Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why The Office is Bad for Pregnancy

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Everyone  knows that our sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. When we work 8-9 hours a day sitting at a desk, come home, and plop ourselves down in front of the TV, we know we're doing our body a disservice. But what choice do we have? Money needs to be made, and our jobs are sometimes stressful (hence why we zone out in front of the TV every night).

But all the risks associated with our choices seem so far off in the distance. It's hard to take cardiovascular disease seriously when there's a "chance" that we'll develop problems. The payoffs we get now (money, power, job satisfaction) outweigh the negative impacts we may experience years down the road. That's why it's so hard to change - getting more exercise, eating better, and lowering stress have long-term benefits. Our brains are hard-wired to want what we want RIGHT NOW.

However, pregnancy is a short time in our lives. Long enough that we can appreciate what our bodies are putting us through, but short enough that we can see the outcome. And office life can have some detrimental effects on pregnancy and birth. But the good news is that short-term positive changes can be made to facilitate a healthier and less stressful pregnancy. And when we can see the benefits (i.e. a healthier mommy and a healthier baby), then we're much more motivated to make changes.

I've worked in an office for many years, and have never had an issue with sitting for long periods of time, typing all day long, and working under fluorescent lighting. Never, that is, until I got pregnant. Pregnancy changed my body, and made it hard to handle the demands of office life.

So here are some tips/tricks I have learned along the way, in both my first pregnancy and this pregnancy:

1) If possible, try to work from home or negotiate "flex hours" with your manager. Even 2-3 days a week at home can give you a much needed break from the fake lighting and lack of fresh air. Plus, you'll save time on your commute, which will give you the opportunity to get a bit of housework done or go for a walk.

2) Drink lots and lots of water. Office buildings have recirculated air, which can make them stuffy and dry. Keeping yourself well hydrated is a must.

3) Get up frequently - every 10 minutes. Go to the bathroom (not hard when your bladder is getting squished); take a quick trip to the water cooler; go for a walk around the building; or just do some stretching by your chair.

4) Sitting - we have an epidemic of malpositioned babies here in Ottawa. Some suspect it's because most of us are government/office workers, and we spent a lot of time reclined back in our chairs. This encourages our babies to take the "sunny side up" position, which can make labour and birth long and difficult (usually resulting in more interventions). One way to fix this is to buy an exercise ball to sit on instead of your office chair. This encourages you to arch your back, open your legs up wide and strengthens your core muscles.

5) Activate your commute. I park my car a 15 minute walk from work, which forces me to get 30 minutes of physical activity each day (I try to do a power walk). On the days I take the bus, I get off at a stop further away from the office, which again helps me to get short bursts of activity.

6) TV at night is still OK - just remember what I said above about posture and positioning. If you're watching TV at night with your hubby, bust out your yoga mat, and do some stretches. Or sit on your exercise ball instead of the couch. Even better? Turn off the TV and sign up for a yoga class!

Have you learned any special tricks/tips for being pregnant in the office?


  1. These are great tips! I also think it's imporatant to have a good chair. Good back support is very important! Also, make sure there is someone in the office that you trust and can go over emergency situations with. For example, I work in a small office and for my first pregnancy it was just me and two men. One day they asked me what would happen if my water broke while I was at work. At first I thought they were joking but the look of concern on their faces were priceless. I told them how we would handle the situation and also explained how they should handle an emergency situation. I think they felt better after we discussed it!

    1. Makes me think of the episode of The Office when Pam almost gives birth at work :)

  2. Another suggestion I have heard of....if you cannot sit on an exercise ball....place a small cushion under your bottom, just enough to angle you forward slightly. This encourages baby to settle in a more optimal birth position.

    1. I used this trick for long car rides too!

  3. Nice one. Right from my heart. Will re-post


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