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My Co-Worker is Pregnant! How Can I Help?

Don’t be afraid, pregnant women don’t bite. Well..as long as you’re not standing in the way of chocolate.

How many eggs do you eat a day? When I was pregnant I would eat almost an entire carton. EVERY DAY. Yeah, that sounds kinda odd now that I think about it, but it was all I could stomach. Not only that, I would eat them at my desk while I was working. Do I have a closed office? No, my coworkers sat a few feet from me…

Pregnancy can bring out some strange behaviours, often as a means to cope with extra roommate your housing. I was lucky to work alongside some great people that put up with my quirks, but I also had to work around a few major challenges. I’ve had some time to reflect on a few insights that I wish I could have shared with my co-workers. While my baby bump is now gone, there are still lots of pregnant women out there working and even more people working around them. Hopefully, somebody can benefit from these tips.

Based on my experience, here are my recommendations:

Morning Sickness

My morning sickness would actually hit in the morning, but that isn’t always the case for all pregnant women. Morning sickness can strike at any point. Feeling nauseous and being sick is never fun, let alone in the work environment. For me, when it would hit, I would have to make a decision: run to the bathroom and pray that I made it there, or find a waste bin. Not the most glamorous options. Afterwards I would feel completely embarrassed and need to muster the strength to return to the office like nothing had happened.

What you can do:

Be supportive. Ask how they are feeling without bringing too much attention to the situation. A joke or light conversation can help diffuse any embarrassment they might be feeling. Above all, get out of the way if they are doing the “morning sickness dash” to the bathroom.

Long Meetings

For many, meetings play a large role in the routine work week. At my job, I’m in meetings multiple times a day. They can be one of the most productive activities I engage in, but as my belly grew bigger, they also became something I dreaded. I found it difficult to sit comfortably for long periods of time. My legs would go numb after 5 minutes of sitting and there was only so much micro readjustment I could do without feeling like a distraction.

What you can do:

Consider turning the meeting into a walking one (provided they are comfortable walking). If that is not a viable option, build in a few stretch/bathroom breaks throughout the meeting to help them reposition.

Prolonged Standing

During pregnancy so much of your body changes. The spine in particular has to compensate for that ever growing forward facing load. I carried so low that it felt like I was carrying around a bag of potatoes on my back. This made standing for long periods of time challenging to say the least. Stand-ups that ran long, wall critiques and white boarding sessions tested my limits.

What you can do:

Be mindful of how long you’re standing. If it’s more than 10 minutes offer a chair or propose a quick washroom break.

Braxton Hicks

Braxton Hicks (a.k.a. false contractions) can happen in early pregnancy but are most common during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. They can range from painless to painful and will likely catch you off guard. I had a few strong contractions during a meeting where I didn’t know what to do. It was painful enough that I felt I needed to breathe through it but I didn’t want to distract from the topic at hand. I remember gritting my teeth and clenching my chair until it passed. Not to mention the impending thought “Could I be going into labour?”.

What you can do:

There isn’t much you can do but give a pregnant woman space to deal with it as needed and be prepared to help out if it turns out to be real labour.

No Caffeine

When you’re pregnant, it’s recommended that you consume less than 200mg of caffeine a day. This puts a bit of a damper on your socializing and rapport building if you used to gab while grabbing a cup of joe. When I dropped my caffeine intake I started to feel left out from the office dynamic. I missed my coffee and the conversations that went with it.

What you can do:

Continue to extend the offer to join the group with a decaf coffee or herbal tea instead.

I hope these insights are helpful. After all, I’m just a new mom, writing to a bunch of strangers, asking them to help their pregnant co workers.

If you liked this, check out my other articles:

How to Tell Your Boss You’re Pregnant When You Work in the Tech Industry

5 Tips for Enduring Pregnancy in the Tech World

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