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Published on August 31, 2018

Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

When it comes to the third trimester, you are tired and uncomfortable. You’re desperately ready for the baby to make his or her debut. But this final stretch of pregnancy symbolizes a whole lot more than fatigue followed by labor and delivery whilst you continue to work your 9-5.

In the third trimester you’ll start experiencing things like big feet, blotchy skin, constipation, incontinence blurry vision, bleeding gums, lacking sleep, more sickness and leaking breasts!

Cheers miracle making – we can’t wait, but this is about survival. Working in the third trimester could be tough for moms, but here’s how to not just survive but thrive through your third trimester at work.

The physiology during the third trimester

The third trimester, starting at 28 weeks, comes along with a whole host of new changes in your body. The size and weight of your bundle of joy grows, consequently you’ll be kicked internally, experience lower back pain and/or pelvic pain due to the change in your centre of gravity and have a tiny person using your bladder as a cushion.

Accompanying that you’ll experience swelling in your ankles, feet and hands as well as delightful disruptions in your sleep. Emotions run high and stress can elevate as you await, somewhat anxiously, the inevitable upturn of your life.

You may feel as if time is running out to get everything ready, you’re not performing at your best at work and that you’re constantly tired.

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All of this is compounded by the physiological changes listed above and you’re guaranteed to be searching for gaining energy, vitality and maximise the rest of your time in work.

It’s time to thrive at work – not just survive the third trimester.

Common obstacles at work in your third trimester

  • Clumsiness – That kind from disrupted sleep and leaves you feeling less than your best.
  • Difficulty concentrating and getting stuff done – Partly hormonal, partly lack of sleep, partly stress. All of this adds up to your mind jumping all over the place whilst at work and concentration lacking.
  • Discomfort at your desk or standing all day – Because as the weight at the front of your body increases it changes the positioning of your pelvis. The front dips forward to accommodate your bundle of joy which consequently puts pressure through your lumbar spine.
  • Frequent bathroom breaks – To pee and to try and poop as you experience constipation from a tiny person pressing on your bladder and intestines.
  • High stress levels with emotional outbursts – Because hormones and the (potential self imposed) expectations of what you’ve got to finish and do.
  • Forgetfulness – Baby brain is real. Combine the stress, the lack of sleep and any would become forgetful.
  • Pressure to complete tasks before you leave for maternity – Because you want to leave feeling accomplished and beneficial to your company.

How to survive and thrive

This really comes down to three parts: food, movement and mindfulness. There are several tools which I’ll discuss now.

Food

Whilst you’re growing a person, it’s important to realise that you needn’t ‘eat for two’. Simply adding an extra 300kCal per day is all that’s required.

The most important thing to bear in mind is food quality – so enjoying a whole foods, varied diet with plenty of green vegetables, fish, smart carbohydrates and fibre.

Washing this down with plenty of water. Having reached the third trimester I know you’ll be conscious of what you’re eating to provide the best for your unborn.

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You can use the following adjustments to make the best of your nutrition during this time.

  1. Eat small and frequent meals to allow for the compressed size of your stomach. This will reduce symptoms of heart burn and constipation.
  2. ‘Drink your food, chew your water’. Chew your food thoroughly so that it is completely combined with saliva beginning the digestion process. A good rule to use is to chew each mouthful 30 times. Chewing your water similarly combines the water with salvia so that it can be more easily absorbed by your body reducing swelling.
  3. Take time to eat away from your desk, which is something I recommend to everyone. This practice helps to lower stress, become more mindful of your meal and a mental break from your day to reduce stress.
  4. Drink so much water, which even though it means you’ll be nipping to the loo more frequently aids lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is throughout the body and carries fluid, removes toxins and when blocked causes swollen joints. By drinking more you are turning the lymphatic system from a swamp like condition to a flowing river. This means your aching swollen joints will reduce.
  5. Focus on high nutrient dense foods which are high in volume to assist your satiety, concentration and fuel your baby’s growth. Because when you are fuelling right you feel right on the inside and out.

Movement

Regardless of whether your pregnant or not sitting OR standing ALL day isn’t good for your health. According to British Journal of Sports Medicine:[1]

“Every hour of television watched may reduce our lifespan by an average of 21.8 minutes. Smoking a cigarette, on the other hand, reduces our lifespan by about 11 minutes.”

The pain, clumsiness, foggy headedness, difficulty concentrating and stress of the third trimester can all be combated by movement.

These movement tweaks can accompany your day whilst you’re working to thrive through your third trimester at work:

  1. Practicing breath work which will help in part to release the diaphragm which contributes to postural imbalances and has a further benefit of reducing stress. 3 to 5 times per day hug yourself wrapping your arms around your rib cage, breath into your hands so that your rib cage expands whilst keeping the shoulders down and relaxed. Breathe in for a count of 2 to 3 and out for a count of 4 to 5.
  2. Request an ergonomically suited chair to give you the utmost support taking pressure off leaning into uncomfortable positions to get closer to your computer screen to concentrate. Not only will this make your working environment more productive but it will also relieve pressure.
  3. Get up and move frequently either using a smart watch for movement tracking or setting reminders on your phone at least once per hour. Stand whilst you’re on the phone rather than remaining seated. By doing so you will improve circulation to reduce swelling as well as taking pressure off your joints.
  4. Stretch your hip flexors, the muscle at the front of your thighs. As your posture changes from the new weight distribution in your body, your quads become tight and consequently cause back pain. This is a big key hitter when it comes to removing back pain and boosting recovery post birth.
  5. Use a foam roller at your desk focusing on rolling your calves, quads, hips and chest. These areas are areas which, due to the postural changes, become very tight throughout pregnancy and beyond. Beginning foam rolling these areas now will reduce tension through your neck, shoulders and lower back whilst assisting drainage through your feet and ankles.

Mindfulness

Whatever type of birth plan you’re creating you’ll have spent and be spending time thinking of all you need to for the big day and time after. This energy that you’re putting out is essential for your peace of mind now and moving forwards.

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As your date comes nearer and closer by the day its more than likely your thoughts are ahead in that future. Being mindful to remain in the present is essential to remaining calm, thriving and surviving your last weeks of pregnancy.

Here are four ways to remain mindful and present:

  1. Ask for help. Designate projects to people if you go into labour early. Reach out to your co-workers and delegate away things that add to your stress levels. Whilst asking for help can sometimes be uncomfortable and stressful, this habit will leave you feeling less stressed and comfortable in your role.
  2. Don’t overextend yourself as it’s ok to not promise the world. Slow down to get more done. By being realistic, you will not exhaust yourself aiming to reach unrealistic expectations leading up to your due date.
  3. Take mental health days especially if you already have kids at home. The need to get all the things done and look after the kids at the weekend can mean that you don’t have down days over the weekend. Taking time through the week will enable you to really rest and take time for yourself whilst you can.
  4. Dress comfortably in all the dresses, supportive shoes and layers. Because there is nothing more irritating than seams digging into you, tired feet and being too hot or too cold. When you’re comfortable, you’re less stressed and more calm. All good for bump and YOU.
  5. Don’t set a defined maternity leave date. Have a ball park but you may find that you become more fatigued sooner than you thought or if you start too soon that you’ll become too restless. Play by ear and listen to your body having open communication with your boss. This can massively reduce your stress and expectations enabling you to go with the flow more easily.

Final thoughts

Because this is the time that you have with yourself for the last time. You’ll have a tiny person to consume your time moving forwards. Using these three tips for each area can really help you be your best you throughout your life and work during your third trimester. It really is a time not only just to survive but to thrive.

Look at each area and start with one tip to focus on for a week or two and see how it impacts your life. So for example picking to ‘drink your food, chew your water’, ‘practicing breath work’ and ‘asking for help’ are small steps that will make a huge difference.

And the great thing about them is that they won’t ADD time to your day, they will actually take time and energy away. You already have to eat so eat with more consciousness. You already have to breathe so do it with awareness. You already have to do work, so ask for someone to help with what you’ve got.

The third trimester is a time of anticipation and excitement for the baby’s arrival. Fear and worry about childbirth and caring for the baby after birth are common but needn’t interrupt your time at work. Using these techniques all good ways to prepare for childbirth and decrease anxiety.

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Some women may feel less attractive due to body changes, partner support and reassurance is very important during this time. Father’s may also feel anxious about their role in the childbirth process and question their ability to parent and provide for a larger family.

Everyone may begin to feel impatient for the baby’s birth. Remember to enjoy your baby’s kicks inside you for these last few weeks and be sure to spend special time with your partner and other children- life is about to change!

So, commit to yourself and do these practices and techniques for you, for now. By doing them, you’re alleviating pressure, removing pain and thriving your last trimester.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Camilla Dempster

A prenatal/postnatal expert who teaches women to ditch the binge/restrict/guilt cycle around their body, food and exercise.

What Makes A Great Place to Work Whilst Pregnant Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

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Published on March 13, 2019

What Makes A Great Place to Work Whilst Pregnant

What Makes A Great Place to Work Whilst Pregnant

Among women who had their first child in the early 1960s, just 44% worked at all during pregnancy. The latest figures show that 66% of mothers who gave birth to their first child between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancy.[1]  It also showed that about eight-in-ten pregnant workers (82%) continued in the workplace until within one month of their first birth which has vastly increased from 35%. It is clear to see form the statical trends that more women are choosing to continue working through, and late into, pregnancy.

Unlike other developed world countries, the USA does not mandate any paid leave for new mothers under federal law,[2] though some individual employers make that accommodation and it is mandated by a handful of individual states. Finding what makes a great workplace whilst pregnant can alleviate stress and provide more stability for you and your family. 

In this article, you will discover exactly the best places to work whilst pregnant.

How Difficult Is It to Work Whilst Pregnant?

Many people strive to find and attain good jobs. For pregnant women, however, that process is often especially challenging. After all, you’ll face extra obstacles that are unique to expectant mothers.

If you are pregnant and need a job, then you’re definitely not alone. You are also not alone if you’re already employed and want to find a new job that is more family-friendly. Changing jobs while pregnant is something that many women consider, especially when they realise that their current positions may not be suitable for pregnancy or offer the benefits or flexibility that they’ll soon need. 

Getting a job while pregnant may not be the easiest thing in the world to do, but it is possible.

You can look for employment opportunities that don’t require too much physical exertion and that won’t cause you much emotional stress. Also, look for jobs that come with the chance to work flexible hours, offer good medical benefits, allow you to take time off as needed, and don’t require a long commute. In addition, it’s obviously wise to consider avoiding jobs that may expose you to toxins, people with communicable illnesses, or other physical hazards.

The Pre-Natal Mamma’s Needs

During pregnancy, there are many mental and physiological changes that a woman will go through. In understanding those changes, it is more clear which types of jobs and workplaces are more suited to you as a pregnant woman. 

During pregnancy, the birth of your baby and the postnatal period, changes in the hormones in your body can have an effect on your emotions during pregnancy. These hormones and the changes can cause joy, fear, surprise and anxiety all of which can be assisted with necessary support and talking. 

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The physiological changes are more varied according to each trimester:

1st Trimester (0-13 weeks)

In the first few weeks following conception, your hormone levels change significantly. Your uterus begins to support the growth of the placenta and the fetus, your body adds to its blood supply to carry oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby, and your heart rate increases.

These changes accompany many of the pregnancy symptoms, such as fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, and constipation. During the first trimester, the risk of miscarriage is significant.

2nd Trimester (13 – 27 weeks)

While the discomforts of early pregnancy should ease off, there are a few new symptoms to get used to. Common complaints include leg cramps and heartburn. You might find yourself growing more of an appetite, and your weight gain will accelerate. 

3rd Trimester (28 weeks – birth)

Travel restrictions take effect during the third trimester. It’s advised that you stay in relatively close proximity to your doctor or midwife in case you go into labor early. The baby is growing bigger and stronger; the kicks can be quite powerful and your abdomen is becoming larger and heavier.

Stretch marks may develop if they haven’t earlier in the pregnancy. Braxton-Hicks contractions- which are usually perceived as painless tightening can be felt. Lower back pain is very common and there may be more pelvic pressure and with this more frequent urination. 

Swollen legs and feet are very common as are increased fatigue, interrupted sleep and a reduced ability to eat a full meal at one sitting.

4th Trimester (Post birth onwards)

Your baby’s fourth trimester starts from the moment she’s born and lasts until she is three months old. The term is used to describe a period of great change and development in your newborn, as she adjusts to her new world outside your womb. There are many adaptations, recovery and rest that you and your baby need through this trimester whether you have a natural or c-section birth.

All of these considerations need to be in mind when looking to find a great workplace whilst pregnant — whether you’re looking to ask for more support from your current workplace, find a new job or enter employment. 

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Next, let’s look at the factors that would define the opposite; somewhere you shouldn’t look to work whilst pregnant.

How to Spot The Worst Workplaces to Work Whilst Pregnant

1. Non-Negotiable Heavy Lifting

Do you have to lift, push, bend, shove, and load materials all day? If you do, many experts believe you should ask for a job reassignment or quit by the 20th week of pregnancy.

2. Toxic Environments

The list of jobs that involve dangerous substances is miles long. Consider the artist who works with paint and solvents all day, the dry cleaner who breathes in cleaning fumes, the agricultural or horticultural worker who works with pesticides, the photographer who uses toxic chemicals to develop pictures, the tollbooth attendant who breathes in car and truck exhaust, or the printer who works with lead substances.

3. Proximity to People with Communicable Illnesses

Working with or exposure to certain bacteria, viruses, or other infectious agents could increase your chances of having a miscarriage, a baby with a birth defect, or other reproductive problems.  Some infections can pass to an unborn baby during pregnancy and cause a miscarriage or birth defect. Infections like seasonal influenza (the flu) and pneumonia can cause more serious illness in pregnant women.

4. Extended Hours of Standing

Cooks, nurses, salesclerks, waiters, police officers, and others, have jobs that keep them on their feet all day. This can be difficult for a pregnant woman, but it might be downright dangerous for her unborn baby. Studies have found that long hours of standing during the last half of pregnancy disrupt the flow of blood.[3]

Key Factors Creating a Great Workplace whilst Pregnant

1. Flexibility

You might feel tired as your body works overtime to support your pregnancy — and resting during the workday can be tough. Having an employer or job that provide care and is understanding to your needs is hugely beneficial.

A compassionate and empathetic employer will understand morning sickness; they will facilitate changes in working hours to accommodate your energy and assist with the smells from the work kitchen. 

They will also enable you to remain flexible to snack as and when you want to – crackers and other bland foods can be lifesavers when you feel nauseated. Nad eating small frequent meals are similarly saving you as your meal quantity decreases.

2. Compassion

More employers are learning that the idea that pregnant women are willing and necessary contributors to the economy and are capable of adding long-term value to their organizations. 

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Employers that follow good practice in maternity can improve the experience of pregnant employees and new mothers and encourage them to return to work following maternity leave.

A good relationship between a pregnant employee and her line manager is essential to the successful reintegration of the employee following maternity leave.

3. Stress Reduced

Stress on the job can sap the energy you need to care for yourself and your baby.

To minimize workplace stress, take control. Make daily to-do lists and prioritise your tasks. Consider what you can delegate to someone else — or eliminate. 

Talk it out. Share frustrations with a supportive co-worker, friend or loved one. 

Practice relaxation techniques, such as breathing slowly or imagining yourself in a calm place. Try a prenatal yoga class, as long as your health care provider says it’s OK.

4. Adaptable

As your pregnancy progresses, everyday activities such as sitting and standing can become uncomfortable. Remember those short, frequent breaks to combat fatigue? Moving around every few hours also can ease muscle tension and help prevent fluid buildup in your legs and feet. 

Using an adjustable chair with good lower back support can make long hours of sitting much easier — especially as your weight and posture change. If your chair isn’t adjustable, use a small pillow or cushion to provide extra support for your back.

Elevate your legs to decrease swelling. If you must stand for long periods of time, put one of your feet up on a footrest, low stool or box. Switch feet every so often and take frequent breaks.

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Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Consider wearing support or compression hose, too.

5. Financial Support

Financial strain is one of the leading causes of peri & post natal depression. Employers can support employees by offering them benefits beyond the statutory minimum, for example training mechanisms to help them cope with balancing work and family commitments. 

The employer should conduct a performance review with the employee prior to her maternity leave to boost her confidence and encourage her to consider how parenthood and work will fit together.

Key Take-Aways

If you’re working while you’re pregnant, you need to know your rights to antenatal care, maternity leave and benefits. 

If you have any worries about your health while at work, talk to your doctor, midwife or occupational health nurse. You can also talk to your employer, union representative, or someone in the personnel department (HR) where you work. 

Once you tell your employer that you’re pregnant, they should do a risk assessment with you to see if your job poses any risks to you or your baby. If there are any risks, they have to make reasonable adjustments to remove them. This can include changing your working hours. 

If you work with chemicals, lead or X-rays, or in a job with a lot of lifting, it may be illegal for you to continue to work. In this case, your employer must offer you alternative work on the same terms and conditions as your original job. If there’s no safe alternative, your employer should suspend you on full pay (give you paid leave) for as long as necessary to avoid the risk.

Look for employment opportunities that don’t require too much physical exertion and that won’t cause you much emotional stress. Also, look for jobs that come with the chance to work flexible hours, offer good medical benefits, allow you to take time off as needed, and don’t require a long commute. 

Your current employer may need to offer you different types of work or a change to your working hours. If your employer can’t get rid of the risks (for example by finding other suitable work without any reduction in pay for you), they should offer you suspension on full pay.

Featured photo credit: Alicia Petresc via unsplash.com

Reference

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