Ladies, there are many things in life that can bring us joy: Chocolate, bubble baths, Jon Snow shirtless… you get the point.
One of things that probably brings you a ton of joy is your children, or thinking about the children you want someday. (Sparkle in your mama’s eye and all that.) Being pregnant can be easy-peasy or hella awful, (sometimes a mixture of both.)
You don’t need the extra stress of a hazardous work environment, but sometimes it can’t be helped. For women who work in the medical field, these challenges increase because of your job requirements.
Not to take away from women who work in other industries. Because no matter what…pregnancy can suck sometimes. I don’t care if all you do is sit on the couch binge-watching NCIS. You probably still get nauseous, you will definitely get bigger, and you have to adjust to a whole new way of life.
S-U-C-K-S… (you get a baby out of the deal though, so maybe just a little sucky.)
But I digress….my girls in the medical field, ya’ll are at a higher risk than most.
Why? Well let’s state the obvious: One or more of these apply to your fine selves.
- You’re around sick people.
- Hazardous chemicals/radiation are common in your day.
- There is a lot of lifting/moving/manipulating patients, (who may be bigger than you).
- You’re around needles, blood, and other bio-hazardous material.
You, my dears, are doing a bunch of stuff you probably shouldn’t.
Everyone’s like, “Message received, I’m headed for the couch! Later!”
Just kidding, you guys need paychecks, right?
So what does a self-sufficient lady do when you can’t do as much?
Five Things to do Now:
Get a List of Restrictions From Your Doctor
Typically at a prenatal visit you receive a list of do’s/don’ts. Read, memorize, make copies, post on social media…etc. Knowing what to expect helps you avoid surprises and the subsequent freak out.
Here is a breakdown of your first trimester from fitpregnancy.com. It also has links to each week of pregnancy. It’s uber helpful, so favorite that shiz.
Know Your Weight Limits
I cannot stress this enough. Picking up something over 20-30 pounds is a no-no. Unless you are some amaze bodybuilder who is accustomed to this kind of abuse, skip it.
There is evidence that lifting heavy objects frequently can slightly raise the risk of low birth weights, miscarriages, and preeclampsia.
And this may seem kind of obvious, but your center of gravity is going to change. Because you have a bowling ball where your stomach used to be…. But this ups your risks for losing your balance and falling.
Use caution and your beautiful brains, friends.
Here is more info on the preggo weight limit situation.
Make a List of Potential Risks
This doesn’t mean sit and make a panic notebook of all the bad things that could possibly, maybe, potentially (OMG!) happen.
Don’t spaz out, because that’s not healthy either.
Just think through the daily tasks you do and write down the ones that could impact your (or the baby’s) health.
- I give shots/take blood—–> blood borne pathogen risk
- I lift patients—–> see aforementioned weight limit rant
- I am near radiation or chemicals——> (SDS sheets are your friends here)
Do I sound like your OSHA training manual yet???
Regarding chemical exposure: you need to know exactly what you can and cannot be around.
There are Safety Data Sheets available to you that go over any chemical you work with, somewhere in your office. By law they have to be (or OSHA will have someone’s ass.)
Here is a link explaining what a SDS entails, in case you slept though OSHA training.
Like it wasn’t exciting….puh-lease.
As a preggo, your body’s metabolism works differently, increasing how quickly you absorb some chemicals. This can be dangerous, so getting the info on what you’re breathing is imperative.
Here is a lovely article from the CDC regarding your pregnancy health in the workplace. (There are all these fancy links to other good info, too.)
Keep these risks in the forefront of your mind, and everything will be gravy.
Here is an additional study regarding risks as a pregnant medical professional.
Know the Law
The law for pregnant women in the workplace has moved forward so much compared to the olden days.
As in: they can’t fire you for being unable to perform all your normal job functions.
You now have:
- The right to ask questions about potential hazards in the workplace.
- The right to PPE (personal protective equipment) that fits. Even if they have to order a whole new whale-size to accommodate!
- Certain rights regarding time off.
Keep the following links handy:
Here is a link to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s page on pregnancy in the workplace.
This is a useful article from NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety) and the CDC.
Know your rights, ladies.
80% of employees in the medical field are women. So odds are your immediate supervisor, your HR, and most of your coworkers are women. Talking to them is a great way to voice your fears, and also get advice/help at work.
If possible, you may want to request switching some of the riskier tasks with someone else, or ask to be scheduled for light duty with some of the things you aren’t comfortable with.
Here is a guide to successful workplace communication, just in case you’re nervous about asking for help.
Trading one job for another can help too. Offer to do the crappy paperwork no one wants to deal with, make return calls, or be the Starbucks runner on lunch. You may be surprised at how many of your coworkers offer to take over for you without prompting…. Don’t feel guilty about asking for help. Everyone needs it occasionally, and it’s for the health of your baby, not just you. Besides, most women love to help a pregnant gal. Guess what….they’ve probably been there.
And also you may look pathetic waddling around.
(Work it, girl!)
Enjoy Your Pregnancy
Remember that this is an exciting time for you and your family, and don’t stress over your job. Being well informed and prepared will go a long way for your peace of mind.
Enjoy your pregnancy and congratulations!