–Dr. Anuradha Sadashivamurthy, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bangalore (Malleshwarm & Jayanagar)
You’re preparing for the journey of parenthood and counting down the days until you meet your little one! And if you’re currently in the workforce and pregnant, it does not mean that you have to give up the job.
Did you know that until the sixth month of pregnancy you can continue to work but with extra attention? And a Healthy Mother Happy Baby is possible only when the health issues during pregnancy are taken care of even at the workplace by keeping in mind a few things.
Here are some tips for working mothers through the pregnancy journey:
Balanced nutritious food
It’s a well-known fact that what a mother eats during pregnancy is important for her health and for the health and development of her baby. Bringing healthy homemade lunches to work during pregnancy can help you get the balanced pregnancy diet you need. Therefore, it is important for every mother to eat foods rich in iron and protein such as poultry, seafood, leafy green vegetables and iron-fortified whole-grain cereal and beans to avoid anemia. Spinach helps fight fatigue and supports the baby’s growth and development. Carry food rich in folic acid, such as avocado, cauliflower and oranges. Try to get into a routine and eat at the same time of the day.
A lot of water should be consumed to keep the body hydrated. This can be done by keeping a water or juice bottle handy. The occasional lunch out with your colleagues is fine, but take care to pick a place that’s hygienic. Avoid street food, anything too spicy, or high in sugar. Avoid juices or preservatives; cut fruits are better. For hydration, thin buttermilk, barley water is also recommended.
- Beating the morning sickness: During the early trimesters, the worst enemy is morning sickness. If it kicks only in the morning, it may be easier but the fact is a lot of women experience them in the afternoon and late evening as well. To help combat sickness at work, eat snacks often. Munching on healthy snacks of salads, fruits, crackers and other low-on-oil foods can be a lifesaver when you feel nauseated. Arrange for a towel napkin during this period. To beat the sickness, dried amla, ginger, spiced tamarind balls are good option
- Clothing: It is important for a pregnant working woman to wear comfortable, preferably cotton, and loose clothing to breathe freely and give a rest to those high heels.
- Fighting Fatigue in the Workplace during Pregnancy: One should ensure that the seating arrangement for the mother is comfortable. Use a pillow or cushion for lower back & support. Keep your hands on the armrest and maintain distance while working on the system. Stand up and stretch.
- Avoid long standing jobs: Jobs that require standing for long periods can be hard on the pregnant body causing back and leg pain. This is especially true late in pregnancy. Standing for long periods can also reduce blood flow to the fetus and may slow baby’s growth.
- Handling Stress at Work during Pregnancy: Share your anxieties with a supportive co-worker, friend or loved one. Plan your maternity leave. Discuss your options of returning to work with your employer, including flexibility measures such as working from home at first. Pregnancy hormones can affect one’s moods, functionality and cognitive functions. Don’t chase too many deadlines and let the stress affect your mental wellbeing… antenatal stress can lead to postnatal depression. Take time off, practice yoga, meditation and be kind to self.
- Short breaks: Taking short breaks frequently; getting up and moving around for a few minutes. Which will help improve your blood flow and reduce swelling. Spending a few minutes with the lights off, your eyes closed and your feet up also can help you recharge.
- Heavy labor jobs: If you have a job that often requires heavy lifting, pulling, pushing, or other physical labor, stop them immediately. Pregnancy symptoms, like dizziness and extreme tiredness, can make some physical jobs dangerous. As your center of gravity changes, your sense of balance may suffer, making you more likely to fall.
- Work-related travel: If your job requires travel, try to schedule it during the middle of your pregnancy (between weeks 14 and 28). This is the safest time for travel and a time when early pregnancy symptoms have hopefully faded, but you are not yet too big and uncomfortable. Air travel is not recommended after 36 weeks of pregnancy. When traveling by air, try to book an aisle seat so you can get up and walk around and have easier access the bathroom, wear your seatbelt below your belly, eat smaller meals. If you are traveling out of the country, make sure you are up to date on the necessary vaccinations. When traveling by car, limit driving time to no more than 5 or 6 hours. Stop often to stretch your legs. Always wear your seat belt.
- Environmental risks: If you work with chemicals, radiation, heavy metals, gases, or biological agents (virus, bacteria, fungus, or parasites) you may need to take extra precautions during pregnancy. Some hazardous agents get into the mother’s blood and can pass to the fetus. Others can affect the mother’s health or harm the fetus directly. If you work in a very hot or cold environment, or are exposed to loud noise, you may need to adjust your work tasks to avoid these extremes.
- Get Physical activity: Contrary to what many women think, remaining physically active during pregnancy is actually very beneficial for both mother and baby. Depending on your health condition, walking for approx. 30 minutes every day will be useful.
Adopt this mantra: One needs to accept it isn’t easy to perfect the work- life balance but it is equally important that you stay active, relevant and financially stable during pregnancy. It is important to pay attention to the well-being of your mind, body and soul.