Motherhood is one of the most exciting parts of a woman's life, but it’s also a very challenging experience. Behind the rosy glow and the calm aura are bloated fingers, endless backaches, and more.
But what's more challenging now is that women need to work while being pregnant. Instead of just daydreaming of your bundle of joy, you have to deal with toxic colleagues, impossible deadlines, and stressful bosses.
I have five children, aged 19, 15, 8, and twin girls who are five years old now. I had two normal pregnancies, a miscarriage due to a blighted ovum, a major surgery for endometriosis, and a super high-risk pregnancy for my third child (had Placenta Previa, and the baby was breech). This resulted in my first Caesarian because I wasn't allowed to go into labor. I thought the final act was a natural twin pregnancy, which gave me identical girls who came out at 6.5 and 6.2 pounds (Yup, I was humongous!). But as an encore, I had another emergency operation for an endometrial cyst in the right ovary, which was the size of a baby's head.
And all those happened while I was still working in the high-stress, volatile world of events. So, I think I learned a thing or two about pregnancy and working.
Staying healthy and being productive on the job means you have to understand how to alleviate common pregnancy discomforts, and analyze when a work task might jeopardize your pregnancy.
Here are some common work questions and concerns of pregnant moms, and how to best deal with them:
Is it safe to wear high heels to work?
I had a friend who always wore heels when she wasn't pregnant, so when she was expecting, she was still able to wear heels because her body was used to it. But instead of stilettos, she shifted to wedges, and adjusted to a lower height to minimize the risk of an accident. So, check if your balance is still okay when wearing heels and adapt accordingly.
Is overtime bad for you?
Any kind of stress is no good for a pregnant woman – long hours of stressful work is a double whammy. But rare, non-strenuous overtime shouldn’t be harmful to you and the baby. Just make sure that you listen to your body.
If you know that you will be doing overtime and it’s not possible to go home earlier, take quick naps so you don't get super tired. If you can, try to spread the work across the week so that you don't need to stay long hours.
Can you exercise when you’re pregnant?
Ask your doctor, because it depends on your particular history and level of fitness. If he gives you the go-signal, then try to squeeze in light, regular exercise. According to the American Pregnancy Association, light exercise can actually prevent gestational diabetes and prevent backaches, constipation, and swelling. It also improves sleep, relieves stress, and releases endorphins to fight the baby blues.
Is it safe to drink caffeinated drinks while pregnant?
I had one pregnancy where I craved Coke with matching yellow M&Ms. The National Health Service say you can safely take 200 mg of caffeine a day. This can help you count your cups:
- 1 mug of instant coffee: 100mg
- 1 mug of filter coffee: 140mg
- 1 mug of tea: 75mg
- 1 can of cola: 40mg
- 1 bar (50g) of plain chocolate: around 25mg
- 1 bar (50g) of milk chocolate: around 10mg
Is it okay to sit around all day at work?
If you think that it’s best to sit on your office chair and nest there, you’ve got it wrong. To lessen bloating and backpain, stand up and walk around every two hours to promote healthy blood flow. Also, bring an ottoman or something similar to rest your feet, and a lumbar pillow for your back.
If your work requires you to stand for long periods, negotiate with your boss to give you several breaks to rest your feet and legs. During those breaks, find a way to raise your legs to alleviate the pressure. Wearing maternity pantyhose or compression leggings can also help lessen the discomfort and possibility of bloated feet and legs.
How can I deal with morning sickness at work?
Along with sniffing lemons or drinking lemonade, potato chips can help settle your stomach and the feeling of nausea. This combination also makes your body want more water and helps keep you hydrated.
There are no proven patterns or parameters that tell us how much work is bad for your pregnancy. But our bodies are very sophisticated machines that give us signs and indications of its limits. Listen to your body, and when in doubt, call your doctor.
About The Writer
Jeanette Ipapo-Tuason’s “Why” is to help people become better versions of themselves. Married for 20 years to multi-awarded Race car driver JP Tuason and mother to five children, Arthur (19), Alysha (14), Andreas (8), and identical twin girls Arya and Andi (5). She is a confessed learning junkie (know it all), avid reader, sometimes life coach (gives unsolicited advice), triathlete (when not allergic to working out), and cook. She is also the author of the Chicdriven Column in Philippine Daily Inquirer (Wednesday, motoring section) and serves as the contributing editor for Lifestyle Asia Magazine. She is the founder of the Chicdriven Women Empowerment Expo, advocacy that brings together passionate individuals to share, inspire, and empower women in all the roles they play.