Working While Pregnant: What You Need to Know
With both babies, I worked right up until my due date. In fact, with my daughter, I was getting ready for work when I realized I was in labor. Working while pregnant can pose many challenges, from planning who will cover your job when you're out. to dealing with the aches and pains of pregnancy while you're required to be upright for eight hours (all while appearing professional!). Here are a few tips I've learned from my two working mama pregnancies on how to navigate the waters of working while you're pregnant.
Every business has different rules on maternity leave, but many employers fall under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, which allows you to take up to 12 weeks of leave, unpaid, and still keep your job. If your company has more than 50 employees and you've worked there for 12 months for at least 1200 hours, you are eligible for FMLA leave. Any paid component of maternity leave will come from your employer, so check with your HR department as soon as you announce your pregnancy. Make sure you're clear on the steps you need to take to cover your leave — the last thing you need after having a baby is a call from your employer because you forgot to fill out a form for leave — trust me on this one.
Life at work will keep moving when you're not there, so make sure you leave a plan in place for your position while you're away. For instance, I'm a social media manager by day, and when I was pregnant with my daughter, I collected a long list of “evergreen” posts that my backup could share while I was gone. Starting the process early into the pregnancy will help you be prepared when the baby arrives — or in the event baby comes early. Work a little every day with planning, organizing, or leaving notes for your backup during your leave. Make sure you label files clearly so others can easily find them, and put your process to paper to keep your job moving smoothly.
I made this mistake with both pregnancies, but learned much more quickly the second time around, so I'm passing it along to you: don't mess with heels. Whether you have a job that requires business dress or just love those sky-high heels, pregnancy isn't the time for sexy shoe style. Not only are you prone to swelling, your center of gravity is very off, making it easier to trip and fall while you're wearing heels. Luckily, there are tons of super cute flat styles that are work appropriate (check out some of my picks here!)
During pregnancy, both sitting too long and standing too long can be hard on your body and your baby. If you work in an office, make sure you take breaks often to walk around and help your blood get moving. If your job requires you to be on your feet, make sure you sit down and rest often. In both cases, swelling can be minimized if you prop up your feet; you're growing a human — it's allowed. I had a small box under my desk that let me prop up my feet while I worked, and it kept my feet from swelling.
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