Pregnancy in practice

Baby stuff

Image © vchalup / Fotolia

If you’re already working within the veterinary profession, or plan to take on one of the myriad veterinary jobs while pregnant, there are a number of risk factors you need to be aware of.

While women are always told to wait until the 12 week mark before telling employers they’re expecting, veterinary jobs come with their own set of risks, which mean you’re better off telling your boss sooner rather than later – that's if your morning sickness or frequent visits to the loo don’t give you away beforehand.

Once you’ve told your boss you’re pregnant, you’ll probably have to help complete a risk assessment form to make sure you’re both aware of items around the practice that might put your pregnancy at risk.

Possible dangers

If you’re looking after small animals, there are obvious dangers from procedures such as:

  • radiography
  • lifting heavier animals (Large breeds of dog, for example)
  • handling patients with unpredictable temperaments

Drugs and treatments are also to be treated with caution – animal chemotherapy, anaesthetics, hormones like oxytocin (which can induce labour in humans) and very potent antifungals like griseofulvin can harm your unborn baby.

Larger animals like horses come with their own risks, similar to those of small animals, but you should also be aware of the dangers of horses that kick, or animals that can squash or barge into you when distressed.

Out of harm's way

It’s a good idea to take yourself away from as many of these risks as you practically can, for the safety of both yourself and your baby. However, you must inform your employer if you think there’s going to be a problem completing a task you’ve been asked to be involved in, and calmly explain why you would prefer not to be involved.

Remember: this is as uncertain a time for your employer as it is for you. They will need to find maternity cover for you, and are faced with the very real possibility that a respected member of staff may not return.

As much as you may plan to return within six months, you may change your mind once baby arrives and you find you’d like more time with your new arrival.

Be as honest and open as you can, and update your employer on a regular basis. That way, when you’re ready to return, you can be sure they’ll keep the door open for your arrival.

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