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Advice on fit note for insomnia please

(13 Posts)
CarShare Wed 15-Jul-15 18:08:58

I'm currently 11 weeks pregnant with my first baby and am really suffering with insomnia. I have had this issue fairly long term and before pregnancy would pop over the counter sleeping tabs (Sominex) every night. Now that I'm not using the medication I have about 5 nights out of 7 where I get about 3 hours at most. As a result I am exhausted- hot sweats, dizziness, weakness in legs and a malfunctioning brain/memory. I saw the GP this week to discuss the possibility of getting a fit note stating I'm fit for reduced hours as I find the working day plus 1.25hr commute either side too hard going (well, impossible really). The GP said this was an option but suggested broaching the subject with my manager and HR, which I've done today but they only seem to want to help if they see evidence and reminded me sternly that 'we expect everyone, pregnant or not, to come into work'. I have had 3 days off sick so far this pregnancy- all related to the insomnia but no sickness absence at all prior to pregnancy (although only there for 7 months before becoming pregnant). I'm worried if I return to another GP (can never see the same one), they'll think I'm a bit pathetic and refuse to issue a fit note and I'll be stuck battling work with judgey HR and management breathing down my neck. I also hate not pulling my weight at work and wondered how others cope with feeling like this when needing time off. I enjoy my job but feel so much worse about it all now that support/understanding has not been forthcoming. In floods of tears in front of HR this morning which I'm very embarrassed about to say the least. Any experience, advice, support hugely welcome! Thanks for reading- know it's pretty lengthy!

KatyN Wed 15-Jul-15 19:33:30

I'm afriad I totally disagree with your hr and management at work. I'm not sure ofthe legal implications but the stance at my work is you are normally not pregnant and work normally/well. Therefore when pregnant your health and that ofthe baby comes first.
The stats on sick leave in pregnancy are huge. Something like 4:5 women need sick leave. Do go back to a gp and explain. They may be able to prescribe a mild sleeping tablet that is safe to use, or an antihistamine that might make you drowsy.
And go easy on yourself

BadgieBear Wed 15-Jul-15 19:45:04

I would suggest going back to your GP and explaining the situation now you've spoken to work - a fit note for reduced hours seems perfectly reasonable given your circumstances.

You could ask to try something like phenergan (promethazine) - it's a sedating antihistamine used for morning sickness which can be used to help sleep. Might be worth a try?

BadgieBear Wed 15-Jul-15 19:46:33

Haha just realised I've posted exactly what katy has - what a spanner!

Clairejessica123 Wed 15-Jul-15 20:33:48

Again I would go back to your gp. I've felt bad about having sick notes during my pregnancy and am actually going to the doctors again tomorrow to ask for another but like you I have a manager who isn't very understanding and a pushy hr department. Put yourself and your baby first smile

CarShare Wed 15-Jul-15 21:34:52

Thanks ladies. I'd usually deal with bad days like these with a massive sauv blanc (or three) so great to have the moral support in the absence of wine!
Katy- it definitely makes me feel better to know that stats are so high, I hadn't realised although makes sense given how horrific it makes you feel. The sleeping tablet I used before pregnancy was an antihistamine so I will ask if I'm able to take that occasionally when things get desperate!
Badgie- promethazine is the antihistamine I've used in the past and the fact it's used for morning sickness makes me trust the safety stuff a little bit more so fingers crossed it might be a bit of a saviour.
Claire- I'm sorry to hear your manager and HR dept is as useless as mine! It just shouldn't be so difficult but I'm starting to come around to the fact that the baby needs to come first now. Hope the GP sorts you out with another note tomorrow :-)

Frasras11 Wed 15-Jul-15 21:37:11

You and the baby come first. They can't discriminate against you and are not actually allowed to say things like they expect you to come to work pregnant or not.

I've taken sick leave this week and will be at the docs Friday for a fit note due to severe SPD. I'm only 24 weeks and feel guilty for my nice colleague who will have to pick up my work but that's how it is.

During my first pregnancy I pushed myself so hard to keep the pace at work but I ended up hospitalised at 30 weeks and under threat of having my baby delivered early. And with fuck all thanks from work. In fact they tried to make me take hospital admissions as holiday!

This time me and baby come first. If you need impartial advice and aren't in a union or organisation then please ring ACAS and they will be able to advise you on your rights. Sorry to sound like I'm on a rant but after what I experienced the first time round I'm passionate about women not being mistreated in pregnancy. Know your rights and don't be fed bull shit from management and HR. Xx

worldsworstmum2015 Thu 16-Jul-15 06:54:36

If they carry on to be arsey just go off sick completely it's not healthy or safe for anyone pregnant or not to be so exhausted. You've asked for reduced hours what more can you do?

CalypsoLilt Thu 16-Jul-15 08:53:40

Can you address why you are an insomniac? The only thing that ever worked for me was yoga. You need to break the vicious circle of stressed about work, stressed about not sleeping and being over-tired. Easier said than done but it's definitely possible.

Eminybob Thu 16-Jul-15 09:06:34

I had exactly the same issue as you. I had been on meds to help me sleep prior to trying for a baby. Low dose antidepressants, which worked for me.
As I got later into the pregnancy without the meds it got worse and worse, plus I was really stressed at work and anxious about the baby as I'd had a previous miscarriage. Stress always triggers the insomnia and I just couldn't cope any more.

I ended up getting signed off for a month, but although the Dr recommended going back on the meds I didn't want to risk it because of the baby. As I got towards the end of that month though, I knew that I wouldn't be able to go back to work without them. After discussing it with the Dr, they said the risk was low, and I ended up taking them. It was such a low dose there was really no issue with the baby, and I weaned off them as soon as I started mat leave (funnily enough I haven't needed them whilst not at work!)

Any sick says taken because of pregnancy related illness (which I believe this to be) can't be counted against you on your sick record.

Get to the Dr, get signed off, and think about discussing medication.

CarShare Thu 16-Jul-15 11:52:46

Thanks everyone. I went to the GP this morning and they gave me a fit note for six weeks stating would benefit from reduced hours and said to return before then if things deteriorate.
calypso, the GP also asked why I'd had problems with sleep for so long. In honesty I just don't know! My parents and sister are both chronic insomniacs (my sister was particularly bad in pregnancy too) so there may be a genetic link. I'm a worrier and tend to obsess about anxieties so I think pregnancy was always going to be a challenge! I've found a pregnancy yoga class locally so I'll pop along this weekend and see if it helps
Frasras- I'm sorry that you had such a rubbish time in your first pregnancy, pleased that this time round you're doing things your way! Thanks for the advice and moral support, it really helps to hear about other people's experience as my HR/management act like they've never encountered a pregnant women in need of support.
worlds I'll see how the fit note goes down and if efforts are made to accommodate the Drs recommendation. If not I might have to reluctantly go on the sick although I'd definitely rather not as too much time on my hands is not great for my mental state! I think that routine and social contact are generally good things for insomniacs (although sitting in my pyjama's eating quavers and watching cooking shows all day every day does have a certain appeal!).
Eminy thanks for sharing your experience. Low dose antidepressants have been offered to me in the past and I tried citalopram 10mg for six weeks earlier this year but I just couldn't function on the stuff, and it didn't improve the sleep either. If it continues I will def consider trying something with a proven safety record. I'd intended to ask the GP this morning about taking the tabs I'd taken previously (promethazine) but I completely forgot to mention it. I've a feeling I might sleep a little better when the work situation is back on track and if not I'll make another appointment early next week and do some research into the drug's safety profile in the meantime- I'm fairly confident it would be an option since it's a drug that is used for morning sickness too.
Again, thank you all- definitely helps to hear other peoples experience and get hold of so much good advice!

Blackandwhitecat3 Thu 16-Jul-15 14:10:26

Carshare I don't think it will come to this but your employer cannot discipline you for absence due to pregnancy, you are very well protected by the law. They are not allowed to tell you that they expect you in work pregnant or not. I think it's useful to know this.

With the insomnia - I was an insomniac for the first 32 years of my life. I really recommend Mindfulness Meditation, it has transformed my life. I usually sleep very well, except when very stressed - in which case listening to meditation tracks helps me no end. Hopefully the yoga will help you too.

Frasras11 Thu 16-Jul-15 20:37:32

carshare they have to accommodate you whilst pregnant. It's the law. And if they can't then they have to suspend you on full pay on medical grounds.

Have a look at that if you haven't already. Gives you an idea of what your rights are. Good luck and I hope your employer pulls their finger out and starts treating you properly.

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