The first trimester of pregnancy can be marked by several unpleasant physical changes: nausea, vomiting, and fatigue to name a few. Sure, some women experience little to no symptoms during this time, but many others struggle. Navigating the first trimester at work can be a challenge. When you feel perpetually ill and exhausted, it can be hard to focus and stay on task. You may worry that your performance may suffer. You may worry your employer will notice. The struggle is real. Here are three tips for surviving the first trimester at work.
Manage First Trimester Symptoms
First and foremost, find ways to manage your symptoms. Pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting varies from woman-to-woman and from pregnancy-to-pregnancy. Some women can manage their symptoms with ginger and crackers, while others suffer extreme nausea and vomiting with even the strongest prescription medication.
If you find yourself unable to perform your normal tasks because of your symptoms, work with your physician and employer to see if you can arrange a reasonable accommodation (more on that below).
Even if your symptoms are less severe, you should stock up on the things that help you. Keep a stash of crackers, lemonade, and sour candy on hand. Sip hot tea throughout the day. Schedule times to rest as needed. Remember that your health is a priority.
Bookmark These Resources
Be aware of your employer’s policies regarding pregnancy and your workplace rights.
The UC Hastings Center for WorkLife Law provides helpful guidance through its Pregnant at Work initiative. In addition to offering tips on when to share the news of your pregnancy with your employer, it gives advice, by state, on how to obtain assistance from your healthcare provider. The site also provides a list of workplace accommodation ideas plus guidance for your doctor if you need a note for your employer.
You can also contact A Better Balance, which offers a free legal hotline to speak with an attorney about your situation. A Better Balance also offers a free state-by-state guide called “Baby Gate” for all your questions related to work and pregnancy.
During this time, you should also learn your employer’s parental leave policies and your workplace pregnancy rights. If at any point you believe your employer is treating you disparately on the basis of your pregnancy, contact an attorney, the EEOC, or your state’s civil rights commission. You should also contact your employer’s Human Resources Department (or equivalent) with questions or concerns you have related to your pregnancy and your employer’s policies.
Find an Ally at Work
Choosing when to disclose your pregnancy at work is a personal decision. Many women aren’t ready to do so during the first trimester. Still, if you have a close friend or colleague at work, you may wish to share your news with them. Having a trusted individual who can help you navigate this time may be helpful and put your mind at ease.
Be aware that you will also need to disclose your pregnancy should you seek a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy-related medical condition. However, even without doing so, you may choose to discreetly share the news with your boss or someone else on your team if you feel it would be helpful and you are comfortable doing so.