Nursing is a tough job, and the daily tasks that come with this line of work can become even more difficult while you’re pregnant.
Of course, many nurses work during their pregnancies; they just have to take a different approach to their fast-paced, people-oriented career.
Here are some tips on what pregnant nurses do (and don’t do) while on the job.
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Related Article: Can Nurses Work While Pregnant
Tips for Working as a Nurse While Your Pregnant
#1 Be Aware That Challenges Will Come Along, So Be Prepared to Address Them
It’s unwise to think that you will be able to carry on with your work as usual throughout your pregnancy.
Nursing requires lots of physical movement, long shifts, and multi-tasking, which are all things that can become incredibly tricky while also navigating a pregnancy.
Your first tip is to make sure that you understand the difficulties and challenges that will come with your pregnancy, especially with regards to how that will affect your working life.
Most women are able and continue to work while pregnant, but they also understand that the health and wellbeing of their baby and themselves is top priority.
One of the most common side effects of pregnancy is morning sickness, which can actually strike soon-to-be-mothers at any time of day or night.
Nausea can put a wrench in your everyday life, and when you’re a busy nurse, nausea can completely incapacitate you (source). Try to recognize any smells or foods that trigger it, and keep ginger tea or medication nearby, just in case.
Another dreaded yet common sensation during pregnancy is fatigue, both for your body and mind. Given that many nurses rarely get a break adding pregnancy to the mix can be a recipe for disaster.
Again, it’s about knowing your limits and the challenges that you will face as your pregnancy progresses. It also helps to have an honest conversation with your supervisor and teammates so that everyone knows what to expect for the next few months.
If you honestly lay out the potential setbacks for everyone that you work with, they will have a much easier time picking up the slack or filling in for you when you’re hit with fatigue, nausea, or whatever it might be.
#2 Prioritize Your Emotional, Mental, and Physical Care
This can be hard for a lot of women to embrace, but once you’re carrying a baby, self-care becomes a huge deal. When you’re healthy and happy, your baby is, too.
Plus, you want to enjoy the time you have for self-care now before you have a little bundle of joy (and hard work) in your arms.
Here are some things that you can do to ensure that your body, mind, and spirit stay as healthy as possible for the coming months.
First of all, eat a diet rich in iron, as anemia, or iron deficiency is a common concern for pregnant women. Foods like beans, dark leafy greens, and iron-fortified whole grains are good choices (source).
You’ll also want to stay hydrated, which will contribute to that motherly glow as well as keep your energy levels up throughout the day, whether you’re working or not.
As for exercise, most pregnant women can continue to do light exercises, but they should check with their doctor first. Things like yoga and walking can be great ways to de-stress while also getting your heart rate up.
That being said, you’re going to need more downtime than usual, and that’s okay. Even just a five-minute break in which you sit in a quiet room and put your feet up can do wonders for your stress levels and overall health.
You might want to consider adapting your work schedule or cutting back on your hours, too. Sleep and rest are crucial for expectant mothers, and it’s going to be important to get as close to eight hours of sleep every night.
In addition, try to incorporate a relaxing activity or moment into your week, be it reading or calling a friend.
#3 Address Any Potential Job-Related Obstacles
As your pregnancy progresses, you will start to notice that everyday tasks become more of a challenge. This is completely natural, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be frustrating.
It’s critical that you look at your job and assess any potential areas of concern, such as your footwear, your workload, and any physical demands.
Again, this warrants an honest chat with your supervisor and co-workers about what you’ll be able to do and not do in the future.
Not only does this relieve some of the pressure off of you, but your superiors and colleagues will be able to better prepare and adjust the workplace, if necessary.
As a nurse, your workplace is bound to have protocols for pregnant employees, including infection control procedures and exposure to harmful substances, radiation, and biomaterial.
In addition, you will want to be careful around extreme temperatures, heavy machinery, and physical labor, such as lifting patients and equipment.
One concern that you may have as a pregnant nurse is working with highly contagious patients or those under infectious precautions. If this is something that you’re worried about, it is totally within your rights to request that you not interact with these patients for the time being.
Talk with your team and supervisor about delegating those responsibilities to someone else because when it comes to the safety of your baby, that is your top priority.
#4 Dress for Success
Here, we’re really talking about your footwear. You’re probably already aware that pregnant women often experience excessive swelling in the feet, so the shoes you wear are going to either make or break you.
As your body goes through physical changes during the next few months, it’s going to be important that you wear shoes that will support you, maintain good posture, and cushion your feet.
This will help to prevent back, and joint pain as well as feel more comfortable on the nursing unit floor. It’s definitely worth it to invest in a pair of good-quality, non-slip shoes.
As for your clothing, nurse scrubs are already pretty no-fuss, but you will have to take your pregnancy-related weight gain into account. Maternity scrubs are widely available online and include flexible panels around the stomach for added comfort and stretch.
If you’re looking for some maternity scrub selections, check out some of these scrubs from Amazon.com.
#5 Plan Ahead as Much as Possible
While it’s nice to bask in the positive energy of finding out that you’re expecting a child, you should also use this time to plan ahead as much as you can.
You only have so much time before the baby arrives, and if you’re going to continue working as a nurse, then your time is going to be divided between your personal and professional lives and the overall care of your unborn baby.
This is where planning ahead can be a tremendous help.
You can start by talking with your doctor and OB/GYN about any prenatal vitamins that you should be taking, as well as what physical and mental changes you can expect throughout your pregnancy.
Make sure that you’re up to date on your vaccines and physical check-ups and educate yourself about the maternity leave policies at your workplace.
This is also the time to consider reducing your workload or transitioning to working on an as-needed basis. It’s going to be a lot easier to make these transitions now than a few months from now when you’re in dire need of a break.
While you should be in control of when others find out about your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to let your colleagues and supervisors know as soon as possible so that they can plan ahead, too.
Keep in mind that you might want to let people outside of the workplace know earlier, too, such as your parents, friends, and neighbors.
That way, they can start putting an action plan into place in case you or your spouse need some extra help around the house or with transportation.
The sooner you address these things, the less of a stressor it will be on everyone.
#6 Take Your Time Getting Back to Work
Even if you’re a workaholic, you’re going to have enough to do with your new bundle of joy. Once you welcome your son or daughter into the world, you’re going to be wrapped up in their specific needs and experiences.
Be sure to take advantage of your workplace’s maternity leave policy, and make sure that you have an action plan for when you do eventually return to work.
Again, this is where planning ahead comes in handy. You may be fine returning to your previous workload, but you will probably want to ease back into it, perhaps starting on a part-time schedule.
#7 Plan and Budget Your Finance
I’ve included this last, but I probably should have included this first. It’s important that you look at your finances as early as possible in your pregnancy.
Looking at it early will allow you to make adjustments if needed. For example, if you want to take the full maternity leave but you don’t have enough PPL than you might have to go back to work earlier than you expected.
On the other hand, if you look at your finances months in advance and you see that, you could start saving so you can take the full maternity leave.
Mothers decide to go back to work as early as a couple of months post-delivery, or they wait a year or longer.
It’s ultimately up to you, and you’ll also have to weigh factors such as finances and the needs of your workplace.
Remember, you’re not the only working new mom out there, so take advantage of advice from others, and don’t be shy about reaching out for support from colleagues, friends, and family.
Let us know your thoughts below.