Working woman’s guide to pregnancy

Working nine to five with a bump brings a new set of challenges. Know your rights to help you deal with any tricky situations.

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With all the sickness, aches and pains pregnancy can feel like a full-time job in itself. So coping with the day job as well can be a challenge. Just how do you mange it all successfully?

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Dr Carol Cooper, a GP and mum of three, says: ‘When you’re pregnant it’s important not to get too stressed. It’s bad for a growing baby as it can reduce vital blood flow to the placenta.’

Make it work for you

The key to a stress-free pregnancy is a balance of work and rest, says Dr Cooper: ‘You’ll need to lower your standards when the baby comes anyway, so pregnancy is a good time to start!’

* Ask if you can work from home sometimes and change your hours so you don’t travel at peak times.

* Take a full hour for lunch and use it to relax or sleep.

* Keep a bottle of water and some healthy snacks to hand – try dried fruit or cereal bars.

* Don’t stay late or do overtime.

* Don’t take work home,

* Don’t stand or sit for a long time; change position frequently.

Make it work for them

You can’t expect your workmates to find your pregnancy ailments as fascinating as you do. Say if you need help, but don’t bore them with your leaky boob story every time they ask how you are.

* Wait until your 12th week before telling your boss.

* Choose an appropriate time to tell them – preferably when they’re not rushed off their feet.

* Tell your boss about antenatal appointments well in advance.

* If you wear a uniform point out you’ll soon need a bigger size!

* Don’t leave it too late to tell your boss as they’ll need to find maternity cover.

When should I stop work?

Many women are happy working up until their due date. But some experts say you shouldn’t work beyond week 32. Your heart, lungs and other vital organs have to work harder from this point, which will put added pressure on your spine, joints and muscles. If you’re still keen to work, take plenty of rests and always put you and your baby’s health first.

You, your bump and the law

Worrying new research found that 7% of working mums-to-be are forced out of their jobs each year – because they’re sacked, made redundant or leave their jobs due to discrimination.

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which commissioned the research, found 45% of working pregnant women or new mums say they’ve experienced unfair treatment, ranging from missing out on promotion to being stopped from going on training courses. This sort of treatment is illegal, so if you have a bad experience or need any advice or legal information contact the EOC. The good news is you have lots of rights. Your boss has to provide a safe environment, give you paid time off for antenatal classes and give you back your old job if you return within a year. What’s more, mum-friendly policies are a hot topic with political parties and the Government’s recent ‘mumifesto’ proposed to extend paid maternity leave and increase paternity pay.

For more help

* Contact the National Childbirth Trust – 0870 444 8707; www.nctpregnancyandbabycare.com.

* EOC helpline; call 0845 601 5901 or visit www.eoc.org.uk.

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* The Maternity Alliance exists to improve rights and services for women and their families. Call 020 7490 7638 or visit www.maternityalliance.org.uk

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