Monthly archives:March 2015

  • working pregnant woman

    How to Juggle Work and Pregnancy

     

    You’ve told your family, celebrated the news with friends, and now you’ve let your manager know too – You’re pregnant! Congratulations.

    But while you have visions of yourself in the Superwoman costume (maternity edition, or course), you’re not quite sure what it actually takes to successfully manage work and pregnancy while still giving yourself (and your baby) the care you need.

    Here’s a few tips to help you master the juggling act.

    Fatigue during the day…

    It’s hard work growing a baby which is great when you get to eat for two, but not so great when you start falling asleep on the job. Eating foods rich in iron and protein, drinking lots, and keeping up light exercise can help boost energy levels during the day.

    At most workplaces, sneaking in a power nap is not going to be possible. If you work from home, nap on my friend. If you don’t, try and break up your day with a short walk to the other side of the office, get out and see a client, make yourself a snack or a tea, anything to avoid waking up with your keypad indented on your forehead.

    Baby Brain? Not a problem…

    It’s one of those things that happens to almost every pregnant woman at least once. But when ‘baby brain’ strikes at work, it can have us appearing as though we’re behind the eight ball.

    Our best solution to combat forgetfulness? Take notes – lots of them. Make a habit of writing everything down, and make short notes of your phone conversations to refer back to later.

    Also try and do the most challenging things when your feeling switched on and put your email calendar to good use by setting alerts and reminders to help you keep on track throughout the day.

    Morning sickness blues

    There is nothing worse than having persistent morning (or all-day) sickness when trying to keep up appearances at work. Hopefully your boss will be understanding of your symptoms, but the less you have to call on his/her patience, the better.

    To help keep the nausea at bay, try drinking carbonated drinks like sparkling water, and eating bland snack foods before you get hungry – keep some dry crackers by your desk, or in your drawer for a quick fix.

    During meetings, sit by the door for a quick and discrete exit if you need one. It’s also a good idea to carry mouthwash with you so you’re prepared for the times when your stomach really does ‘heave ho’.

    People touching your belly uninvited…

    As your baby bump grows, the frequency of friends, colleagues and strangers trying to touch your stomach can have you feeling like a bronzed Buddha. If your levels of discomfort skyrocket above ‘red alert’ when someone touches your bump, consider hiring a belly (body) guard…

    If you have to be your own belly guard, don’t be afraid to say something when someone (including your manager, colleagues, and clients) touches your stomach uninvited. A simple ‘I’d prefer it if you didn’t touch my stomach’, or ‘Please don’t touch my stomach, it makes me uncomfortable’, is all it takes to let people know they’ve crossed a boundary.

    Some people might be affronted or taken aback, but most will be apologetic about having invaded your space without your consent.

    Fitting in all those antenatal appointments…

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if pregnancy automatically meant that you got more hours in the day than everyone else, just to fit in all those extra appointments you have to go to?

    Unfortunately, the rules of time and space don’t make exceptions for the pregnant working woman, but don’t worry too much because all those antenatal appointments can be taken from your sick leave allowance.

    So long as you do the right thing by your manager by letting him/her know in advance, they’ll be able to work around you.

    Leaving the workplace…

    Your career might look different after you have a baby, but that does not mean your hard-won career gains will disappear down the drain. There are plenty of mothers who successfully balance motherhood with their careers, and there is no reason why you can’t do the same.

    But, as a parent, you will have new obligations, so try to stay open-minded about your options and discuss them with your employer before you leave.

    Come to the conversation prepared with ideas about how changing your work situation could be mutually beneficial, and you’ll both feel good about the evolution of your role when you return to the workplace.

  • So life is pretty great after having a child. You’ve found your routine, learned a ton of new skills, and have finally accepted that sleep-ins will not happen to you again until your blessed little angel hits the teenage years.

    So you’re looking for the next challenge; you decide to have baby number two.

    sad sibling with pregnant mum

    But the second time around, things are going to be different. The first time it was just you and your partner, and you had the luxury of time and space to get prepared and organised before the baby arrived. This time, there’s also a little person who is still learning about the world and is used to having mum and dad all to themselves.

    It can be a massive change for a child whose life experience is limited to a world where mum and dad are able to attend to his/her needs and wants as soon as they arise. When a new baby arrives requiring a lot of time and attention, it can be difficult for a child to understand why they suddenly have to share mum and dad.

    To avoid sibling rivalry and ease the transition for your young family, here are some ways to help your child adjust.

    1. Let them get used to the idea of having a sibling

    Start telling your child what is happening ahead of time. Let them know that mummy and daddy are going to give them a little brother or sister and involve them in the process of letting friends and family know. This makes it exciting for them as well and reinforces what a positive event it will be.

     

    1. Explain how the new family structure will work

    Let your child know how important their job as an older sibling will be. Use positive language and talk about it regularly leading up to the birth so they can come to understand it for themselves. If you’re having trouble, there are some beautifully illustrated storybooks that can help with this.

     

    1. Make other major changes before the baby arrives

    If you need to make major changes to your child’s life like move them into another bedroom, do so well before the baby arrives so that your child doesn’t feel displaced by their new sibling. Give them time to settle in before the baby arrives on the scene to allow them to become secure in their new surroundings.

    1. Get them involved in the baby’s life

    Let them help you in preparing for the new baby’s arrival by asking them to pick out a toy for the baby’s cot. When the baby is at home, find ways for them to be involved in caring for the baby as well. Can they fetch wipes for you when your hands are full on the change table? Can they grab a fresh flannel or towel at bath time? Allowing them to do little things to help you can help your older child to feel involved in the family ‘team’. Be sure to thank them sincerely and let them know that their efforts are appreciated.

    1. Set aside quality time for just you and your older child

    Take them to the library, or the park or even just stay at home doing an activity of their choosing. It doesn’t have to be very long, just 15 minutes will do. Use this time to focus on them and listen to their thoughts on the new baby. This will help to alleviate some of those behavioural problems that stem from a sudden lack of attention because of the focus on the new baby.

    1. Keep as much consistency as you can

    Try to keep as much of your child’s routine as consistent as possible. Keeping the same bedtimes will prevent the effects of disruption (and preserve your sanity!).

    And finally, don’t hesitate to call in for back up if you need it. Call on the support of your partner or other family members or friends to help you out at home when things get a little crazy. After all, young children use up a lot of energy and even with the best preparations, things can get out of hand very quickly when there is more than one small child begging for more from you. Having someone on standby to help can be a godsend for those days when nothing else will work.

     

  • dad holding baby in sunshine

    Preparing for childbirth is like training for any big event, the preparation starts months in advance.  Rocking up on the day is not an option. Endurance, strength and will power will be required. Getting informed and practicing your supporting skills are crucial to give you the best chance of the big day going as intended.

    “Is there anything I can do?”

    Sometimes you may feel like you are on the sidelines, an onlooker watching as your partner experiences pregnancy and childbirth. When you are unsure of how she is feeling or what she needs, simply ask “Is there anything I can do?” (And be willing to follow through on the request).

    Sometimes the answer will be a hug or making dinner so she can have a rest. The request could also be slightly more complex. She may need you to motivate and reassure her when she is feeling tired or emotional. She may also need you to explain her plans and expectations for birth to a midwife so she can focus on being in labour. So when these requests happen, being as prepared, willing and ready to go is paramount.

    The payoff for asking this simple question is the bonding you will experience, and the feelings of support your partner will feel knowing that you are a team and that she doesn’t need to go through pregnancy and childbirth alone.

    1. Listen to her

    The relationship you have with your partner during pregnancy and childbirth can be strengthened by healthy communication. Listening to your partner and being there for her to share concerns and experiences with will go a long way to bridging the gap in the understanding between what she is experiencing and how you can support her through it.

    Talking about expectations and intentions before your partner is in labour will make it much easier to support her and predict what she needs on the day. Give her time and space and encourage her to trust her body and her instincts. Respect and support her decisions, it is likely she has researched and thought a great deal about them so being dismissive may hurt and insult her judgment.

    1. Get up to speed and get informed

    Gather and absorb information about pregnancy and birth in whatever way suits you best. Read books and blogs. Talk to midwives, birth educators, other parents, friends, and people whose opinions you trust.

    Go to a birth education class and as many antenatal classes as you can with your partner. If you are tempted to wing it, rethink that strategy. If you are inclined to avoid the classes and appointments because it feels a bit awkward, DON’T.  You will feel much more awkward and underprepared on the day if you and your partner are not on the same page and she doesn’t feel supported.

    1. Love and affection

    Remind your partner how much you love her. Be affectionate, kissing and hugging your partner will remind her she is not just pregnant, she is also a woman, and a mother and a lover too. Ultimately feeling appreciated, loved, maybe even sexy will help her feel relaxed and empowered in her pregnancy and during childbirth.

    1. Help her relax

    Giving your partner a massage while she is pregnant can relieve any pain and stress she is feeling and will also help you get to know what type of massage she enjoys.  Practice using different amounts of pressure and depth and ask her which areas she would like you to focus on.

    Run her a bath, light some candles, and grab her favourite chocolate at the shops. Offer to go for a walk together at the beach. When she is really tired, really irritable and doesn’t want to “do” anything pass her the TV remote, and repeat after me. “Put on whatever you like. I’ll watch it with you while I massage your feet”. And then just for good measure “Is there anything else I can do?”

    1. Be her Coach, offering support and encouragement

    Believe in her, even when she doesn’t believe in herself. Print out motivating birth affirmations, stick them on her wall, fridge and the back of the toilet door. Looking at them regularly will embed positive messages you and your partner can draw on during labour.

    1. Be prepared

    Sometimes packing or preparing the practical stuff for labour gets over looked . Think about food, water and music she might like to listen to (and something to play it on). Extra clothing for all seasons, hairclips, lip balm, and baby wipes can be handy. For extra brownie points soft lighting can be created and easily transported by using realistic looking electric or battery operated candles.

    1. Be her advocate and her personal assistant

    While your partner is in labour, she is in midst of one of the most important events of her life and chances are she needs time and space to focus on herself an her baby and doesn’t want to be interrupted. Act as her personal assistant by letting medical staff and family members know when the “do not disturb” sign is up.

    If you know her intentions and her plan for how she would like to manage her birth, then make it your job to advocate for her and manage the birth attendants during labour. This draws on the knowledge, trust and connection you have formed by communicating and listening to your partner during pregnancy.

    Pregnancy and birth is an experience you will be sharing together that is like no other. No two births or women are the same. So when in doubt just look lovingly, affectionately and supportively into the eyes of your pregnant partner and say those sweet, simple words “Is there anything I can do?”