Work and Pregnancy
Choosing the right time to tell your employer that you are pregnant is always tricky. She may be delighted for you personally, but less happy professionally as she still has to arrange cover while you attend antenatal appointments or decide how to cope while you are away. However, on no account should you feel guilty: your employer has obligations towards her employees, including the pregnant ones!
The first few months, when pregnancy sickness is at its worst, can be a problem. However, there is no need to announce the news as soon as you find out that you are pregnant, unless your occupation might affect your baby. Women in low-risk jobs often wait until they are around 3 months pregnant.
Once you have told your employers, you can claim any entitlements in terms of time off for antenatal appointments or risk assessments of your job. You do not immediately have to tell them exactly when you are intending to give up or return to work.
It is important to find out what benefits you are entitled to in your pregnancy. Read your contract of employment, contact your union if you are a member, get in touch with a benefits agency - and, of course, ask your midwife, who can provide you with information.
Safety at work
Once you have told your employers, they should carry out an assessment to see whether any aspects of your work pose a risk during your pregnancy, for example, if your work involves X-rays, chemicals or heavy lifting, if this is the case, you should be offered alternative work.
Some women worry about the effects of printers, photocopiers and computer display terminals (particularly if they spend long hours sitting in front of one), but there is no evidence to suggest that these pose a risk to your unborn baby.
Another consideration is the environment in which you work:
- Is it smoky or excessively noisy?
- Does your chair support your back properly?
- Is the room well ventilated or stuffy, making you feel drowsy? These factors can usually be remedied quite easily.
If you feel very tired in early pregnancy work can be tough, but most people can find a short time to'switch off. Some women listen to a personal stereo at lunchtime while they close their eyes and relax. Try to find somewhere quiet during your lunch break to read a book or a magazine. Ask if there is a place to go for a 10-minute nap at some ooint during the day - after all, you will perform the better for this.
There may be small changes that you can make to reduce stress.
- Take breaks -'power nap'if you can.
- Do not take on more work than you can cope with.
- Avoid travelling to and from work at peak times - ask if you can alter your working hours slightly.
- Do not stand for hours on end without a break.