Working While Pregnant
Once you’ve got over the excitement of being pregnant, it’s time to turn your thoughts to your work. Many women successfully work for the majority of their pregnancy, and choose to go back afterwards, but depending on the environment you work in, there may be practical issues to consider. Here are some issues that you may need to consider concerning your work.
Work RightsIt’s up to you when to tell your employer that you’re pregnant. Legally you don’t have to tell them until you give notice for your maternity leave, which is the 15th week before your due date. However, if you need to ensure health and safety precautions are put in place, or you have any other health issues, then you may need to tell them before this time. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you may need to tell them if you’re going to be attending antenatal classes during work time or require time off to go to medical appointments.
If your work involves being in a safe environment where you’re not exposed to anything hazardous, and your pregnancy is normal and straightforward, then there’s no reason why you can’t continue to work. Health and Safety regulations in the UK do exist and are designed to help protect new and expectant mums. If there are any potential dangers or risks, your employer should be aware of them and, in theory, do what they can to remove them
However, if the nature of your work is dangerous and poses risks all the time, for example if you work with chemicals, dangerous materials or work extremely long shifts, you may need to consider whether or not it’s the right place for you to be whilst pregnant. Your Human Resources department or trade union representatives are a good source of information and help and you should speak to them with any concerns you may have.
Dealing With Pregnancy-Related SymptomsOf course, continuing to work during pregnancy isn’t always straightforward, especially if you suffer from any pregnancy-related symptoms. Eight out of 10 women suffer from morning sickness, and not just in the mornings, and can feel nauseous and be sick. Different people have different degrees of morning sickness, but at the best, you can feel really rough.
If you’re trying to work and cope with this, it can be tricky – even more so if you’re not yet informed your boss or colleagues about your pregnancy. If the morning sickness is really bad and keeps interrupting your work, then you may have to tell your boss that you’re pregnant earlier than you may otherwise have done.
As you progress through the trimesters you may also suffer other symptoms, such as feeling tired, getting backache, finding it hard work being on your feet for too long and even absent-mindedness. Again, if these symptoms affect your work to any degree, then it may be easier to come clean about your pregnancy, rather than try and hide it from your boss and colleagues.
Whatever you do, don’t make hasty decisions or feel pushed into doing anything you don’t want to do. Talk things through with your partner, people from HR at work, your boss or your work colleagues and slowly make the best decision for you and your baby. The key thing is that you both remain healthy, safe and well throughout your pregnancy.