For many women, it’s an all-too-familiar experience – sitting in an office cubicle trying desperately to fight back nausea during the early months of pregnancy.
Statistics vary greatly but agree that, at a minimum, half of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. Trying to hold down a job while holding down your last meal can be an exhausting challenge for the newly-pregnant mom.
If you’re in the unenviable club of morning sickness mommies at the office, get through the workday with these tips:
1 | Work flexibly.
If your employer allows it, make your schedule work around your nausea.
If you’re typically sickest in the mornings, start the workday later. Likewise, if your stomach turns after lunch, see if you can start the day earlier or push some time off to the evening.
Work from home when you can. Don’t be afraid to tell your manager you’re pregnant before the second trimester. She may be more willing to accommodate your flexibility needs if she knows that your arrangement will last only as long as your nausea.
2 | Lie down whenever you can.
Nausea and exhaustion are common during the first trimester, so take a break every chance you can get.
If you carpool or ride public transit, close your eyes during the ride. Keep a pillow and blanket in the car so that you can catch some z’s there during your lunch break. The extra rest can give you some refreshment as you head into your afternoon.
3 | Use your sick days for the really rough days.
If you have them, now’s the time to use them.
For the worst days, call in sick and make yourself as comfortable as possible at home. If it makes sense for you and your company permits it, take time off in half-day increments. If you can muscle through four hours of the day, your sick days will go twice as far.
4 | Don’t let your stomach be empty or full.
This is one of the golden rules of morning sickness.
Prevent your stomach from growling with hunger or gurgling from excess. Graze throughout the day. Forget the idea of three square meals and have an evenly-spaced series of mini-meals containing foods your stomach tolerates.
5 | Keep a variety of snacks on hand at the office.
What calms your stomach one week may make you gag the next week.
Have a stash of saltines, ginger ale, peppermints, sour candies – whatever works for you. If cold or frozen foods bring you relief, carve out the necessary space in the office fridge or keep a mini cooler at your work space.
6 | Keep a morning sickness emergency kit within easy reach.
Have a bag with a hair elastic, toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes, water, crackers, and any other essentials ready to go. Make sure you can grab if you feel queasy enough that you need to run quickly to the restroom.
Keep an extra outfit – including shoes – handy just in case of disaster. It’s not glamorous, but keep an empty bag or container within arm’s reach in case you throw up at your desk or before you can get to the restroom.
7 | Catch a breeze.
Getting some fresh air can calm your stomach.
Step outside the office and take deep breaths. Keep a fan on your desk and blow it directly on your face. Sometimes popping your head in the office freezer and inhaling slowly can work wonders.
8 | Tweak your computer monitor’s settings.
The brightness, colors, and contrast can contribute to nausea.
Tweak your monitor’s positioning and settings to make it more comfortable for you. Take frequent breaks during which you close your eyes, look at non-electronic work files, or stand up.
9 | Talk to your doctor about anti-nausea medication if your nausea is persistently debilitating.
If your morning sickness forces you to hug the toilet for hours day after day, talk with your OB.
She may recommend or prescribe medication that can transform you from a miserable pregnant woman into a happier, functional person. Your doctor will also know if you should be checked into a hospital for more significant treatment.
How have you survived morning sickness at the office?