I’m sure like me, many of you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside whenever you hear a pregnancy announcement – even if it’s someone that you don’t really know! The recent news from the palace was no exception – plenty of “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” and within minutes of the announcement the #RoyalBaby was trending on twitter.
One part of the story that’s got people talking, is the fact that just 12 weeks into pregnancy, Megan Markle is about to embark on a gruelling 16-day tour royal tour, covering Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. And whilst my own story wasn’t quite as travel heavy, it does bring back some memories of my own early stages of pregnancy.
I found out I was pregnant very early on, and the sickness started at about 4 weeks. I had just been given a promotion and was very keen to prove myself. I told my manager the news straight away but wanted to wait until the 12 week mark before telling anyone else – including one of my new (and very senior) stakeholders!
I’ll never forget trying to get through a meeting with him, knowing that at any minute I might have to make a bolt for it! During this time, I also had to run a series of employee events, up and down the country, including content creation, logistics and production – it was full on, but I did it, and managed to keep my secret!
At 10 weeks I found out I was having twins, which brought about a whole new set of challenges to deal with and whilst I was lucky that my manager was really supportive, I know that not all women get the same experience. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try and keep up with our normal routine and workloads – but it’s not always possible.
Here are a just a few ways you can be kinder to yourself, or look out for pregnant colleagues…
Consider flexible working
Whether you need to attend numerous antenatal appointments, or just can’t face the thought of putting on your suit – why not look to see if flexible working is possible?
Working from home could be a good option for you, allowing you to stay close to the bathroom (which can be handy for many reasons at this time!), wear what’s comfortable and avoid the commute.
If this isn’t an option, then you should be able to discuss working more flexible hours, so if you’re feeling a bit peaky, you can down tools and make up the time later.
Most organisations will have a policy to accommodate requirements such as these, so speak to your manager or HR team, to see how this help you.
Prioritise your workload, prepare a handover and have contingencies in place
Many of us hate having to hand things over, especially if it’s a project we want to see through to the end – but the truth of the matter is, even if you’re planning to take a short maternity, at some point you’ll have to ask people to pick things up for you.
As soon as I found out I was having twins, I created a handover document, so if I needed to go before my mat leave was due to start, there were plans in place and I’d already started to upskill some colleagues on some of my BAU work. Knowing you’re not going to be leaving anyone in the lurch, does put your mind at rest and will stop you from pushing yourself too hard to get things done before you go.
Make sure your environment accommodates your needs
When you become pregnant, your body alignment changes, so it’s often important to make sure your workstation is set up correctly. Your company may have an internal DSE accessor who can help you, but if not, there are lots of great resources online including these from posture peopleand kare products.
Your mental health is as important as your physical health
Pregnancy hormones start whizzing around your body from the point of conception, and for many this impacts more than just the body. Also, pregnancy, and all that comes with it, can be a huge shock to the system. The pressure of knowing that life is about to change, whilst still wanting to succeed at work, can be hard to manage. Be kind to yourself and:
- recognise that you might not be able to take on as much as you have previously – the world won’t stop turning if you have to hand over a few tasks. More often than not, people will be glad to help you out.
- speak to people about how you’re feeling.If you have concerns or worries raise them, talking them through can really help.
- if you need further support, find out if your employer has a mental health policy. Some may even provide you help and support through a third party – if this isn’t available, speak to your GP.
Finally, enjoy your pregnancy – it goes quickly (although doesn’t always feel like it at the time!), so try and take the time to enjoy every weird and wonderful second of it! Good Luck!