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Working Smart and Safe

If you work outside the home, talk to your provider early on about any medical conditions or work-related factors that could influence how -- and how long -- you stay on the job. In general, this will depend on your health, your age, how the pregnancy is progressing, any problems you've had during prior pregnancies, and the type of work you do. Avoid working more than 8 hours a day, five days a week, and take advantage of all available lunch and rest breaks.

Sitting for long periods. If you have to sit at a desk for long periods of time, empty your bladder at least every few hours and get up and stretch every hour or so to reduce the potential for back pain, varicose veins, and blood clots. Use a chair that has adjustable armrests and good support for your lower back and bring a small pillow if you need it. Sit with your feet up on a footrest. This will take more strain off your back and reduce swelling in your feet.

Standing for long periods. If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, sit for 15 minutes every hour or so. Instead of standing in one place, put one foot on a box or low stool to help ease the pressure on your back. Wear support hose and shoes with low heels.

Work stresses. If your work is especially physical, hazardous, or stressful, talk with your doctor about whether your job duties will put your baby at risk. For instance, are you required to do any heavy lifting, standing, or walking? During your 1st trimester, your provider might suggest cutting back on your hours or duties. And if you have trouble with balance as your pregnancy progresses, you might want to stop working during the last few weeks. In addition, if you're exposed to potential hazards, such as toxic substances or X-rays, your provider might suggest that you request a reassignment to an area that's safer for you and your baby.

Just as high levels of stress aren't good for your baby, they're not good for your health either, so it's important to organize your work schedule so that you can rest more during the day and keep regular hours. Work out interpersonal problems as well, because they can add to stress on the job.

Health concerns. If you have a chronic illness such as kidney disease or diabetes, or any pregnancy-induced conditions like back problems or high blood pressure, you might have to cut back on your work hours or quit completely. You may also have to stop working sooner if you're carrying multiples or have any pregnancy history that could cause complications during your current pregnancy.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.