Working During Pregnancy
More than 1 million working women become pregnant each year. For most of these women, continuing to work until right before their due dates is not a problem. As long as you and your fetus are healthy and your job presents no greater risks than those encountered in everyday life, working should not give you any added concerns.
Certain conditions, however, do require that you take precautions. If your job includes a lot of lifting, standing, or walking, for example, your caregiver may suggest that you cut back on your hours. If you are exposed to potentially toxic materials (including X-rays, lead, and chemotherapy medications) on the job, you will want to ask to be reassigned to another area. If reassignment is not possible, your caregiver may advise you to quit your job. If you work with any substances that you feel may be harmful, be sure to talk to your caregiver about them.
Additionally, some medical conditions may prevent you from working. Such problems as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, back pain, and high blood pressure may require you to restrict your activities. If you previously has a miscarriage or preterm birth, or if you are experiencing a multiple pregnancy, your caregiver may advise you to stop or cut back on your work.
Everyone encounters some stress in life. If your job involves an unusually high amount, however, it could possibly lead to problems in your pregnancy. You will need to modify your work environment to provide less stress, or learn some stress-relieving techniques to help you deal with the situation.
In rare cases, a condition related to your pregnancy may qualify you as disabled. Even such symptoms as nausea, dizziness, and swollen ankles may cause a temporary disability. More serious complications such as infection, bleeding, premature labor, premature rupture of the membranes, heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure may cause disability. Other disabilities are related to exposure to high levels of toxic substances that could harm the fetus. If your caregiver determines that your pregnancy is disabling, he can sign a statement verifying your disability. Your employer will be required to give you the same preferences and benefits that are provided to any other disabled employee. If your employer does not routinely provide disability benefits, you may be eligible for benefits from the state.
There may be times during your pregnancy when you find it difficult to cope with your job. If you have morning sickness or are extremely tired or sleepy, making it through another day at work will be a challenge. Make maximum use of your breaks to rest and elevate your feet. Keep nutritious snacks handy to provide energy and relieve nausea. If you sit all day, remember to maintain good posture. Get up and walk around often to improve your circulation and reduce swelling. Above all, listen to your body’s signals. You may find it best to cut back on your hours or just take a day or two of vacation. With common sense on your part and cooperation from your employer, you should be able to make it over the rough spots.