Congratulations! You’re expecting a new baby, and you’re ushering in a brand new phase of your life. It’s an exciting time, but it can also raise a lot of questions. Is it okay to work as a nurse while pregnant? Are there certain job tasks that pregnant nurses can’t do? How much is too much work? We’ll go over everything below.
So can nurses work while pregnant? Yes! As long as you feel like you can do the work, and you have gotten the okay from your doctor and/or OB/GYN, then you should be fine. However, there are certain things you should watch out for.
To further clarify, most women continue to work at their jobs in some capacity throughout their pregnancy.
Many soon-to-be mothers and their family need all the financial help they can get, so taking off for their entire pregnancy, as well as post-delivery, can put a huge hole in their wallet.
Furthermore, there should not be any workplace discrimination against pregnant women, so if you feel that you’re being urged to stay home during your pregnancy, that is something that you can take up with the Human Resources Department at your workplace.
Now, just because you’re probably going to be working while pregnant, doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be certain speed bumps along the way.
Here’s a rundown of what to expect while working as a pregnant nurse.
Challenges for a Pregnant Nurse
As you may already expect (or be experiencing), your body will go through lots of changes throughout the course of your pregnancy, and these changes can affect the way you carry out your daily work tasks.
For instance, fatigue is going to become a regular part of your life, whether it starts to hit in the final trimester or you feel it throughout those nine months of pregnancy.
Fatigue can hit you all of a sudden, or it can be a constant feeling of sluggishness and exhaustion. Take into account the physical and mental impacts of fatigue and how that will affect your job.
As a nurse, you need to do a lot of multitasking, but that can become much more difficult when you’re pregnant.
Your body can’t move as quickly, and you’re bound to have some days where your head just feels burnt out. When fatigue strikes, try to find a quick minute to take a breather.
Sit down, put your feet up, and maybe even turn off the lights if it helps. Do some breathing exercises to calm yourself down and get oxygen flowing throughout your body again.
When you’re at home, maybe ask your spouse or partner to give you a head, neck, or shoulder massage to release any built-up tension. Anything you can do to ease your fatigue and stress will be worth it.
Another not-so-fun side effect of pregnancy is nausea, which can also strike at any time.
While lots of women experience morning sickness, this nauseous feeling can come around in the afternoon and evening, too.
Always try to keep some medication on hand, as well as some saltine crackers or ginger tea. Believe it or not, snacking every couple of hours can help to keep nausea at bay.
It doesn’t have to be anything substantial, maybe some crackers or a handful of nuts. You should also stay hydrated throughout the day to keep your systems moving and to stave off headaches and exhaustion (source).
Occupational Hazards for a Pregnant Nurse
Of course, the obstacles don’t just pertain to your body. At work, you will be faced with numerous occupational hazards, especially as a nurse. For one thing, you will need to back off on how physical you are at work.
This means limiting the amount of lifting and bending down you do and trying to get your colleagues to help with lifting patients or carrying heavy equipment.
There are lots of heavy machines and tools that nurses work with, and you want to be certain that you don’t lift anything that is too heavy for you.
This will not only put you and your baby in danger, but you could also compromise the safety of any nearby patients.
Speaking of machinery, remember that some tools and equipment radiate excess heat or vibrations, which can interfere with your baby.
You should also stay aware from extremely hot or cold temperatures and any patients that have a highly contagious or infectious disease. Yes, it is your job as a nurse to care for the patient, but in this case, you need to plan ahead so that you can best take care of yourself and your baby.
This is why letting your supervisors and colleagues know about your pregnancy as soon as possible is a good idea (we’ll get to that in a bit).
Besides infectious diseases, you will also need to protect yourself from biomaterials and other harmful substances that could pose a health risk to you and your child.
The Do’s and Don’t of Working While Pregnant
If you decide to continue working as a nurse while pregnant, please let your supervisors and colleagues know as soon as you can.
This will not only take the pressure off of you, but it will help them better prepare for your eventual absence and any tasks that you won’t be able to perform during your pregnancy.
Don’t assume that you can continue working at the same capacity until your last trimester.
Sure, there are some pregnant women who make it look so easy and are able to channel their inner Wonder Woman, but don’t feel like you need to live up to that kind of expectation.
Once your colleagues and supervisors know that you’re expecting a baby, they will start to shift more of the responsibilities on the rest of the team so that you can take it easy and transition out of the position for the time being.
Plan ahead as much as possible, not only with your workplace, but with your doctor, OB/GYN, and family.
Be sure that you understand how to keep yourself healthy at work and at home, and learn about what each month of your pregnancy entails so that there aren’t any surprises. The more you plan, the smoother the transition will be.
Don’t put extra stress on yourself to perform. You’re only human, and you’re growing another human inside of you!
If you feel that you need to take time off from work, don’t feel like you need to deny yourself that rest. Your doctor might give you permission to work, but that doesn’t mean you’re obligated to work.
Do prioritize your health and that of your baby. As we mentioned before, if it comes to working with infectious diseases or taking care of your unborn child, choose the latter. Your colleagues will be able to pick up the slack if you let them know in advance what you can and can’t do at work.
Now that you’ve seen that it is possible for nurses to work while pregnant, you might be looking for more information. I would encourage you to check out our article Tips for Working as a Nurse While Pregnant. In there we give you some more actionable steps you can start taking.
Hopefully, these tips provided some more insight and answers in regards to working as a pregnant nurse. Yes, it is totally fine to continue working while you’re pregnant, but each individual is different.
Don’t feel bad if you back off from work earlier than others, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Best of luck with your new bundle of joy!