There are a number of aspects of pregnancy that can affect your health and safety at work.
For example, varicose veins can be aggravated by standing for long periods, and the effects of hormonal changes on your ligaments can increase the likelihood of injury or strains when lifting heavy loads.
You have the right to:
- Rest breaks during pregnancy.
- A workplace assessment to identify any risks – where work might affect the health of either you or your unborn baby.
But you can also think about how you can help yourself. For example, standing may not necessarily constitute a risk, but it might be hard work if most of your job involves standing.
Standing for long periods
While it depends on individual circumstances, standing or indeed sitting in one place is likely to become more uncomfortable as your pregnancy progresses.
- A workplace risk assessment will identify if you are being placed at risk by standing for long periods while you’re pregnant.
- Any job that can be done sitting, should be done sitting. Can your work be done while sitting and could a chair be provided?
If not, remember to take frequent breaks. And don’t forget that your employer has to provide somewhere for mums-to-be to rest if they need to.
Tips to help you stand safely at work
If you need to stand for long periods at work, try these tips to keep as comfortable as possible:
- Stand with knees relaxed.
- Try to stand upright – no slouching!
- Keep your weight evenly distributed.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
- Wear support stockings – rather than tights, which can increase your risk of developing thrush; they will help prevent varicose veins, too.
- Move as much as possible – it helps to avoid stiffness and gets your circulation working well.
- Take regular breaks.
Tips to help you sit comfortably at work
If you sit down for most of the day, at work or at home:
- Keep your spine well supported. Use cushions if necessary.
- Get up and move around regularly.
- Don’t cross your legs – it can make your feet and ankles swell.
- Put your feed up whenever you can.
Many women have heard the rumour that working in front of a computer all day could harm their baby. Research doesn’t show that being in front of a screen causes miscarriage or harm to your baby. But you should take regular breaks from your computer anyway; take a walk about and don’t sit for too long in the same position.
Take care at work by:
- Remembering to lift properly
- Wearing suitable clothing/flat shoes/support stockings.
- Eating little and often to keep your energy levels up – take fruit and healthy snacks to keep at work.
- Delegating where possible – don’t be proud!
If you need help in changing your work conditions, talk to your union representative or your personnel department. If your company has neither of these, contact or Working Families on 0800 013 0313.