Being pregnant and working full time can seem like an impossible task in the very early days. So I wanted to share my experience and also provide some tips on surviving the 1st trimester.
I am 27 and I work as Business Administration Manager for an international cable materiel’s company. We are a relatively small operation in the UK and have only 1 employee – which is me. I work with 2 directors who also have other jobs so I have a lot of responsibility and pressure on my shoulders although I have been there now over 3 years so I’m not particularly phased by this and my day to day job is relatively stress-free. However maternity has always been something that has weighed on my mind as both my boss’s are male and I worried about what would happen to my job if I got pregnant.
A year or so ago I remember saying to Giles that I couldn’t imagine going off on maternity because I was afraid of someone replacing me and taking over my position whilst I was away – in other words that person might be better than me! I am sure many people have had the same thought, especially in a small company. I also knew that I wouldn’t want to have a baby and work full time so I was also concerned about going back part-time and if they would be ok with that.
The reality is that as time went by I found that my want to be a mother actually overcame my concerns about my job and I actually thought ‘who cares if they hire someone in above me’ i’ll still do a good job and i’ll have a beautiful baby to come home to! Also if they say no to working part-time i’ll just find something else to fit around my baby. And so it happened and we decided to have a baby!
The next thing was keeping it from my boss’s which was harder than I thought because of how rubbish I felt and the first week I ended up faking a doctors app one afternoon and booking a last minute holiday day the next just because I felt so rough and couldn’t say why. I also had a business dinner with a customer on the Monday after I found out and I had to make up all sorts about not being able to drink – the problem is everyone knows you CAN drink on antibiotics so that doesn’t wash anymore!
In the end I made it to 8 weeks before I told them and it went much better than I thought it would, they were in fact very understanding and also seemed open to me working part-time when i returned to work. Also once the initial shock that they would have to employ someone else wore off we were able to have a much better chat about it all. It also meant that I could be honest about my sickness and they were very understanding letting me work from home after a mid-wife appointment and blood tests, and leaving early when I couldn’t get through the day. I did end up having 2 full days sick because the sickness was particularly bad but again they were very good about this and understood. The rest of the time they cut me some slack when I was particularly fragile in the afternoons. I was also lucky that I had a 2 week holiday in my 1st trimester so that’s 2 weeks where I wasn’t at work and I was relaxing in sunny Spain.
So anyway, for anyone just starting out balancing work and pregnancy here are some of my tips for Surviving the 1st Trimester and Working after that positive test:
- Tell your boss’s as soon as you feel able to, I think as soon as you have that out the way the better and if you don’t want it to be common knowledge just tell your closest or line manager. The worry of telling people is that something might go wrong in the early stages but my thoughts were that if they did I would most likely need time off to deal with this so it is better if my boss’s are fully in the loop.
- Don’t be afraid to take a sick day. If you feel so sick you really can’t cope then don’t be afraid to take a sick day, just try and tell the difference between a day that might be a struggle and a day that is impossible to get through without being flat on your back in front of Netflix.
- Get plenty of sleep – I usually go to sleep around 10pm but I found myself often in bed as early as 8pm – a little extra sleep will go a long way.
- Nap – I would often take quick naps in my car at work during my lunch breaks. If you can and you think it will help then try and do it.
- Exercise – I know this might seem impossible but this can work as well as a nap by revitalizing you. Just a quick stroll round the block might be enough to give you a 2nd wind and calm nausea.
- Eat – don’t be afraid to eat a lot. Eating small and often is proven to help keep blood sugars up and keep nausea at bay. I would eat every hour during the morning, just a piece of toast and cheese or a bread stick or 2. If your work are funny about eating at your desk or you don’t work at a desk then speak to your boss’s about giving you a few small breaks to have a snack when needed. If it keeps you at work then it has to be beneficial!
- Put yourself first – it seems like an obvious one but something that kept me going was telling myself that me and the baby were the most important thing. So before bed if I was worried about work the next day I would stop and think ‘hang on, if I don’t feel up to it then I just won’t go.’ Of course most of the time I did go to work but just knowing that if I couldn’t then I wouldn’t was enough to make me feel better.
- Lean on your partner – if you are lucky to have a hubby like mine then don’t be afraid to use them. Just because you are the one carrying the baby doesn’t mean they can’t help you cope.
- Find what works for you – if like me sniffing a lemon made your nausea better then make sure you have a lemon on hand all the time. I also found that taking a bath made me feel better even if I wasn’t at home. My mother in law was more than happy to let me wallow in their king size tub when we visited as that way at least I got out the house and Giles got to kick back with his step-dad for a few hours.
- Last but not least – do not be ashamed or feel bad. If you feel so bad you can’t leave the house for 8 weeks then so be it and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that!