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How to survive morning sickness at work: 6 tips from experts + working mamas

3. You won’t feel like this forever, so take the flexibility you need while you can.

morning sickness at work

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

Preggie pops

—Iced tea with lemon

Ginger products (ginger ale, pickled ginger, ginger cookies, ginger chews)

—Saltines

—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.


Share with Motherly: How did you survive morning sickness at work?

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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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