It is crazy to think that about 13 months ago I found out that we were expecting Isaac. We now have a rolling, babbling, drooling bundle of joy, but at the time, during my first pregnancy, I had no idea what to expect. It was not so much about the physical and emotional changes of anticipating a child, there are countless books and Pinterest articles on that topic, but more about how I would manage work alongside all of these changes. I’ve watched countless women do it before and countless women will do so after me. However, working in residence life and going through the first trimester while in the middle of RA training, move-in, and starting another academic year presented a series of challenges where there wasn’t a handbook available on what to do.
Time gives us an opportunity to reflect and understand how to approach. The following were a few things I learned along the way:
- Communicate what you need: Whether and when to tell an employer is a touchy subject. In my situation, in a supportive work environment and close knit office colleagues, I opted to tell my supervisor and a co-worker. I knew if something happened, I wanted someone to have context for what was going on. This also allowed me to have support people at work who could give me advice, check in on how I was doing, and help provide a cover if needed when I was nauseous or in need of a vegetarian sandwich for the office catered lunch instead of the deli meat. That was a big help to me.
- Snacks are your BFF: A common suggestion made during the first trimester is to snack frequently to help keep morning(/afternoon/all day) sickness at bay. The following were staples I had in my office and work bag for such reasons:
- Glutino gluten free crackers (I am gluten intolerant but truly any plain cracker will likely be a huge help to you)
- Preggy Pops – I like the ones with extra B6 in particular that helped with morning sickness!
- Ginger Ale – Canada Dry in particular (is there really any other type of ginger ale?)
- Yogurt – I went with plain, Greek yogurt in particular.
- Lemon Lara Bars – Perfect if you have a frequent craving for sour and tart like I did. At $1 per bar, Amazon is a perfect place to shop for these. They normally retail between $1.29 and $1.39 per bar at the grocery store.
- Plan ahead: This is a good practice to be in not only in the first trimester but as you go along in your pregnancy. You don’t know what medical needs may unexpectedly come up and take you out of your office. I got into the habit during my first trimester to leave my to do list out on my desk just in case it was needed to know my status on a project while unexpectedly away. I also made sure that files and binders for big projects were organized and easily accessible to others. Starting this practice now will make things easier as you prepare for any leave you may take.
- Self-Check: First trimester can be a somewhat isolating time because you are often feeling such a strong impact from all that is going on with your pregnancy and yet this huge life event has likely remained relatively private. This provides an opportunity to regularly check-in with what you need and develop mindfulness surrounding the different symptoms you may experience. For example, when I craved sour things I could have just dove into the nearest bag of Sour Patch Kids. Instead, when I would have a craving, I would contemplate what my body is trying to indicate that it really needs. What I was really craving was dairy and so plain Greek yogurt was my go-to. This method allowed me to make adjustments to how I was sleeping, water intake, use of massage methods, among others to ensure I was taking good care of myself.
Others who have been through the first trimester while working – what do you wish you had known? What did you do to help make it manageable?
Coming up next: My first trimester checklist and travel during the second trimester.