Working Full-Time? Top 6 Stressors You’re Likely to Face
Pregnancy may be the happiest time in your life, but it can also be the most stressful – particularly when you combine a growing belly and out-of-control hormones with morning sickness, anxiety of what is to come, and a full-time career.
I know your pain! I worked through most of both pregnancies, and it wasn’t easy. So, I’ve headed to the professionals to find the Top 6 Stressors you’re likely to face during this exciting – albeit draining – time, and to find ideas to get you through it all, without completely melting down. (Okay, at least with as few meltdowns as possible!)
- Nausea – For some, spending face time with the toilet is a rarity during pregnancy; for others, like me, it’s so common of an occurrence you will likely give the porcelain ring a name. And those who do experience nausea will find the term morning sickness misleading, because nausea can –and often does – last throughout the day. This doesn’t bode well when you’re working full-time and don’t have the ability to jump from a meeting to toss your cookies in the trash. To quell a queasy stomach, Dr. Kelly Simkins from Fox Valley Women & Children's Health Partners suggests eating small, frequent meals and foods from the BRAT diet: rice, apples, bananas, and toast. “Increase carbohydrates,” she adds. Munching on crackers, bread, and buttered noodles might tame a wild stomach. And April Masini, who writes the critically acclaimed “Ask April” column, suggests stowing Canada Dry in your desk, under your desk, in your car, in your work locker, and every other place you might go throughout the day. When it comes to work schedules, “Try and schedule important meetings around those times,” you get sick the most, she adds. “And remember that morning sickness isn’t really an ailment as much as it is a sign that your body is doing its job. Having a good outlook on what’s happening will make you remember that this isn’t the flu you’re combating, it’s your body growing a baby!”
- Long Hours at the Job – Pregnancy can be draining enough when you have a chance to nap – or at least slow down – at some point during the day. But if your job requires long hours on a regular basis, you might find yourself running out of steam – and patience – sometime after lunch. Simkins says, “You may consider asking your boss for short breaks (5-10) minutes.” Use this time to put your feet up, sip some water, and close your eyes. When I taught school, I found retreating to my classroom during lunch time, closing the blinds (and then my eyes), and resting for a few minutes helped me get through the rest of the day. Well, that and a box of doughnuts (though I can’t say this was my best idea!).
- Missed Time at the Office – Though you may see your doctor only a few times during the first part of pregnancy, toward the end you’ll likely see him (or her) more often than you do your BFF. Missing work on a regular basis can cause a lot of stress, and if your job entails regular appointments, creating a schedule that works may be harder than labor. To eradicate some of the stress with missed time at the office, Masini suggests spending money on a Smartphone, which will enable you to keep track of appointments easily. I found scheduling appointments on the same day each week helped, so I could work appointments around that time. Those who have to work late into the evening may need to make lunchtime appointments to get to the office before closing time. Finding a doctor who sees patients on a Saturday can be as difficult as getting a parking space close to the store on a rainy day, but it can happen; so as you hunt for an ob/gyn, ask about office hours.
- A Growing Belly, a Shrinking Wardrobe, and Little $$ in the Bank – Let’s face it, having kids isn’t cheap; and you realize this much more as your belly grows and you begin adding up the costs of nursery furniture, new clothes, diapers, doctor appointments, and other expenses. Dropping $45 on a pair of maternity pants may not be an option for you (it wasn’t for me!), but you will still need to look presentable those last few months on the job. What can you do to look great at the office, without wasting the kid’s college fund on clothes you’ll wear for less time than your actual pregnancy? Shop second-hand clothing. I got a lot of great clothes at consignment stores. Swap with friends, too. It’s likely you know someone who has already had a baby and isn’t pregnant right now. I received a lot of great hand-me-downs that were barely worn, which helped get me through those last few months of pregnancy at work.
- Anxiety About What is to Come – I think anxiety and pregnancy go together like Nutella and peanut butter. I have never been as anxious in my life as I was during pregnancy and the first few months after the birth of my first daughter. To squash that rambling mind, practice mindfulness. Sit in a quiet room. Close your eyes. And breathe. Feeling stressed at work? Shut the office door and breathe. Anxious at home about what still needs to be done at work before you take maternity leave? Sit and breathe. I promise that ten to twenty minutes a day will make a difference in your outlook. Continue to exercise, too. A nice twenty-minute walk in the morning, around lunchtime or after office hours, will help push the anxiety and stress from your mind. And one bit of advice that kept me in check when I was pregnant with my firstborn: A friend told me I wasn’t the first or the last person to go through pregnancy and a full-time job; and if they could do it, so could I.
- Deciding What to Do About Work After Baby Arrives – Pregnant women who have built a career often face the same tough choice when it comes time for delivery: return to work immediately; return after maternity leave runs out; or take an extended leave. It’s a tough decision to make, and no decision is right for every woman. Some women want to return to work as soon as possible, but may feel guilt about this urge. Others may not want to go back at all, but may have to, due to finances. There is no perfect choice, as each requires some give and take. When you begin to stress about the choice you make, return to number five. Breathe. Discuss the options with your partner or spouse. If you are unhappy with the decision, see if there is an alternative – a longer maternity leave at home, a way you can take your child to work with you, a way to do a flex schedule (work a few days at home, a few days at the job, which is what a great friend of mine did – and still does).