Working when pregnant is completely normal, and encouraged. Staying active, engaging with people and having a routine is good for our physical and mental health.
Many women I’ve met across the years have struggled at the later stages of pregnancy, especially when sitting at a desk for long periods of time. This article covers how you can care for your body during pregnancy, and what you can do to adapt your working environment to you.
Firstly, make sure your work knows that you are pregnant when it is right for you. There may be policies in place to support you and your pregnancy which can be helpful later on, even if you feel you don’t need to change anything at the start.
Think about what hours in the day work best for you, if your like me, and have most of your energy in the morning, adapting your working hours to allow you to return home earlier in the afternoon may be an option which could help you feel better.
Look at your desk environment, is your computer at the correct eye level for you? Looking down at a screen is not recommended and can cause neck and shoulder pain. If you’re not happy with the level of your screen at work ask for assistance to have it moved.
Keyboards and mouse should have a wrist support. It is standard that companies provide these as part of normal work health and safety. They can help in pregnancy as they can ensure that your less likely to get swelling in yours hands and fingers and having a good support for your wrist can alleviate pain caused by carpel tunnel, a common pregnancy ailment.
The chair! So often women will experience pain in their hips, front of their pelvis and lower back, which slowly gets worse during the day. Most desk chairs are not made for the female pelvis, and actually slope upwards at the edges. I would recommend you get a yoga ball to sit on at work. Ensure that the yoga ball is the right size for you, meaning your hips remain slightly above your knees when sat on the ball, or level to them. The ball should be high enough that your shoulders are relaxed when your fingers are on the keyboard. A yoga ball elevates pressure off of your sacrum which is often the source of pain when sitting at a desk. It also encourages you to sit up straight, releasing pressure from your shoulders and neck. If your still struggling after this adaptation, consider seeing a chiropractor or osteopath for physical treatment, the earlier you start the better the results.
Yoga ball stands are available and these prevent your ball from rolling around the office!
If you don’t fancy using a yoga ball consider a foot stool to raise the level of your knees to be in a straight line with your hips. Not supporting your feet, or constantly crossing your legs can lead to swelling in your ankles and/or hip and lower back pain.
Make sure your getting regular breaks during the day, including eating your lunch away from your desk. This will give you time out of your busy day to sit and concentrate on your babies movements, making sure they are normal for you.
Consider doing some light yoga stretching at work to aid your muscles. This can sometimes be easier said than done, but asking work for a quite space to relax during pregnancy may enable this to be an easier practice. Hydrate and ensure that you have a balance in your fluid intake between tea, juice, water etc. Snacking little and often throughout the day can help with nausea, so keep something in your desk draw!
If your finding work is causing you anxiety or stress this is a part of your wellbeing and therefore requires attention too. If you feel able to discuss the causes of your stress with you manager, do so early, putting support in place is essential to help you feel well. If you feel work is not the right place for you to be, discuss with your family about going on maternity leave earlier than planned.
If you are struggling at work, tell someone, they have a legal obligation to care for you and support you to stay at work if this is what you want. If you feel that you need to step away from work earlier than planned, this is ok, talk to your GP about a sick note, and inform your midwife.
There is normally a solution if you are finding working when pregnant a challenge, if your struggling and need to talk, ask me a question via the Bloss website.