HANDLE IT LIKE A BOSS!
Dos and don’ts while working during pregnancy
When planning to work through your pregnancy, start with informing your superiors about the pregnancy. Let them know how long you’ll be working before you go on maternity leave and how long a break you tentatively plan to take. This will give them time to train your colleagues in the tasks handled by you and make the transition smooth. Inform them before you tell your colleagues so that they know you have been forthright and honest with them and also so that they don’t hear it first through the office grapevine either. If you know your work is stressful and demands irregular hours, now is the time to ask for a transfer to a position which has better hours and lesser stress. If the pregnancy is normal and there are no obstetric complications then office going women can continue to work right till delivery. But one needs to follow the doctor’s orders properly and maintain good health by focussing on a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, regular exercise and taking the prenatal vitamins prescribed by the doctors.
Though no two pregnancies are alike, not even two pregnancies of the same mother, knowing broadly what one can expect each trimester, can help mums to be prepared for the months to follow.
THE FIRST TRIMESTER
Here you can expect morning sickness, fatigue, heightened sensitivity to smells, frequent urination, cravings and aversions, mood swings, tenderness in breasts, constipation, acidity and so on. Alternately, there are mums who breeze through the first-trimester symptom-free, with a lovely glow already in place. Regardless of the symptoms, the first trimester is the time when risks of miscarriages are maximum so make sure to discuss the nature of your job with your doctor and understand your pregnancy and required precautions properly. Take adequate rest and don’t ignore any signs that your body may be giving you.
THE SECOND TRIMESTER
This is the best time of the pregnancy for most women. Most of the symptoms from the first trimester begin to go away and women feel energetic and relaxed. You’ll be announcing the news to friends and family, so a lot of congratulations will be pouring in and adding to the excitement. Sometime now you’ll need to get yourself comfortable maternity wear as the weight and inch gain will be a little pronounced by now. You’ll be able to see the gentle beginnings of stretch marks. The belly skin may begin to itch due to the stretching so do massage it with oil or cream to have an itch-free day at work. Be sure to carry healthy snacks to work, if you
have not started already, as you’re bound to get hungry between meals. There might be increased discharge so stay stocked with panty liners (not tampons). Headaches are common which may be accentuated for women who work with computer screens. Your doctor will provide you with baby safe meds for the same. Also, remember to stay hydrated and stretch out at regular intervals in case of a desk job. Sometime in the second tri, you’ll feel your baby kick! And oh, this is the trimester where the famous pregnancy glow is supposed to be the most visible.
THE THIRD TRIMESTER
This is the trimester when the travel restrictions will kick in so you may not want to schedule outstation meetings for yourself. You’ll have to keep some time aside from work for the doctor visits and the various medical tests she prescribes. The baby’s movements will be more pronounced. You’ll get more uncomfortable with each passing week as the belly gets bigger. Sleeping, lying down, getting up- every action will require more effort than normal. Fatigue will be much higher, backaches may arise, digestion may be slow leading to heartburns and you may experience weakening bladder control too. None of the above is favourable for a smooth efficient workplace experience, so keep your attitude positive and willpower strong. You will need it. Also, don’t take on any ‘extra’ work or overtimes. This is not the time to volunteer. As for the rest, with the right diet and exercise and support from family and colleagues, you’ll be able to manage right till delivery.
If ever you experience severe abdominal pains, cramps; significant bleeding, sharp dizziness or rapid weight gain meet your doctor immediately. Mumbai-based Pooja Gulati shares, ‘I work in the IT sector. For my first pregnancy, I worked right till the day I delivered. I used to wake up early, get ready, catch my train, reach work, get back home the same way and then cook. My water broke one evening in the office! I delivered the next morning. During my second pregnancy, I had severe fatigue, nausea, headaches and weepiness. Running after the train was getting hard and I began to question why I was pushing myself this way. I resigned soon after and spent the rest of my pregnancy at home. Today my children are three and five and I resumed work a couple of years ago. I had never thought that I’d take such a long baby break, but I did. Ultimately, one should understand the signs one’s body is giving and then follow one’s heart.’ Ahmedabad-based events coordinator Jinal Patel shares, ‘My work required travel, (sometimes outstation travel too) and late hours. Though I enjoyed the work thoroughly, I had severe nausea throughout my pregnancy. The doctor had prescribed some medicines but they refused to work on me and I didn’t want to stop working at all. So whenever I’d feel the sickness getting too much, I’d go and throw up in the washroom and then I’d be good as new! I took precautions though. I accepted events at locations where I knew I’d be able to deliver work wise and take care of myself. Eating and drinking healthy was tricky when out at work, but I made sure to eat only healthy food when back home. I accepted only small events in the last trimester, but even those were tiring.’ Vadodara-based gynaecologist, Dr Monica Jani says, ‘a pregnancy is simply an altering of a woman’s physiology. It is not an illness. So if there is no obstetric complication and the vitals are good then there is nothing medically that stops a pregnant woman from being able to go work, if she wants to. I would tell women to simply practice extra precautions when they would be working in high-risk fields which could leave them susceptible to infections or falls and physical injuries. For instance, women working with X-Rays; medical personnel handling infectious diseases; lab and research work involving microbes, harmful chemical and fumes which would be deleterious to both the mother and baby; women working in factory floors handling heavy machinery and/or requiring to climb the industrial stairs or engineers required to work onsite. A pregnant woman’s gait is altered and she may have a moment of giddiness, either of which could cause her to fall and sustain serious physical injuries. Once I advised a woman against her exciting plan of learning to ride her horse in her second trimester, simply due to the risk of her falling and getting hurt. And sometimes one has to take things slow due to practical reasons, as it happened for me! I worked all through my pregnancy, but in the third trimester I needed assistance with the surgeries that I conducted, as my own stomach came in the way!’