For a woman to create, grow, and give birth to another life is rather remarkable. The journey is full of both excitement and nervousness. It's a time when women see a lot of bodily changes as well. For the pregnant caregiver, however, the experience can be brutal. Caregiving is already challenging as is, and being pregnant while caring for patients is pretty much doubling the fun!
So while ‘Superwoman’ is now your new name, you will still need these tips to stay safe, healthy, and at the same time, productive at work:
1. Know what body changes to expect.
Every day until the time of the baby’s birth, your body will continuously change. You must be well aware of these changes so that you’ll be able to prepare for what’s ahead.
2. Inform your supervisor of your pregnancy as soon as possible.
Yup. They have to know. The earlier, the better. Firstly, they can help you get lighter loads and, secondly, they'd be more understanding if you take frequent breaks. You could also request 8-hour shifts instead of doing 12-hour or longer shifts.
3. Manage your symptoms.
In the first trimester of your pregnancy, you’ll be bugged by two persistent symptoms because of hormonal changes: morning sickness and frequent urination.
Nausea is particularly challenging when performing caregiving duties because many smells and scents in the workplace can potentially trigger the urge to vomit, even nice-smelling stuff from before you were pregnant can cause nausea. Some odors will be intolerable.
To deal with morning sickness, keep a stash of dry crackers with you to munch on when it hits. Also, carry around emesis bags and wet wipes that you can use if you couldn't make it to the sink.
For frequent urination, try to schedule your routines at work so that you can take short toilet breaks every hour or so. You must stay away from caffeinated drinks, too. No coffee and tea because these drinks increase urine production.
Another challenge of pregnancy is that you're always hungry. Your hunger pangs can be outrageously insatiable, and your appetite super king-sized. It'll help to bring healthy snacks and finger foods to your workplace. A nice set of foods to bring with you would be a bag of mixed dried fruits and nuts, bananas, apples, carrot sticks, and muffins.
In your last trimester, you'll also likely feel more fatigued because of the extra weight you're carrying. This change is understandable because you're spending energy both for yourself and your baby.
When you feel too tired and heavy, give yourself a few minutes to sit down to recharge. Don't forget to hydrate, too.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, you’ll also notice that your feet may appear swollen. You’ll know because your shoes feel tighter than usual. For some women, compression stockings help reduce the swelling. Wear the stockings before going to work, or preferably before getting out of bed in the morning.
4. Work on your comfort.
The shoes you'll wear will have a lot to say in your everyday well-being, so find yourself a good pair. As your belly grows, you'll also need scrubs that will fit comfortably. Find a chair with good back support. Resting on it will help relieve back pain, especially towards the end of pregnancy.
5. Think ‘Safety first’.
When you're pregnant, you need to be extra careful and protect yourself and your baby. Avoid carrying heavy objects because the effort you exert can cause abdominal cramps and bleeding. Use a cart to transport heavy equipment.
As your abdomen gets bigger, your spine adjusts to keep you balanced as you move around. More than ever, you need to observe proper body mechanics to prevent injuries. Never bend from the waist or risk losing your balance and falling.
Also, remember to follow infection control procedures because some diseases can affect you and your baby. When assisting patients in the radiology department, be careful of possible radiation exposure.
Some cleaning materials also contain toxic materials that can harm your unborn baby. Always make it a habit to read the label of the cleaning materials that you use. Look for alternatives when the description says that it's not safe for pregnant women.
Many female caregivers continue working during pregnancy. Being pregnant adds to the challenges of caregiving. To stay safe, healthy, and productive on the job, know how to manage your symptoms and avoid workplace hazards. Make yourself comfortable, and don't hesitate to ask for help when you need support and assistance.
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