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Issues Working Pregnant Women May Face

Elizabeth Keefe |10, November 2013


Not every pregnant Mom is able to be a stay at home Mom. Some expectant mothers, if not most, have a job (or two) that they must go to every day. It doesn't matter if your job requires you to sit at a desk all day, or be on your feet, there are common issues every woman may face while working during her pregnancy.

Missed Work & Pregnancy Symptom Embarrassment

During your first trimester, you will experience a myriad of pregnancy symptoms from morning sickness to downright feeling like you have the flu! Many women will miss work before they even find out they are pregnant thinking they are just simply ill. Once you experience your first missed period, then it all becomes clear. "I'm pregnant!" Then it hits you, "Will I be able to continue working?" The answer is simple – yes you can! The thought of the embarrassment from running to the bathroom to vomit, passing gas or falling asleep on the job may be just enough to make you run for the hills! But don't.

If you are experiencing morning sickness, there are ways to ease the nausea and vomiting. Eat smaller, lighter and more frequent meals. Do not eat large meals right before work. Instead, take food such as crackers to snack on and drink plenty of water! If that doesn't work, there are medications for morning sickness available that your doctor can prescribe. If you have a bad case of flatulence, you might need to adjust your diet to aid your stomach in digestion. Increase fruits and vegetables, and limit pre-packed or processed foods.

To deal with the extreme fatigue that you will have during pregnancy make sure you are getting plenty of rest! Try to get at least eight to nine hours of sleep every night. If that is not enough, try taking a nap after work before you start your household chores to help you get through the evening.

When should you tell your boss that you're pregnant?

Your coworkers may start noticing before you even notice – and the workplace gossip begins with, "I bet she's pregnant. Will she be able to continue working if she's missed this much work already?" First, you most likely have sick days available to you. If you have them, take them. Ignore the gossip and just do the best you can.

The best time to tell your employer you are pregnant is up to you – but should be before you start showing! If you are having a rough first trimester, it might make it worth your while to tell your boss if you feel the job is just too much. Most employers should be sympathetic to your situation and will accommodate your pregnancy symptoms without a fight. You might be able to take more frequent bathroom breaks, be able to stand or sit when you need to. If they don't then you might be a victim of pregnancy discrimination.

Do not jeopardize your safety because of your job. If you have a physically demanding job, do not try to be that pregnant super employee who has a need to perform as before to prove herself! If your job requires you to use a ladder, ask for assistance. If you are required to lift heavy objects, don't! You could risk injuring yourself and harming yours and your baby's health. There are laws to protect you and prevent you from losing your job due to pregnancy.

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace

You might face coworkers, or a boss, who thinks you are being given preferential treatment just because you are pregnant. Well, you are! Those who have never been pregnant do not know what it's like. They might feel that because conceiving is something women "just do" that you should have an inborn capability of handling your pregnancy while working. They do not understand the fatigue that comes with being pregnant, and they don't understand the need to take more frequent bathroom breaks, or to sit down because your feet are so swollen you just cannot stand anymore!

If performing your work duties is becoming nearly impossible your employer must make accommodations so that you can still work. They are also required to provide you with leave if you happen to develop a more serious pregnancy condition such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. If they don't, then they may be in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act or PDA.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is a United States federal law that says any pregnant women with a medical condition that is a result of being pregnant should be treated as a person with a disability. Your employer will be required to change your job duties, allow reasonable accommodations, and not harass you for being pregnant. Additionally, they may not fire you for being pregnant! It will help to have a note from your doctor explaining any work duties you cannot perform so that your employer can assist you. Additionally, employers must provide up to twelve weeks of maternity or paternity leave so that you may care for your new baby. This leave may be paid, or unpaid, so be sure to check your company policy manual.

Are you being discriminated at work during pregnancy?

These laws are there to protect pregnant women from being discriminated against and risk losing their jobs due to pregnancy. However, sometimes employers do find ways around it. Many pregnant women still lose their jobs for no known reason, or because she was "unable to perform the major duties of her job." If you have noticed unusual behavior toward you, you should begin documenting every correspondence including emails, telephone calls, and in-person dealings with your employer and coworkers. It might be wise to contact a discrimination attorney to ask for advice if you feel you are not being treated fairly. You do have rights while being pregnant while working. Fight for them!

Have you dealt with workplace issue during pregnancy? Share your story in the comments section below!

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