Born and raised a Tar Heel, Cara Hutto is a content writer and freelancer who specializes in women's issues, food, and travel.
Giving birth is a magical experience. But you know what’s not magical? Morning sickness while you’re pregnant. Especially at work.
Morning sickness affects roughly 75 percent of women and usually begins in the first trimester. Although it’s commonly accepted that morning sickness is caused by an increase in hormones, the cause is actually unknown, according to family medicine Dr. Alex Werner of Beaverton, Oregon, a city just outside Portland. And despite the misleading name, the feeling can hit you at any point of the day—not just the morning. It can be extremely debilitating at work when you’re constantly trying to fight off the overwhelming feeling of nausea or continually running to the bathroom.
There are a few activities you can do and things you can tweak in your office to make the situation more manageable. Dr. Werner shared some advice on how to deal with morning sickness at work:
This is as simple as it gets. If you’re constantly getting sick, you need to replenish your body with liquids. Always keep a cold water bottle at your desk, as the cold water can help alleviate nausea. Drinks like lemonade and ginger ale can also help keep nausea at bay, but be careful to not overload on sugar.
Keep a stash of snacks
You’ll want to eat several small meals during the day—never skip any meals. This way, your metabolism will continue to work throughout the day and hopefully prevent some sickness. Keep some snacks like saltine crackers, ginger candies, and raw veggies at your desk. The blander, the better. Stay away from coffee and spicy foods.
Take breaks for fresh air
If it feels a bit stuffy in your office or you just need a break, step outside for a moment. The feeling of fresh air will help you relax and ease your churning stomach, especially if you’re triggered by certain scents inside the office.
Keep a trash can near you for emergencies
There might come a time when the nausea hits you like a wave and you don’t have time to make it to the bathroom. Whether you have your own office or an open cubicle, it’s a great idea to keep a trash can nearby in case of an emergency.
Keep an emergency clean up kit with you
If you get sick at work, you’ll want to be able to freshen up. Create a little clean-up kit for yourself and keep it handy. You’ll probably want mints or gum, a toothbrush, wipes, hand sanitizer, and even an extra outfit change in case things get a little messy. It happens.
Give your coworkers a heads up
If you’re comfortable, you can share with your coworkers the news of your pregnancy and possible complications at work, like morning sickness. If you’re not comfortable sharing the news yet, you can still give a heads up that you’ve been feeling a little nauseous recently. It’s especially nice to give a heads up if you have an open cubicle—you might have an emergency, and your peers might begin to worry about you if they see or hear you.
Don’t be afraid to use your sick days
You have sick days for a reason—don’t be too scared to use them. If you’re having a day where you know you won’t be able to get any work done, take the day off and get plenty of rest.
Talk to your boss about the situation
If your morning sickness is becoming a persistent burden at work, talk to your boss about what you can do. Most likely, your boss will be understanding about the situation—morning sickness is a natural part of being pregnant. If you think it’d be more beneficial to you to start working from home for parts of the day or week, try to work out a flexible schedule with your boss. If your sickness is confined to a specific part of the day, you can try a later start time or earlier end time.
Ask your doctor about medication
Finally, if you’re really concerned with your symptoms or the sickness has persisted well into the second trimester of your pregnancy, go talk to your doctor. There are certain medications that can help ease the problem—Dr. Werner usually suggests diclegis, a combination of vitamin B6 and unisom.