This post first appeared on the fleximoms blog on Thursday, 23 May 2013.
“Oh, you are pregnant?! How will you look after your health and continue to work now?” Most pregnant working women must have had to face this question at least once during their pregnancy. It’s surprising that one of the most natural physiological states, pregnancy, is often considered more like an illness. If one takes care, it is possible to work your way to a healthy childbirth (unless otherwise stated by your doctor).
Nausea and vomiting are often de rigueur with pregnancy. How to avoid that at work? Say no to coffee. Switch to a glass of juice or milk instead. Drink a lot of water – you are more likely to throw up if your body is dehydrated. Keep snacking on things like digestive biscuits, rusk, toast, fruits. During early pregnancy, I was at a conference in Delhi and all I did was go to the loo and throw up. The air-conditioning in the room (no fresh air), combined with the stress of an early morning flight, was the trigger. I thought my food poisoning excuse was working, but everyone had already concluded that I was pregnant.
That brings me to the next point: Tell your boss. Sooner or later your boss and colleagues are going to figure out that you are pregnant. It makes sense to tell them by the second trimester as that will help them plan your work accordingly. In order to safely continue working when pregnant, it is very important to be in a stress-free environment. Stress is not only physical but also mental. If your job is physically demanding, check with your doctor. Frequent late nights at work and a happy pregnancy don’t go hand in hand. Lack of sufficient sleep is another reason that could make you feel antsy.
While some women seem tired all through their pregnancy, others thrive on new-found energy. Whatever be the case, it is very important to slow down a bit as your body is going through major hormonal and physiological changes. Eat foods rich in iron and protein like red meat, poultry, leafy green vegetables, dairy products and whole-grain food items. This will give you extra energy. Take a break every 45 minutes and walk around your office. Long hours at the computer have not been established to harm the baby, but they almost always involves postural harm to the body. This occurs more for pregnant women as pregnancy by itself changes your posture. Make sure you are comfortable, using small and big cushions. Keep a box or a small stool under your feet so that your ankles don’t get swollen.
It is critical to stick to your meal timings and have at least five meals per day, when pregnant. Leave after a good breakfast, snack on fruit or something healthy (dry fruits or lentil salads) while colleagues have coffee. About two and half hours after lunch, go out for a 15-minute walk. A small snack after that (at a clean and hygienic food outlet) is ideal. Stay away from oily or deep-fried foods as they might kill your appetite for dinner. Try to sleep early as you need about eight to nine hours of sleep every day. Exercise regularly – walk, take a class and practice relaxation and breathing techniques whenever you feel worked up or stressed.
In case you don’t feel up to managing the rigours of commuting to work and going through an entire workday, discuss that with your boss. You could be able to devise a work-from-home or a part-time schedule. Remember that you, your doctor and your boss are a team who have to together decide the best plan for you to keep working in a way that’s healthy for your pregnancy.