How to balance pregnancy and work
Stay on top of your career while preparing for your baby’s arrival with these practical dos and don’ts.
1. Plan your work schedule
Plan your workload well in advance, factoring in the mounting demands of your pregnancy. Allow for contingencies – you may encounter unexpected circumstances, particularly during your third trimester.
2. Be proactive
It is a good move to contact your HR manager or check company policy online to make sure you understand the maternity benefits on offer.
3. Arrange for projects in the pipeline
Work out how your work will be completed in your absence. If there are projects in the pipeline, suggest how to keep them moving.
4. 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.
5. Speak up
Convince your employer that you are capable of fulfilling your duties easily while you are pregnant. If you’re overburdened, politely let your manager know. And if you need help, explain the situation to your teammates – they’ll usually be happy to assist.
6. Ask your doctor for help in planning
Explain your work type and demands and take advice from your doctor about how to plan your work schedule to minimise stress on your body and your mind.
1. Don’t wait too long to announce your pregnancy at work
Many women find it hard to reveal their pregnancy to bosses and colleagues. They fear that they will not be given challenging tasks or that their capabilities or commitment will be questioned. Some women even feel they will be overlooked for a pay rise or a promotion. Here are some good reasons not to wait too long before letting your workplace know you are pregnant:
- It’s easier to stay away from workplace hazards when people know your reasons;
- It puts you in control of your news, rather than people guessing from your body shape or behaviour (for example, if you have morning sickness);
- You can get support from your colleagues in easing your workload.
2. Don’t let discomforts deter you from working
Most expecting mothers experience discomforts that affect how they manage their work. Don’t let them get you down – just manage them as best you can.
3. Don’t expose yourself to situations that make you feel queasy
Stay away from confined, stuffy or smelly spaces. Carry healthy snacks, such as nuts and fruit, to counter hunger pangs. Eat five small meals rather than three large ones daily. Most of all drink plenty of water (at least 2.3L a day) to combat dehydration. Sit near the door during meetings so you can leave quickly if you feel nauseous.
4. Don’t let yourself get exhausted
The best way to ward off fatigue is to take short breaks occasionally to close your eyes and stretch your legs and arms a bit. Taking short walks can also be reviving. A number of smaller breaks over the day may suit you more than one longer one at lunch for example.
5. Don’t neglect your back
Backaches are common in pregnancy, so it’s important to have a comfortable seat at work, especially if you’re sitting all day on it. Choose an adjustable chair with good back support and make sure you adjust it correctly. Take the opportunity to take short walks during the day to help with circulation – even if it’s just to the printer and back.
6. Don’t wear restrictive clothing
Comfortable clothes are always in. Wear loose fitting items and flat sensible shoes as much as possible so you can breathe easily and relax.
7. Don’t stand for a heavy commute
If you have a long commute you may be able to negotiate working arrangements where you can work from home – or try varying your work hours so you travel outside peak times when you’re more likely to get a seat and can avoid the hustle bustle of crowds.