Feeling Sick While Pregnant: The Connection Between Pregnancy & Chronic Conditions

Feeling sick while pregnant is often just a fact of life. The American Pregnancy Association notes that while most women transition out of the morning sickness phase by the middle of the second trimester, there are women who suffer from the condition their entire pregnancy.

Chronic Conditions and Pregnancy

For some women, however, chronic medical conditions can both influence and impact a woman feeling sick while pregnant. According to Healio, common causes of illness and death in expecting and delivering mothers were related to the delivery itself — such as hemorrhage or infection.

Currently, however, health care providers are seeing the balance shift over to maternal chronic conditions complicating pregnancy, labor and delivery. The largest increase in treatment of chronic conditions during pregnancy is seen in rural and low-income communities. This draws attention to the disparity of prenatal and maternal health care as it relates to economic status.

Common Conditions and Risk Factors

Feeling sick while pregnant can be attributed to a variety of factors, including common morning sickness, hormonal changes, sensitivity to certain smells or lack of sleep. Chronic conditions can either surface or worsen with pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that maternal health prior to pregnancy, such as weight, can affect both maternal and fetal health during and after pregnancy. The most common chronic conditions seen in pregnant women include:

  • high blood pressure
  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • respiratory disease
  • diabetes

Preventive Care

Maternal health prior to pregnancy is key to reducing health risks and complications for both mother and baby. Encouraging women to adopt a healthy lifestyle prior to pregnancy will reduce the likelihood of complications during pregnancy. Therefore, reducing the costs and need for continuous medical care while pregnant. As an employer, offering wellness programs, incentives and support for employees who are pregnant can go a long way in creating a healthy environment for pregnant employees and those who may become pregnant while employed. Encourage applicable employees to seek both preventive and prenatal care, and offer support where necessary.

Depending on an employee’s work environment, accommodations may need to be made for employees who learn they are pregnant, such as:

  • reducing exposure to certain metals or chemicals
  • providing the opportunity for employees to get off of their feet for a period of time
  • adjustments in personal protective equipment, when necessary
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Encouraging a Healthy Workplace

Employers want — and benefit from — a healthy workforce. Healthy employees miss less work, are more productive and can encourage co-workers to adopt healthier habits. There are programs in the workplace that will benefit all employees, creating an environment that lends itself to healthier pregnant employees. Consider offering company-wide programs such as:

While the goal of an employer is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, extending safe and healthy practices to ensure the well-being of pregnant employees can not only minimize pregnancy-related complications but also reduce the risk of chronic conditions.

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