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"I am pregnant, not sick. But that doesn't mean I don't need a sick day."

Today, I feel like I got shamed for going to the doctor.

I am pregnant, not sick. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need a sick day.

In the last eight months, I have taken 100 hours of personal leave.

Good news: I’m a FANTASTIC mum-to-be.

Bad news: I’m a shit employee.

That is what I’ve been led to believe after reading a recent article in The Daily Telegraph headlined, “You’re pregnant, not sick. Schedule appointments in your own time”.

It was written in response to the news story, which has been circulating that technically speaking, pregnant women aren’t able to take time off work for antenatal appointments. Now, I’ve received my fair share of shaming and criticism through my pregnancy. All of which I have shrugged off. But this one has really hit a nerve.

Pregnant Managing Editor of The Motherish, Avi Vince. Image via Instagram.

In the article, writer Lisa Mayoh says that pregnant women are being a little bit too precious. We are expecting our employers to be completely okay with us taking time off to attend recommended antenatal appointments, when they shouldn’t have to be. She is alluding that we are too “entitled”.

From her experience (she’s pregnant for the third time), she can’t quite understand why pregnant women can’t just attend their appointments in their own time. I mean we don’t get a haircut in the middle of the work day, so why have an antenatal appointment? (That’s Lisa’s comparison, not mine.)

She says, “I’m currently six months pregnant with our third child, and I’ve never scheduled a doctor’s appointment during work hours. I haven’t taken time off or let my belly’s needs affect my workload.”

That’s incredible. No, really it is. You see, my obstetrician works from 8:30am to 5pm… Monday to Friday. My GP works 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday. The nurse at my GP works similar hours.

I work full time. Officially, my hours are 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, but being in the online digital world I’m usually working at night and on the weekend. The internet never sleeps, you know.

Now, I’m not saying poor me. Not at all. Those are just the facts that I deal with. There is no possible way I can see my obstetrician for my monthly visit without needing some time off work. Sure, I could get a whole new medical team to suit my work hours while I’m pregnant, but why would I do that? Why should it even be a consideration?

This thing needs attention, people.

I have had to come in late or leave early to attend my appointments. Where possible, I’ve tried to schedule appointments in one chunk (I’ve had to have a fair few scans and blood tests). My obstetrician is quite busy… delivering babies. The available times in his appointment book aren’t always the best for my work schedule. But at the end of the day, my baby’s health comes first. So I’ve had to take time off.

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And I hate it. I hate taking time off work. Not because I am some work-obsessed woman. I genuinely love my job. But I hate letting my team down. I hate leaving them one woman down when I know how much difference that makes in running a website. I feel guilty asking my boss for time off work.

The time I’ve needed off work, wasn’t just for appointments. My first 14 weeks were plagued with morning and all day sickness. Where I could, I tried to tough it out. But there were days when peeling myself off my bathroom floor, getting dressed and sitting on the bus for an hour only to be fully functioning at work, just wasn’t going to happen. I felt overwhelming guilt at texting my boss to let her know I couldn’t make it in.

Being pregnant during winter comes with its downside. Having a lower immune system, I’ve had the cold three times (thank you to all the people who coughed on me). I’m officially in the bad books with my GP for “chucking a wellie” far too many times and going to work when I should be resting.

Now, Mayoh and I agree that pregnancy isn’t an illness and if you need time off work for things like morning sickness, that’s fine. Phew. But she does say that pregnancy shouldn’t be an excuse.

The only reason I’ve taken so much personal leave is because of my pregnancy. It’s been the underlying factor.

Avi proudly shows off her baby bump. Image via Instagram.

The guilt that I was letting my team down, my internal struggle of wanting to be a good employee and wanting to do the right thing for my unborn baby has plagued my whole pregnancy.

I almost wrote, “Thankfully, I work for a great company who understands”. But why should I be thankful that my workplace doesn’t mind me taking time off work? Any employer who doesn’t provide pregnant women (actually all women) with the opportunity to take time off or question their time off are f*cked.

I also know that I’m not a bad employee. Despite this year’s personal leave record, I’m pretty amazing at my job (many people in my company think the same) and my commitment to my work has never waived while growing a human.

Pregnancy is very unique to every woman. We don’t need companies making it any more challenging than it already is by denying us time to visit our Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm doctors. We also definitely don’t need anyone shaming us for our choices either.

Avi Vince is the Managing Editor of The Motherish

What do you think? Did you take time off work for your pregnancy appointments?

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