Keeping Safe and Comfortable on the Job

by Ann Douglas

Women a generation or two ago were expected to resign from their jobs the moment the pregnancy test came back positive, but today, pregnant working women are every bit as much a part of the modern office as the computer and the fax machine. Most women experiencing low-risk pregnancies are able to work throughout their entire pregnancies.

When You Shouldn't Work During Pregnancy

There are, of course, some situations in which you may want to consider leaving work early or requesting some modifications to your working environment. You might choose to go this route if

  • You are exposed to infectious diseases, chemicals, or toxic substances at work
  • Your job requires that you stand for more than three hours per day
  • Your work is highly strenuous or physically demanding
  • Your job involves a lot of repetitive work that could increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome (repetitive stress syndrome)
  • Your job involves a lot of bending, stooping, stair- or ladder-climbing, or heavy lifting
  • You work in an extremely hot, cold, or noisy environment
  • You work long hours or rotating shifts

Staying Comfortable on the Job

Your biggest challenge during your nine months on the job will be staying comfortable as you find yourself battling morning sickness, fatigue, and an ever-changing lineup of pregnancy-related aches and pains. Here are some tips on maximizing comfort at the office:

  • Put your feet up on a stool or an open desk drawer to relieve pressure on your lower back. Your boss may not approve, but your chiropractor will.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing.
  • Keep a glass of cold water on your desk so that you'll remember to drink frequently, and do not -- we repeat, do not -- skip meals, no matter how hectic things may be at the office.
  • Take five- or 10-minute catnaps on your break or over your lunch hour. You can either hit the couch in the company nurse's office or put your head on your desk for a couple of minutes.
  • Keep stress to a minimum and accept any and all offers of help. People love to help pregnant women. You'll never have it this good again!

Excerpted from "The Unofficial Guide to Having A Baby," by Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site,

John R. Sussman, M.D., is Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New Milford Hospital and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. His other books include the bestselling Before You Conceive: The Complete Pregnancy Guide.

Copyright © John Wiley & Sons. Permission to republish granted to