One of the major hurdles that must be overcome during pregnancy is how to manage and cope with work, as after all regardless of who we are or what we do, maintaining a career is absolutely essential in the longer term. In many cases this is easier said than done – after all, work is often stressful enough without the headaches, sickness and mood swings that often accompany pregnancy. This is exacerbated by the spontaneity that such symptoms may present, as while one day we may be fine and productive, on others the opposite can well be the case. Even a matter of minutes or hours can make a huge difference, so how is it possible to maintain a healthy relationship with work while being happily pregnant?
The good news is that many women have indeed managed to continue to serve and progress their career while pregnant, and from their experiences we can take a number of healthy pointers towards being able to emulate their success. Here we’ll take a look at the major do’s and don’ts of maintaining a healthy pregnancy while enduring the rigours of work.
OUR TOP 10 DO’S
1. Eat little and often: It’s important to keep well-nourished throughout a pregnancy, and maintaining energy levels by ‘healthy grazing’ throughout the day is a great way of helping to stay motivated and energetic at work. Look towards healthy options such as nuts, fruits, yoghurt and light salads to ensure your body receives plenty of vitamins and minerals throughout the day.
2. Keep hydrated: Much like eating throughout the day, keep a bottle of water handy and take regular sips to stay hydrated. This is important to reduce the likelihood of headaches and may well also reduce stress levels too. Try to keep dehydrating caffeinating drinks to a minimum and compensate with water when they are taken.
3.Exercise daily: Even just a short walk a few times a day can serve wonders in keeping energy levels up, while also serving as a natural means of reducing stress. Try in incorporate this into a daily routine with regular times so it’s easier to keep track of your activity. If you like, you can indulge in pregnancy yoga and light exercises, which can be done during pregnancy. A little activity will make you more energetic and refreshed at work.
4.Take regular breaks: Often these can be incorporated into exercise, for example get away from the desk and take a five-minute walk away from the working environment to freshen the senses and release the pressure.
5. Remember those vitamins:Healthcare professionals prescribe these for good reason, and it’s paramount not to miss the time when they are due to be taken. Of course this can be easier said than done in a busy workplace, so consider setting a discreet alarm (phone on vibrate setting, email popup etc.).
6. Remember to relax: Breathing techniques are tried and tested for their amazing capacity in being able to reduce stress swiftly and surely. Even just imagining yourself in tranquil calm with steady breathing can be a massive help while at work. Ask your healthcare professional if it’s suitable to learn breathing techniques through prenatal yoga classes as they can make the world of difference. The benefits of instructed pregnancy yoga are quite legendary, and there’s often plenty of mother-to-be friendly courses out there designed specifically for pregnancy, using exercises that complement the changes in body shape.
7.Manage stress: Being aware of stress is very important when working while pregnant, as much of the time it will ‘creep’ up slowly rather than explode onto the scene. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s much more subtle so look into ways of maintaining a happy balance such as breathing techniques, prenatal yoga and stretching exercises which can easily be performed during break times and lunches.
8. Massage therapy: A wonderful way of naturally helping the entire body and mind, pregnancy massage therapy not only serves as a great aid to relaxation and stress management but also is healthy for the body too. Prenatal Massage helps provides relief to weight bearing joints, while also enhancing circulatory health too. Likewise, regular massage sessions will help address sleep issues, that is essential to reducing the anxiety, depression and tension often caused by hormonal changes throughout term.
9. Be open and discuss: Sharing how you are feeling both physically and mentally can make a huge difference in how you feel, so be open and honest with your colleagues and management. Ask colleagues who have been pregnant while working before for their advice, and be open to suggestions on how best to handle your specific workplace.
10. Plan and organize: Keeping a simple diary or calendar that includes everything to do with work as well as pregnancy is a wonderful way of reducing stress through simple visualization of what lies ahead. This will significantly help confidence and promote associated calm and peacefulness.
OUR TOP 10 DON’TS
1. Avoid stress: By far and away the most important factor when incorporating pregnancy into work, stress must be avoided wherever possible – even if it’s often been an essential aspect of the work you perform. Look into how work routines can be modified to limit exposure to stressful circumstances.
2. Don’t become sedentary: It can be tempting when pregnant to stay comfortably seated for hours on end without moving a muscle, and this can in fact accentuate stress and discomfort. Keep moving at regular intervals by taking a quick walk whenever possible, and consider stretching exercises that can be performed at the desk too.
3. Dress for comfort: Being pregnant requires a change in dress, this is a simple fact that can be difficult to appreciate when being used to dressing smartly and sharply for work. Avoid tight clothing that will cause discomfort especially later in term.
4. Motion awareness: No matter how hyperactive you may have been before pregnancy, now isn’t the time to bound up and down stairs or carry heavy loads. Self-awareness of your movement is very important during pregnancy, so try and move purposefully and gently while avoiding extreme changes of pace or direction.
5. Avoid unhealthy habits: Many people like to enjoy caffeine and even nicotine while at work to alleviate the stress of the day, however it’s sensible to cut these out while pregnant – after all, there’s no shortage of healthier options to choose from. Try to avoid coffee, tea, fizzy drinks (especially with sugar), smoking and alcohol both at work and at leisure.
6. No more night-owl: Managing a pregnancy and incorporating it into a life/work routine requires plenty of rest when it’s ‘down-time’, and late nights can cause havoc with energy levels and overall mood. Keeping a healthy sleep cycle is intrinsic to overall good health, which in turn is essential for performing well at work.
7.Chemicals/hazards: Many women nowadays work in roles that can expose them to chemical and other hazards in the workplace – and these must be avoided as far as possible. In some cases, this might require considerable shift in working practices, so be aware-of and responsive to this possibility.
8. No more heels: Heeled shoes are often worn at work but they are really very dangerous for pregnant women as they do present a real and utterly avoidable trip hazard. Added to this the posture required when wearing heels places added stress on the back and joints, both of which will feel enough strain especially later in term.
9. Travel safely: When driving always wear a seat belt, whereas on public transport make use of the special seating allocated for pregnant and infirm individuals. Not only do they allow for much more space, they also tend to be nearer exits of buses and trains.
10. Be willing not to work: Every pregnancy is different and should you feel unwell it’s always best policy to stay at home, difficult as that can be to accept. Follow the advice of doctors should it be advised that you rest for a while away from work.