As a nurse, you’re probably all too familiar with the woes and joys of pregnancy – even if you’ve never been pregnant yourself. And you also face a number of other challenges every day, like lifting heavy things, unpredictable sleep schedules and coming in contact with infectious diseases.
Now that you’re pregnant, it’s important to take a few extra precautions to ensure a low-stress, healthy pregnancy while working.
1. Let Your Supervisors Know Early On
Announcing your pregnancy is a personal decision, but many nurses choose to let their bosses know early on in the process. This will allow your employer to stay on top of things if you need job modifications or any special considerations.
You may not want to tell your co-workers about your pregnancy until you’re showing, but you may have no other option than to tell them sooner. Some nurses (and women in general) experience severe morning sickness and may not be able to handle some of the situations they could handle before. Eventually, your co-workers will catch on and know something is going on.
But there’s a benefit to telling your co-workers early – they can help you through it.
2. Talk About Your Job with Your OB or Midwife
Let your OB or midwife know that you’re a nurse. He or she can help you with occupational concerns. Depending on your duties, you may need to avoid certain exposures, like chemotherapies, infectious diseases, cleaning chemicals and radiation.
If you’re exposed to something that you think may affect your health, like a human bite or a needle stick, talk to your doctor and the employee health office about it.
3. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
As a nurse, you spend your entire day taking care of other people. Don’t forget to take care of yourself – especially now that you’re pregnant.
Make sure that you’re:
- Eating – do not skip meals
- Sleeping well
- Taking steps to reduce stress
You may need to limit the physical demands of your job if things get to be too much. And if you’re having trouble eating during the day, try bringing snacks to eat in between meals. Always keep a bottle of water nearby to stay hydrated.
When you’re at home, try to relax and let other family members take over some of the household chores to make your life easier.
And make sure that your scrubs are comfortable at work. Invest in quality maternity nursing scrubs that will give you room to grow.
4. Create a Nausea Pack
If nausea is a serious problem for you, which is common with many women, bring a nausea pack with you to work. Fill the pack with snacks to keep your stomach calm, Zofran for emergencies, pregnancy pops, mint gum, ginger mints, essential oils and emergency crackers.
Snacks can really help keep nausea and morning sickness at bay. Some nurses recommend eating every hour. You may not think you have time to eat that often, but if you keep a bag full of snacks nearby, you’ll find that it’s easier than you think to keep your belly full.
Being prepared can go a long way in making you feel less anxious and stressed about going to work.
5. Know Your Limits
Every pregnancy is different. You may have heard stories of some nurses working full-time until they were full term. You may have also heard some stories of women having miscarried due to accidents on the job.
It’s important to listen to your body and know your limits. Only you can decide when it’s time to stop working.
Do not let anyone pressure you into doing something you’re not comfortable doing or is unsafe. There may be certain smells you can no longer tolerate, or you may no longer be able to lift heavy patients. If there are situations and circumstances that you can’t handle, don’t feel pressured into doing them.
Put your safety and your baby above all else.
6. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you’re struggling with certain tasks, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your co-workers. Switch tasks if you need to. Ask your fellow nurses for assistance with difficult patients.
Don’t be surprised if your co-workers pitch in to help even without your asking. If they do, accept their help graciously.
7. Listen to Your Doctor
Your health and the health of your baby comes before anything else. Listen to your doctor if you’re told to take it easy or avoid lifting things.
Also, make sure that you speak to your doctor right away if you’re experiencing premature contractions, exhaustion or other concerning issues.
8. Pamper Yourself
Pregnancy is hard on the body. Pamper yourself. Start by treating your feet to a massage. You can see a professional massage therapist, or you can invest in a good foot massager. An article published in the Journal of Nursing Practice says that daily foot massages significantly decreased leg circumference during pregnancy.
Essential oils can also help you de-stress and may even keep morning sickness at bay. Inhaling lavender and peppermint essential oils can decrease nausea and vomiting symptoms for women in the early stages of pregnancy.
On your days off, rest. Don’t run around all day tackling errands or cleaning the house. Get your loved ones to help with as many of these tasks as possible. Your body needs as much rest as possible during pregnancy – especially since your sleep will be limited after the baby is born.
9. Invest in Compression Stockings
Edema can be a pesky problem during pregnancy, but compression stockings can help. They can help prevent fatigue as well as edema.
Compression stockings may also prevent DVTs, which pregnant women are more likely to develop.
To further help prevent edema, make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water and limiting your sodium intake. Put your feet up whenever you can at work and home, and stay hydrated even if that means having to run to the bathroom more often.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is listen to your body. If some aspects of your job have become too much or dangerous for your health, talk to your employer. And when you feel it’s time to stop working, don’t wait.