Morning Sickness Survival Guide for Working Women

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It seems a little odd for me to go anywhere near the topic of juggling pregnancy sickness and work, considering how hard I had and took it. Juggling morning sickness (and fatigue) with corporate work was my biggest challenge. A battlefield in all its own charming ways, but here I am, smiling after a lovely 20-week ultrasound scan.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was what most expectant mums were to be – excited, nervous, exhilarated, to say the least. While I anticipated the bouts of morning sickness and hormonal changes, I certainly didn’t prepare for its intensity. I soon discovered the truth of things I had just begun reading in that pile of pregnancy guidebooks on my bedside table. “Morning sickness” is indeed a term for the sickness that may plague you as soon as you wake up, in the middle of an afternoon meeting, in between your evening commute, anytime in between, or unfortunately, just all of that.

Take It Easy
When dealing with morning sickness at work, I’d remind myself over and over again that I’m already a superwoman simply by being pregnant. Chuck out that perfectionist trait. Don’t try to overdo yourself. Be okay with being a ‘B’ student instead of an ‘A+’ student this time around – in fact, pat your back for it. With all that nausea, vomiting, fatigue and hormonal changes, now really isn’t the time to volunteer for additional projects or work extra hours. Don’t try to play superwoman as you really are one now – you’re growing another human being inside you!

Get Comfortable
Wear comfortable outfits. Pack a snack bag to keep morning sickness at bay. Have a toothbrush handy. Get a comfortable cushion. At this rate, every little tweak and adjustment at the office makes all the difference.

I remember feeling nauseous whenever people passed by my cubicle and asked questions. My cubicle was located in a corner where people would immediately see me and talk to me. I had a tough time concealing my fatigue and nausea as I answered their questions with the few words that I could muster. When I changed the position of my office computer and was no longer easily spotted by passersby, there was less conversation and more concentration on completing tasks while feeling comfortable.

Excuse Yourself from Lunch Invitations
Some of us may be blessed with a heightened sense of smell now. A whiff of our colleague’s coffee is enough to make you feel nauseous. Perhaps now isn’t the time to accept group lunch invitations or go anywhere near the pantry. Instead, make use of your lunch break to take short naps or rest before continuing your day.

Inform Your Boss and Co-workers
A majority of pregnant women prefer keeping their pregnancy under wraps until they’ve reached the 12-week mark (the risk of miscarriage is greatly reduced then). It’s best to consider the pros and cons of informing your boss and colleagues since pregnancy-related difficulties vary from woman to woman. If morning sickness leaves you feeling incapable of completing your job and you need to take more sick leaves than expected, get support from your workplace. Your boss should be able to understand your situation and so would your co-workers, who’d be willing to help wherever needed. If you’re not getting the support you need from your company at this point, you may need to start thinking how “family-friendly” your workplace would be once you take maternity leave and also upon returning as a working mother.

Show That You Care Too
On days when your sickness prevents you from commuting to work but doesn’t stop you from typing reports in bed, offer just that. Let your boss know that you do care about your job despite some physical constraints. Show that you can get some work done even though you can’t be at your desk. On better days, get as much tasks done because with pregnancy, you never know how you’ll feel the next day, or the next minute.

Delegate Work
Write down your tasks and prepare helpful instructions that your subordinates or interns can use on days they’re needed to cover your duties. This preparation not only helps for the period of morning sickness, but will also be valuable for when you go on maternity leave later.

While these steps may make your pregnancy journey much more bearable, there may still be some bad days. Your work may require you to deal with difficult people who may not know nor care what you’re going through. Your hormones may take a toll on how you handle stress. Again, take it easy. Take comfort in knowing that the morning sickness will subside, that you’re baking something special inside you and that a miracle awaits.

Azalia Suhaimi is juggling a full-time corporate job, some poetry-writing stint and a much-treasured pregnancy to her first child. She hopes to tell beautiful poetic stories to her children someday.

Image Credit: NineMSN Australia