Just found out you’ll be welcoming a little one into the world? Congrats! It’s truly an amazing thing–one that will (obviously) change your life forever. And while your body is working overtime, you’re still working full-time.
As a woman who worked through both of my pregnancies up until the very… last… day… I have some personal tips to share along with some guidance from the experts on how to get through pregnancy while holding down a job and maintaining your sanity.
Working During Your First Trimester
Pregnancy seems to do the opposite of procrastinate: it gets most of the rough stuff over with at the beginning. Yes, I’m talking about over-the-top fatigue and morning (or all-day, or surprise afternoon) queasiness.
One morning when my complexion was less colorful than usual at work, a colleague gave me a gift. She told me to eat some protein right before bed and to keep some crackers on my nightstand, so I could eat before even standing up. For me, it worked like a charm.
But the fatigue is real. I went to bed at 8:30 PM more times than I care to admit—even when we had company. To get through the workday, lunchtime car naps became my best friend. They could be yours too.
First Trimester Tips From the Experts
- Snack on healthy foods, especially ones with a lot of iron and protein, throughout the day to stave off nausea and avoid anything that triggers it. Coffee is a common queasiness trigger, and I can vouch for that.
- Start a great hydration habit. Get a reusable water bottle—keep it filled and nearby.
- For persistent nausea, try drinking calming chamomile tea (bonus: extra hydration).
- Go to bed early. This is the period during which the most critical stages of your baby's development are happening. You deserve some extra Zs.
- Take short, frequent breaks to stand up and stretch or even walk around the office.
Working During Your Second Trimester
For most women, including yours truly, this is the most fun part of pregnancy. You finally “pop,” but don’t yet feel gigantic, and will (probably) get back lots of energy. The only tough part for me was near the end of this trimester, sitting all day became terribly uncomfortable. I got an cough adorable cough little triangular donut cushion for my chair to protect my aching tailbone and finally bought some maternity pants.
Second Trimester Tips to Take Care of Yourself at Work
- Just. Buy. The. Maternity pants. Don't wait! You’ll breathe the biggest sigh of relief when you finally give into it.
- Set an alert to get up and move every couple of hours. This will help prevent fluid build-up in your lower legs and feet and can ease tense muscles.
- Make sure your chair has adjustable lumbar support for your inevitable weight and posture changes.
- Elevate your legs when possible.
- This is when you’ll have the most energy, so use it to stay healthy and take lunchtime walks.
Start Getting Ready for Maternity Leave
- Work with HR to start any paperwork related to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and, if your workplace offers it, short-term disability insurance.
- Discuss your intended return date with your boss as well as any options for a soft return (examples: half days or three days a week).
- If you plan to breastfeed, know where you’ll be able to pump when you return to work. Time and space to pump is nearly always a workplace legal requirement for nursing moms.
Working During Your Third Trimester
At this point your pre-natal appointments will be close together—most likely a week apart. Try to schedule them all out at once so you can nab the earliest appointments or late afternoon ones. This will keep your workday from getting too disrupted. You’ll either arrive to work a bit late or leave a bit early. I personally loved morning appointments. A 9 AM check-in meant I didn’t have to get up too early, but didn’t arrive at work too late to prevent me from leaving at my regular time.
Third Trimester Tips to Start Preparing
- Pack lots of snacks. You might not be able to eat full meals. After all, you don’t have much space left in there!
- Well-meaning, excited people may start to tell you that you won’t make it to your due date. Don’t let that fool you, or your pregnancy will seem to go on forever!
- Look into care options for your baby and decide which way to go. This way you can enjoy your maternity leave without stressing about daycare.
- If at all possible, work from home the week before your due date. Your small rotation of work-appropriate outfits is going to feel very tired by this point.
- Spend the first few weeks of your leave recovering, bonding with your baby and learning to be a parent, not answering work questions. Let your boss and coworkers know what—if any—things you’d like to be kept in the loop about while you’re away and set expectations about if/when it’s okay to reach out to you about work.
Finally, remember that while individual days during your leave might seem to drag on and on, and you might even find yourself waiting at the window for your husband by 5 PM, the whole of it really does fly by. Enjoy those newborn snuggles as much as you can. Good luck and happy parenting!