7 tips for working as a nurse while pregnant
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As many of you know, my husband and I are expecting our first child in February of 2016. We are elated. However, this has been quite the challenging experience for me. I’ve met many who have had easy, breezy pregnancies…free from nausea, vomiting, heartburn and some of the other lovely symptoms I’ve had to deal with.
While this is my first time going through this, I feel that I have learned a few things along the way that may be beneficial to you if you are getting ready to go on this journey as well.
You may have to tell your coworkers sooner than you’d like. I definitely was faced with this. We were going to wait until our second sonogram to make a big announcement. That did not work! I was throwing up daily at home and had to eat every single hour to keep it under control enough to work. Therefore, my coworkers had to know because the smells I could handle before were no longer tolerable. Even the sights and sounds that I could handle before were no longer an option! It was nice to let them know early, however. I got a lot of support during a really tough time. People have been quick to give Zofran to my puking patient so that I don’t subsequently throw up as well, or quick to help me turn my morbidly obese patient because I can’t lift that much right now.
You may almost throw up on someone. I got so close to doing this, it was a photo finish out of the room. Like I said before, something simple I thought I could handle was definitely no longer doable. This is another great reason to let your coworkers know early so they can jump in and save the day for you.
Know your limits. Only you can enforce this! People will not do this for you, especially if you don’t start showing for an extended period of time. Know when you need to sit down or when you need to ask someone else to turn your patient or push the bed. Again, thankfully I have amazing coworkers who don’t even let me try! But make sure you’re doing this for yourself; it can be harder than it sounds and you feel bad because you want to do your part. But know how much weight you’re allowed to lift and stick to it! And know when you need to take a break, and take it!
Invest in good compression socks. I have a few of different grades because some mornings I am way too tired to muscle on the thicker ones. They really do make a difference for swelling, pain and support. I also like to have a few in rotation so I don’t need to do laundry or wash them for each shift.
Take good care of yourself. Especially if you’re pregnant during the flu season! If you’re pregnant, you’re immunocompromised. If you’re a pregnant nurse, you’re an immunocompromised person around a bunch of sick people! Make sure you’re vigilant with hand hygiene. Wear a mask if you’re starting to not feel well or if you’re taking care of someone and you’re worried about contracting something from them. Eat well, rest well, etc.
Get a nurse purse and stock it with snacks and a nausea pack! I suffered with a lot of nausea. I used my handy nurse purse (which typically had my lip balm, alcohol swabs, Tylenol, etc., in it) and made sure to keep it full of snacks for the day because eating hourly kept me from vomiting. I also had my own little pack within my nurse purse for nausea. It contained my Zofran for emergencies, peppermint and lemon essential oils, pregnancy pops, peppermint gum, emergency crackers and ginger mints. I always had it nearby because time quickly gets away from us. Before you know it, it’s been two hours since you’ve eaten and you’re starting to get a little hazy!
Invest in comfortable clothes. For me, this also meant a few go-tos for scrubs. I know some people don’t want to spend the extra money on maternity scrubs, but I feel better in them knowing I’m all covered up and situated and have room to grow. I’m pretty tall, so regular scrubs barely cover my torso and I always have to wear a tank top underneath, so trying to just borrow hospital scrubs or larger scrubs is not an option. I haven’t had to get new pants (yet!), so just getting a few tops has made all the difference.
Hope these tips will help…and share your own in the comments below!
Kati Kleber BSN, RN CCRN is a a nationally certified critical care nurse located in Charlotte, NC. She is the Nurse Advisor and Editorial Director of the #ProtectNurses initiative, and will be guiding the content we curate, create, and share back with you. Kleber, aka Nurse Eyeroll, is a popular blogger, the voice behind the wildly successful #ProTips series, and a frequent speaker on nursing leadership. You can buy her book "Becoming Nursey" at nurseeyeroll.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sites. She also has two more books in the works, which will be published by the American Nurses Association and on shelves Feb. 2016!
By Kati Kleber BSN, RN