If a pregnant woman asks for leave due to sickness, is she weak?
I find a certain article writing on having pregnancy symptoms and how she used to think these women are weak. I thought she might have changed her thoughts and was motivating. I was approving the article until….
Don’t be the reason why people don’t like to employ women and don’t be the reason why people say pregnant women are weak. There are so many women in our past who did it all – hustled their way through, pregnant and all. They ain’t got no time for morning sickness. Let’s follow in their footsteps and uphold the good name of strong-willed women. – Vivy Yusof
I am all for women trying to do their best during pregnancy. But yknow what, with each pregnancy, only you know your limitations and sometimes you may not even know it!! Some women may ‘hustle’ their way only to realise it is not good for their pregnant bodies. I did full oncalls which was non stop, on the feet job and started having spotting in my first trimester. That freaked me out and the midwives I was working with even told me that I had to take it easy (which is difficult anyway but I was more militant in taking breaks and knowing that I HAVE to be slower and ask for help).
Indeed I have ‘hustled’ my way through both my pregnancies, which Alhamdulillah was easy. I didnt have much symptoms at all except for back pain towards the end of the pregnancy. I did my night shifts until I was 32 weeks with Zayan, which I realise later on was so so exhausting… not to mention I did a one hour commute to hospital during that time (no driver ah, I dont have those luxuries). However I wouldnt expect others to be like me. I know of colleagues who are so nauseous and kept vomiting even after first trimester. Carrying a bottle of water and dried fruits and nuts during an oncall because that’s all she could take.
Having understanding colleagues and bosses make a difference. I have had times when my colleagues took the bleep from me because they were kind enough to realise my 25 week pregnant self cant be running up and down the stairs all the time (when crash called, you run up 2-3 flights of stairs). I have also had to carry the bleep when I was 34 weeks because there was no one else to take it and told to ‘just run slowly, its not that far anyway’ (to be fair, it wasnt that far and I never had to run).
Each of us are different – we can only try to do our best.
What I think is needed is for society to realise that if they want to retain women workers (which have their own qualities, compared to men), they need to accept that pregnancy and motherhood can come with it. I will not continue to be a happy, striving doctor mom if I didnt have the benefits UK work force has to offer (comparatively much better compared to Asian countries). I had 6 months full paid maternity leave, did less than full time for a year after Zayan was born (worked 60% of usual hours) and can cut down on oncalls and night shifts when I was pregnant.
Now there are debates about women and men being equal. I say that we are not equal – men can never be pregnant and will never know how pregnancy and breastfeeding is. Heck, a woman with easy pregnancy wouldnt even know how it feels if you have a hard one. What we can do is to ensure that there is equity. It’s neither easy nor straightforward but we have to start thinking of these policies that provides fairness to all workers, pregnancy, disability and all.
PS I am a secret fan of Vivy and love following her. I just find her paragraph at the end disappointing. Perhaps she meant well and if worded differently, it would give the meaning she wanted it to be (motivating I’m guessing). I wish her pregnancy all the best.