Q&A: I'm pregnant, so how do I get better support at my mine?

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Q: I'm a FIFO worker and on the same roster as my husband. We have been loving the lifestyle together, particularly the time off, but also the support we get from being on site together. However, our situation has changed and we are expecting our first baby! I have been suffering quite bad morning sickness and fatigue - which has been particularly bad since I work 12-14 hours a day. I feel like there are not that many options for women like me or much flexibility, support, or compassion. Do you have any suggestions on how I can cope, or negotiate a better situation whist working on site? My supervisor is of the opinion that if you're suffering morning sickness, it would be better not to come back to site!

And here's the answer from our careers specialist Therese Larnder... 

First and foremost, congratulations! What an exciting time for you and your husband! I’m sorry to hear that you’re suffering from morning sickness and fatigue though. It must be making things difficult for you.

 I would encourage you to think about what you can control and what you can’t, because often we spend a lot of time and energy on things we really can’t change. Without knowing what type of work you do it’s a little difficult, but I think there are a few things to consider in terms of what you may be able to control. Are there things that make you feel worse (time of day, not eating enough/eating too much, certain smells)? It makes sense to try and do what you can to reduce the impact of these. If you can determine what works for you, you may then be able to go back to your supervisor (or ask HR for some support in doing so) and provide some solutions, rather than discussing the problem.

Often, managers are more open to 'difficult' discussions if you're able to lessen the load on them and provide some solutions that you’ve already thought about. That way, the discussion stays positive (focussed on solutions) rather than the negative (not coming back to site!)

 In terms of your question about negotiating a better deal, is there any way that you can change your hours/work pattern to reduce the impact on your health (I’m assuming that you want to keep the same roster as your husband as you’ve spoken so positivity about it). Knowing your body and what works for you may allow you, for example, to negotiate shorter hours to work in with when you’re feeling at your best, or perhaps a longer break to allow you to manage your fatigue. Again, I would suggest going to HR or your supervisor with suggested solutions that you think may work, so that you’re able to find a solution that satisfies both parties.

 Finally, acknowledge something that you can’t control – people’s perceptions of pregnancy and what it’s like. Others around you will have all kinds of helpful and unhelpful opinions about what you’re experiencing. Rather than getting angry and upset, label their opinions as 'really unhelpful' and try not to give them any more thinking time. I hope you’re able to work through this, and good luck for the birth of your baby!


More expert advice from Therese:

Therese Lardner is an industrial and organisational psychologist with extensive experience in all areas of the employment cycle from recruitment and selection to development, employee engagement and career transition. She currently works for Lee Hecht Harrison in Brisbane. Click here to ask for Therese's expert advice on landing your perfect mining and resources job or moving up the career ladder in your workplace.