Last Reviewed: April 2017
Important signs to watch for if you are pregnant
- Bad cramps or stomach pains that don't go away.
- Bleeding or a trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina.
- Lower back pain/pressure or change in lower back pain.
- A feeling that the baby is pushing down.
- Contractions or change in the strength or number of them.
- An increase in the amount of vaginal discharge.
- Fever, chills, dizziness, vomiting or a bad headache.
- Blurry vision or spots before your eyes.
- Sudden or severe swelling of your feet, hand or face.
- A significant change in your baby's movements.
Go to a hospital right away and contact your doctor/midwife if you have any of these symptoms.
Adapted with permission from:
Best Start: Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre
Taking Care of Yourself
Your environment - home & work
Environmental concerns when pregnant | Working through your pregnancy |
Working through your pregnancy - Be informed. Be safe. Be more comfortable.
Most women continue to work during pregnancy
If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, it's time to plan ahead for your changing needs. Research shows that most women can safely work throughout their pregnancy without any harmful effects on their baby.
However, there may be conditions in your workplace that you need to be aware of in order to make healthy decisions for you and your baby.
Standing or sitting for long periods
Standing or sitting for long periods (more than four hours) may affect your circulation and blood flow. Signs you may notice are swelling in your legs and feet, and muscle strain.
Simple changes can help:
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Rotate sitting, standing, walking and stretching every couple of hours if possible
- Use a footstool at your desk
- Avoid crossing your legs
- Rest with your legs up during breaks
- Use a pillow to reduce lower back strain
Shift work and long work hours
Your growing baby places extra physical demands on your body. If your work involves long hours, shifts, and/or is physically demanding, you may have a slightly higher risk for miscarriage, pre-term labour or a low-birth-weight baby.
The following tips will help you to work safely and more comfortably throughout your pregnancy.
Long hours (over 40 hours per week)
- Negotiate with your employer frequent rest and nutrition breaks if possible
- Consider working shorter shifts
- Limit overtime when possible
Physically demanding work
- Avoid lifting more than 23 kg (50 pounds) after your 20th week of pregnancy.
- Avoid lifting more than 11 kg (24 pounds) after your 24th week of pregnancy.
- Bend your knees and squat, keeping your back straight if you must lift
- Hold items close to your body when lifting
- Avoid twisting to reach objects
- Minimize repetitive bending or climbing
Learn about health and safety risks in your workplace. Start with WHMIS training and become familiar with data sheets specific to your work.
- Follow product safety guidelines
- Work in a well ventilated area
- Wash your hands before eating
- Avoid excessive noise, vibration, and heat
- Take frequent breaks in cooler areas and drink about 2 litres of water throughout the day if working in extreme heat is unavoidable
For more information, consult Motherisk
Infections and pregnancy
Certain infections may cause miscarriage, birth defects, or other health problems for you and your baby.
You will reduce your risk by following these tips:
- Wash your hands often, especially before eating
- Review your immunization status with your doctor/midwife
- Avoid contact with people who are ill
- Speak with your doctor/midwife as soon as possible if you believe you have come in contact with someone who has an infectious disease.
Talking to your employer
Let your employer know you are pregnant as early as possible to plan ahead. If you anticipate challenges as your pregnancy progresses, offer suggestions and ask for ideas. Be flexible and willing to negotiate.
Managing work and family
Work and family life are difficult to balance for many people. Pregnancy is new territory and brings new considerations. It is also a time to re-think priorities and the pace of your lifestyle.
- Rest when you feel tired
- Identify your sources of stress
- Use relaxation techniques and physical activity to reduce stress
- Schedule time to do things you enjoy
- Ask for help when you need it
More steps to working well during pregnancy
- Keep healthy snacks handy
- Think about how much sleep you need to feel energetic
- Rest to meet your changing needs in pregnancy
If you have concerns, talk to your doctor/midwife.
For more information:
Region of Peel - Public Health
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
to speak with a Public Health Nurse
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216
Your Human Resources Department
Your Occupational Health Nurse
Employment insurance benefits during maternity and parental leave 1-800-668-9938
Workplace exposures during pregnancy 416-813-6780
Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers
Ontario Human Rights Commission
Occupational Health and Safety
Ontario Ministry of Labour
Provides information about the obligations of employers
Best Start Ontario
Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre