Pregnancy at Work: How to Balance Work and Pregnancy

Being pregnant is such a joy. You spend your days knowing you’re carrying a bundle of joy. If you’re a working lady, however, it poses a myriad of challenges to you, your employer and everyone around you. With proper planning, you can navigate this challenging time with relative ease.  

To keep your job and be productive at it during your pregnancy, you need to lay out a plan and execute strictly. You should plan when to carry out certain tasks, how to carry them out and with whom to carry them out with. Your doctor as well as your boss, family and some colleagues at work should also be involved.  

Here, we look at the most important parts of this period and how to create a plan that will keep you productive at work as much as possible. We also look at what information you need to pass across and to which parties for the best work experience.  

When should you reveal to your boss and coworkers that you’re pregnant? 

While you’re legally only required to reveal your pregnancy to your boss at least 15 weeks to the expected birth week, you should tell your boss (and other important people in your life) as early as possible.  

The reasons for this include the following: 

  • It’s a good gesture for your boss to hear of your pregnancy from you rather than from others.  
  • It helps in the planning process of when your hospital visits will be, what kind of work you should assigned and other aspects.  
  • It’s important in planning for the whole company in terms of when you’ll have your maternity leave and who to assign extra work when you’re not able to work.  

In general, the reason you’ll be revealing your pregnancy to your workplace is so that plans are made to accommodate you in that condition. In fact, once you reveal your pregnancy, you have the same rights as a person with a disability at work and should not be discriminated against (pregnancy discrimination).  

When and how long will your maternity leave be? 

Maternity leave refers to the time taken off work when one is having a baby. How you plan to have your maternity leave has a major impact on your work as a whole since it’s a time you won’t be working at your usual capacity.  

As far as your maternity leave is concerned, the most important aspects include the following:  

1. When is the break? 

You have the option of either working right up to your due date, or taking the leave a few days or weeks to the due date. Knowing when you’ll take the break helps you and your employer plan out on the flow of work before, during and after the break.  

2. How long is the break? 

While you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year (Family and Medical Leave Act – FMLA), how long you will be on your maternity break depends on various aspects. Complications to the pregnancy, healing faster than you’d planned or the need to go back to work may all change your leave plans.  

There are some conditions in which you can be on maternity leave yet still keep your health insurance from work. These include situations in which: 

  • You’ve worked for that employer for at least 12 months (1 year).  
  • You work in a place where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the workplace.  
  • You’ve worked at least 1,250 hours over the last 1 year (12 months).  

Always check for such details before going on your maternity leave.  

3. Is the maternity leave paid for? 

While a majority of firms give unpaid maternity leave, there are some that pay for it. As you apply for this type of leave, check with the firm to ascertain whether you’ll be paid while on leave or not. You should also check whether you qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA).  

4. How flexible is your workplace to expectant and lactating mothers? 

Your place of work and how flexible it is will determine how easy or difficult your pregnancy and your child’s early years will be. If it’s flexible, you’ll have an easy time and will be back to work in no time. If they’re stiff and stubborn, you’ll have a hard time. Some of the aspects to check when it comes to flexibility include the following: 

  • Telecommuting and flex time. These allow you to start off spending flexible time periods at work as you near your due date and also as you recover from the pregnancy.  
  • Lactating rooms and Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). These provide privacy when pumping milk and people to assist you whenever you need help.  

Learn of any other pregnancy-related aspects of your job as you seek your maternity leave.  

5. Know how to handle your situation 

Pregnancy presents different challenges to different people. Whether it’s your first or subsequent pregnancy, you should remain flexible to the challenges you get healthwise to make the most of the time on your hands.  

Primarily, you should know how to control the following aspects of your pregnancy: 

  • Morning sickness. Morning sickness and its associated symptoms can make it quite tough dealing with your work. You should know the signs and specific symptoms and their solution.  
  • Energy levels. When you’re pregnant, you’re likely to experience drastic changes in energy levels. Most people experience low levels of energy to the extent that they can’t do anything meaningful. You can keep your energy levels high by eating healthy snacks every few moments.  
  • Focus. Like energy levels, your focus can also be erratic during this period. It often starts off high then quickly goes down for most ladies. You can work with this by starting your day with the most attention-demanding tasks the finishing off with the easier ones.  
  • Associated diseases and conditions. If you have other diseases and conditions set off either by the pregnancy or by other causes, you need to talk to your doctor to handle them properly. These include anemia, heart disease, diabetes, preterm labor, preeclampsia, cervical insufficiency, placenta previa and others.  

With these aspects in mind, you can manage working even when pregnant.  


  • How many hours can a pregnant woman work? 

While the number of hours you can work while pregnant is subjective and depends on many different individual aspects, you shouldn’t be forced to work the typical 40-hour week like everyone else when pregnant. If you feel strain from work, ask for less hours.  

  • When should I stop working during pregnancy? 

Around the 32nd to the 34th week of your pregnancy. Around these weeks, most women will be shifting their focus to being new mothers which may affect their decision-making process.  

  • Is it safe to work while pregnant? 

As long as your job isn’t strenuous and stressful, you can work quite well even in the last trimester of your pregnancy. Physically taxing jobs, working in chemicals and jobs with short breaks aren’t recommended when pregnant.  

  • Can I hurt my baby by bending over? 

Yes. You should pick items on the ground while keeping the upper body in the upright position. While you can bend over to some degree, do so slowly and gently to avoid compressing your belly too much.  

  • Is it bad to sit all day while pregnant? 

Yes. Siting for more than 6 hours a day when in the 2nd trimester of your pregnancy increases your chances of gaining weight and becoming diabetic. Both of these conditions can lead to birth complications.  

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