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Putting Yourself First During Pregnancy

Putting Yourself First During Pregnancy

For a lot of us, working while pregnant can be a struggle. The nausea during the first trimester, the shortness of breath in the second, and the weight of your growing child in the third can be exhausting. Everyone’s experience seems to be a bit different.

Some women do just fine; others do their best to keep on pushing through. Add going back to college to this equation, like myself, and we have a recipe for stress and fatigue.

There are so many of us superwomen out there, though, and reminding ourselves that sometimes we are only human and that this time in our lives is not only beautiful, but it is about us, is important. It is okay to ask for help, to need an extra hand and not feel as though we are being a burden to anyone.

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Those who love you want only to help. Sometimes they just don’t know where to start, especially the loving but floundering man in your life. These tips will help you successfully achieve all that you need to while pregnant and to allow those who want to lend you and your growing infant a hand, the opportunity to do so.

Here are the top five things that I did for myself during one of the most exciting and exhausting times of my life.

Know Your Rights

This is huge. The most frequent thing I hear, and that I too was worried about (because of my high-risk pregnancy, which meant missing work more frequently for doctors appointments), was losing my job. In many workplaces there is a sort of stigma around pregnant woman and instead of being understanding of the condition that woman are in, many businesses become dismissive, resulting in being let go. This is not only not right — it is not legal.

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According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commision, if you are unable to perform your job duties to the degree that the company sees fit, you are to be treated as any other temporarily disabled employee. This means that whatever law applies in your state for the disabled and discrimination due to a disability now applies to you. Make sure you look up the laws in your state and that you are treated with the respect you deserve. You have the right to work. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

Make a Wish List

This might seem silly to you but it was extremely helpful to my family and friends who saw the workload that I had taken on and wanted to help, but didn’t know where to start or what they could do. This list could very seriously have things on them like, “Make me snack bags for work,” or even during your third trimester: “Help me get my shoes on.”

Not being able to see your feet is funny until you can’t bend over far enough to get your shoes on. List little things (or big things) that make life easier and will put a smile on your face.

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Fatigue

Fatigue is probably the biggest and longest lasting hurdle during pregnancy. The most important thing to remember is that it is okay to be tired. Your body is exerting so much more energy than it usually would, and you are a busy woman. Sleeping early and taking naps are healthy for both you and baby. Don’t feel bad for missing dinner plans with friends or family; they will understand.

It’s Not an Excuse

I remember when I was pregnant and in college, I was so worried about people judging me and thinking I was “using being pregnant as an excuse” — an excuse to get out of class, assignments, or for anything really.

In reality I worked harder than ever to beat that stereotype, even when I had to run to the bathroom because “morning” sickness had gotten the best of me that day. The truth of it is that the same laws that apply in the workplace apply at school, so again, know your rights, and speak to your dean if you feel as though you are being mistreated due to your pregnancy.

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Another route that was my saving grace was online classes. This route made being able to stay home when I wasn’t feeling well an option and much more bearable. Don’t count online school or classes out; they are generally cheaper (here are 25 of the most affordable) and were a great option for my pregnancy.

Stop Worrying

There seems to be this focus on how the “condition” or pregnancy has an effect on those around us. Yes, that should be taken into consideration, but your health and well-being are what is most important right now. What I am saying is stop worrying so much about how your pregnancy is affecting your coworkers or anyone else who does not understand the depth of the fact that your body is creating a living, breathing, human being. That is going to take an incredible amount of energy and time. You are important, and a smart woman, and should be treated as such. Let go of worry and take care of what matters most: you and yours.

Featured photo credit: freestocks.org via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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