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Pregnant? Mum's the word...

Posted by
09 Dec 2014
Finding out that you're having a baby brings with it great excitement, but also a complete range of new anxieties, many of which I am told never really go away. But one concern which affects most professional women, is what will happen with their career?

The anxiety can include concerns about missing out on interesting projects, missed opportunities for promotion, a fear as to how you'll manage when you return from maternity leave, as well as a myriad of other worries surrounding your job and career.

When I found out that I was pregnant three months ago, I was definitely worried about all of the above, but one thing I hadn't anticipated, was how difficult I would find being pregnant and having a full-time job.

I had obviously heard about morning sickness, and knew that women often felt tired, but it really took me by surprise to find out how exhausting it could be. There have definitely been a couple of days when I've really wondered how I would make it through the day. The evenings have seen me straight home from work and early to bed, and weekends have mostly consisted of moving from the sofa to bed, and not much else, as my body recovers from the previous week.

Of course, each person and each pregnancy is different. There are those who sail through the nine months wondering what all the fuss is about, and then there are others who are so unwell that they require hospitalisation, as we've seen with Kate Middleton who's suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum, an extreme form of morning sickness.

It is this range of symptoms which beg the question about when you should actually talk to your boss about your pregnancy.

Regardless of the medical opinion that you are free to start telling people your happy news as soon as you like, there is a general feeling that it is best to wait until after the first 3 months - understandable when you consider that one out of three pregnancies will end in miscarriage during this period. There's also a strange phenomenon, particularly in first-time-soon-to-be-parents, of wanting some medical evidence that you actually are pregnant, and it's not until your first scan at 12 weeks that many feel this!

For me, I felt that I wanted to tell my line-manager right away. I realised that the next eight months would be challenging, and I was likely to need support during this time - whether that be with time off for hospital appointments, or understanding when I was feeling so tired that there was no choice but to run out the door on the dot of 6pm. It also meant that I felt less like I was rousing suspicion during tea rounds when I cut down from my usual 10 cups a day!

I was in a lucky position though, working in a business which is very used to dealing with pregnant employees and maternity leave, but what about those of you not able to share the truth just yet?

So, as I breeze into my more energetic second trimester, here are my top tips for coping with the first three months in secret…

1. You will need at least one day of annual leave for your first two appointments which take place in the first 12 week, the first with the midwife and the second for your first scan.

2. Get as much sleep as possible and limit your plans in the evening - chances are you won't be able to make them. Set your alarm as late as possible in the morning and make sure your phone is on silent to avoid disturbed sleep!

3. Crackers! Keep a pack with you at all times, nibbling on them will help with the nausea and pangs of hunger.

4. Get outside - the chances are that your exercise routine will be out the window for the first couple of months, so use your lunch hour wisely. Go outside (come rain or shine), walk and get some fresh air. It will help you to make it through till home time.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for a seat. If you use public transport to and from work, and you're struggling with tiredness or a bad back, go to the seats for those less able to stand, ask nicely and the occupier will oblige. And if they don't someone else will and then won't they look bad?!

6. Ration your caffeine intake. The NHS advises you drink no more than two cups of coffee, or two and a half cups of tea a day. My advice - try to save one for the afternoon, it works like nothing else when you're struggling.

7. Don't be a hero! Another fun side affect is your non-functioning immune system, combine a cold with morning sickness and extreme tiredness and you are wiped out. Don't try to soldier on, if you need to spend a day or two in bed then do it, you'll only take longer to recover if you don't.

8. Find a buddy. If you have a colleague that you trust, confide in them. It'll be such a relief if someone understands why you aren't at your peak performance every single day, and it will help to have someone to moan to when you're feeling grotty.

9. Manage your day. Think about when you're at your most productive and do your most challenging tasks then. If possible, save your simple jobs for when you're less energetic (and combine with that coffee you saved).

10. Give yourself a break. Just because someone else isn't struggling, doesn't mean that you shouldn't be. It's time to trust yourself, if you want to spend all weekend in bed then do it!

Have you survived the first trimester in secret? Do you have any advice for coping with the symptoms of pregnancy? Join the discussion below.

Tagged In: Careers, Employment, Events
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