Juggling Work & Pregnancy
Working 9-5 can be hard going when you are feeling your best, so how can you manage it when you are pregnant? The experienced team at DoulaCare Ireland have supported hundreds of Irish women through pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Below, they share some practical advice for juggling work and pregnancy.
Listen to Your Body
The good news is, pregnancy is a natural biological part of our life and as long as we mind ourselves we can do it all. The number one thing to remember is to listen to your body and take it at an easy pace. You are growing a human after all!
If you are working shift work it may be a good idea to speak to your manager about changing your shifts to a more manageable timetable (daytime hours as much as possible)
The early days
One of the biggest battles in the early days is fatigue and nausea. Try to skip those late-night TV shows or episodes on Netflix and get to bed early. It’s not forever and when the second trimester hits you will be full of boundless energy! Do try to keep a balanced diet to avoid iron deficiency, so have regular leafy greens, beans and red meat if you can. You can get your blood levels checked at a GP appointment if you have any concerns. If you have anywhere to put your head down for even 15 minutes during the day a power nap can make a huge difference to your day! (a quiet office, friends car etc.).
For the nausea
Try to eat little and often. If you wake feeling sick it seems like the worst idea in the world to eat but this is not the same as a tummy bug. Your hormones are changing and this is a side effect. An empty tummy is the worst thing so try to have a few bites of dry toast or crackers. Food like ginger can really help, so have a stash of ginger biscuits or tea in your bag! It can be hard dealing with smells in the office so try to keep the windows open. If your colleagues are preparing food in the lunchroom, try to take your break a little before and head outside for some fresh air (before the smell of chilli comes wafting over and makes you gag into the bin). It can also be helpful to have a spare toothbrush, toothpaste and washcloth in your bag in case you get sick in work.
Dealing with suspicion
If you are not ready to share your news with your colleagues, it is a good idea to still share some of your symptoms. They will notice you gagging and feeling tired so perhaps say “I haven’t been feeling great this week” or “I think I am coming down with something” That way you can get the sympathy and understanding (and you can also take a few sick days if you feel you really need them) If your job involves tasks that are unsafe during pregnancy, speak to your manager about changing your duties. Don’t be afraid to say you can’t do something - such as heavy lifting. If you are in a job where the risk to you and your pregnancy cannot be removed (or your employer cannot offer you an alternative position for the duration of your pregnancy) you are entitled to health and safety leave and can apply for Health and Safety Benefit, paid by the State until you can begin your Maternity Benefit (or it is safe for you to come back to work). For more information, you can contact the Health and Safety Authority or your local Citizens Information Service.
There will be ups and downs
Prepare yourself for the exhilarating highs, where you are feeling really good in yourself and super excited about meeting your baby. On these days get ahead of the workload if you can. Don’t leave yourself to the last minute with deadlines. There will also be days where it all seems too much and you don't want to get out of bed. On these days mind yourself and try to take it easier work-wise (this may be where you have to let your line manager or employer know about your pregnancy so that is taken into account for any workplace performance review).
Think about your post baby plan
It is a good idea to think about your plans for after maternity leave. If you would like to be considered for a flexible schedule, such as some days working from home or a 3 day week, then put together a proposal. It can help you to enjoy your pregnancy, with a clear mindset if you have your post-baby plans in line.
When to go on maternity leave
There are many women who glide through pregnancy without any issues. Lots of women choose to work right up to the end of the third trimester. This of course is totally fine as long as you’re feeling well. If you have experienced any complications, such as high blood pressure or any threat of preterm labour, your care provider may recommend you finish up work a little earlier. At the end of the day, your health and the health of your baby has to be number one - the wheels of your workforce will keep turning without you, don’t worry!
Remember to enjoy your pregnancy
Take time each day to enjoy the lovely things about being pregnant. Watch how your body is changing, growing a whole new human. Enjoy some online baby shopping or plan the baby nursery. If you can take an evening or two out each week to do pregnancy yoga or mindfulness it can help you to really “be” with your baby and focus in on this amazing time. Remember to attend good antenatal education (an independent class is always a good idea too) When planning for your birth, have you considered having doula support? If you would like to know more about what that entails please do contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
DoulaCare Ireland are a national doula agency, providing Birth & Postpartum Doula support and antenatal education. We support parents from early pregnancy, through labour & birth and right through the first year of parenting.