Pregnancy is an exciting time, full of constant change and tons of emotions. Being pregnant and continuing to give your all to your day job can be challenging! Your body is tackling an incredible feat growing a human while you are trying to get through each work day. The numerous appointments and physical changes alone can be demanding and it can take a toll on your work life. This is my third time working full time right up until labor! While it has never been easy, each time has gone a little more smoothly after gaining additional experience. If you are growing a sweet babe while working at the same time, check out some of these tips for how to handle working while pregnant.
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How To Handle The First Trimester
The first trimester can be extremely taxing with debilitating morning sickness and fatigue. It can also be tricky because you may not yet feel ready to announce your news to people at work. Announcing when you feel ready is key, but depending on the severity of your ailments you may consider informing your boss or a close co-worker if you are needing extra support. I have communicated my pregnancy very early with only my boss each time to ensure they were aware of my situation and prepare them for anything I might need.
Nausea and Morning Sickness
This can be brutal! It is important to always have a morning sickness kit handy, whether in your desk or your car. Each day you will want to have mouthwash/toothpaste, gum or mints, a clean washcloth, and potentially a change of clothes. If you are fortunate to have access to a private bathroom that can be helpful. I never did, and was always prepared with bags in my car and tried my best to plan around others in the office. Experiment with different snacks and drinks such a ginger tea, water with lemon, or saltine crackers to see if you can find something that will ease your nausea and keep a full stock at your desk. Never a fun part of pregnancy, but something that hopefully will not last past the first trimester for you!
I hit a wall of exhaustion everyday during the first trimester after lunchtime. Pregnancy can limit your coffee and tea selections and your interest in them, so you may have to find other strategies to beat the afternoon fatigue. I planned my day to take a walk (outside preferably) before I started feeling too tired to break up my afternoon. In extreme situations, I would use my lunch hour to lay down in my car or in the break room when possible. If you have flexibility or control with your schedule, plan to tackle your hard projects or client meetings early in the day or later in the evening when you will feel your best. Take lots of stretch breaks, and go easy on yourself when you have hard days!
How To Handle Your Schedule
Appointments are a routine part of any pregnancy. Depending on any risk factors or complications, you may have even more appointments than standard. Work with your boss or team when it comes to scheduling appointments to ease any stress. I worked to schedule my frequent appointments during the same time each week and late in the day so that I did not have to return to the office after. Think about strategically planning appointments first thing, over lunch, or in the late afternoon to avoid disruption. If it is a big appointment such as an anatomy scan or testing of any kind, consider taking the rest of the day off if you will not feel up to working after.
It is also smart to keep a log of appointments in your schedule so that you know how much time you have to take and what time you have available. If your job involves flexibility, use it to your advantage! Arrange your schedule to your preference and utilize any benefits your job may offer in terms of leave or supports. Depending on your country or state, you may be able to take several weeks off of work prior to delivering without impacting your maternity leave. Some companies offer flexible work arrangements for parents and resources for expecting moms. Speak to someone in your HR department for specifics of what you are entitled to.
How To Handle Being Comfortable
Being comfortable at all stages of pregnancy is crucial. While some workplace settings are more formal than others, you still want to be mindful of your comfort level at all times. Keeping comfort in mind makes all the difference with how enjoyable your experience will be working throughout your pregnancy.
Comfortable and appropriate maternity wear is a game changer! Pre-pandemic, I always reported to an office for the duration of my pregnancy. I stocked up on tons of work appropriate maternity items on Facebook Marketplace and through friends so that I always had something to wear. For the workplace, Motherhood Maternity has many high quality options, and this round I splurged on maternity bras from Kindred Bravely which are INCREDIBLE. Comfortable footwear is also important, especially with any swelling you may experience. I swapped my heels for flats early on, and I swear by these Croc flats. They look professional while being the most comfortable shoes I own. A win win! For my summer pregnancy I stocked up on lots of flowy maxi dresses, and for my winter pregnancies I lived in cozy cardigans.
Every pregnancy is different, and you may experience different changes each time. If there is something about your job or workplace that is causing you extra stress or discomfort, ask for modifications! Maybe you need a standing desk or a different desk chair if you are sitting for long periods of time. Maybe you need to alter your scheduled hours to accommodate extreme sickness or ask for different tasks that are less physically demanding if you have a job that involves physical labor. You may have to ask for modifications if you role involves anything hazardous or chemical related. It is important for both you and baby to ensure your job provides support if needed for a healthy and comfortable pregnancy at work. For me, this involves lots of walking, stretch breaks, and keeping my feet up at my desk when possible. If your job involves lots of squatting or bending like my teaching job used to, talk with your team about ways to make things easier as your belly grows!
Food and Water
Staying hydrated is super important, despite the increased bathroom trips that coincide with pregnancy. Get yourself a solid water bottle to keep ice water cool all day. Stock up on easy snacks for when hunger strikes and plan out your meals to bring to the office. For me, my nausea was often triggered by workplace lunch room smells! I planned ahead with lunches and snacks and often ate at different times to avoid anything that would be unpleasant.
How To Handle Your Final Days
The home stretch of pregnancy can definitely feel the longest! You have only a few weeks or days until that sweet babe arrives, and work is often the last thing on your mind. You may opt to start your leave time early from work to give yourself time to nest and relax. If you choose to continue working up until delivery, working may help keep your mind busy but it is anything but easy!
The best thing to do at the end is prep, prep, and prep some more while giving yourself grace. Ensure you have everything lined up for your impending leave time and take some steps to financially prepare for the next phase. Spend some time ensuring you have a solid transition plan at work for your duties and that you provide training or support to any colleagues taking over while you are out.
If you suffer from pregnancy brain like I did, staying organized is crucial! I used lots of sticky notes to keep track of everything happening at once, and I relied heavily on a planner to balance all things work and home life. Making lists and reminders helped me manage everything and stay on top of my game at work.
Easier said than done! But stress can wreak havoc on a pregnant body. Be realistic with yourself and what you can handle throughout this crazy time. Accept help from co-workers when it is offered and don’t volunteer for extra projects unless you can really commit. ]
While keeping stress at bay is important, do not think that being pregnant makes you any less of an employee! Going through a pregnancy while working is challenging, but it does not detract from your value to your company or your skills and experience. Keep pursuing your career dreams and showing up for your job in the best way you can! Hopefully some of these tips will help you handle working while pregnant, and allow you to tackle your career dreams and family dreams at the same time. In my opinion, this is the fullest season of life, but it is also the most rewarding. Working motherhood is a gift and you got this, mama!
All the best,