Ten Tips for the Mommy Track: Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and your Work
There are so many of us who are parents or who want to become parents. My husband and I work together and we have a young son who currently is in elementary school.
If you are trying to conceive, if you are currently pregnant, or if you have recently given birth, congratulations! Your most important work is contributing to the next generation, and you are blessed with the opportunity to care for a new life. Your nutrition, your health, your overall wellness, and your work plan are all important factors at this time.
If you are trying to conceive (TTC), good luck and keep it up!
Charting, keeping track of ovulation, and being on top of your most fertile moments may be stressful. I encourage you to keep a healthy schedule and maintain a consistent amount of sleep. Also make sure to make time for leisure: this reduces stress and gives you something to look forward to.
Your health and happiness are so important (and a great by-product will be when you conceive). Remember to take your folic acid, continue to have a healthy diet, reduce or quit smoking, monitor your alcohol intake, and create more healthful and happier moments in your life. This may mean letting go of stressful situations like clutter, a bad roommate situation, or anything that makes you unhappy. You may also consider changing your job if it is not conducive to you getting pregnant.
If you are currently expecting, congratulations!
Now is a great time for you and your employer to come up with a plan for your workplace and how you will integrate your upcoming birth with your existing work. With an empathetic boss, you'll be able to telecommute, share hours, and possibly work from home in order to maintain your job and be a contributing member of your team.
If you are able, find an ergonomic chair, keyboard, or work station, If you are standing for long periods of time, ask if you may be seated, or find a footrest or stool so you may put up one leg at a time.
If you work with toxic chemicals, consider getting a transfer or reducing your exposure as much as possible.
It will be best for you to be completely aware of anything potentially harmful to you that comes in through your air, your food, or especially your water. Read the labels on packaged food, this has always helped me (I avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils).
I recommend choosing organic produce when you are able to. Choose healthy options whenever possible: your body and your baby will thank you!
If you have miscarried, I am so sorry.
I have had a miscarriage, too, and it is such a devastating feeling. Take care of yourself and let your body, mind, and spirit return to a state of happiness and health. Conception happens again! Take your time and take care of yourself by grieving, creating a memory book or journal, and saving some special remembrances of your pregnancy. I kept the pregnancy test in a little drawer with the date. It's a special bond you have with your child, even if they were not able to be born into the world.
If you have just given birth, congratulations!
The first few weeks after the birth, most women need to spend as much time with their baby as possible. New mothers also need rest, and a great rule is to "sleep when the baby sleeps."
Keep a full jug of water by the bed at all times, and remember to eat healthy foods like fruit, oatmeal, rice, apples, and other bland foods. Follow your body's natural instinct and make sure to focus on your own health and recovery: everyone else's health depends on yours, so take care of yourself. Other folks may do the laundry, wash the dishes, and keep the house in order. Your main focus is to heal and to be with your baby.
Take care of yourself and demand care from others.
- If you're out and about, park close to your destination and bring a sling or a stroller.
- If you're on public transportation, ask for the handicapped or special needs area.
- If you're breastfeeding, ask for privacy and a lactation room.
- If you need to sleep, build in frequent naps into your day: your sanity depends on it.
Because those post-baby weeks have so many new activities going on, remember to take time for yourself and to center yourself by meditating, praying, or even taking time out to breathe deeply.
If you have decided on a back-to-work plan, find ways to make the transition easier on yourself and your new family member: this might mean looking at creative options to make sure the work gets done and to also take care of your new responsibilities. You may find yourself doing independent contracting, doing freelance work, or even striking out on your own as a work-at-home mom. With so many options available, I know you will find ways to make your work fit into your life.
Because the childbearing years are so special and because so many women in this age group are in the workforce, let's all work together to make sure that our workplace offers supportive policies.
1) Take time to assess your situation: Introspection is good. Take a look at your current status and see if there are ways to make more proactive, positive changes to help you and your family. If you find that a relationship, job, or location needs changing, give yourself a timeline and start working on that change or move.
2) Share: Join a support group like a mother's group or parent's group. You'll find others who share your interests and activities and you'll make new friends.
3) Sleep: Your resting periods become even more important as demands on you rise. Go for 8 hours of sleep a night and if you don't get it, build in catnaps during the day to recharge.
4) Breathe deeply: For five minutes of every hour, spend some time breathing in and out, centering yourself, and feeling your body.
5) Exercise: If it's as simple as going for a brief walk after dinner, or adding some walk time to your commute, exercising helps with mood swings, circulation, and overall health. While you're at it, do some stretching to keep your circulation moving and your muscles limber, too!
6) Healthy Food: Yummy food is something to look forward to. Check labels and choose healthier options like whole grains, dark green vegetables, and fruits.
7) Water, water, water: Keep hydrated and drink water every day. Choose water over sugary sodas or caffeine-heavy options.
8) Eat breakfast: A good morning ritual helps center your day and a nice breakfast starts you off with energy. Choose easy options and get up ten minutes earlier so you may savor a hearty first meal of the day.
9) Communicate: Ask for help from partners, parents, in-laws, relatives, friends, and work associates. All of us working together get to bond with the babies and young children in our lives: reach out and ask people to help you, they will appreciate being a valued part of your children's early years.
10) Take care of yourself: The most important thing you will do for your family is participating fully by being well-rested, well-nourished, and well in spirit. Do this by honestly assessing where you stand and taking steps to honor your body, tend the garden that is your soul, and do the things you feel called to do.