Pregnancy and working

For most women, taking nine months off to rest while pregnant is not a possibility. Women often plan to work right up to their due date in order to get the most time possible with their baby during maternity leave. But working during pregnancy isn’t always easy.

“In order to stay healthy and productive on the job, it’s helpful to understand how to alleviate common pregnancy discomforts,” says Benjamin Nesseim, M.D., family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare in Waukon.

Feeling nauseous at work is a common pregnancy discomfort. To keep the nausea at bay, avoid things that trigger that sick feeling in your stomach and snack often. Keep a stash of crackers or other bland food at your desk.

You might feel tired as your body works overtime to support your pregnancy and resting during the workday can be tough. Dr. Nesseim recommends these tips to help keep your energy up.
- Eat foods rich in iron and protein such as red meat, poultry, leafy green vegetables, iron-fortified whole grain cereal and beans.
- Take short, frequent breaks. Getting up and moving around for a few minutes can reinvigorate you.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Keep a water bottle in your work area so you can sip throughout the day.
- Cut back on activities. Scaling back can help you get more rest after the workday ends.
- Keep up your fitness routine. Physical activity can help boost your energy level. Try a prenatal fitness class or take a walk after work, as long as it’s okay with your health care provider.
- Go to bed early. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Resting on your left side will maximize blood flow to your baby and ease swelling. Pillows between your legs and under your belly can add comfort.

“As your pregnancy progresses, everyday activities such as sitting and standing can become uncomfortable,” says Dr. Nesseim. “Moving around every few hours can also ease muscle tension and help prevent fluid buildup in your legs and feet.”

It’s also important to limit the amount of stress at work during your pregnancy. Job stress can sap the energy you need to care for yourself and your baby. To reduce the amount of stress at work, share your frustrations with a supportive co-worker, make daily to-do lists and prioritize your tasks, and practice relaxation techniques.

Working during pregnancy is not always easy. Concerns about work affecting pregnancy should be addressed with a health care provider.