If you are planning to work through your pregnancy, you may be wondering how workplace stress affects you and your baby. Although stress is an inevitable part of life, particularly office life, studies have shown that anything that affects you also affects the fetus. Therefore, it is in your best interest, as well as your baby's health, to minimize stress in the workplace if at all possible.
There are some stressful situations that you can exercise control over, and some that will have to remain the same. Obviously, for situations that cannot be changed, you will have to find your own ways to deal with the stress. For situations that can be altered, make changes that are suitable to your condition. Following are some suggestions for minimizing workplace stress:
Learn Relaxation Techniques
Having a few relaxation techniques up your sleeve helps you to deal with situations you cannot change. You may not change the situation, but you can change your reaction to the situation. There are several kinds of techniques available, anything from progressive muscle relaxation to deep breathing. You can practice prenatal yoga or meditate regularly. These relaxation techniques slow the body's biological and chemical response to stress, which also helps your baby stay healthy and safe.
Reorganize Your Day
If you are experiencing morning sickness, you may find it more logical to schedule appointments later in the day. If you get tired by the end of the day, you may want to leave work sooner. What worked for you before pregnancy may not work once you become pregnant, so it's worthwhile to investigate your options. If your employer offers flex time, take full advantage of that particular perk.
Learn to Say No
You simply may not be able to maintain the same levels of commitments once you become pregnant, especially if your energy levels have drained. Make your health and the health of your baby a priority by learning to say no to extra commitments or a super-heavy work schedule.
Be sure to take frequent short breaks throughout the day. If you stand a lot, sit down. If you sit at a computer, get up and take a walk. Eat several small meals that pack a nutritional punch. Rest for a few minutes at your desk if possible. If you can go home for lunch, put your feet up on the couch. Sneaking in a few moments' rest and relaxation will make your day easier and ease the stress you are feeling.
If you are facing a large project with many deadlines, feel free to delegate. Prioritize what must be done, and see how much of it you can realistically accomplish. Then ask a co-worker for assistance, or ask your boss for guidance. By being proactive, you show you are willing to be a team player.
If you feel the stress in your workplace is too much for your pregnancy, you may want to speak to someone in Human Resources, or with your EAP provider. You may also want to talk to your OB/GYN or a midwife to get more perspective and advice.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.