This has always been a hot topic and one that is contested vigorously by those on both sides of the argument. Especially now that New Zealand’s Prime Minister had raised the bar somewhat higher!
Clearly, there is no right or wrong answer. But I can assure you there’s a lot of judgement and criticism aimed at pregnant women who do work, whether that is right up until (virtually) the day before delivery, or even when women stop working 2 months or more before their due date.
Now, with only 8 weeks left until my due date with my first child, I am continuing to work fulltime, supported by my family and colleagues. I am still an engaged, committed and motivated employee, able to undertake most of my normal duties and perform at a consistently high level.
And why shouldn’t I be able to? As far as I can see, the main drawback as I continue to work on projects and the day to day tasks I customarily do, that it’s a bit like doing it while carrying two heavy bags of shopping.
So, what are the pros and cons to working while healthily pregnant? Let’s start with the positives that I see as an employee in a job I really like.
Remaining an engaged employee
By being able to continue in my role I am remaining focused on my career. Simply learning I am pregnant hasn’t meant that my career must go on hold just yet. My job continues to provide me a sense of purpose as I identify with my career.
This is a big life change for me personally. But being able to work and feeling welcome so long as I still feel good means I am able to prepare myself and the business for my absence.
Depending on the role you hold at your place of business, going on leave for a long period can leave a considerable capability gap. Having due warning and the time to manage that change will ensure a smooth transition for my manger and for the individual who will be relieving in the role while I’m on maternity leave.
So, I’d say it’s all good. Continue as before but be aware of your limitations if and as they develop and don’t be afraid to ask for a little extra help, consideration or support.
But, what does it mean for the business?
There is increased risk even in an office job for both me and my employer. Everyone needs to be a bit more diligent about WHS and particularly the common workplace hazards inherent in lifting, stretching, bending and sitting too long.
Tiredness and indeed sheer overwhelming fatigue can come in waves.
Often, that is simply due to the sheer effort of being physically functional while hauling so much extra weight.
And, while being pregnant is a wonderful amazing thing, it does also cause discomfort which can lead to a lack of sleep! This can result in some fuzziness the following day – often referred to as ‘baby brain’.
On the rare occasions when this is prejudicing my ability to produce good work, I’m prepared to ask if I can leave early and confident that a supportive employer will cheerfully agree to the idea and I may need to leave early to try and get some rest while I can.
This is the hardest element to control especially in Brisbane where public transport is not renowned for its reliability. Driving is stressful in stop-start peak hour traffic and people on trains can no longer be relied on to offer a seat even to a heavily pregnant woman.
As mentioned this is a big life change for me but change for the business as well. There are cascading changes across the business, which can be sometimes difficult to plan for.
But overall? Although being healthily pregnant does impact my working day sometimes, overall it hasn’t caused any major issues and I’ve been able to achieve a great deal in terms of normal workload and planning the imminent handover.
How can bosses help to make the work-day run smoothly?
But I will – of course – keep you in the loop as the pregnancy progresses.
For me, being healthily pregnant definitely does not mean I have to stop work until I am ready.
And for the employer?
“For us, we were aware that we might need to bend a bit … be flexible. But the reality is that we haven’t had to be any more flexible than we are for anyone who works within our caring environment – pregnant or not”.
“The experience has been one that we are all enjoying. We have watched with pleasure as Amy has matured towards her new role and are now looking forward to the new arrival. All the planning and organisation achieved within the business has provided a degree of comfort that day-to-day things will continue as is even when she is not able to be here,” said Dylys Bertelsen, CEO of Windsor Group.
Written by Amy Mose
EA and Office Manager