The Working Woman’s Guide to Pregnancy


You’re not quite ready to divulge your happy news, but explaining away your exhaustion and frequent bathroom trips is getting tricky. Or you’re uncertain what sort of maternity leave you’re entitled to and, more importantly, how much of it is paid. These are just a few of the common scenarios you’ll need to tackle as you navigate the next nine months on the job. Our detailed guide will see you through.

Coping with symptoms while at work

For nausea: -Sit next to a door during meetings so you can escape to the bathroom more easily. -Always have a change of clothing, paper towels and mouthwash with you. -Limit the amount of time you spend in the lunchroom—the smell of brewing coffee or a nuking burrito could make you feel even more nauseous. -Drink ginger ale or ginger tea in addition to water.

For fatigue: -Use part of your lunch hour to nap in your car or office. -Take a walk, even if it’s just around the office. -Stand up and stretch every couple of hours to relieve aches, pains and stiffness.

For lack of focus (“pregnancy brain”) -Take copious notes and use “cheat sheets.” -Do your most challenging tasks first thing when you get to work or when you’re feeling your best. -Say no to requests to take on extra duties until you see how you are handling the basics. Use your e-mail’s calendar program to keep track of appointments and meetings.

Stay safe on the job Your employer is required by law to provide a safe workplace, which means that in some cases, accommodations will have to be made due to your pregnancy. If your job involves exposure to chemicals, infection risk or intense physical demands, you can ask to be reassigned to a safer situation.

What if you’re not sure whether you’re in danger? For starters, ask your human resources department for a list of all potentially toxic substances to which you might be exposed (another legal requirement). Discuss it with your doctor or midwife and always wear safety gear and follow safety precautions to minimize your risk.

Many working women, including nurses, restaurant employees, teachers and hair stylists, are on their feet a lot. That’s OK to a point—being active may help prevent excess weight gain. But if you’re standing for long periods, wearing support hose will help prevent swelling. As your pregnancy progresses, wearing an elastic maternity support belt can help support your abdomen and redistribute weight to prevent back pain. And sit down every chance you can!


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