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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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