Whether you are pregnant and working at home, or pregnant and working at an office job, working while pregnant can bring challenges you never expected. If you are currently pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, prepare to have a tiny person sharing your workspace.
1. Morning Sickness
Morning sickness started about two months into my pregnancy, and whoever named it “morning sickness” is a big liar because it lasted all day long and all through the night. Most mornings before work, I would wake up sobbing, “How am I going to make it through another day?” There were certain snacks that helped alleviate the symptoms and I stashed them wherever I could – in my office, in the car, and in my coworkers’ offices. I even bought those “pregnancy pops” – lollipops that are supposed to relieve the symptoms, but nothing worked as well as Saltine crackers and Starbursts. I would recommend them to any pregnant woman suffering from morning sickness.
If you end up spending more time in the office bathroom than you intended, try to tactfully help your coworkers understand what you are going through. Some are more understanding than others who have never been pregnant. Every pregnancy is different, however, so do not assume you will be one of the unfortunate sufferers of morning sickness just because you are pregnant.
Before I even knew I was pregnant, fatigue set in. I remember sitting at my desk, staring blankly at my computer, trying to prop my eyelids open. I had never wanted sleep so badly in my life. If you are pregnant and working in any type of setting, try to take frequent short walks: whether it is down the hall or around the block. Caffeine is a “no-no” while pregnant but your doctor may allow small amounts if you discuss it with them. Even coffee, however, gave me extreme energy crashes a couple hours after consuming it. I found that I was better off taking short walks, stretching, drinking a little bit of juice, or eating fruit. Making sure you get enough sleep at night will help you stay alert during the workday as well.
3. Shortness of Breath
Another symptom I never expected while pregnant was shortness of breath. I would sit in my office chair, feeling like my lungs were being crushed by the growing baby. The only time I could breathe normally was if I was standing or lying down: both which are difficult to do while working on a computer all day long. The only thing I could control was my wardrobe and my posture.
Finding appropriate lose-fitting clothes for the workplace was challenging, but manageable. I adapted to the theory of “function before fashion.” Even if an outfit was something I would rather not wear for work, I would wear it if I knew it was going to allow me to breathe better during the day. Sitting up very straight also helped open my lungs.
4. Co-Workers’ Reactions
One of the worst things about working while pregnant was the reactions from my coworkers. People constantly stared at my protruding belly as if that is all that I was any more: the pregnant person in the office. Although they seemed genuinely happy for me, I felt as if they were treating me differently. It was almost as if they assumed I was not coming back to work and was therefore not a valued member of their team. Since I did not go back to work, I suppose they were correct. In the end, the frustration of working while pregnant rewarded me with a beautiful, happy baby.