How to Cope With Being Pregnant at Work

From managing chemical risks for unborn children to understanding how fatigue, weight changes, and nutritional needs will impact your work day, knowing in advance how much you might be impacted will help you to plan a successful, continued stretch on the job before the baby arrives.


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    Decide when to tell people. It is generally regarded as safe to tell people that you're pregnant at the end of the first trimester. At this point, the possibility of a miscarriage is greatly reduced and the obviousness of your pregnancy will start to become clear, depending on your physique. On the other hand, if you suffer from severe morning sickness, you will have little choice but to inform your employer of the pregnancy so that they are both understanding of your frequent trips to the bathroom, and able to make arrangements to help you out where needed.
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    Realize that it's going to be different for everyone. There will be some days when you feel fantastic and other days when you can barely keep your eyes open. The changing hormones will impact your moods and there may be some impact on your ability to concentrate, although that is fairly dependent on your own personality type (as well as your level of interest in the job). Don't be surprised to find that you have less interest in your work than you might have expected; some women find that pregnancy is a wake-up call about their feelings for a job that they haven't enjoyed for some time. Try reading How to Enjoy Your Job. For other women, however, the pregnancy makes it very clear that they love their job and want their baby, so plans for juggling both start immediately!
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    Think about when you will finish work and go on maternity leave. Some women work until the due date, without a worry or problem arising. Other women find that it is best to take off time prior to the birth to allow for preparation, rest, and to also accommodate some of the less enjoyable aspects of pregnancy such as increased weight, back pain, deep tiredness, and forgetfulness or worry. When you are working out when to leave work, it is very important that you take your own stress levels into consideration because your stress can impact the growing baby. A little extra time off now can make all the difference in a more settled baby later. On the other hand, if the thought of staying at home doing nothing but worrying and pacing terrifies you, remaining at work might be the best choice for you. Another suitable compromise might be to continue working from home; email and internet access make this a very acceptable option these days. Check out the tips in How to Work Less.
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    Keep mini snack packs at work filled with nutritionally excellent food to ensure you're eating well. Fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, cheese, milk or non-dairy drinks, good quality water, and so on are good selections to have at hand. Try to avoid snacking on high sugar, low quality foods. These give neither you nor the baby the needed nutrition but they will layer on the weight and contribute to feeling tired. See How to Eat Right While Pregnant.
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    Give yourself lots of positive pep talks. Try to keep to a normal routine and when nausea, pains, aches, and the increasing stomach zone start to get you down, remind yourself that you'll get through and that both the baby and the job are important to you. Don't feel guilty about needing to take more frequent breaks or sit down more often; just do whatever needs to be done to keep going. It might help to read How to Be Optimistic.
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    Don't stay late. Even if it has been your habit to work late prior to the pregnancy, this change is essential. You'll be tired enough without losing precious sleep or even just rest time at home in a comfortable environment.
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    Keep your baby growing woes to yourself or your work friends. Your colleagues are not interested in tales of swollen ankles, distended bellies, and throwing up. It isn't workplace-relevant and it will cut no ice if you spend a lot of time complaining - or worse still, use your pregnancy as a reason for not getting work done on time. If you are experiencing a rough pregnancy, give thought as to whether it is worth remaining at work at all, or ask your boss for lighter duties for a time. Remember, pregnancy at work is still under scrutiny no matter how many equal opportunity laws are in place. It is very important not to make people feel that by letting you continue to work that this is a hardship being visited on you, or that your tiredness is the fault of the job.
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    Keep away from harmful substances. If you work in an industry that handles chemicals, find out immediately what impacts unborn babies. Chemicals that can impact fetal growth are a real concern. Find out what your company's knowledge of this and policies about pregnancy are. In some companies, pregnant women are shifted to other duties not involving chemicals handling for the duration of the pregnancy and lactation. This will only be the case, however, if your workplace is aware of the potential for a problem. In fact, even if the workplace is aware of your pregnancy, they may be restricted from changing your work duties without your explicit request to do so. Do your own research and raise any issues directly with the boss to ensure your baby's health.


  • Have your workspace reassessed for ergonomic suitability every month after the first trimester. Anything that can improve your levels of comfort matters hugely.
  • Know your legal rights in relation to work and pregnancy, as well as return to work after pregnancy. This will help you to plan your life better, as well as providing you with reassurance about the security of your position.
  • Find other moms at work to talk to. They'll know how it felt to get through work and pregnancy and might have excellent tips to share with you, especially since you're in the same workplace.
  • Buy quality maternity clothing. This helps you to keep feeling good about yourself and it ensures that your image is maintained at work. Get comfortable, quality shoes. Nowadays there are shoes that are both comfortable and elegant thankfully, so you won't need to look like you're perfect from head to ankles but dowdy on the feet!
  • As your due date nears, leave your desk and files neat and orderly before going home each day. If you are forced to begin your maternity leave unexpectedly (babies do arrive early sometimes), whoever is filling in for you will appreciate not having to wade through a messy file cabinet or cluttered desk.
  • Don't assume that your personal belongings will be left alone while you are on maternity leave. It might be best to take them home.
  • Keep up your exercise (in accordance with your health adviser's instructions). If you used to go to the gym or walk at lunch time, try to keep this routine going; simply pace it down to suit your pregnancy.
  • Be considerate and appreciative of your coworkers. While you do have rights, few people like having to pick up someone else's workload. Don't use your pregnancy as an excuse simply because you don't want to do something. Your reputation will long outlast your pregnancy.


  • You have the right to set boundaries. Your co-workers should never touch your "bump" without your permission.
  • If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being fired as a result of being pregnant, seek immediate legal advice, or go to the government department responsible for labor laws in your country. In some countries it's illegal to fire a woman for being pregnant!
  • Get your health professional's advice when you are worried about the potential for aspects of your work impacting on the baby's health; do your research but also ensure that a qualified person canvases your concerns thoroughly. Your doctor can be your best ally.

Things You'll Need

  • Quality maternity clothes
  • Quality, comfortable shoes
  • Nutritious snacks

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