A healthy mom is a healthy baby

715be096d5a4.jpgIf you are a working expectant mom disclosing to your managers that you have a baby on the way could assist you to make your pregnancy a more pleasant and enjoyable one in the work-place. In a normal working environment, the health risks are close to zero. But, this is not always the case. According to Dr Trudy Smith, a Principal Specialist at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, challenges facing pregnant working mothers differ depending on the type of working environment they are in.

‘€œIf she has colleagues who smoke around her, then it’€™s dangerous because passive smoking is possibly worse than actively smoking yourself. It depends on the work-place. If a person is an air-hostess, they need to be grounded. If a person works in radiology or x-ray field, then she needs to take special precautions, like wearing a lead apron and making sure she is not exposed to the radiation’€, says Dr Smith.

Thirty-four year-old Kholofelo Vilakazi, from Daveyton on Gauteng’€™s Eastrand, has been a flight attendant for eight years now. She has fallen pregnant twice while working for the airline company.

‘€œYou are allowed to work, but once you are 20 weeks, you are not allowed to operate or fly with cabin crew. It is a very crucial stage and anything can happen. Once you reach 20 weeks you get grounded and do office work and normal office hours. You still get the normal perks that cabin crew members get. They are also very considerate when it comes to giving you strenuous work. They give priority to doctor’€™s appointments too’€.

Vilakazi says over the years the airline has taken great strides to make the working environment more conducive and healthy for pregnant employees.

‘€œWhen I started with the company they never used to do much for pregnant cabin crew members. They hardly paid anything to you when you were on maternity, but now they’€™re trying their best that a certain percentage is paid. Plus it is not that bad, one can live with the amount whilst on maternity leave. They take precaution to make sure your health is not at risk’€.

‘€œWe also have counsellors at work to support you for anything…not only during your pregnancy. Even if you have marital problems, grieving…anything… It’€™s free. They are there to help us through and support us where need be’€, says Vilakazi.

Principal Specialist, Dr Trudy Smith, explains the health risks involved for a pregnant flight attendant.

‘€œWhen you’€™re pregnant and you fly, you are at an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. You will be at risk of getting a clot in your leg. It can lead to a pulmonary embolus and that can be fatal because you can die from shortness of breath’€.

Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the vein deep in the body. The clot can break off and move to the lung, which is what can ultimately lead to pulmonary embolus, a clot in the lung ‘€“ making it difficult to breathe.

Dr Smith says pregnancy has three different stages that women need to be aware of. The last stage of pregnancy can affect their ability to perform certain duties.

‘€œThere are three trimesters. The first trimester is critical to the development of the foetus. In other words, that is when your baby’€™s brain, heart, lungs are developing. So, anything toxic at that time can affect your baby… like alcohol, drugs, smoking, prescription drugs, exposure to radiation, etc. In the third trimester, it’€™s when you can develop growth problems, the water around the baby gets less and you are heavy, and it is uncomfortable’€, she says.

Dr Smith stresses the importance of taking extra precautions when you’€™re pregnant, especially, if you are working. She says your baby’€™s health is dependent on yours.

‘€œNumber one – she needs to exercise, number two – she needs to eat correctly, number three – rest when she can and number four – do simple things, like, when you’€™re sitting at work, take the dust-bin and put your feet up, so your legs don’€™t swell up. Do speak to your managers. If you’€™re driving all day, it is going to be difficult for you to drive in the last trimester. If you’€™re an air-hostess, tell your manager that you’€™re pregnant early’€, says Dr Smith


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