Many women continue to work during pregnancy. Balancing the demands of a changing body, work responsibilities, and office stress can be challenging! There are a few dos and don’ts to balance your professional life with pregnancy to ensure you remain healthy and productive.
How Many Hours Should A Pregnant Woman Work A Day?
It is perfectly safe to carry on with your job throughout your pregnancy, as long as you’re healthy and avoid chronic stress.
While working the usual 40 hours a week is generally deemed safe, going over this amount of hours can be risky, as a Japanese study found. This study discovered that women who worked above 40 hours a week were at higher risk of miscarriage and preterm labor, with the risk increasing as the hours worked increased.
When Should I Slow Down At Work During Pregnancy?
This answer will vary from woman to woman because every pregnancy is unique.
Your doctor will let you know if you need to stop working.
But, you need to listen to your body, too. You may have thought that you could work until your due date so that you can spend all your maternity leave with your little one. If you’re struggling to get through your workday and the stress of your job is affecting you, you may need to move your maternity leave date up.
If your job requires you to be on your feet all day, handle chemicals, lift heavy things, or work in extreme temperatures, you may need to slow down sooner rather than later. When you find out that you’re pregnant, chat with your doctor about your working conditions right away.
Signs Of Overworking While Pregnant
Chronic stress can have a negative impact on you and your growing baby. Parents explains, “…prolonged bouts of severe stress is associated with complications like preterm birth, low birth weight, and even sleep and behavioral disorders.”
Signs of chronic stress can include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it can be your body telling you to slow down and manage stress.
While work can be stressful, pregnancy itself can also be a significant driver of stress. You may be feeling anxious about labor and delivery, or the next chapter of your life as a parent. Prepare yourself by taking infant care classes to gain the information you need. Birth Made Simple and Babies Made Simple are online new parent courses that assist soon-to-be mamas in gaining knowledge to feel more prepared and less anxious.
Tips For Working During Pregnancy
Pregnancy comes with a host of symptoms that can make work extra challenging. Here are some pregnancy tips on dealing with them:
Nausea and vomiting are common first trimester symptoms, but they can extend into the second trimester, too.
To manage morning sickness, have a stash of ginger tea at work. Ginger is a safe and natural way to reduce nausea.
While you may not want to eat when you’re feeling nauseous, it’s important that you still do as you need nutrients and an empty stomach can actually exacerbate morning sickness. Eat frequent small meals instead of three big meals, and focus on bland flavors.
Pregnancy can leave you feeling extremely tired, as your body is using a lot of your energy to create this new life.
Ensure you eat a nutritious pregnancy diet with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein. Mayo Clinic highlights the importance of iron, “Fatigue can be a symptom of iron deficiency anemia but adjusting your diet can help. Choose foods such as lean red meat, poultry, seafood, leafy green vegetables, iron-fortified whole-grain cereal and beans.”
Meal prep work lunches and snacks to make healthy eating easier.
Dehydration can make fatigue even worse. Get into the habit of carrying a water bottle around with you, drink caffeine-free herbal teas, and eat hydrating fruits such as watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.
Ensure you’re prioritizing quality sleep at home (around eight to 10 hours). Also, take breaks at work for mindfulness and breathing exercises.
This becomes more of an issue in the third trimester. Back and pelvis pain can make concentrating on your job difficult.
To support yourself and lessen the pain, wear supportive shoes, take frequent breaks, and use heating or ice packs. Healthline also suggests, “Consider wearing a pregnancy support belt to ease the strain of your belly on your back and pelvis.”
What About Household Work During Pregnancy?
Home chores like cleaning and grocery shopping are also work! So, as a pregnant woman, you need to approach these tasks with caution, too.
If you’re still working at your job, lessen your responsibilities in your home. Chat with your partner about them taking on more of the household load, and delegate to outside sources. For example, hire a cleaning service and order groceries online.
Another reason to avoid certain cleaning tasks is that it can expose you and your baby to harmful chemicals. The American Pregnancy Association lists glycol ethers, phthalates (usually found in products with fragrances), aerosol cleaners, and air fresheners as dangerous to use while pregnant.
If you’re experiencing a healthy pregnancy, it’s perfectly safe to carry on with your job. However, it’s vital that you listen to your body and watch out for signs of overwork and stress.
Prioritize your health by getting enough rest, taking breaks, eating healthy work lunches, and not working overtime.