Not everyone works the regular 9 to 6 schedule. If you are working in the healthcare, aviation or service industries, you may have been accustomed to working long, irregular hours or even night shifts. But what happens if you get pregnant? Is it still healthy and ideal to work night shifts when you are carrying a baby?
Should Pregnant Moms Work Night Shifts?
Working night shifts can affect your melatonin levels, because you are being exposed to light at night, disrupting your natural circadian rhythm, which regulates your pregnancy hormones and menstrual cycle. This may result in you having less, fragmented or poor sleep quality, than if you were working during the day. Moms-to-be usually only get to catch up on their lack of sleep during the weekends.
Studies found that working night shifts or long hours have been associated with menstrual disorders, preterm births and even miscarriages, even though the exact reason has not been confirmed. There could also be a lack of help you can get during emergencies at night when you tend to be active.
Tips on Working the Night Shifts While Pregnant
It is best to avoid working long hours or during your regular sleeping time when you are pregnant, to avoid stress and improve rest quality. However, if working at nights is an unavoidable issue, then follow these tips to minimise harm to your health and pregnancy:
- Get Enough, Quality Sleep
Getting enough rest is an easier said than done task. Especially when working moms tend to have to juggle between their careers, households, relationships and even other children- there are barely enough hours in a day to take care of everything. However, do ensure that you get sufficient quality rest. If you do not have enough time, get a family member or friend to help you. Get black-out curtains and drown out neighbourhood noises if any, by playing gentle sounds when you sleep.
- Conserve Your Energy Whenever Possible
Even if you get enough sleep, you may still feel tired and worn out, because your body’s clock may not be accustomed to your unnatural night schedule. So conserve your energy and rest whenever you have days off- take it easy and chill with relaxing activities.
- Good Time Management
Good time management at work and home will help ensure that you get enough rest while conserving your energy for essential tasks. Avoid procrastination and perfection- tackle only necessary tasks, instead of spreading yourself thin.
- Good Nutrition and Hydration
Make sure that you are getting adequate nutrition (prenatal vitamins help) and hydration because you will need these to have the energy to make it through the night and your entire pregnancy.
It is best to avoid working night shifts when pregnant, but if it is your only option, then the key is to maintain a routine. Have a regular sleeping pattern, regular work shifts, maintain a healthy weight and visit your doctor routinely, to ensure a healthier pregnancy.