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Working and Pregnancy

(31 Posts)
Hasle157 Wed 25-Jun-14 19:19:10


I'm an English Teacher in a Secondary school currently 34 weeks pregnant. I'm due to go on Maternity Leave from Monday, but have had a lot of time off sick during my pregnancy mainly due to low iron making me exhausted, sickness, persistant water infections, usually accompanied by yeast infections, a chest infection, migraines and general lack of ability to cope with the pressure of being a Teacher and the associated side-effects of feeling dreadfully run down all the time. Many women told me about the 'pregnancy glow' which lasted all of about 4 weeks until I was back to feeling awful again whilst struggling and buckling under the huge workload!

The school helped by giving me cover lessons here and there, but it was never enough to catch up on marking and I felt unable to be productive in the evenings, because I was so tired after a day at work. Anyway, I just feel ridiculously guilty about the time off I've had, I've always had a doctors note but I know that my absences have a had a huge impact on my department who have had to do extra work on my behalf, such as setting cover lessons. I did what I could from home, but if I'd have set my own cover, marked work and continued to write reports, there would have been no point in being off sick in the first place and the doctor ordered complete rest during these periods. I know that it has frayed good relationships I once had with people in my department.

Has anyone else has to juggle a high-pressure job whilst being pregnant and experienced anything similar? How did you deal with it? How did other colleagues react to you taking time off sick? I feel very much on my own with this at the moment so any responses would be helpful.

woodwaj Wed 25-Jun-14 21:48:08

Hi hasle! Im not in this situation but im sure everyone is just plodding on as best they can! I might suggest a lot of biscuits and cake on your last day and no one will care once you bring your cute baby in for everyone to see!

It might be easier once your on maternity as they might be in a position to get a temp in full time! I'm presuming budgets won't let them do that till you finish

Lozmatoz Wed 25-Jun-14 21:48:22

If your colleagues were pissed off or unwilling to help out, would you put yours and your baby's health at risk? I assume not. realised a few weeks ago that it's not possible to do everything. Sometimes something had to give, and you have to let it be work, not you or the baby.
I recently took a week off, my boss told me "work will be here a lot longer than you or i".

You're not doing anything wrong, in fact you'd have befn foolish nit to have been off. Often we put the pressure on ourselves. Give yourself break, enjoy your mat leave!

Sparkle9 Wed 25-Jun-14 22:46:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hasle157 Wed 25-Jun-14 23:07:22

Thanks everyone, I know that what you're all saying is right, I just wish I could stop feeling guilty about it!

Welldone Sparkle! You deserve a medal in my eyes for managing to get through so far! How have you found juggling the workload with your pregnancy? I'd get to a point where my 'to do' list was so long by the end of the day that I'd either sit at my desk and cry or drive home crying, because all I'd want to do is sleep, yet I'd have so much to do!

You're right about the teacher guilt though, I guess that's why we're teachers, we 're the only ones stupid enough to torture ourselves for things beyond our control.


mssleepyhead Wed 25-Jun-14 23:32:38

I'm also a secondary English teacher. I'm 30 weeks and struggling a lot but desperate to hang on till the holidays. No time off yet but am being made to feel guilty by some for things like midwife appointments and an upcoming day I needed I take off for an antenatal class (had to take it as special leave because the school would class it as a medical appointment!). I'm coping basically by not doing my job fully. Books are unmarked, lessons aren't planned as well as they could be... But I'm still going... We have a tough job at the best of times; be kind to yourself and know that eventually your colleagues will forget this stuff : )

Hasle157 Wed 25-Jun-14 23:47:19

I'm sorry to hear that your school aren't being very supportive mssleepyhead. They should be allowing you to take time off for midwife appointments and even your antenatal classes without question! I'm very lucky that my school has been helpful in this sense, however I can relate to the amount of pressure they pile on and it making you feel guilty when you can't fulfil your duties thoroughly.

My books aren't marked either and I've spent a lot of my time off sick marking at home, even my Maternity Leave will be taken up catching up on marking because I know it will just look bad when I'm gone.

Keep plodding on! You've done amazingly well to get this far. We can't get everything done in our job as it is, without the additionally job of growing a human at the same time.

Goodluck x

lornathewizzard Thu 26-Jun-14 16:21:24

Hi Hasle, I know this is easy to say but you just need to forget about work and concentrate on you and baby. You were off on doctors advice, not skiving or anything else you should feel remotely guilty about. Some folk are always gonna moan when it is them that are put out, none of us can change that. You know what your top priorities are so you should stop putting pressure on yourself to do everything and please everyone. And relax... smile

mrsnlw Thu 26-Jun-14 16:33:41

I'm not in a high pressured job and luckily havent needed time off work ue to illness but I definitely have been made to feel guilty by one of my two bosses when I have to have time off for antenatal appointments etc. One says dont worry about it, you need time off to go to X, Y or Z then take it. Another makes me feel like I shouldnt even dare to say I need time off. Luckily, I see more of the first boss than the other. I'm also the only person who does my job and as such it means when I'm not in, there's no-one else around to cover me.

At the end of the day, you are only off because you need to be - through sickness or antenatal appointments - and have a legal right to be off for both. As long as you are doing your best, and you know you are doing your best, then buggar what anyone else thinks.

Sisyphus85 Thu 26-Jun-14 16:51:59

Don't feel guilt Hasle - but do be grateful (or at least pretend to show some).

I'm sure they won't really have minded - people know that pregnancies can be difficult. Just remember in future not to be too grumpy when you have to pick up someone else's slack.

Maybe buy them a big thank you card & cake... if they are anything like the teachers I know then they'll quickly forget any ill feeling when presented with something sweet grin

Sparkle9 Thu 26-Jun-14 19:06:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hasle157 Thu 26-Jun-14 19:46:54

Sounds like you're doing brilliantly Sparkle! 3 weeks to go until those magic 6 weeks, I don't know how you've pulled through.

I think it can be difficult for some people to understand how difficult pregnancies can be Sisyphus, especially as they're all different or when others have not been pregnant before. I certainly had no idea until I became pregnant myself. I assumed the sickness just buggered off bang on week 12! Week 34 and I was sick twice yesterday! I appreciate all the help my department have given me and expressed it on numerous occasions, but it hasn't been received warmly unfortunately. Last time I returned to work after being off sick, I was ignored by 2 of my close colleagues for 2 days.

Mummytobeforthefirsttime Thu 26-Jun-14 20:19:10


I'm also a teacher and in Senior Mgt. I'm currently 35 weeks and 2 days! My work have been fine. I wanted to stay until at the Year 11s had finished, our timetable rolled over this week and fortunately I have not been given a timetable. I have terrible carpal tunnel syndromw in both my wrists and driving is becoming difficult. The head has said I can go in later and work from home if required. I think my school,have been more sympathetic as I have had 5 recurrent miscarriages, so they understand the need for more antenatal checkups.

redwinerequired Thu 26-Jun-14 20:34:15

I'm not a teacher but worked in the nhs when I was pregnant. I had terrible pregnancies but a very supportive boss. I had to start mat leave earlier than expected due to complications so I left a fair bit of work that I couldn't do. I was ordered to have complete rest. I offered to do some work from home but my boss wouldn't hear of it and the department stepped up. I took loads on when I came back though and brought my boss some wine!

Anyway, the point is I felt incredibly guilty for colleagues and patients alike, however my baby and I were more important. Work will survive, look after yourself and your baby

squizita Fri 27-Jun-14 09:01:45

I'm middle management, teaching and some other bits in a secondary.

Basically... what Sparkle said. Roll on the holidays which will be a restful time of sorting out the baby's room, clinic appointments, paperwork... b

bugoven Fri 27-Jun-14 09:15:53

I work in a school as a HLTA, ELSA and LSA in a mixed and demanding role. I had a miscarriage last year and was also attacked on the way to work all within a few weeks. I took a total of four days off for the mc and a day spent with the police for the incident. I returned to work a little shaken but determined to be distracted and resilient on both occasions. Everyone was very impressed and I earned myself a pay rise in recognition for my hard work and regularly going beyond my role requirements.

I was lucky enough to fall pregnant a few months later in December since when I have had a huge amount of time off sick with morning sickness, exhaustion, being far too hormonal to pull myself together. It would be fair to say I have received little to no support from all but 2 of my colleagues in a large school. I have been reprimanded for absence due to pregnancy related illness (including time spent in hospital), taking breaks (not beyond the time I have unpaid for breaks but at times that meant I could rest and function for the rest of the day) and booking a single appointment during school hours as it was for an ecg. After weeks of feeling alienated by my colleagues and struggling through I have finally given up and allowed my doctor to sign me off sick after I projectile vomited just outside a classroom last week. I was told that I shouldn't be suffering with sickness any more (29 weeks) and that there would not be any adjustments made to my role to allow me to stay at work. I should "just get on with it".

I am really uncomfortable with my decision to stay home but I am very big for 29 weeks,experiencing regular, painful braxton hicks and hardly sleep. I just wasn't prepared to risk mine or the baby's health after trying 3 years to become a mum.

Everyone's experiences of pregnancy are different and it seems how they are treated vary massively too and that must effect how well you cope. If any one of my many managers had read the 81 page maternity rights document made freely available on the county website I think they'd understand how their lack of support was ultimately the reason I have "let everyone down" and not a lack of work ethic on my part.

Hope you feel easier about your situation. It took me a while.

Hasle157 Fri 27-Jun-14 12:45:00

Bugoven, I think it's a big damn horrible shame to hear your story. It shouldn't be happening. What strikes me, is that when you were doing your duties above and beyond their expectations, you were rewarded, yet at a time you were unable to do your job to the best of your ability for health reasons, you were alienated. It shouldn't be happening.
When I spoke to my HOD abo
ut my struggles with the workload and how I felt unable to offer extra tuition at lunch times, I was told 'that's the nature of the job.' He's young and still learning, it strikes me that HODs or members of senior management are given no HR training whatsoever? Some people can be good at their jobs but don't have good interpersonal skills! It took 2 weeks off sick for them to listen and help me manage the workload, but I was alienated as a result too.

I was regularly sick during lessons and would have to run out half way through, sometimes I'd wet myself in lessons due to repeated water infevtions and have to leave. I guess I wasnt able to do my job properly purely due to the fact that I wasnt providing students with a duty of care. But again, it wasnt really addressed until I made a point of it and ai dont feel my lack of being able to do my job properly was taken seriouslyenough.

Hasle157 Fri 27-Jun-14 12:49:04

In the teaching world, there's little empathy for teachers who are unable to perform their duties properly for reasons beyond their control. It's vile. The worst part for me, was feeling like I'd let my colleagues down, or being made to feel that way. I dont blame you for taking the time off, with the pressure of pregnancy, the pressure of teaching, who needs the pressure of feeling alienated in the workplace too?
Look after yourself and your baby x

bugoven Fri 27-Jun-14 22:18:32

Thanks Hasle for your kind words and support. I am starting to feel more and more sure of my decision as the days go by. I definitely would have struggled with at work with nausea today and yesterday plus didn't sleep properly at all last night. Really pleased to have put me and baby first and hope you are able to do the same without too much upset. Please remember you're not alone =) X

bugoven Fri 27-Jun-14 22:19:16

Thanks Hasle for your kind words and support. I am starting to feel more and more sure of my decision as the days go by. I definitely would have struggled with at work with nausea today and yesterday plus didn't sleep properly at all last night. Really pleased to have put me and baby first and hope you are able to do the same without too much upset. Please remember you're not alone =) X

Doodles197 Sat 28-Jun-14 00:33:10

I feel exactly the same. I'm a secondary teacher too (Technology) and took a couple of weeks off during early pregnancy due to hyperemesis. I was back this term on and off for the first two weeks, and then managed two full weeks. I got pulled up yesterday for not getting one set of books marked whilst a marking scrutiny was taking place. I should have said that I'm pregnant, I've been off but thought my line manager should have known better and to at least cut me some slack (or I should have told them before that I won't be able to get everything done a week ago). I've been told that I need to get it all done by next week. I tried to work through it this evening and noticed that by the time I left work, my sugar levels went really low, it just didn't occur to me I had food in my locker, was so stressed about getting the marking done. I do find it a disgrace that as teachers, we're unable to have flexible working hours when pregnant. I've had a pounding headache everyday and paracetemol can't get rid of it, only a big meal in front of the TV. There's no actual place to rest as you're constantly on the go teaching, no break for 4 hours, don't even get time to piss. Counting down the days until I leave. As much as we'd like to put ourselves and our babies first, there will be people out there expecting us to just deal with it. I feel guilty and had a few comments about taking time off or getting pregnant, there's no pleasing everyone. Rant over. So glad there's other people to talk to on here in similar situations

Hasle157 Sat 28-Jun-14 00:52:36

Today was my last day at work officially before my maternity begins, I've been off sick for 2 weeks and I havent had so much as a 'get well soon' or a quick goodbye message from colleagues in my own department, just an email to confirm that my lessons will now be covered by the HOD until the end of the year. I feel so deflated. Thankfully, staff from other departments sent me a couple of nice messages instead.

I'm just so bloody disappointed in the lack of support and understanding I've received sad

Doodles197 Sat 28-Jun-14 01:13:14

Sorry to hear that Hasle157. Once your baby arrives, none of that rubbish at work will matter. Like people say, work will carry on without you. Put your feet up and enjoy. Work will be a million miles away. But agree with you totally, you can't help but feel disappointed about the way you've been treated. I'm contemplating whether to go back or not after mat leave. Don't think I can even face part-time.

Hasle157 Sat 28-Jun-14 01:23:51

Full time is a definite no for me too Doodles, I don't see how it could possibly work and I think once you've had negative experiences like this, it certainly makes you feel less passionate about a job you once loved. I guess the school loses out in that way.

Sod your books. Give yourself a do-able amount of working hours per day and stick to it. If the books aren't done, they're not done. Don't make yourself ill like I did. I did this, I worked 8-5 with a bit of give and take on busy/none busy days. Then I made myself exhausted again writing reports for an entire weekend and doing not a lot else.

somedizzywhore1804 Sat 28-Jun-14 01:31:24

Are you me, OP?

I'm second in English at a large comp with a department of 15. From week 7 of my pregnancy I got HG and then had periods of fainting from low blood pressure, countless water infections, severe anemia and was hospitalised 6 times in total for dehydration from the HG.

I managed 6 okayish weeks at work from week 28-34 but got very sick at the end when a water infection went to my kidneys. I felt incredibly guilty and like I had let everyone down but nothing I could have done. I'm 39 weeks now and know I couldn't have tried any harder or done any "better". My pregnancy just wasn't compatable with the high stress, high pressure, long hours of teaching. I know it creates a lot of extra work but it also have a nice long term cover a job and she's actually just become permenant as another member of staff left... So my suffering helped someone grin

I know it's easier said than done but don't dwell in it. Unfortunately it's just the case that a classroom is no place for a pregnant woman who's throwing up 6 times a day. No one could teach being that ill!

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