Physical activity during pregnancy can benefit both you and your baby by lessening discomfort and fatigue, making labor easier and increasing the likelihood of early recovery after delivery. Light to moderate exercise strengthens the abdominal and back muscles, which help improve posture and decrease aches and pains. Practicing yoga, Pilates, walking, swimming and cycling on a stationary bike are safe for pregnant women. It is best to exercise at least 30 minutes each day, drink plenty of water when exercising and rest after.
Working During Pregnancy
Can I Work During Pregnancy?
The answer to this question depends on your own health, the health of your baby, and the type of job you have. If you and your baby are healthy and your job presents no greater risks than those found in daily life, you can probably continue to work until labor begins and resume work several weeks after giving birth.
Some women may have to cut back on or stop work during pregnancy. For example, we may suggest you work fewer hours if your job requires a lot of heavy lifting, standing or walking. You may be advised to stop working during the last few weeks before the baby is born. If you are exposed at work to things that could harm the baby, we may suggest that you be assigned to an area away from them. If this is not possible, we may advise you to stop working.
If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, back problems, or high blood pressure, we may want you to restrict your activity both on and off the job. For example, bed rest may be necessary for a pregnant woman with high blood pressure.
If you have had a miscarriage (loss of pregnancy before 20 weeks of gestation), a pre-term birth, or if you are expecting more than one baby, we may want you to have special care during your pregnancy. Stopping or cutting back on work could be part of this care.
Before we suggest a change in your work routine, we will take several factors into account: your overall health, how you are feeling, how well the pregnancy is going, your age, and any problems you had with past pregnancies. We may also ask you questions about the type of work you do, how many hours per week you work, and whether your job duties could harm you or the baby.
Working Women, Pregnancy and the Law
Before you take a job, find out from your employer if you might be exposed to toxic substances, chemicals or radiation. The personnel office should be asked about medical benefits, disability coverage and maternity leave.
After you get a job, discuss any concerns you may have about being exposed to toxic substances with your employee health division, personnel office, or union representative. To find out about safety at work or to request a list of substances known or thought to have an effect on pregnancy, contact your state or county health department.
During pregnancy, working women have special concerns. With the advice of your provider and cooperation of your employer, you should be able to avoid undue risks while you are working and provide for any periods of disability.
It is important to eat well during pregnancy. If possible, keep some nourishing snacks near your station at work. Try to rest during breaks at work or after work.
Total disability during pregnancy occurs for very few women. Others may be disabled for only a short time before, during and after delivery. It varies from women to women and is usually 4 - 8 weeks. Most women recover quickly and can soon return to their daily routines.
Talk with your provider about your concerns about working while you are pregnant. Tell us about any work-related conditions that worry you. But remember, you can only be placed on disability for a medical condition.
Heavy Physical Work
Pregnant women can usually keep doing the same things they were used to doing before the pregnancy. However, some things may be hard or risky. These include heavy lifting, climbing, carrying, standing for a long period of time, and activities that involve balance. If you have had a pre-term baby or a difficult pregnancy in the past, heavy physical work may be especially risky.
During the first few months of pregnancy, you may feel dizzy, sick to your stomach, and tired. You may also be more sensitive to heat. If you feel that these symptoms put you at risk for having accidents, ask us about it. Toward the end of pregnancy, your balance changes with the changing weight and shape of your body. Also, because women tire more easily when pregnant, even those in the best physical shape will find heavy work more tiring than usual.
Stress, both physical and mental, is a part of most people’s lives. A certain amount of stress can give you more energy and make you more productive. Too much stress, however, can cause depression, headaches, tiredness, weight gain, changes in eating habits, and problems coping with everyday life. Stress even plays a role in how well a person can resist disease.
Women who combine a full-time job with housework and childcare may feel especially tired and stressed. Your partner or others may need to take on more duties so that you can get enough rest. Careful planning and enough sleep are very important.
There is so much to be learned about the effects of stress on pregnancy. Talk with us about ways to relieve your stress.
Studies on the effect of toxic (poisonous) substances on pregnancy do not always agree. For many substances, no studies have been done. If you have a question about a substance, please ask. We will check with national sources for the latest information.