It’s not unusual to see pregnant nurses still working in their units up to the last trimester of their pregnancy. However, pregnant nurses may find their regular work become more stressful.
Infectious diseases, shifting schedules, heavy lifting tasks and emotionally draining situations are just some of the challenges a pregnant nurse may face in her daily duties. Without proper attention and intervention, these problems may affect the nurse’s health and pregnancy.
It is important for a pregnant nurse to take care of herself well while working. Here are some tips in ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy while still working as a nurse:
1. Plan ahead
If possible, plan your pregnancy ahead. Consult your doctor about prenatal vitamins and the vaccines you need to take. Prenatal preparations will be your first protection in ensuring safe pregnancy.
At work, check your maternity leave options and family health benefits. Ensure that you have up-to-date health insurance and check if they provide good coverage for pregnancy. Securing these little details ahead of time is vital in easing your worries after giving birth.
2. Inform your superiors
Consider informing your superiors of your condition early in your pregnancy. This will let them plan ahead if you will need special considerations at work especially in shifting schedules.
Your head nurse, supervisor and nurse manager should be the first ones to know of your pregnancy. Consult with your hospital’s infection control team as well so they can advise you of infection control practices critical for pregnant healthcare workers.
3. Consult your OB
During prenatal check-ups, let your OB know that you are a nurse. She may have additional instructions for you once she knows that you are working in the medical field.
You also need to discuss potential occupational hazards with your doctor like sources of radiation, disinfecting solutions, chemotherapies and many more.
4. Pack your meals and snacks
You should have healthy meals and snacks on hand at work to meet the nutritional demands of pregnancy. You will also feel constantly nauseous in the first trimester and it can be relieved by the foods you crave.
Pack complete sets of meals and snacks before you head to your duty. There will be times where you will not have the chance to go down to the cafeteria so having packed meals will be a life-saver.
5. Check your footwear
Are your shoes comfortable and well-cushioned? As you gain weight during pregnancy, a good pair of shoes will save you from feet and back pains. Walking around the unit can be a tedious task in the last trimester of pregnancy but a good pair of shoes can help you overcome it. Invest well in the shoes you wear for duties. Ensure that they have good arch support, slip-resistant and well-cushioned.
Also Read: Top 12 Best White Shoes for Clinicals
6. Weigh the day and night shift schedule
The shifting schedule is a common concern among pregnant nurses. It is best for a pregnant nurse to stay in the day shift schedule in order to enough rest after work. However, some nurses are so used to being night owls that they have no problems with the night shift schedule during pregnancy. This issue can be tackled in a case-to-case basis as women are all different in handling pregnancy.
If you are unsure about which schedule fits your condition, try both and determine which one works best for you.
7. Listen to your body
Listen to your body and know when to stop. Nurses often forsake their own calls of nature but during pregnancy, there should be no excuse as you are now taking care of yourself and your baby. Go to the bathroom whenever you feel the need. Stop whatever task you are doing unless it is a life or death situation.
Whenever you are feeling constant exhaustion at work, consider taking few days leave to rest. Don’t push your body to the limits as it will adversely affect your pregnancy condition.
8. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Most pregnant healthcare workers plan when they are taking their maternity leave. Some nurses take it at 30 weeks of pregnancy while others take it at as early as 20 weeks. Even if you already have plans about when to take your maternity leave, don’t hesitate to take it early if you feel the need already. There are pregnancies that become more sensitive at the last trimester and you should immediately rest to prevent miscarriage and complications.
Pregnancy is a highly individualized condition. What may have worked for other pregnant women may not successfully work for you. Assess your condition appropriately with the help of your OB. Only you can feel your body well so trust your instincts especially in taking your maternity leave.
Nurses have unspoken camaraderie when working with a pregnant colleague so let them know of your pregnancy. They will give you a light workload and they will keep you away from infectious cases. Nurses are also quick in helping pregnant colleagues in lifting patients and getting heavy supplies or equipment from other department. If you have more concerns about your condition, don’t hesitate to ask for the advice of other pregnant nurses in the hospital where you are working.