Being an expecting mother and working 8 hour+ shifts is not something everyone can do. Still, thousands of dental professionals in the UK do it every year. While there are things you can do to cope with the situation, it’s also important to understand your limits and to learn to listen to your body. You also need to know the steps necessary to insure a smooth transition from work to maternity and back to work again. Here are a few essential tips for pregnant dental professionals.
When to Notify Your Employer
Know that there is no set rule as to how early you can notify your employer, but you are required to tell them at least 15 weeks before you’re due that you’re pregnant. The earliest that you can start claiming maternity leave is at 11 weeks before expected delivery. You should also wait for a few months before notifying in the case of a miscarriage.
If you’re working as a dental hygienist, don’t be afraid to tell your employer out of fear of different treatment or even losing your position. As a pregnant woman, you are entitled to your maternity benefits and protected from discriminatory practices from employers. So, don’t be afraid to have an open discussion about your maternity leave and load management.
Load management is most important for any pregnant dental worker. Being overworked can increase the chance of labour complications. However, you should also know that you may have recourse in case of childbirth injuries that were caused by negligence, ignorance, or incompetence. Know your rights, spot the signs of negligence, and know the procedure in order to seek compensation.
Morning Sickness, Nausea, and Fatigue
Morning sickness is inevitable, but knowing how to cope with the symptoms will go a long way. The most important thing is to try to avoid smells and foods that could trigger episodes. You should also make sure that you keep saltine crackers by your bed and snack on a few of them before getting up. Take smaller meals throughout the day. Ginger root can also help relieve symptoms, so make sure that you have a nice cup of ginger tea in the morning and bring a thermos full with you at work. Also, know that a dental chair could be the perfect spot for a quick midday or lunchtime break nap.
Proceed with Caution
As a dental professional, your environment will contain certain hazards that could be harmful to a pregnant mother and baby. Nitrous oxide for instance could be potentially harmful and lead to complications.
So, unless you can use alternatives, it's important to limit your exposure to it and make sure the clinic has a good scavenger system in place as well. Certain disinfectants have different active ingredients that can have an adverse effect on foetal development, too, so make sure that you know what these chemicals are and always read the labels.
Working while pregnant as a dental professional comes with a fair share of risks. While these can be mitigated, make sure that you set your limits, know your rights, and always put your own safety first.