If your employee approaches you and tells you the fantastic news, your first reaction as her employer will most likely be happy. But, once the good news has been conveyed and enjoyed, the difficult part begins. How can you guarantee that your employee is as comfortable as possible at work during the pregnancy stages? Your office chair may be OK, but what about when the belly begins to grow?
The first step in ensuring that your office is an excellent workplace for pregnant women is to notify your HR department in writing about the employee's pregnancy. Then, you must examine the risks in your employment. This examination involves a review of all the chemical and toxic metals in your working area. These substances have the potential to harm both the mother and the unborn child. So, if you, as the manager, are aware that certain hazardous chemicals are present in your workplace, you must notify the pregnant worker.
When someone is nearing the end of their pregnancy, they may find themselves reaching an extra 12 inches or more to reach their computer or workstation, placing strain on the arms, shoulders, and back. Furthermore, even when not pregnant, sitting at a computer for up to eight hours a day can cause poor circulation, back pain, and stiffness. Consider the additional strain on desk ergonomics induced by pregnancy.
Ergonomics is the study of how people can work most effectively in their surroundings. Pregnancy is a natural and healthy situation in which a woman's body undergoes various changes. While putting on weight, the contour of the body changes. The belly grows larger with time, and the gravitational pull shifts upwards and outwards rather than remaining centered at the navel. These changes also have an impact on a woman's equilibrium and put a strain on her spine.
Weight gain, increasing spine curvature, and hormonal problems cause the spine joints and ligaments to weaken and become unstable. This increases the pressure on the back muscles, which explains why over 80% of pregnant women have back pain. In anticipation of the birth, the muscles across the hip and pelvis begin to stretch and relax. Posture is modified during pregnancy to adjust for all of the physiological changes.
Pregnancy in the workplace
It is recommended that both the company and the expectant employee collaborate to create a pregnancy-friendly work environment.
When attempting to build an ideal workplace for expectant mothers, it is critical to examine structural changes in the company and changes in its response to mid-pregnancy and post-pregnancy difficulties. To accomplish this, open a direct line of communication with your pregnant employee regarding how she is coping after childbirth. Ask her if she wants a few additional days off or a lighter workload to help her heal faster.
If necessary, treat your expectant employee as a temporarily disabled employee at work and provide her with the appropriate perks or advantages. Of course, most women would not insist on this right away. However, being knowledgeable and informed about it can assist.
To compensate for the growing distance between herself and her workstation, she may reach for the computer's mouse or touchpad. This is neither healthy nor optimal. To provide the best working environment for pregnant women, include forearm rests near her chair so that she can sit comfortably. They will also make it easier for pregnant ladies in your company to bend over to their workstations.
If you can finance it, try putting ergonomic chairs in your office for pregnant mothers. These chairs are well recognized for responding well to the physiological changes of pregnant women over nine months. If they appear to be pricey, a better alternative would be to include only one ergonomic office chair in your workplace and let pregnant ladies use it throughout their working hours.
You can also develop or design a dedicated breastfeeding area or room for returning women and their newborns in the workplace to provide a friendly environment. Most pregnant or post-pregnancy women are valuable and eager participants in a company's economy. This breastfeeding space is essential for their work productivity. It will not only assist mothers in caring for their newborns at work, but it will also make them feel safe, confident, and protected as both a mother and an employee.
One of the most important things to do to create a positive work environment for pregnant women is to enlighten them about the nine months' difficulties. Once you and your workers are aware of pregnancy and birth's positive and negative aspects, you may provide a bit of assistance or offer an understanding nod to the terrible yet trivial issues that a woman may encounter before and after childbirth.
According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, when pregnant, women have a legal right to work changes, including ergonomics. Try a standing desk, under-desk footrest, or a kneeling desk. As an employer, you should comply, so allow them to your human resources department about it.
- Provide an office chair for comfort, use a lumbar pillow to cushion the back, or place soft padding on the seat to avoid a sore bottom. Avoid chairs that cause them to sink into the seat, and go for a chair with a strong foundation and lumbar support, like Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair or Ergonomic Office Mesh Chair 1388, both from FlexiSpot.
- Allow them to make changes to the height of their monitor and desk to avoid hunching as their belly grows, and their spine curvature increases. This would alleviate neck and back stiffness. Consider monitor arms and stands.
- Ensure their elbows are level with the keyboard, shoulders are relaxed away from the ears, and feet are flat on the floor to feel grounded and steady to support the growing belly. This is vital whether pregnant or not. You may check keyboard trays for this.
- Because pregnancy increases the risk of swelling in hands and feet along with blood clots, they must get up from the office chair and move about every 30 minutes. You might want to add a footrest for extra support and to minimize swelling or use anti-fatigue mats. A sit-stand desk is the perfect ergonomic equipment to consider for this. If you can't give up your traditional desks, standing desk converters would be your alternative.
Other pieces of advice:
- Conduct regular ergonomic assessments to tackle bad practices and make the required adjustments for a healthy workplace. Make sure you have ergonomic measures in place for expectant mothers who work. Reduce the ergonomic health hazard by making suitable adjustments.
- Help pregnant ladies by being accommodating with their working hours. Make sure that they are not overburdened with work at lunchtime. Allow for more frequent brief breaks.
- Pregnant individuals should limit their standing time and have footrests and anti-fatigue mats installed around their workstations if needed. Provide them with comfortable adjustable chairs that can be quickly modified to meet their specific requirements.
- Remove any barriers from beneath their desks and give a working environment with plenty of room for them to move about. Mobile file cabinets have casters that they can effortlessly move around.
- Pregnant women should be assigned fewer tasks that require sudden bursts of movement, carrying large loads, extended work conditions, repeated standing, or extended sitting.
Whether or not to keep working until childbirth is heavily influenced by the workplace environment for pregnant women. Making the workplace environment more ergonomic would not only help with the pregnancy but will also aid with adherence and work efficiency.