Work + Chores
Typically, women with HG or NVP find themselves unable to carry out simple everyday tasks, let alone the commitment of regular employment or running a home. You are not alone if the best you can manage is rolling from your bed to the bathroom - there is no reason to feel guilty. Your body is under attack, while simultaneously trying to grow a baby - there’s a lot going on and you need to listen to your body when it asks for a break.
There are a few simple things you can do to ease the burden when it comes to employment and household responsibilities. Remember, you are entitled to ask for help, to be given the space and time to take care of yourself, and to be guilt free about it all.
Many women are unable to work during NVP or HG - this may be for a few days at a time or for extended periods. Although many employers are sympathetic to their employees suffering, equal numbers are unaware of the severity of some conditions. This may lead them to misunderstand your needs and have unreasonable expectations of you.
Five separate medical studies have shown that 30% of pregnant women in paid employment need time off work due to NVP. When you can barely get out of bed, heading to a job every day is the last thing you want to worry about. You’re not alone, many women with HG struggle to maintain this commitment.
Every year, millions of hours of paid employment are lost due to pregnancy sickness - but it can still be difficult to get your employer to understand the severity of the condition. This is not normal ‘morning sickness’ and should be treated with the care and respect of any other chronic illness - including being able to take the necessary time off work.
Things to keep in mind when discussing your condition with your employer:
Do not beat yourself up. You are not alone in needing time off for pregnancy-related sickness. It is important that you rest and you cannot do this properly if you are working
There’s an immense lack of awareness around this condition - so don’t be surprised if your employer and co-workers don’t understand the severity of your symptoms. Print out the information on this website, direct people to do their own research and educate them as much as you can about what your life looks like with HG
If you only plan to take a short amount of time off, ask your doctor to give a medical certificate to give to your employer. This certificate should indicate that you are unfit for work because of a pregnancy-related illness and how long you’ll be taking off
Should you need an extended period of time off you are entitled to Special Maternity Leave - which is separate from leave taken at the end of your pregnancy/upon the birth of your child. If you take special maternity leave because of a pregnancy-related illness, the leave will end when the pregnancy or illness ends, whichever is earlier
If you feel able to work, but your current duties are not suitable now that you’re pregnant, or are made difficult because of your illness, you can request to be moved to a new role. All pregnant employees, including casuals, are entitled to move to a safe job and this includes employees that aren’t eligible for unpaid parental leave. If you move to a safe job you will still get the same pay rate, hours of work and other entitlements that you got in your usual job. You and your employer can agree on different working hours. You will need to provide evidence that you can’t work your normal job and how long this arrangement will be in effect. This may need to be accompanied by a medical certificate
It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a woman because she is pregnant - even if her pregnancy illness renders her unable to work for an extended period. This means you cannot be fired, demoted or otherwise treated unfairly while you are pregnant
If you feel you have been treated unfavourably because of your pregnancy, the first step is to explain this to your employer and try to resolve the issue informally. Tell your manager what has happened or, if it is your manager who has treated you unfavourably, tell someone more senior. Keep a record of what has happened, when and where it happened and whether there were any witnesses
If the informal approach fails then you may wish to make a formal complaint under your employer’s grievance procedure. Your employer would then be under an obligation to investigate the matter
The final step, if all else fails, would be to lodge a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman. There are time constraints and requirements around evidence of discrimination so it’s worth seeking advice on your situation as early as you can
For more information on any of these issues take a look at the following sites:
Supporting Working Parents website
Information from the Fair Work Ombudsman on Parental Leave
You may be eligible for support from Centrelink if you find yourself on unpaid leave for an extended period of time. You will need to fill out an extensive application with Centrelink, that requires a lot of personal information and evidentiary support of your inability to work due to illness. This can be an incredibly difficult and taxing process but ,with the support of a knowledgeable doctor, can be a worthwhile exercise to garner some additional support.
Read up on the requirements for obtaining the Sickness Allowance and make the decision about whether this is the right move for you and your family.
Some days you will not be able to get out of bed because of HG - or you may find yourself admitted to hospital for a stretch if your symptoms become severe. This can leave you feeling guilty, stressed and overwhelmed by the washing, ironing and myriad other domestic duties that may go untouched in your absence. It’s worth repeating that you do not have anything to feel guilty about if your usual attention to the household falters while you battle this condition. You wouldn’t expect a cancer patient or someone recovering from a dreadful accident to lift a finger in support of household chores, so you shouldn’t expect it from yourself right now.
Asking for help is vital to keeping your house and mind clear of clutter at this time. If you have people around you who won’t mind being asked to clean the bathroom, fold the laundry or stock up your fridge - then reach out to them as soon as you can. Rely on the people in your home, who love you, to pick up the slack for this time. One of the only silver linings of a HG pregnancy - apart from the squishy baby at the end - is that there is an end date when you will begin feeling like yourself again. Remind your loved ones that you will not be incapacitated forever and that when your symptoms subside, or your baby is earthside, you will repay their acts of kindness tenfold.
If you can afford to outsource some duties then feel free to do so. Look into meal boxes, cleaning and laundry services or grocery delivery to take some of the pressure off. If you can afford to spend some money on these menial tasks, it will remove an element of the guilt we all feel when we are bedridden. It will keep your home running smoothly, your family clothed and fed, and will give you some much needed peace of mind.
family meal time
When you’re in the depths of NVP and HG it can seem like a mammoth task to provide meals for the rest of your family. Ideally, you can delegate this job to your partner or another family member so that you can keep out of the kitchen. If this isn’t an option, we recommend using a meal delivery service that will supply prepared meals that just need to be reheated. This will cut down your exposure to food and ensure the rest of your family can eat normally. We recommend investigating the following companies:
Or ask a friend or family member to start a meal train for you. This will let your loved ones support you by cooking meals and stocking your fridge and freezer with ready to go meals. This website makes it easy to keep track of who’s cooking what and when.