So you’re starting a family (or adding to it). And for nine months, as you plan and prepare for your baby’s birth, you’ll also be working. Hundreds of women work full-time throughout their pregnancies, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy — for you or for your co-workers.
When should you share your news with the boss? How should you handle morning sickness? Can you expect a lighter load at work during your pregnancy?
Here are a few tips to help you balance your pregnancy with your job:
- Maintain a professional image at work. Although you may feel uncomfortable, fatigued and absentminded at times during your pregnancy, it may be best to avoid complaining or talking about your pregnancy too much at work. Otherwise, co-workers may not see you as a serious worker anymore. If you feel the need to share your feelings with someone, choose carefully—someone who has experienced pregnancy may be the best choice.
- Take care of yourself on the job. You can’t perform your job to the best of your abilities if you aren’t taking care of your health, and that’s more important than ever during pregnancy. While at work, drink plenty of water, wear comfortable shoes, and take breaks—walking around to avoid swelling, or sitting down if you’ve been on your feet. Also, take time to eat nutritious meals and snacks.
- Become familiar with your company’s policies. You need to determine what kind of maternity leave your employer offers and whether it is paid or unpaid, whether you can use sick days or vacation days as maternity leave, and how much time off is allowed. Early in your pregnancy, figure out what kind of maternity leave you need and develop a proposal to ask for it. if you approach your request with professionalism, your boss may be more likely to consider it.
- Communicate openly, but keep your options open. William Sears, M.D., recommends telling your boss and co-workers about your pregnancy right around the time they might begin to suspect it. Both telling too early or too late can be perceived as unprofessional. And if you don’t plan to return to work after your baby arrives, tell your boss early so he or she will have plenty of time to replace you. However, if you’re not sure yet what you’ll do when the baby comes, it’s ok to keep your options open.
- Bring the energy you need to do a good job. Even though you’re pregnant, your boss and co-workers will still be depending on you to handle your normal workload. Mayo Clinic doctors say you can fight off the fatigue that comes with pregnancy by maintaining your fitness routine, eating foods that are rich in iron and protein, cutting back on after-work activities, and going to bed early.