It can be exciting to discover that you’re pregnant. It might be a bit scary, too. Every woman’s experience is different. When the initial emotions subside, it’s time to think about practicalities.
Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your employer is crucial to having a good pregnancy experience while working in the trades.
Tradespeople work with more hazards than a lot of other professions so it’s important to get advice from your Midwife as soon as possible. They can give you and your employer expert help and guidance to keep you and your baby safe in the workplace.
Women’s bodies go through major changes to allow a tiny human to grow inside. These include an obvious change of shape, fatigue, morning sickness, an increase in hormone activity, and a frequent need to pee. These changes will mean some adjustments at work but small tweaks to your workplace or duties are usually enough to keep you and your baby safe and healthy.
Once you give work a heads-up about your pregnancy, they’ll have time to adjust and you can navigate this new situation together.
Maternity care is free unless you choose a specialist doctor. As soon as you know you are pregnant, find a lead maternity carer. That’s usually a Midwife, and they will care for you through pregnancy until your baby is 6 weeks old.
Discuss your pregnancy, health, and progress with your Midwife. Share the relevant information with your employer to keep them in the loop and open discussions about ways to get around issues as they come up. For example, you may experience bone-tiredness and need to change the start and length of your shifts or have a rest mid-day. You may need regular snacks and to be nearer to the loo.
It’s important for you to know that you have the same employment rights as any apprentice. Pregnancy discrimination is against the law. With support from your midwife, employer, and Industry Trade Organisation (ITO), you can negotiate a break from your apprenticeship if necessary.
Keep notes about your medical visits and meetings with your employer. You may experience brain fog. Writing things down makes them easier to remember and discuss.
When your pregnant belly starts to expand, those hi-vis shirts and trousers start getting a bit tight. You may notice that you get out of breath. Lifting things and moving your body in certain positions gets more difficult. Every pregnancy is different so you are in control of the discussion on what you can and can’t do. If you don’t feel safe working on a ladder or lifting certain things, then don’t. You and your baby’s health and safety come first.
Your employer must provide you with (Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that is right for the work you are doing, fits you comfortably and works as it’s supposed to.
The NZ Government has a number of helpful resources to guide you towards taking Parental Leave. At 3 months from your due date, or at approximately 27 weeks, you will need to inform your employer in writing that you plan to take Parental leave. The details needed are here. Information about what steps your employers must take is here. This gives you time to plan when you want to come back and think through what communications you would like to receive from your employer while you are off work. A lot can change in three to twelve months or more, so frequent updates can make stepping back into your job easier.
Maternity leave can start up to six weeks before your due date (or earlier for medical reasons), but at the latest, it commences on the date labour starts.
Depending on your location and your return-to-work plan, you may choose to put your baby on an Early Childhood Education Centre waitlist, or open discussions with family about childcare. Government subsidies are available depending on your family’s circumstances.