By Melanie Stradling, Senior Occupational Health Adviser South
Whilst pregnancy is most certainly not an illness, your growing “bump” needs to be taken care of. Whether you are unlucky, enough to face daily doses of morning sickness or you are blooming and about to start your maternity leave, enjoying work whilst pregnant is key for your overall well-being.
Here are a few quick tips to help you:
Tip 1 Keep water at your desk.
Keeping hydrated , is something everyone should do, but pregnancy makes the need for proper hydration even more important. Additionally, if you’re a coffee drinker, drinking lots of water during the day can help to keep those caffeine urges at bay. NHS choices recommend that pregnant women limit themselves to no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is the equal to two mugs of instant coffee or tea per day. Why not try fruit teas or decaffeinated drinks as well as water to help keep you focused throughout the day.
Tip 2 Regular exercise
Whilst at work why not use break times to take a brisk walk outside, or if the weather is not cooperative, take a stroll around various indoor areas of the building. If you ask a co-worker to join you, you’ll not only get some exercise, you’ll also get your daily fix of social interaction to boot!
Tip 3 Coping with “pregnancy brain “
Many women become forgetful during pregnancy, a phenomenon that’s sometimes known as “baby brain” or “pregnancy brain”. Nobody’s completely sure why, but the physical changes that you’re going through may play a part.
In early pregnancy, you may not be as sharp as usual if you’re suffering from morning sickness, fatigue or insomnia. Your head may be buzzing with the knowledge that there’s a new life inside you, and with all the changes the future holds. When you have so much to think about, it’s easy to become distracted and forget things.
Later in pregnancy, your forgetfulness could also have a physical cause. Research has shown that your brain alters as pregnancy progresses. Some parts of the brain increase in size over pregnancy, but the overall size of your brain decreases, being at its smallest by the time your baby is full –term.
This may go some way to explain why short-term memory, concentration and your ability to retain new information is likely to be poorest in the third trimester.
Thankfully, these changes to your brain are only temporary, and you won’t feel them. Your brain will increase in size again in the weeks and months after your baby has arrived. By the time your baby is six months old, your brain is likely to have returned to its pre-pregnancy size.
If you find yourself forgetting an appointment, or leaving your phone or keys at home, try these strategies:
- Put reminders of appointments and events on your phone via an app or calendar.
- Keep a detailed daily organiser.
- Always put items you use often, such as keys, in the same place.
- Make to-do lists and tick tasks off.
Tip 4 Staying well and avoiding the office bugs
Be Meticulous About Hand-Washing This may seem like a no-brainer, most of us take for granted that we, and the people we work with, wash our hands enough each day. The New York Times, however, reported that even hospitals struggle to get doctors and nurses to wash their hands regularly during rounds. So it can’t hurt to be extra vigilant about washing your hands several times throughout the day — it could help reduce the chance of exposure to infections and viral illnesses and potentially make a huge difference to you, and your baby’s, overall health. Alcohol – based hand rubs are a good alternative for disinfecting hands if a sink is not readily available. If hot desking remember to wipe clean key pads telephones etc before starting work.
Tip 5 Coping with tiredness
It’s completely normal to feel tired when you’re pregnant, as huge changes are taking place in virtually every system in your body.
You are most likely to experience fatigue in your first and third trimester. In the first trimester try to get as much rest as you can, because fatigue can make nausea and vomiting much worse.
In the third trimester, with the growing bump it becomes increasingly difficult to get comfortable when lying down and consequently getting a good night’s sleep becomes more troublesome. In addition, the extra weight during pregnancy can increase feelings of tiredness during the day.
Listen to your body’s signals. Try taking catnaps or have an early night. You’ll need more sleep in early pregnancy so rest and get plenty of sleep whenever you can. If your keeping yourself well rested work will be just that little bit easier.
At work, even a 15-minute nap can make a difference, so if you’re lucky enough to have an office door, close it, put your head down on your desk and rest. Or have a nap in your lunch hour in your car if there’s nowhere else for you to sleep. If you are at home, make time to sit with your feet up during the day.
Tip 6 Share the news
Whether you share the news in confidence to your line manager or announce it to the whole office, the sooner the business knows the good news , the sooner they can ensure your needs are met. You might need your role adjusting or to be moved onto flextime to ease your commute, so the earlier colleagues are aware of your pregnancy the more they can help.
Tip 7 Smile
The most important tip of them all Smile. Keep your good humor, you will have difficult days no one that’s had morning sickness will disagree with that. BUT you are about to have the most beautiful experience any person can – you’re bringing a new life into this world and nothing is more amazing than that