In an eye-opening and vulnerable LinkedIn post, a woman who is pregnant with twins shares the heartbreaking reality of what the first trimester can be like working while pregnant—and how hard that is when you're an employee, too. Being pregnant at work isn't easy, after all.
Leena Yousefi, lawyer and CEO at YLaw, shared a powerful reminder that pregnancy is a very serious health condition and should be treated as such. Currently pregnant with twins and still in her first trimester, Yousefi perfectly describes the impossible situation many pregnant employees find themselves when working while pregnant.
"For the past 2 months, I have been forced to lay on the bed in my work clothes before work in the morning, unable to move, think or function," she begins. "I wake up in a constant state of chronic depression, nausea, aversions to everything, disabling migraines, a numbness to the world and lack of happiness that at times is one of the scariest things I have ever felt."
In the accompanying photo to her post, Yousefi is seen lying on her bed in a state of distress.
"Being pregnant with twins has been the hardest physical challenge I have ever gone through my life," she writes.
She goes on to talk about how almost all pregnant women are expected to work through the first trimester—which can often be tumultuous—with no breaks or paid time off. (I know when I was pregnant the first time around, I felt like I couldn't take time off because I was constantly reminded that I'd be "off" for 8-12 weeks once my baby was born.)
"Then we wonder why the rate of miscarriage is astronomical and why it is often related to stress," she continues. "Having to rest to literally create life—a heart, a brain, organs—is often treated either as vacation or unpaid time off at best. In our most fragile state, we are threatened with our security if we don't get up and force ourselves to work to earn money for our families. Either we sacrifice ourselves or risk our financial security."
[Editor's Note: While no major studies have shown a direct link between stress causing miscarriage, some research shows an indirect link, which could suggest that stress may be a potential risk factor for pregnancy loss. But stress alone is unlikely to directly cause a miscarriage.]
Yousefi acknowledges that because of her position at work, she's "lucky" she can lay in bed and take the breaks she needs to most of the time. But she knows not every pregnant employee has that opportunity. She says she's been inspired to change the policies at her company so that pregnant employees aren't struggling at work.
"P.S. this photo was taken by my husband who sees me in this state almost every day," she writes. "I am being vulnerable and sharing this in hopes of connecting with those men and women who had to go through this but couldn't speak up for fear of sounding 'weak' or jeopardizing their job."
She ends her post with a call to action for all employers and society as a whole, encouraging us all to do better where pregnancy is concerned in the workplace.
"Let's reexamine the cruel standards we have subjected women to, and create a world where our children do not have to choose between work and being human."