Your 5-point de-stress plan
- Take your breaks. Never eat at your desk, instead use your lunch hour to get up so you can physically and mentally have a break from your work.
- Stretch your legs. Gentle exercise is a great way to take time out and clear your head. A walk around the block will do wonders for your productivity at work.
- Clock watch. Now is not the time to be working over your contracted hours. Try to leave on time.
- Use your holiday wisely. Think about any annual leave you have left to use. Could you take one day off a week towards the end of your pregnancy before you go on maternity leave?
- Keep it real. Don’t be afraid to say if you find your job has become too demanding now you’re pregnant.
Avoid morning blues
Morning sickness is usually at its worst during the first trimester, but can be helped by nibbling on plain food in the morning, for example toast or a digestive biscuit, avoiding smells that trigger nausea (such as perfume and cigarette smoke), and keeping hunger at bay and your blood sugars up.
“If you’re suffering from morning sickness, start addressing it before you go to bed, by eating something light like a plain biscuit,” suggests fertility and pregnancy expert Zita West. “Also, keep snacks by your bed so if you wake feeling sick you can easily settle your stomach.” Make sure you have breakfast before you brave your commute as you don’t want your blood sugar levels to drop, making nausea worse while you’re on the move.
Have a cool commute
Carry a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated on public transport, and don’t be afraid to ask for a seat. If you’re in your early stages and other commuters can’t see your bump, you can get free ‘Baby On Board’ badges to wear from Transport for London (email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 330 9880 to get hold of one). “Go for a window seat so you’re close to fresh air,” advises Zita.
“Another trick for warding off nausea-inducing bad smells is putting something refreshing or sweet-smelling, such as grapefruit juice, on cotton wool and carrying it with you to smell if something sets you off.”
If your commute is a real issue, ask your boss about changing your working hours to avoid rush hour, or even working from home on certain days. Be warned though, they don’t have to agree!
The easiest thing to help overcome tiredness is to understand your daily pattern, for example if you feel wiped out after lunch, spend the early afternoon doing the most undemanding work of your day, such as catching up on emails or general admin. “Take several breaks throughout the day and get plenty of fresh air to wake you up if you’re feeling sleepy,” explains Zita.
Boost your memory
Forgetfulness can be a common problem during pregnancy, and isn’t ideal when you’re still doing the day job. Worse during the first and third trimester, the best way to overcome it is to be fiercely organised, and plan ahead so you’ve got a to-do list and contacts ready to use if your mind goes blank at the office.
If you’ve got important numbers or addresses to remember, you might need to repeat them time and time again to really drill them in. Mentally attaching images or sayings to words can also help them stay in your head, and make sure you get enough sleep during your pregnancy to keep you alert for your working day.
Zita also recommends taking a supplement of Omega 3 before and during pregnancy to boost your brain power and help overcome the dreaded ‘preggy brain’.
Back pain is a common complaint with a growing bump, and can be made worse if you’re not sitting correctly and your back isn’t supported. Make sure your workstation is both comfy and suitable for your needs. If you’re working at a desk, find a chair that’s high enough for you so your feet are on the floor and your hips slightly higher than your knees. Don’t sit with your body twisted and go for a chair with good arm rests to help you get up easily.
Whatever your job, it’s also a good idea to change position every 20 minutes or so, and get up to stretch your legs, which can help with circulation. Ask HR to do a risk assessment of your workstation, which is the perfect time to raise any queries you have about your work environment with your employer.
Wholemeal bread or porridge contain slow-release carbs, getting energy into your system to keep you going until home time.
Beans on toast, soup containing veggies, fish or meat (plus bread), or a jacket potato with tuna and low fat mayonnaise are all great sources of protein and quick to make.
Snacks keep your blood sugar levels up and morning sickness away. But snack on fruit not chocolate.
Starchy foods such as pasta, rice or noodles are great for an evening meal. Go for wholemeal versions and serve with veg for some fibre. Don’t eat too late or you’ll interfere with your sleep.
“Going home for lunch was my saviour”
“I worked right up until Emilia was due, but as I had to train someone to do my job while on maternity leave, I could relax a little more. I also started going to my mum’s or home for my lunch which gave me a break during the day to chill out away from work, and also gave me some last minute time to play with Maisie before Emilia came along.”
Charlotte Stedman, 27, from Cornwall, mum to Emilia, 10 weeks, and Maisie, 17 months
Annette Briley, Senior Research Midwife for Tommys the baby charity says:
“Research has shown severe stress can cause pregnancy complications and can even lead to low birth weights. To keep stress to a minimum, be realistic about your expectations at work.”