Working while pregnant: How to both work as, and work with, a pregnant person

January 3 | Guest post by Beatrix
By: raebrune – CC BY 2.0
By: raebruneCC BY 2.0

I work in the environmental field. For the last two and a half months, my coworker and I, the certified wetland delineators in our company, have been on the road for work. At the beginning of all this, she let me know she was finally pregnant after trying for the last six months! Hooray! This was promptly followed by two and a half months of morning sickness.

Now, our work is not what you would call manual labor, but does require us to be out walking for 8-14 hours a day in natural areas (aka: no roads or sidewalks. Lots of thorns and mosquitoes) in the heat collecting data. The experience taught me a lot about working while pregnant and how to work with a pregnant person…

How to work while pregnant (especially when you don't have a desk job):

1. Tell somebody you trust at work

My coworker obviously told me because we were going to be out in the field together essentially all summer, but no one else is in the loop at our office. I know there is reservation in announcing anything before the end of the first trimester, but because she let me know the situation, I was much more willing and able to accommodate her needs while on the job. Having someone who has your back on a job makes everything so much nicer. If you don't have a direct coworker your work with that you can trust, maybe let a supervisor know that you are still capable of performing your job, but you might need a little extra TLC as you go.

2. Listen to your body (duh?)

This one might be silly, but from my experience, it's vital. My coworker is one of the hardest working people I know. She HATED feeling anything less than 110% and in the beginning would push herself to her regular work standard. Then she would puke and be waylaid for a few hours. Once we started working to her schedule, we were actually more productive. Also less puke.

3. Snacks and liquids: finding what works and consuming it forever

My coworker HATES drinking water. She's essentially a camel. This did not mix with pregnancy. After some trial and error, she found that unsweetened tea worked well. So we stocked up on that. In addition, she found that while she couldn't eat big meals, she needed SOMETHING in her stomach at all times. I'm proud to say that my suggestion of applesauce (for liquid, sugar and fiber) and beef jerky (for salt and protein) went over great. Of course she'll never eat those things again once she's done with the pregnancy, but they held her over until lunch and dinner.

4. Lots of breaks (both bathroom and just to keep cool)

Yes, we had a schedule to keep. Anyone who is contracted for a job knows that hours are money. But it was hanging in the 90s with can-wring-it-out-of-the-air humidity, which won't help nausea on a good day. The air-conditioned car was a godsend. And I already have a tiny bladder, so am used to lots of pee breaks. This time I wasn't alone!

How to be a good co-worker to a pregnant person:

1. Having an iron stomach doesn't hurt

My coworker threw up in front of me four times. Twice were in the car into a bag while I was driving.

2. Be patient and ready to go the extra mile

Morning sickness aside, my coworker was getting to the end of her first trimester at the end of our work. She was having trouble digging or bending over to look at soil pits. I had to shoulder a bit more of the work, especially near the end. I was hot, tired, cranky, and I'll admit I kind of resented her for it. But no matter how I was feeling, she was all that PLUS more. In the end, we were able to complete our work on time without killing each other. She gifted me a pedicure as a thank you for being there for her.

3. Pregnant women are not made of glass, but there's no shame in needing a little extra care

My coworker could walk for hours in the sweltering heat, but a two minute car ride down a bumpy dirt road left her incapacitated. Obviously her pregnancy is not everyone's but being able to give her a little extra consideration meant she could be the best self on good days and at least make it through the bad days.

Pregnant people and co-workers of pregnant people: What are YOUR co-working tips for any field?

Join our community!

  1. You can't really make yourself have an iron stomach. If someone pukes in front of me (let alone in my car) I will go into full-blown panic-attack mode, regardless of how pregnant they are or how sympathetic I want to be. Honestly I kind of feel like if you're puking, for ANY reason, you should probably not be at work…but of course the way our society is set up I know that's not an option for many people (be they pregnant or hungover or just ill. Sigh.)

    5 agree
    • She was puking 4+ times a day until she was able to fill her prescription. She was doing this in the office, on her vacation, and out in the field. Her philosophy was that she was going to be puking no matter what, so she may as well do her job.

      6 agree
  2. I have no particular advice to add, but I think your co-worker was incredibly lucky to have you by her side. Bravo for being an excellent human!

    5 agree
  3. Recognising everyday things are just much harder when youre pregnant and every so often giving some positive feedback or acknowledgement of this would be great. Recently I had to do a lot of late nights and crazy hours and not a single person acknowledged how effing hard it was for me, at the tail end of first trimester sickness and exhaustion, to simply get into normal work nevermind 16 hour days! If someone had said hey, this is hard for all of us, can't imagine how you are holding up – that would have been amazing.

    4 agree
  4. What a great article. I saw this come up and thought " great, another office-centric article about pregnancy"- I work construction myself and am unsure what I would do if I wanted another baby. And was really surprised, pleasantly, that this deal with a physical job. Which can also have advantages as you are in some ways more hidden and isolated than with an office. This was a really different article, not the same old same old that fills most of the "content" of the internet. Hurrah!

    6 agree
  5. I have a sedentary job, and I found through both my pregnancies that if I was able to have a 20 minutes nap after lunch (or even just a rest lying down), getting through the day became much more possible.

    2 agree
  6. You are a great coworker indeed! I work in similar field and though I didn't have to dig pits or something (and our climate is more moderate) I still dragged my heavily pregnant self through bushes, ravines and fallen trees to complete some fieldwork. Fortunately, in my country (as in other countries with sensible social security policies) last 2 months of pregnancy is a paid sick leave, also if there were any health concerns my employer would be legally responsible to accommodate them and modify my workload and responsibilities.

    1 agrees
  7. As a formerly pregnant person, I think I was most grateful to coworkers that weren't constantly asking me how I was doing. The "let's move this along before Zombeyonce gets sick" at beginning of every meeting (I had morning sickness but never had to leave the room to be sick), the first greeting in the hallway of "how are you feeling?", the "get some rest!" comments as I left for the day got exhausting. I get it, it was obvious that I was pregnant but c'mon, that wasn't not the only thing about me anymore. Talk to them about work and avoid letting every conversation revolve around how sick/tired/weird they're feeling. It seemed like everyone, even people at the bus stop, just wanted to ask me how I was feeling all the damn time. Let them tell you if they need a break or want to give an update.

    Same goes for talking to them about things other than the new baby when they return to work.

    3 agree
  8. Right on. Being pregnant taught me to listen to my body. I think like many of us in modern culture, we train ourselves to not listen to our bodies, to not rest when we're tired, to not eat/drink what our bodies need, and most of the time our bodies let us get away with doing that. When I was pregnant it wasn't that I could do less, exactly, it's just that my tolerance for being shitty to myself was lower. Accommodating pregnant people at work can and should be as simple as acknowledging that all of us have bodies and trying a little harder to be kind to all of our bodies. Yep, pregnant people need to pee a lot… guess what, everyone would probably be doing a lot better if we were all drinking enough water that we peed as frequently as pregnant people.

    2 agree

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.