Although working outside the home is a personal decision taken by the parents-to-be, there should be certain things that should be kept in mind to ensure safety for the mother and the baby.

Pregnancy is a unique experience. It is also a period when the woman needs to take maximum care of her health under expert medical supervision.

Although working outside the home is a personal decision taken by the parents-to-be, there should be certain things that should be kept in mind to ensure safety for the mother and the baby.

Should the mother work?

Most working women do not immediately stop working as soon as they come to know of their pregnancy. The question remains here whether they should continue to work or not. Another confusing issue that most women face is the dilemma about when they should stop working. Though there is no hard and fast rule regarding this, most women stop some time in their last trimester depending on their comfort.

Some professions which may be harmful to the mother and the baby are:

  • Industries where the mother is exposed to very loud sounds
  • Factories producing harmful chemicals, fabrics or where conditions of smoke and dust prevail
  • Strenuous sports like athletics
  • Jobs involving irregular shift timings.

How can stress be relieved at work?

Though all stress reducing mechanisms are essentially the same, pregnant women should take extra care. If it is possible, the pregnant woman should ask for a change in her department. If that is not possible, some of the following measures can be taken:
She should take frequent breaks to rest in order to avoid fatigue.

If the job requires sitting for long periods of time, she should get up periodically and take a short stroll.

While sitting, a comfortable chair should be chosen which also takes care of the mother’s posture. She should put her feet on a stool so that swelling in her legs does not occur.

Deep breathing and light exercises may help.Listening to light music may also be helpful.She should drink plenty of water throughout the day. This not only helps to keep the skin healthy, but also ensures that swelling does not occur.Clothing should be loose and comfortable to allow passage of air.The amount of work should be kept manageable and some fixed timings should be maintained.

What are the provisions for maternity leave?

Every organisation has provisions for a specified period of time that is designated as maternity leave. This may vary form 3-6 months and is usually a paid leave. However, though leave may be granted, most women may have to undergo subtle discrimination once her colleagues come to know that she is pregnant. Thus, it is a good idea to tell the immediate supervisor about the pregnancy. This makes it easier to dispel any doubts or misunderstandings between the employer and the employee. In India, usually a maternity leave is for 12 weeks and the employer pays for the leave. In case of a miscarriage, a woman is entitled to 6 weeks paid leave from the day of the miscarriage.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

The Central Government passed the Maternity Benefit Act in 1961 which extends to the whole of India, and to every establishment belonging to the government – industrial, commercial or agricultural. It provides for certain benefits which are granted to a woman during her pregnancy. Also she cannot be dismissed from service on account of her pregnancy.

The maximum permissible period of maternity leave is 12 weeks, with 6 weeks leave to be taken before delivery and 6 weeks immediately after the child is born. A woman can ask for light work before she goes off on leave. The employer cannot reduce her salary in this scenario. The maternity benefits can only be withdrawn if the employee joins some other organisation during that time.

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