Heavy duty jobs and pregnancy
Lots of women work tough and physically challenging jobs. My daughter-in-law is a fire fighter, my neighbor’s daughter works in a big warehouse store. Yesterday I noticed a landscaper hefting bags of peat moss and sizable shrubs while I stopped at a nursery.
Many women, like me, sit at a desk most of the day, but others are up and moving all day long. Some jobs involve more physical labor than others and we need to consider this when pregnant. For example, if your job includes heavy lifting or climbing, it might not be safe for you during pregnancy. In early pregnancy, nausea, fatigue and dizziness can make it hard to do these jobs safely. Later in pregnancy, your added weight can throw off your sense of balance and make you more likely to fall and hurt yourself. The last thing you or your boss wants is for you to take a tumble. Talk to your employer about taking on other job responsibilities during your pregnancy.
Talk to your health care provider if you work with:
- Metals (like mercury or lead)
- Products that contain lots of chemicals (like certain cleaning solutions, pesticides or gases)
- Radioactive waste, radiation or other dangerous substances (like drugs to treat cancer or X-rays)
Being in contact with these kinds of things without proper safety equipment (gloves, gowns and masks) can cause birth defects, miscarriage or other serious health problems. Describe your work environment to your provider and any safety equipment you or your company uses. Your provider can then tell you if it’s safe for you to keep working during pregnancy.
Whatever your job, if you need to lift something follow these tips:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend at your knees, but keep your back straight and rear end tucked in.
- Use your arms and legs. Lift with your arms (not back) and push up with your legs.
- When possible, lower the weight of the item (for example, break up the contents of one box into two or three smaller boxes and lift one at a time)
Standing for long periods of time can also be cause for concern. That’s because blood can collect in your legs, which may lead to dizziness, fatigue and back pain. Women who have jobs like hairdressers, museum guards or cashiers need to find ways to break up long stretches of standing still. When standing:
- Place one foot on a small foot rest or box.
- Switch feet on the foot rest often throughout the day.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
Most working women can keep working during their pregnancy, even right up until their due date, though perhaps with a few job modifications. If you plan to work during pregnancy, it’s important to plan ahead to help you and your employer transition during this new phase of your life. Here is a link to important workplace issues you’ll want to consider.