Tips for working while expecting

By Published On: February 3rd, 2010

Pregnancy can leave you exhausted, uninspired and Swiss cheese-brained like […]

Pregnancy can leave you exhausted, uninspired and Swiss cheese-brained like you wouldn’t believe. We stop napping in the office long enough to help you pregnancy-proof your career.
working_stressI love my job—but you’d never know it these days. Four months into my second pregnancy, I’m lucky if I make it into the office before 10 a.m. most days. I only finish about half my sentences, leaving the rest of the editors waiting expectantly while I stare blankly into space. And I spend so much time in the bathroom that I wouldn’t be surprised if I came in one day to find my name on the door of the first stall. In other words, I’m nobody’s dream co-worker right now.
It’s the curse of pregnancy—you just don’t have the energy, even for the things you really care about. And while your friends may give you a pass and your family may be sympathetic, your employers and co-workers are less likely to have patience with your lackluster performance. Since not everybody is as lucky as I am—how many expecting moms get to work in a place where brain lapses are treated almost reverentially?—we’ve tracked down a list of great strategies from other working moms that will help you fake your way through pregnancy without endangering your job.
Conserve your energy
Instead of gossiping in the break room about the latest American Idol results show, focus on your to-do list. Yeah, it’s a little more boring than analyzing Blake’s latest ensemble, but it’s, you know, your job. And the sooner you get it done, the sooner you get to leave.
No grumbling
Your co-workers don’t need to know every time you have to take an emergency bathroom break or experience another lumbar support pillow failure. It’s not that they don’t care—it’s just that work isn’t the place for that kind of chatter.
Be a smart scheduler
When it comes to ob appointments, it looks better to come in late or leave early than to disappear for a chunk of time in the middle of the day.
Now more than ever, you need to really understand what the most important parts of your job are so that you can make sure those things never go undone. Your filing can pile up, but if you don’t call back a client, you’re going to seem slack.
Make face time
It’s a little cliche, but stick your head in your boss’s office or pop over to your co-worker’s cube instead of sending an email. One problem pregnant employees run into is the perception that they are always out of the office, and literally showing your face can help counter that.
Be a little obsessive-compulsive
Your brain is like a giant sieve, and the only real way to combat that fact is to write everything down. Keep notes on all your regular tasks and update them periodically—what do you need to follow up on? What are the deadlines? Who do you need to check in with? Take some of the pressure off your brain.
Give yourself a break
Don’t volunteer to take on that extra project or bake a cake for the monthly office birthday bash. You need to give yourself permission to slack off a little—you’re going to do it anyway, so minimizing how much you take on also minimizes the fallout when you just can’t get everything finished.