If you’re one of the many women who worked throughout your pregnancy with morning sickness then you know it’s not just about surviving work but surviving each day. During my first trimester, I spent almost every hour curled up on the couch, except for the times my husband had the unfortunate luck of seeing me throw up in the sink because I couldn’t make it to the bathroom. (I never said this would be pretty. Honest, yes. But not pretty.)
As you may know, most women wait to publicly announce that they are expecting until after 12 weeks when the chance of miscarriage dramatically decreases. And according to the Mayo Clinic, between 10 and 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. So, I can understand why it would be heartbreaking and difficult to tell everyone you were pregnant, only to have to tell them the sad news if you happen to miscarry before 12 weeks.
But, here’s the other thing. Most of the extreme symptoms happen before those 12 weeks, such as morning sickness. In my case, this entailed throwing up occasionally and also feeling nauseous 24/7. I had hormone-induced headaches and my mouth constantly tasted like blood mixed with metal – not the best combination when you’re already sick to your stomach.
And I’m not even talking about Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which Duchess Kate has, and can cause some women to vomit up to 100 times a day. Most have to be hospitalized at least once and monitored closely for dehydration.
No, I’m just talking about regular morning sickness, which isn’t as life-threatening as Hyperemesis Graviarium but can still be debilitating.
For instance, trying to hide the fact that you are pregnant at work, despite feeling like you have a bad case of the flu that won’t go away. Unfortunately, there are times when it is just awkward, like when I would eat crackers and ginger ale for lunch – again. Or the smell of a co-worker’s lunch almost made me lose mine.
It’s a silent, lonely struggle.
Plus, there is the added pressure of what everyone will think once they find out. Is she going to leave as soon as she has the baby? Is she going to leave before then? How will her doctor appointments affect her work? etc etc
So, after having survived the first trimester at work myself I feel I have come out at least slightly wiser in how to handle it. If you are in the midst of it or will be in the near future, I hope these tips help you. Because while ginger ale is great, you’re going to need a heck lot more than that to survive work, and quite frankly, each day.
7 Ways to Survive Morning Sickness At Work
1.) Tell Someone In Your Office
As soon as your symptoms become a problem it is best to tell someone in your office. At the very least, it can bring you comfort that someone in your office knows what’s really going on and not that you are a hypochondriac, or have some odd flu that you are going to spread to everyone.
If you tell your boss or a manager you might be able to ask for a few “work from home” days. There are some days you could probably still get your work done, but from your couch (and close to a bathroom) would be so much more comfortable – for everyone.
If you can’t tell someone higher up for fear of your job, then perhaps friend a work friend that you can trust not to spill the beans to everyone else.
Lastly, if you work in an environment that is potentially dangerous to you or your baby you need to tell your work immediately.
2.) Manage Your Symptoms
You can google “morning sickness relief” until the world ends but what works for one person may not work for you, and vice versa. I’ve had so many people tell me that they would just snack on saltine crackers and were fine. That did not work for me. Neither really did ginger ale, ginger chews, coke, green apples, pretzels, lemons, any number of the natural remedies out there.
What helped me was milk.
The secret is to keep trying different drinks and food until you find out what works for you. And be ready for whatever works to change on a daily basis. That’s why at work I have a drawer of pretzels, sour candy, saltine crackers, nuts, ginger tea, and others on hand in time of need because while my food choices might have changed, just continually eating seemed to be key.
3.) Take a B6 Supplement
While asking advice from friends who had recently had babies, one told me about combining B6 vitamins with half a Unisom tablet for nausea and vomiting. Quite frankly, I would have eaten my toe if someone told me it would help. Thankfully, this combination has been such a gift! I try not to take it every day – and it will make you sleepy – but being sleepy at work is far better than being sick.
Before you try this though please talk with your doctor. I confirmed with my OB that it was a safe effective remedy but you should check, too.
4.) Sit Near a Door During Meetings
This is kind of an amusing one, but you will be glad you did if nausea strikes you hard and you need to run out of a room, which has happened to me. It is better to be safe than sorry.
5.) Create a Work “Emergency Kit”
Besides your drawer of snacks, create a kit to get you out of not-so-pleasant situations at work. You might want to include paper towels, a toothbrush, Tylenol, gum, pregnancy pops, and any medication your doctor has prescribed for morning sickness. Keep it at work and cross your fingers that you don’t have to use them, but be thankful they are there if you do.
6.) Ask for Help
Whether you’ve told people in your office or not, give yourself some grace for not “having it all together” for some weeks and ask for help. Maybe there is someone you can delegate tasks to, or just get a second pair of eyes to look over something. We often want to be superwomen but the fact is we are growing a human inside us. We can still have a successful career, just knowing that we also shouldn’t run ourselves into the ground during this very important time. When needed – ask for help.
7.) Be Considerate when Scheduling Doctor’s Appointments
If you do have to be out of the office for an appointment, have a backup plan of someone who can cover for you, and let your boss know that is in place. Show them you have thought about it and that you will not leave any holes uncovered.
If you haven’t made the big announcement yet then all they need to know is that you have a doctor’s appointment – trust me no one will ask a woman what it is – but that you still have things under control, or are able to be reached by phone if necessary.
(If you’re close to your due date don’t forget to check out my Hospital Bag Checklist!)
By planning back-ups it will not only give your office peace of mind that you are still in control of your work, but also give yourself that same peace of mind. While you might need to be out for more appointments, just make sure that you keep up with your emails and show that you have things under control.
For the 50-80% of women who suffer from morning sickness, there is no “cure” except time. But on my worst days I liked to remind myself of the amazing miracle that was happening in my body and if that meant being sick, so be it.
Oh, and having a purse of snacks never hurts either. 😉