Are there two yuckier words than “morning sickness”?
We know, we know, those feelings of nausea are actually a good sign of a healthy pregnancy, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re puking your guts out.
These next few weeks, while you’re in the throes of pregnancy nausea, are all about survival. And that can be especially tough at work. It might help to know that morning sickness typically ends before the second trimester.
We’ve talked to experts + lots of mamas for insight on how to successfully navigate morning sickness at work.
Tell your boss or a colleague.
If you’re feeling so sick that your work is being affected, you might need to be up-front with your supervisor.
“Be honest with your boss about how you are feeling—and why you are feeling this way —and to remind (or educate) her that ‘morning’ sickness actually has nothing to do with the mornings,” suggests Lori Mihalich-Levin, creator of Mindful Return, an e-course that helps mothers transition to work after baby.
That might mean telling your boss that you’re pregnant early in your pregnancy—even before you tell friends and family.
The upside is that she has extra time to prepare for your leave, and hopefully will find ways to support you through the toughest weeks of early pregnancy.
If telling your boss isn’t necessary (or doesn’t seem like a good idea for whatever reason), consider telling a trusted colleague.
Knowing that someone at the office has your back can make it easier to survive the rough patches.
Find your survival technique.
—Toast with olive oil
—Iced tea with lemon
—Ginger products (ginger ale, pickled ginger, ginger cookies, ginger chews)
—High-protein snacks, like tofu, seitan, peanut butter, quinoa and chicken
Whatever appeals to you and helps keep your stomach calm, eat it.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also suggests that you:
—Avoid smells that bother you.
—Eat five or six small meals each day instead of three large meals.
—Eat a few crackers before you get out of bed in the morning to help settle your stomach.
—Eat small snacks high in protein (crackers with peanut butter, a cup of yogurt, hummus and pita, chia pudding, toasted Ezekiel bread) throughout the day.
—Avoid spicy foods and fatty foods.
Work from home if possible.
“To the extent working from home is an option, I say yes to using it,” Lori advises.
Working from home can help you get things done at your own pace—and avoid throwing up on the train or in a trash can on the sidewalk during your commute. (What are those strange city smells?)
You won’t feel like this forever. Take the flexibility options you need.
Take sick days if you can spare them.
If you have extra sick days on the books, this is the time to take them.
For most women, morning sickness won’t last past mid-pregnancy, so don’t be afraid to take time you have now.
“With the state of leave in this country, moms-to-be don’t want to use up sick days if possible, so even working parts of days may help an employee save up that valuable leave,” Lori suggests.
Getting flexible on your schedule, through sick days, remote work or a later start time, might be the extra help you need to power through.
Go for a walk.
When waves of nausea strike, getting fresh air relieves some feelings of morning sickness among Motherly’s mamas. It’s also a strategy recommended by the experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The next time you’re in your cubicle and feel that wave of nausea coming on, take a short walk outside.
At least if you do throw up, it won’t be in the middle of the office, right? ? ?
Know your rights.
If you’re seriously too sick to work (like some of Motherly’s mamas were!), you may be eligible for temporary leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A CNN report on the rights of pregnant women at work notes:
A normal pregnancy without complications is not considered a disability under federal law... That said, women who have complications or temporary impairments related to their pregnancy, must be treated the same as other workers with medical impairments... In the case of a pregnancy, common impairments include severe morning sickness, back pain, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and complications that require bed rest.
If you think you need to take time away from work, talk to your doctor and to HR.
Life is all about survival right now, so do whatever you have to do to get through. It gets better, mama.