Are you pregnant and wondering if you should stop working? Take a look at the top signs to stop working during pregnancy and reasons you should.
My first pregnancy went smoothly… that is, until I hit that last and final month.
Now I struggled to walk, bracing myself for the inevitable pain in my pelvic bones and hips. I felt heavy, waddling from side to side, with shortness of breath. And let’s not even get into the sleepless nights and waking up five times a night, leaving me barely able to function the next day.
I was so exhausted, so over everything, and so drained.
But like many moms, I wanted to save my maternity leave for after the baby was born, not before. After all, we want to use that time to bond with the baby, push back the need for child care, and recover from delivery.
Except for many of us, the signs to stop working during pregnancy happen much sooner than when the baby delivers.
The decision to stop working, as I’m sure you’ve realized, isn’t always so clear. Financial reasons, maternity leave benefits, and health issues are just some of the factors that sway our choices.
Top signs to stop working during pregnancy
Still, you might be finding that the signs are glaring you in the face, regardless of what stage you currently are.
Maybe you’re always on your feet and running around with little option to sit down. Perhaps your commute is a horrendous 1.5 hours one way, or you want to spend time with your toddler before his baby sibling arrives.
On the other hand, you might not get paid for maternity leave, forcing you to work even if all the signs point that you shouldn’t. Or you don’t want your coworkers to think poorly of you if you stop working so soon, even if you know you shouldn’t care what they think.
Still, you’ll want to pay attention to these signs to at least consider whether to keep working or not. Of course, your doctor is the first person to ask whether to stop working. Complications and the baby’s safety take precedence over many of the other reasons.
But other times, it’s more an internal gut check combined with listening to your body. So, when should a pregnant woman stop working? Take a look at these signs to stop working during pregnancy, and whether they apply to you:
1. Preterm complications
Every mom’s goal in pregnancy is to avoid preterm delivery. So if you’re seeing signs of preterm complications*, it may be time to talk to your doctor about stopping work. Maybe you have high blood pressure, cramping, Braxton Hicks contractions, or unusual swelling.
Your doctor might also pull you out of work if you’re having issues with dilation, your mucus plug, or any symptoms that might lead to pre-eclampsia. For instance, while I didn’t have pre-eclampsia, my levels were close enough that my doctor had to monitor my urine for a few days.
By the way, do you need a checklist of all the things to do before the baby is born? Join my newsletter and download your printable checklist below—at no cost to you:
2. You have a high-risk pregnancy
Many moms—like myself with my first son—are “lucky” in that we were able to avoid many complications throughout the pregnancy.
But others have plenty of complications to contend with, from gestational diabetes to high blood pressure to anemia. And having twins and multiples—like I did when I became pregnant again—automatically makes your pregnancy high-risk.
With a high-risk pregnancy, you have more complications to contend with. Working until your due date may simply not be possible when you can barely walk or are placed on bed rest. Anyone with a high-risk pregnancy more often than not stop working than those without these complications.
3. You physically can’t perform well at work
Some jobs are more physically taxing than others. Think bartenders, pharmacists, nurses and doctors, hairdressers, or waitresses who are on their feet all day.
Others are physically demanding even without pregnancy, like loading items at a retail store. And still others pose risks you normally wouldn’t think twice about if you weren’t pregnant, like training dogs.
Every decision is personal and practical. While you wouldn’t quit your desk job the minute you get a headache, you also need to weigh its impact against your health risks. Being unable to do work you normally would perform well is a sign to decide how much longer you can work in these conditions.
4. You can’t keep up with work demands and pressure
That said, even typical “desk jobs” can be a challenge from sitting all day or when you can barely stay awake. Or perhaps you’re finding it hard concentrating like you used to, or dread coming in to work to face the day’s challenges.
Even if your job isn’t physically demanding, the emotional toll can add dangerous stress and anxiety on an already taxed body. And if you work in a toxic environment—rife with office drama or stress-ridden duties—these “invisible” pressures can be a sign to stop working.
5. You still have a lot to prepare
Not everyone has the ability to prepare ahead of time, or perhaps you’re the “I’ll deal with it later” type. If you find yourself nearing the end of your pregnancy and nowhere near ready to welcome the baby, it may be time to use the last few weeks to prepare.
The countdown to the big day could also be adding extra pressure if you feel unprepared. Stopping work the last few weeks can be a smart choice if it means not feeling overwhelmed with your plans.
Ask a room full of moms when each plans to stop working, and you’ll likely get a variety of answers. Some choose to work until the day they deliver (whether by choice or not). Others, meanwhile, decide to take time off before, from a few days to several weeks, to prepare and rest before the baby comes.
If you’re trying to decide when to stop, certain signs can point the way. The most common reasons to stop working is based on doctor’s orders. You might have pre-term complications that make it necessary for you to stop, or a high-risk pregnancy that demands more rest than work.
Other times, you need to weigh your work against the health risks that can rise from continuing to work. Your job might not be suitable for the condition you’re in, or perhaps you can no longer perform well at work.
And still yet, the decision can feel more personal, like wanting to ease the feeling of overwhelm by using those last few weeks to prepare for the baby.
With pelvic pressure, sleep deprivation, and waddling like a penguin, I decided to stop working one week before my due date. Turns out though that my son was more ready than I was, and he was born the day after my last day of work.
Because sometimes, you can only plan so much before someone else makes that decision for you.
Get more tips:
- What Every Mom Needs to Know About Her Second Pregnancy
- How to Survive a Pregnancy with a Toddler
- Pregnancy To Do List: What to Prepare in the Third Trimester
- 11 Crucial Pregnancy Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- 5 Best Things You Can Do to Have a Healthy Pregnancy
Need a checklist of all the things to do before the baby is born? Join my newsletter and download your printable checklist below—at no cost to you: