working a physical job while pregnant? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 06-15-2012, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
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My husband and I are thinking of starting a family next year.   We both work full time; he is in the restaurant industry and I work as a landscape foreman (forewoman!)  at a family-owned landscape design company, March thru early December.  Its basically a husband and wife team, plus me and one or two college guys we hire for the season.  I am 27 and have been there 5 years. 


My employers are amazing and treat me like family...I know they would be willing to work with me on maternity leave, flexible time off, etc, they are very progressive employers.  I'm sure they would be willing to hire more help while I was pregnant, and I could probably even take a year or more off and come back to the company.  I am curious if anyone has experience working a physical job while pregnant.  I have always worked outdoors doing fairly hard work, since high school.  But I have no idea what to expect for a first pregnancy.


I have been playing around with the timing...I would like to work as much as possible thru the pregnancy but do not know what is realistic.  Since it is such a small company everyone counts--and since they are in their early 60's---I would hate to have to totally jump ship just a few years before they retire, and make them train someone totally new. But-- will I be puking sick and exhausted for the first trimester, or feel totally awesome up until the third trimester?  I have no idea.


Has anyone else worked a similar, physically-demanding job through part of their pregnancy?  Any insight would be appreciated!



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#2 of 9 Old 06-17-2012, 05:28 PM
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I worked as a waitress during my first pregnancy and I was able to work up until about a month before my due date, I think. Actually, I could have worked longer, but CA has really great Family Leave Act laws so I was able to stop working before I really HAD to.


I actually think that it was a really good thing that I was working a job on my feet, though of course it wasn't easy and there were days that I wished I was behind a desk somewhere. I still managed to gain a total of 37 lbs!! I'm hoping to keep the weight gain closer to 25 lbs the next time around (I'm not pregnant yet, but planning to start trying in a couple of months.)


I know that serving tables is nothing like landscape stuff, so I'm not sure how it will be for you. As for the other stuff, every pregnancy is different, so you never know if you are going to have horrible morning sickness and throw up all the time, or be ravenous and not be able to stop eating. I think first trimester exhaustion is pretty common across the board, though. I had slight MS with no vomiting, but EXTREME exhaustion, to the point where I'd just sit down and cry sometimes because I wanted to sleep all the time. And of course, I wasn't LOOKING pregnant, and didn't want to start telling the whole world yet, so it was tough to get through. I feel like it would have been easier if I'd had the sympathy-inducing baby bump already, but alas that's just not how it works! If your employers are more like family then that might be easier on you, should you have a tough time at first.


I found that once I started showing the chivalrous males really came out of the woodwork, almost to the point of being annoying, haha. People were always very helpful and accommodating as soon as they saw my baby bump (and the tips were awesome, lol)


I'm glad that I'm working a fairly active job now (kindergarten teacher's asstnt) so hopefully I'll still get the benefits of being up and about while pregnant. I'm also hoping to keep running through this pregnancy, which I didn't do last time.


Anyhow, good luck with your pregnancy. I'm sure your situation will work out fine. I think active pregnant women are healthy pregnant women. And when in doubt, just think about those women who work in the fields or rice paddies or whatever and work up until the moment they give birth. I'm not sure if that is even true, but when I was slogging through waiting tables while 7+ months pregnant I would imagine women out working hard labor in the fields while more pregnant than I was, and in some odd way it helped me get through.

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#3 of 9 Old 06-17-2012, 07:28 PM
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i think being active and working is one of the best things you can do doing pregnancy. i am at the end of my first pregnancy (2 days till my due date) and i am still mucking out horse stalls, gardening and walking all over the place :)


i do get tired sooner of course and pushing a wheelbarrow uphill causes me to slow down quite a bit, but it beats sitting on the couch or something :)


of course you can't know in advance how you will feel during early pregnancy (i had mild nausea and food aversions, no puking) or how uncomfortable you will feel in late pregnancy (at almost 40 weeks, i am rarely uncomfortable) because everyone is different. i really think that if you can, staying active and doing all the things you did before pregnancy is really good for you.

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#4 of 9 Old 06-17-2012, 08:02 PM
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I agree every pg is different.

With my first I worked a fairly physically demanding job. Mild lifting, long hours and constantly on my feet. I worked until the day before I was induced at 42 weeks.

With my second, I was a sahm, and was but on complete bedrest (up only to use the bathroom) at 22w and spent a month in the hospital.

I would say to plan to birth over the winter, but know very well that kids don't always come as planned.

At least you should be able to oversee the seasonal worker and should be fairly helpful even if you can't be as physical

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#5 of 9 Old 06-17-2012, 08:17 PM
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You are already used to this level of activity. As you move through the pregnancy you will know intuitively when/if you need to make changes.


I was powerlifting until 2 weeks before my daughter's birth.

Doula mama to dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08) and expecting (Apr '17)
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#6 of 9 Old 07-27-2012, 01:39 PM
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I work as a landscape foreman


I can speak to this since I have a horticultural background.


1.  I'm assuming those college guys are the ones doing most of the heavy lifting and such.    There will be a point when lifting will no longer be possible. 

2.  For the most part, you'll be fine for awhile, albeit a bit more tired than usual.  You probably won't have the stamina you had before, for sure.  But later, you'll probably have more problems with your back, feet, pulled muscles, etc.  Then you'll have to reduce your physical tasks.

3.  If you can, time it for a delivery during the "down season" (here that's Nov-Feb) when there's usually not as much work anyway.  That way, you will feel less guilty about being out of commission, and won't feel like you're missing as much.

4.  If you're nauseated, at least you'll be outside.  I always felt way better when I was outside, it actually seemed to help with the nausea...something about the fresh air, I guess.


Some things you can expect:


1.  You'll get tired/out of breath a lot faster than before.  You'll have to take more breaks than you're used to.  You'll have to learn new limits, which isn't easy when you're used to working hard.

2.  You'll need to alternate between sitting and standing a lot to stay in the game longer.  I found the best combo was a bit of both.  Sitting all the time was bad.  Standing all the time was bad.  It was good to mix it up.

3.  You won't be able to lift bags of topsoil, steer manure, 20 gallon pots with plants, etc once you're past a certain point (without putting yourself at risk for injury).

4.  Wearing a back brace in the third trimester really helps A LOT!  I strongly recommend it.

5.  In the third trimester, you'll need to pee constantly.  You'll have to plan for that.

6.  Riding around in vehicles gets pretty uncomfortable after a certain point, especially things like work trucks.

7.  Finding work clothes that still fit in the third trimester will be challenging.  The shirts should be fine (just get a bigger size-go a bit baggy), but you'll need maternity pants, and it can be hard to find ones that are heavy duty enough to be work clothes.  Uniform catalogs often have things that work.  Don't know what you normally wear, but I'm guessing your best bet will be maternity jeans.

8.  Don't know if you do anything on ladders like tree work, but if you do, that will be out because your balance gets bad after awhile and it gets scary to be up on a ladder when pregnant.

9.  You'll have to be very careful about hydration.  Moreso than usual.

10.  Sometimes you get pregnancy brain and forget/space out a lot.  That sucks in a work situation.  Your brain may let you down, and that can be frustrating at times.

11.  You will NOT want to be around any of the commonly used chemicals in landscaping/ag.  Don't know if your company uses chemicals, but most do, and if so, you'll need to stay away from them!  Someone else will have to do this part of the job.

12.  Crouching will be out after about the second trimester because you'll have a hard time getting back up.  So if you're installing anything like irrigation pipes, borders, etc, that can be tricky.


Don't know if that helps, but for what it's worth, landscaping is probably more compatible with pregnancy than you might long as you aren't doing a ton of lifting, you should be able to do a lot of the other things you are already doing.  Being outdoors always made me feel better when I was pregnant, and I actually felt better being active than I did on my days off sitting around the house. 


What will be harder, ultimately, is the time AFTER the baby is born.  But that's another adventure...




Has anyone else worked a similar, physically-demanding job through part of their pregnancy?  Any insight would be appreciated!

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#7 of 9 Old 07-27-2012, 04:50 PM
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I agree with what has already been said here.  I'm a wildland firefighter which means lots of hiking, lifting, digging, etc. so I know what it's like to work a physical job and be a mom!  I'm currently preg with my second, due in Feb.  I plan on doing my job as usual, but making extra sure I stay hydrated and eat frequently.  Fire season will be over by the time I get huge so I get cut a break with that.  With my first I worked out in the field up until 3 days before I gave birth!

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#8 of 9 Old 07-28-2012, 01:12 PM
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My husband and I have a small nursery stock business (fruit, nut, and berry plants), homestead gardens, and I make wooden spoons for sale on  While I was pregnant with DD we also had more livestock (= lots of hauling feed and water buckets), were growing produce for market, and were building a straw bale house ourselves (no contractors).  My primary responsibilities during that time were house building - we were laying stone during my first trimester, and I was working on my hands and knees installing hardwood flooring early in my third trimester.  Late third trimester I got to take it easy doing plumbing and electrical.  We got moved in (with a few things unfinished) right before my due date, and two weeks before DD was born.  I fell off a stepladder at 37 weeks while wiring a light above the kitchen sink.  I had the ladder leaned up against the counter at a little too much of an angle (pregnancy brain), and leaned too far forward on the ladder (not having a good concept of my changing center of balance), the ladder slid backwards out from under me and I hit the counter JUST above my belly under my breasts.  Everything turned out fine except for bruised ribs which would have been an issue during labor if DD had come "on time." as it was, she was almost 2 weeks late and I was completely healed by the time labor started.


So my primary advice is STAY OFF LADDERS wink1.gif.  At least in third trimester or as soon as you find yourself not trusting your sense of balance or your judgement. And lifting probably will become an issue for you as well, possibly as early as 12-15 weeks.  The thing about lifting isn't for the sake of the baby (unless you get diagnosed with an "incompetent cervix" or something) but because of the relaxin hormones that make your joints loose.  I found that I had a lot of hip pain and some back pain if I lifted or carried too much weight.  I could carry max about two buckets (one in each hand) 1/4 full of water each. that was by the end of the pregnancy.  You're also more likely to injure your back because your joints are looser and your center of gravity is unpredictable.  Definitely start chiropractic care as soon as you start having discomfort - I didn't go until 36 weeks and it made a huge difference - I wished I had gone sooner.  During my first pregnancy I hadn't anticipated how much I would be out of commission during 1st trimester, and it is hard to plan for that since everyone's so different in terms of how much nausea and fatigue they experience.  However, typically, it's not 3 months of your pregnancy, it's really only 6 weeks of discomfort: weeks 6-12.  And for me only about three of those weeks was I really needing a lot of extra breaks, but I did try to get a 1/2 hour nap after lunch for that entire 6 weeks.  During this pregnancy (I'm currently 10 weeks) I've not had quite as much discomfort (thanks to vitamin B6) and I've not had more than 2 weeks where I felt like my productivity was significantly down (other than the naps - I'm so thankful I have the flexibility of being able to take 1/2 hour naps every day).  We were able to successfully schedule when we got pregnant (don't count on it), but we didn't give enough thought to the postpartum period.  Give yourself plenty of maternity leave!  At least 3 months.  That's probably more important than scheduling the birth during your down time.  Schedule the birth right BEFORE your down time.  Good luck!  

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#9 of 9 Old 08-03-2012, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, amazing advice!


Sageowl, thanks so much for the detailed advice--sounds like we have about the exact same jobs.  You covered all my concerns!



We are trying to plan for roughly a March conception and a December delivery....but we will see....


Diascia, wow, I can't believe you worked in the field three days before your due date!  Impressive!


Brambleberry...thanks for the ladder advice...we do use some tall pruning ladders.  After years of working in the horticulture/farming industry (since I was like 16), the shift in balance will take some getting used to but I am looking forward to the experience and trusting my body.  I will have to check out a chiropractor since I am already starting to have back issues this year.


So nice to hear from ladies in my career field and other outdoor can seem awfully like a good ol' boys club sometimes.  I don't work with other ladies on a daily or even monthly basis.   Thanks!

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