to make sure you stay hydrated and this can also help with the awful taste in your mouth. This is my favorite because it really keeps you motivated!
You’re going to be extremely tired, especially in your first trimester. Just when you’ve started getting your energy back, the pregnancy exhaustion will hit you again in your third trimester. It’s important that you try to get as much rest as you can when you’re home. Otherwise you’ll be on the struggle bus trying to stay awake at work.
Take as many naps as you need to and go to bed early. Turn off the lights and turn off the television so your body can reach the deepest level of sleep. Your old pillow may not due the trick anymore, so check this out and use this to keep out the light.
Even with all of these tactics, you may still get sleepy at work. So, you have to give your body what it needs. If you get an hour for lunch, you can try resting at your desk for 15 minutes to give you an extra boost.
Embrace that your body is changing and your belly is expanding. It’s ok. Please do not try and force yourself into your regular pants and skirts but if you must, try this. It works better than using a rubber band to keep your pants closed once the zipper becomes too tight.
Maternity clothes have come a long way. These days you can find fashionable maternity clothes and people will not know the difference. They are both cute and comfortable. At this point, you need to be as comfortable as possible. This goes for your shoes as well!
Talk to your boss
Your work schedule may make it difficult to schedule and keep your maternity appointments. But, it’s important that you see your doctors as often as recommended. Chances are you aren’t the first woman in your department to become pregnant. Talk to your boss about alternative things you can do so your appointments aren’t an issue. You’d be so surprised how helpful people can be when you actually go and talk to them.
If you are fortunate to work 4 days a week, schedule your appointments on your off day. Depending on you work hours, you may find that the last appointment time of the day may be the most convenient for you and your job. Another thing to consider is having the first appointment of the day and then staying at work later to compensate for the time difference.
When to stop working during pregnancy?
There will be many moments during your pregnancy when random pregnancy symptoms will make you want to stop working. In your first trimester while you’re battling nausea and pregnancy exhaustion, you’ll wish you could just stay home. In your second trimester when the leg cramps start, you’ll be ready to call it quits. Finally, in your third trimester when your feet start swelling, you’ll start looking for reasons to start your maternity leave early!
So, what are the real reasons to stop working during pregnancy?
- You’re spotting or cramping. No matter which phase of pregnancy you’re in, this warrants a visit to the doctor and could land you home on bedrest.
- You’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition that makes working while pregnant dangerous for you and the baby. In this case, you’ll definitely be on bedrest.
- You can no longer perform your job safely. This can happen with moms who work in the hospital during pregnancy. Their growing belly and the return of pregnancy fatigue in the third trimester may make them unable to adequately care for patients. It’s definitely time to go home at this point.
- When you’re feet start swelling excessively from constantly being on your feet.
- Work is stressing you out and causing you to have elevated blood pressure.
To give you some other ideas I asked some of my mom friends “When did you stop working during your pregnancy?” and here is what they had to say:
Mrs. B from One Weird Mamma–
“With my first I worked until 2 weeks before my due date then took 2 weeks of holidays so I could rest and relax before baby arrived. With my current pregnancy I plan to work until about a month before baby is due and then go on maternity leave (we have 18 months here so still plenty of time with kiddo). But, that’s my day job. I don’t think I’ll be taking much of a break from my blog this time around (didn’t have one with my first kiddo), most of that holiday time before baby arrives my older son is still in daycare and I will be home by myself so I figure a little prep for my recovery time and as much work as possible to set the blog up for more success after baby arrives. I don’t intend to come back to my day job afterwards so need to wait on making money. ”
Jessica from Mommy Comes Clean–
“I stopped working when I entered my third trimester with my first child”
Christina from Raising Biracial Babies–
“With my first I stopped working the day I went into labor, and I didn’t plan that (I finished my work shift, and went into labor that night.). For my second I stopped working a week before I was due.”
Beck from Mom Beach–
“I worked up until my c-section date. So, I worked until Friday then my c-section was on a Monday. I took 3 months off of work under the Family Medical Leave Act.”
Elizabeth from Worth Writing For–
“I worked until a week after my due date, basically until baby was born. I regretted it. I was miserable and exhausted. I tell all my friends to stop working at their due date if not before.
Dela from Brown Skin Mama–
“I went on early maternity leave at my job when I was 5 months pregnant as my doctor advised because I was really sick when I was pregnant. I was then due to return to work after my baby was born. When my son was 7 months, I fell pregnant again before I had returned to work. My workplace found out and I was told my position was made redundant. It turned into a bit of a battle as it was unfair dismissal. In the end, they had to pay me off. I decided that at that point I wanted to be a stay at home mom and not return to work. The whole experience traumatized me.”
Rachel from This Crafty Home–
“With both of my pregnancies I worked up until the time I went into labor. With my first child I actually was working while in labor to wrap up a few loose ends because I went earlier than I expected! I didn’t have a very physically demanding job so it was pretty easy for me to stay as long as possible.”
Every mom does it different. You just have to do what’s best for you and safest for the baby.
Don’t turn down good help!
Pregnancy is a wonderful time and everyone will want to help you and share their experiences. Don’t turn down help when offered. This is your time, enjoy it! Let people spoil you at work if they want to. And don’t feel guilty about it!
As far as the personal stories, take everything with a grain of salt. If someone wants to share a story with a bad outcome, stop them! You don’t need to hear that.
Yes, working while pregnant is hard but you got this momma!
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