Pregnancy is a period in your life where time begins to act in mysterious ways.
Sometimes, it will feel like someone has pressed a fast-forward button; your bump grows inches seemingly overnight, and though it feels like you only just saw that positive pregnancy test, you’re now having your last scan before the birth.
At other times, however, it will feel like time is moving incredibly slowly. You’re so keen for the time to pass, to meet the baby you have been nurturing, and for your new life to begin– but the clock just seems to be dragging.
Pregnancy is suspended animation
The reason for this time oddity is that pregnancy — and especially your first pregnancy — is a period of suspended animation. When you imagined what it was like to be pregnant, you probably thought about how your body would change and the symptoms you might experience, but it’s unlikely you gave much thought to how little actually changes in your life. You’re waiting, but you have to continue on as normal in the meantime– even though you new normal is radically different from what it was like before. After the first trimester morning sickness has passed, you will feel fairly well, but you now have restrictions and require accommodations that you never anticipated.
The accommodations of pregnancy
Many expectant Moms find themselves surprised by how their life largely carries on as normal, especially during the second trimester. You can still socialize, spend time with your significant other, and — most importantly — do your day job. However, everything has changed despite looking the same, and you now have to make accommodations in ways you had never imagined.
Some of these accommodations are easy to make. You can buy a pregnancy pillow to support you while you sleep, use an extra cushion on the sofa when you’re relaxing back for a night of Netflix binging, and excuse yourself from nights out with your friends early so you can get to bed on time.
Work, however… well, adapting your working life might not be so simple. Adapting your work to pregnancy is especially tough. You need to make accommodations for various changes, but they are temporary changes, only needed for six months or so. Time will pass quickly, but you still need to ensure that you’re comfortable when the time is passing slowly.
So how do you do it? Here are a few tips…
ACCOMMODATION #1: Your desk
First and foremost, you will need to address how comfortable you are when you’re in your office. There are a number of changes you might need to make here, and the first — and arguably most important — is your desk.
Desks are not friendly to baby bumps. If your work desk is particularly low-slung (as is often the fashion), then you may find that you can’t slide your bump beneath the desk, and you have to spend your day pressing against your baby. This isn’t fun, but it’s a problem many women may face.
If you experience this issue, here are a few ideas to make life more comfortable:
- Opt for a lower chair which allows you to slide your bump beneath this desk. Be careful with this, though– you don’t want to be sitting so low that you suffer from pain in your back and shoulders.
- Switch to a cable-free keyboard that you can position comfortably to allow you to sit in a position you can maintain.
- You can also try a chair that allows you to lean back more, though this too can cause discomfort in the arms and shoulders, so use with caution.
When you have found a way to use your desk as normal, you need to examine your back support. Most moms-to-be will need some kind of lumbar support to prevent aches and pains from sitting all day, and this is something it’s best to obtain prior to experiencing any discomfort– prevention is usually better than cure.
Finally, it’s beneficial to find the time to prepare a small stock of medicinal items that you may need through your working day. Many women suffer from heartburn, so a good remedy for this should be your first port of call. You may also want to research the painkillers you can take during pregnancy, and ensure you have some on hand within your office, just in case you need them.
ACCOMMODATION #2: Your clothes
Let’s keep this simple: your focus for your work clothes during your pregnancy is not style or following trends, it’s comfort.
Many women dislike the idea of purchasing maternity clothes, especially maternity clothes that are only suitable for work wear. It’s easy to understand this reticence. These are clothes that are only going to be useful for a — relatively — short period of time, and maternity clothes have a tendency to be rather expensive when compared to non-maternity options.
However, an investment in maternity clothes is the best way to keep yourself feeling comfortable throughout your pregnancy. This will become all the more apparent as you pass from the second into the third trimester, when you will experience general discomfort just from the weight of carrying your bump. It’s therefore advisable to make an investment in basic, simple maternity clothes that can see you through the pregnancy with a minimum of problems. If you’re concerned about the financial side, you can usually find excellent-quality maternity clothes on sites like eBay, and it’s worth trying thrift and secondhand stores too.
The uniform conundrum
If you wear a uniform to work, then you will likely find it a little more difficult to find suitable clothes for the duration of your pregnancy. Some professions are accommodating of this; nurses can usually find stylish maternity scrubs that can see them through to the birth, while shop workers at large chains will usually find there are options open to them.
Some companies, however, will not have planned for an eventuality in which an employee becomes pregnant. If you work for a company that requires a uniform and does not have a specific line of maternity wear, then you’re going to have to speak to your manager. Their solution will usually be something along the lines of “wear a bigger size”– but you don’t have to tolerate this. Maternity wear is not just “bigger”; it’s cut differently, to reflect the fact that the majority of the shape change is on the bump. If you just opt for bigger sizes, you’re likely to be uncomfortable. Talk with your manager and see if they can excuse you from your uniform, or at least parts of the uniform (such as waistcoats), for the duration of your pregnancy.
Finally, your choice of footwear during pregnancy should be relatively simple. Low heels for arch support and soft, supple material that you feel comfortable enough to walk in even when you’re carrying 20lbs of bump. Keep it simple, maximizing your comfort, safe in the knowledge you can return to your usual style when the baby is born.
ACCOMMODATION #3: Work habits
The final hurdle an expectant mom has to overcome during her pregnancy is her work habits. This may take a little diplomacy and a lot of cooperation from your boss, but if you get this right, you’re going to be in the best position possible right through to the beginning of your maternity leave.
It is inevitable that you will need more time off from work during your pregnancy. You will need to have scans, see your doctor, and various other appointments that can usually only be arranged during working hours. It’s best to speak to your boss about these in advance, notifying that you will sometimes need to leave work to attend specific appointments, and — hopefully — obtaining their blessing to do so.
Changing your personal attitude to work
You will also need to learn to slow down during your pregnancy. If you usually have workaholic tendencies, you’re going to need to control these. Pregnancy is an incredibly variable experience; one day you might feel so good you can forget you’re pregnant, then the next day you feel like you have been hit by a truck. Don’t accept more work or projects in the expectation that you’ll be feeling well enough to do them, because you might not be. Keep things simple is your motto during pregnancy; do what is required of you, then go home and rest.
Finally, you will need to take extra precautions if your job is physical in nature. In most cases, the company you work for will have a procedure to help handle pregnancy and ensure the utmost of safety for you and your unborn child. Go through your staff handbook (if you have one) or browse the company’s website to see what changes might be possible for the duration of your pregnancy.
The time you spend waiting for your baby to arrive should be the happiest and most joyous of your life. By making a few switches to your work environment, you can be sure to protect yourself, your bump, and your career all at the same time.