Deciding when to stop working during pregnancy depends on you.
Some women feel great and work right up until the baby decides to arrive.
Others have complex pregnancy conditions and stop working sooner rather than later.
You might want to work but wonder whether you’re struggling enough to leave work during pregnancy?
Signs you need to stop working during pregnancy
Many mothers-to-be try to save their work maternity leave so they have more time after baby is born.
Everyone keeps telling you you’ll need time to recover from birth, and that you won’t want to leave baby with a carer to go back to work. And apparently, you’ll be really tired, thanks to lots of sleepless nights (again).
The decision to stop working isn’t always an easy one to make.
There are a number of factors we all take into consideration, such as finances, leave benefits, health issues, and the availability of support.
When should I stop working during pregnancy?
You might be pushing through, even though the signs you should stop working are staring you in the face.
Maybe your job means you’re on your feet a lot. Perhaps the location of your place of employment means you have a 1.5-hour commute one way.
You might be a long way from your family and need to spend some time setting up support for when baby arrives.
Or you might not have a lot of leave on offer where you live, which makes you keep on working even if all the signs point to stopping.
Many women just don’t want to let down their employers or coworkers by leaving early.
Regardless of all these things, you should pay attention to the following signs, and at least think about whether or not you should stop working.
Speak to your doctor, who can advise you about potential risks to your health and that of your baby.
Take a moment to listen to your intuition and your body. What are they telling you?
Look at these signs to stop working during pregnancy, and decide whether or not they apply to you:
#1: Preterm labor complications
Every mother’s goal is to be pregnant until her baby is ready to be born. If you have signs of preterm complications, then it’s time to talk to your doctor about not working.
Signs you need to watch out for are:
- Period-like cramping low in pelvis, or backaches
- Persistent spotting or bleeding
- Braxton Hicks contractions or irritable uterus
- High blood pressure or swelling; both are indications of developing preeclampsia
- Signs of dilation, such as mucus plug or bloody show
- Waters breaking or leaking.
For more information be sure to read Premature Labour – Signs, Symptoms, and Management.
#2: High risk pregnancy
Many women have healthy, low-risk pregnancies and sail through just fine. But there are women who have risk factors that increase their chances of complications.
A high-risk pregnancy means you have a pre-existing condition, or you develop a condition that puts you and your baby at risk for complications.
High-risk pregnancies need extra monitoring and care to prevent or minimize the problems that can occur with your condition.
High-risk pregnancy conditions include:
- Multiple baby pregnancies
- Gestational diabetes
- Premature labor
- Placenta problems, such as placenta previa or placenta abruption
- HELLP syndrome.
Working up to the due date, or even to 35 weeks, might not be a reality when a pregnant woman is on bed rest or is barely managing, due to symptoms.
As many of these conditions put you at risk of preterm labor, being careful of yourself physically is important.
For more information check out What Is A High-Risk Pregnancy And How Can I Best Avoid One?.
#3: Physically demanding job
Your job might require you to sit or stand for extended time frames, or even have you moving around on your feet all day.
You might have to move items that are awkward or heavy, or even work with young children who bring all those childhood germs into your workplace.
Sitting for prolonged periods increases the risk of blood clots, and standing for prolonged periods can increase your risk of high blood pressure and preterm labor.
Heavy lifting isn’t ideal during pregnancy, either, as it increases the chance of injury to you as well as the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.
Talk to your manager about changing your work habits or arrangements if your job is physically demanding.
Consider stopping work or taking early maternity leave to give yourself time to rest before the physically demanding job of birthing and parenting a baby.
#4: Stress and pressure
If you’re constantly battling pregnancy symptoms, you can really struggle to cope. Ongoing problems with sleep and fatigue can make it incredibly hard to function and work.
You might be awake half the night with restless legs or leg cramps. Trying to drag yourself into work without falling asleep under your desk, and the stress of not performing to your best can become problematic, especially if you have a high-pressure job.
Ongoing, high levels of stress that continue for a long time can contribute to health problems, such as high blood pressure. This can cause problems with your baby’s growth and lead to premature birth or a low birthweight baby.
Talk to your doctor for midwife about ways to relieve cramps and restless legs, or how to sleep better at night. If your job is the cause of your stress, it might be time to stop working.
You might be interested in reading this article Stress During Pregnancy | How Does Stress Affect Pregnancy?.
#5: Anxiety or depression
Some women experience a decrease in their symptoms during pregnancy, but your anxiety or depression could get worse.
After all, not everything that makes you feel anxious is under your control. Hormonal changes might affect the chemicals in your brain. This can cause anxiety and depression.
If you require medication, you might need to see your midwife or psychologist on a regular basis. This requires maternity leave, which you are entitled to.
Anxiety and/or depression can stop you from working.
Discuss early maternity leave with your employer. Seek support from family and a best friend.
Please read Depression During Pregnancy – What You Need To Know for more information.