Being a nurse while pregnant can be difficult. In this helpful article, Olivia talks us through practicing self-care at work and your rights in the workplace, as well as tips for telling your employer.
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be a challenging one, especially if you work as a nurse!
As a nurse, you are likely on your feet for long periods of time and may be exposed to a variety of physical and emotional stressors. It's important to practice self-care during pregnancy in order to stay healthy and comfortable, both for your own well-being and for the health of your baby.
In this article, we will explore tips for practicing self-care while pregnant and working as a nurse, as well as your rights in the workplace and advice for telling your employer about your pregnancy!
Let's get started.
Self-Care Tips For Pregnant Nurses
Below are some self-care tips pregnant nurses can use to make themselves more comfortable and healthy:
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Staying hydrated is crucial during pregnancy, especially if you work in a demanding job like nursing. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day and consider always keeping a water bottle close to you.
Need some extra motivation to stay hydrated? Try flavouring your water with lemon, mint, or cucumber. You could even put ice in to help you cool down and hydrate.
Take Regular Breaks
It's important to take breaks throughout the day in order to get enough rest. If possible, try to take short breaks every hour or so to stretch your legs, have a bite to eat, or just sit down and rest.
I know, this can seem impossible on a busy shift, but try to prioritise having a break! This will avoid potential physical problems down the line.
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Wear Comfortable Shoes
As a nurse, you’re likely spend a lot of time on your feet, so it's important to wear comfortable and supportive shoes! Find shoes with good arch support and cushioning.
I'd also highly recommend investing in compression socks or stockings to help improve circulation.
Get Enough Sleep
We all know how crucial sleep is during pregnancy - it helps support your own health as well as the health of your growing baby. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, ideally a good 10 hours! Don't be afraid to have a little Power Nap during the day if you can. Listen to your body!
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Eat A Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important during pregnancy. Nutrition helps provide your body and your baby with the fuel they need to thrive. Eating a balanced diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
The 80/20 rule is a great one to follow; 80% healthy/whole foods and 20% (or less) of processed or sweet foods.
Having pregnancy related food aversion? You aren't alone! Try new food combinations and recipes so you don't get bored of your usual go-to lunches.
Practice Stress-Reduction Techniques
Pregnancy can be stressful, and nursing can be stressful. The two combined.... even more so! Try to reduce your physical and mental stress by practicing deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, and try to find ways to relax and unwind during your downtime.
It's important to practice self-care during pregnancy in order to stay healthy and comfortable, both for your own well-being and for the health of your baby.
Your Rights In The Workplace As A Pregnant Nurse
As a pregnant nurse in the UK, you have a number of rights in the workplace that are designed to protect your health and well-being, as well as the health of your growing baby. Some of these rights include:
The Right To Paid Time Off For Antenatal Care
Pregnant nurses are entitled to paid time off work to attend antenatal appointments and classes, as recommended by a doctor or midwife.
The Right To Maternity Leave
Pregnant nurses are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, with the first 26 weeks being known as 'ordinary maternity leave' and the remaining 26 weeks being known as 'additional maternity leave'. During this time, they are entitled to statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, depending on their circumstances.
The Right To Return To Work
Pregnant nurses have the right to return to work after their maternity leave, and are entitled to the same job or a similar job with the same terms and conditions as before.
The Right To A Safe Working Environment
Employers have a duty of care to make sure that pregnant nurses are not exposed to any risks that could harm their health or the health of their baby! This may include providing additional support, such as lighter duties or reduced working hours, or avoiding contact with radiation or toxic chemicals.
The Right To Protection Against Discrimination
Pregnant nurses are protected against discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, which means that employers cannot treat them unfairly or differently because of their pregnancy. If you have concerns about your treatment in the workplace, take it up with the HR department or manager.
Remember, telling your employer about your pregnancy is a personal decision! You should do what feels right for you. By being prepared and advocating for yourself, you can ensure a healthy pregnancy and a smooth transition to maternity leave.
Advice For Telling Your Employer About Your Pregnancy
Telling your employer that you're pregnant can seem like a daunting task.
Take a deep breath. I've been there, and so have millions of other working women around the world. You aren't alone!
It's important to inform your employer about the pregnancy, sooner rather than later, in order to ensure that your rights are protected, and your health is prioritised.
Here are my tips for telling your employer about your pregnancy:
Choose The Right Time
It's important to choose a time when you feel comfortable and confident to have the conversation with your manager. Whether that is at the start or end of a shift, a scheduled meeting, or any other time that feels appropriate!
Many women choose to wait until after the first trimester to tell their employer about their pregnancy, when the risk of miscarriage is lower. The choice is entirely up to you. However – if your workplace is higher risk, you should consider telling your employer the news earlier so you and your growing baby can be protected.
Be Clear And Concise
When telling your employer about your pregnancy, plan ahead. Try your best to be transparent about your plans for maternity leave and any accommodations you may need during your pregnancy. This could avoid any avoidable issues down the line.
Provide Medical Documentation
It's a good idea to provide your employer with medical documentation, such as a letter from your doctor or midwife, confirming your pregnancy and any necessary accommodations that they should adhere to. As mentioned above, planning ahead means that you can have this organised before telling your employer about your pregnancy.
Know Your Rights
Make sure you are familiar with your rights as a pregnant nurse in the UK, so that you can advocate for yourself and ensure you are getting fair treatment. Remember, telling your employer about your pregnancy is a personal decision! You should do what feels right for you. By being prepared and advocating for yourself, you can ensure a healthy pregnancy and a smooth transition to maternity leave.
Do you have any other tips for pregnant nurses? Was your nursing experience a positive one when you were expecting? (I hope it was!)
Share your advice in the comment section below.
Thank you for reading.