Stress is a part of everyday life. Fact.
Whether it’s financial pressures, relationship issues, work-related concerns or just the general demands of juggling work, home and family life, stress can affect us all in one way or another.
Some causes of stress are more prevalent than others, with stress at work currently being cited as one of the most common reasons adults feel particularly anxious.
A recent study revealed that of British adults in employment – a staggering 79% commonly experience work-related stress, so it comes as no surprise that stress can take on a whole other dimension when you’re holding down a full time job and managing your pregnancy.
Pregnancy in the workplace
Feeling stressed is extremely common during pregnancy, according to bloss expert and leading clinical psychologist, Dr Claire Conlon
“The perinatal period; the period before, during and post pregnancy is full of change and for some is a time of stress and anxiety. So many things happen both physically, hormonally and mentally during this period and for many this can be very overwhelming” Dr Claire Conlon
As more and more women are working throughout their pregnancies, there is no real way to avoid stress altogether. Although pregnancy can change how you approach work in a number of ways, looking after yours and your baby’s health should always be the number one priority.
It’s also important to understand how your working environment can impact your pregnancy. Work with your employer to help you discover the various ways in which you can minimise stress within your work setting and ensure a smooth and healthy transition to parenthood.
What are your workplace rights when you’re pregnant?
Whether you’re an office worker sitting at a desk, a police officer, a labourer or a factory worker, it’s important that you understand everything you need to know about working while pregnant.
Your employer has a legal requirement to put certain measures into place to ensure your well-being in a safe working environment.
From understanding your pregnancy and maternity rights to your transition back to work after your baby is born, it’s key that you are aware of your rights and your employer’s responsibilities which can help alleviate some of that stress surrounding your job security anxieties.
What you can do to reduce work-related stress
Every job and every pregnancy is different.
Certain jobs are obviously safer and better suited to pregnant women than others and carry their own work stresses.
However with the right precautions in place, there are a few ways which can help you manage work stress while you’re pregnant so you can do the best for you and your baby
1. Take breaks
Listen to your body if it’s telling you to slow down. You need to try and make some time for yourself during pregnancy, both mentally and physically.
Take a short walk, or time for a decent lunch away from your desk and the workplace. Or if you work on your feet a lot, take time to sit down and relax. Did you know that, by law, if you’re pregnant your employer must provide a suitable place for you to rest, including to lie down if you want to.
Sometimes, something as simple as this can make the world of difference and help keep your stress levels down.
2. Organise your workload
Perhaps you feel you need to go that extra mile with your workload as you will be going on maternity leave and want to ensure that your tasks are complete to the best of your ability before you handover. However, this could lead to you putting unnecessary extra pressure on yourself and subsequently an increase in stress levels.
Learn to say no to new projects at work if you can and try being as organised as possible with your workload so you can prioritise what really needs to be done.
If you find your health is still suffering from the amount of work needed, see if any tasks can be delegated, meaning the work still gets done but the workload is shared.
3. Talk with your employer
Communication is the key. If you have any concerns or worries, now is the time to ask.
You might be concerned about your role when you return from maternity leave, have questions about your company’s maternity policies, time off for appointments or questions around any health or financial benefits you may be entitled to.
Make sure you fully understand what to expect from your employers, your rights and how they can best support you.
For example, they may offer a great range of employee initiatives and workshops such as maternity returner coaching and 1:1 coaching for working parents, specifically aimed at helping parents make that transition back into the workplace following leave.
Openly sharing your concerns and asking questions not only shows that you care about your job but can also uncover a whole host of workplace benefits that you weren’t previously aware of.
4. Ensure risk assessments are carried out
Wherever you work and whatever environment you work in, when you’re pregnant, your employer needs to make sure a health and safety check is carried out.
This involves making sure the risks are properly assessed for you and your baby. Proper seating arrangements, adequate screen and desk positioning, exposure to toxic substances, heavy lifting, long periods of standing are all factors that can contribute towards risks during your pregnancy.
Knowing these measures are in place can significantly help reduce your stress levels at work.
5. Get comfortable
Being pregnant can sometimes be quite uncomfortable. Swollen feet, sore neck, feelings of nausea, hot flushes are all part and parcel of pregnancy and are pretty common symptoms.
Make sure you can get as comfortable as possible by taking breaks from sitting down or standing up for long periods of time. Support yourself with a cushion for your lower back and where appropriate try doing lower back exercise, wear layers so you can easily adjust to your body temperature or elevate your feet to help with swollen ankles.
All these techniques can help you easily adapt within the workplace and make your working day that little bit more comfortable.
Remember, even though stress is a normal part of life, when you’re pregnant you need to be aware of your stress levels and making sure that it isn’t adversely affecting your health and the health of your baby. This is the time you need to start thinking more about yourself and ways in which you can try and reduce some of that stress.
If you still need help juggling the pressures of work and pregnancy, bloss has a range of workshops and resources to support working parents with stress and burnout and pregnancy at work.
Please get in touch if you need any further information or help – you’re not in this alone!
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