The truth is being pregnant is one of the healthiest times for a woman, but it is also a time when we are the most challenged–emotionally, physically, and biologically. As a multi-tasking career mum, I discovered that many of the on- the-job challenges I faced while being pregnant at work could be averted with the right precautions and a few modifications to my duties.

Here, I share five tips that helped me overcome the challenges of the office as I progressed through my first and second trimester.

Tip Number 1: Managing Stress during your Most Emotional Time

I was ecstatic to be carrying my son. But my excitement was soon transformed into anxiety, worry, and literal exhaustion. I was obsessed with my son’s foetal health, my widening body, and work performance—simultaneously! It was making me sick with stress.

How did I de-stress? I got rid of the notion that I was a superwoman and sought support from friends and family. I also engaged in online networks with other mums-to-be, and it was pleasantly therapeutic. I read about the biological changes of pregnancy and how to handle its effect on emotion. I started doing yoga and swimming lessons to help control my emotions. I also practiced saying “no,” delegated more, and empowered my team to take responsibility for their decisions. It worked like a charm.

Tip Number 2: Keeping Nausea and Frequent Restroom Breaks in Check

My heightened sense of smell in the first trimester prompted frequent bouts of nausea and the urge to visit the bathroom every 15 minutes. This caused frequent interruptions to meetings and general office interactions.

To reduce the nausea, I stayed away from greasy, spicy foods that unleashed intolerable odours my way. I chose low fat, smaller meals, drank ginger ale and snacked regularly on saltine crackers. I also found motion sickness bands (acupressure wrist band) quite useful in preventing queasiness.

Tip Number 3: Fighting Fatigue and a Hectic Schedule

As progesterone levels spiked near the end of my first trimester, I felt exhausted, often in the midst of project deadlines and budget planning. Progesterone can literally put you to sleep and napping was not an option during busy office hours.

I recharged my energy with these four work-related modifications:

  1. Pace the floor. I got up regularly and moved around, which improved my energy and helped my brain to focus.
  2. Eat high-Protein, Iron-rich Foods. I ate to get a real energy boost. Red meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and carbohydrates (e.g.sweet potato, pasta) provided steady fuel for my body. I ate 30-50 grams of protein per meal with avocados and a light drizzle of olive oil or vinaigrette on vegetables, and it did the trick – it gave me more energy.
  3. Maximize sleep. I aimed for nine hours. Sometimes I got less, but I generally felt rested in the mornings, ready to take on the rigours of the office.
  4. Stay Hydrated. Fluids increase your blood volume as well as blood flow from your heart to the brain making you more alert.

Tip Number 4: Travelling and Coping with Unexpected Events

Business travel presented some unique challenges, such as flight delays, terminal changes, lengthy walks and standing in check-in lines while hauling a carryon bag. During my first and second trimester, my need for restroom breaks plus unexpected nausea imposed further trials to my otherwise normal travel routine.

However, I still found travelling manageable. I also became like a pregnant James Bond (ok, almost….), prepared for anything thrown my way. I had a cell phone charged and ready to make urgent calls. I wore comfortable clothes and shoes and a carried a sizeable personal pillow as a compulsory piece. I had laser-sharp eyes for bathrooms, travelled lightly, stayed hydrated, and of course pulled the ‘pregnancy card’ when unbearably long lines demanded this last resort.

Tip Number 5:  Weight Gain, Backaches and Unsteady Feet

As my belly grew bigger in my second trimester, I felt my centre of gravity shift from beneath me. My weight also skyrocketed and backaches became a regular occurrence.

To combat these issues, I utilised the typical remedies to help with my lower backache, including massages, rests, and mild analgesics. I exercised to strengthen my body, and also kept a check of my weight to prevent unnecessary lower lumbar pressures.

Doctors recommend weight gains between 11-16kg over the full nine months provided it starts from a healthy pre-pregnancy weight.

Just because I was pregnant didn’t mean I would be unable to take business trips or fulfil my normal role at the office. However, I made sure to customise my work schedule to fit the changes of pregnancy and took advantage of office breaks where ever possible.