For working women; married or single, getting pregnant is a big deal as many see pregnancy as a threat to their career. They worry about how to manage bringing up a child and building their careers at the same time. The thought of carrying a baby bum around an office for over 8 months is also problematic for many working women.
Difficulties pregnant women face at work
During pregnancy, a woman’s body changes in numerous ways. They are physical changes that everyone can see, including an expanding belly and increase in body weight, swollen feet among others. There are also emotional and hormonal changes that affect the way a woman relates with her surroundings during pregnancy. Some of the most common problems pregnant women have include the following.
The frequent need to use the restroom
The frequent need to pee is one of the common effects of pregnancy. This is because the enlarged uterus presses against the bladder making it difficult to hold urine. Also morning sickness is another pregnancy effect that sends pregnant women running for the restroom. This is a result of nausea which is aggravated when the pregnant woman is exposed to triggers. As a result of these, a pregnant worker has to constantly interrupt her work to go to the restroom to pee or vomit. This process is quite exhausting and most people find it difficult to concentrate on work after interruptions.
Swollen feet and back pain
Women who have desk or standing jobs experience a more back pain and swollen feet than those who have jobs that require frequent movement within the premises. This is because sitting for long hours exerts pressure on the back and causes water retention which causes swelling in the feet.
Mood swings and cravings
Many pregnant women experience mood swings due to hormonal imbalance. This is a problem which greatly affects work, especially for women working at the front desk or those who have to meet different people daily. These mood swings can make a woman to snap at a customer or a colleague which can lead to a big misunderstanding.
Dealing with constipation and weight gain
Pregnancy can be considered as a condition which causes constipation. Pregnant women are bloated most of the time and this causes a lot of gas. Having to pass gas in public is a very uncomfortable situation and it is worse when it is recurrent.
The amount of weight a woman picks up during pregnancy is alarming. Today, telling a woman she is fat, is looking for an unending fight. Many women have to endure statements like “you are getting fat”, “your belly is growing bigger everyday” from their colleagues. Also, not being able to fit in their favourite attire is also a big problem for many women who only feel more confident in suits, high heels and red lipstick. Giving these up for pumps and simple and airy dresses is a major problem for many.
How to handle working during pregnancy
Conceiving for a working woman is not an easy decision to take, and whether the pregnancy is planned or not, there are a few things that can be done to make the gestation period more bearable when at work.
In order not to look weird and abnormal for always running to the bathroom or for passing out gas several times in the middle of a meeting or for mood swings, a pregnant worker should tell her boss and colleagues about her pregnancy. By so doing, the people around her working environment will understand that the “abnormalities” are normal in her condition.
Pregnant women can manage morning sickness and other discomforts at work by avoiding triggers and any other thing that causes discomfort. As per nausea, pregnant workers can carry suppressants such as ginger, chewing gum or anything that works for them. They can also pack crackers and nuts in their bags in case of food cravings, while taking note to overdo fatty snacks.
These women can avoid or reduce back pain and swollen feet by wearing comfortable shoes such as flats and pumps to avoid straining their spines. They should also accept their conditions and wear comfortable and airy clothes; just for nine months.
In order to ensure their safety and that of their unborn child, women should avoid hard work, such as lifting heavy objects, standing or sitting for long hours. They could take breaks to sit for walk around for a few minutes in order to stretch and rest their backs. They also need to avoid stress which can lead to miscarriages.
They should exploit their maternity leave and take it at the right moment so as to get enough rest. This is because the third trimester is usually very tiring and work during this period is not very productive.
Many career women have been caught up in building a career and have put off having children for later. Though this is not very common among married African women (who are expected to have children within at most 2 years into marriage), it is not totally absent. Instead of taking the risk of putting off having children because of the desire to build a career, women can manage a job and a pregnancy by following simple rules and doing the right thing. They also need to know that in Africa, it takes a village to raise a child so they will not have to do it alone.
Article from AFRIC editorial.
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