Some women make being pregnant look easy and elegant. They glide through 40 weeks of changes to their bodies and minds, looking fabulous and never missing a step in their career or personal lives. I admire these women. I am not one of these women.
In my experience as a working mommy-to-be, I’ve found it’s very difficult to take care of yourself when you factor in the challenges of the professional environment. I worked in an office setting while expecting my first child, and am currently seven months along with my second while telecommuting full-time. Comparing the two experiences, working from home makes pregnancy so much easier.
Here are five reasons why pregnancy is easier when you work from home.
1. Morning Sickness
You just found out you’re pregnant, and to play things safe, you’d prefer to keep the news to yourself. Easy to do at first—then you hit Week Six. All of a sudden, you get t-boned by the Morning Sickness Express. Except it’s more like all-day sickness, and comes with crushing fatigue on the side.
With my first pregnancy, my office seating arrangement was a shared group desk with two other coworkers. It was already stressful knowing I could be sick at any moment, and having to try to hide it from my colleagues made for many miserable days.
Taking the fear of being severely ill in public out of the equation this time around, I’m so much more at ease. At home, you can avoid horrendous smells that make you turn green. (I’m looking at you, oblivious guy heating up leftover paella for lunch in the office microwave.) When your stomach does decide to turn on you, you can do what you’ve gotta do without an audience exchanging knowing looks. Also, when your energy drains to zero, you can sneak in a quick nap—and not in your car on lunch break.
2. Maternity Clothes
As your little one grows, it’s time to enter the world of flowy blouses and pants with generously stretchy belly panels.
Working in an office, you need to factor in bump-flattering business attire to your clothing budget: money spent on new threads that only work for your body during a short time.
Working from home on the other hand, you can focus on fewer, more casual pieces during pregnancy that are comfortable outside the 9-5 grind. Or, if you’re like me, you can get by on many days wearing yoga pants and an old sweatshirt of your husband’s. Not to mention the joy that is slippers instead of high heels for when the dreaded cankles come. I also have some of my maternity clothes leftover from baby #1, which are five years old and out of style. But since no one really has to see them, I can start the day comfortable and relaxed, knowing that I can get the job done no matter what size and shape I am this week.
3. Exercise Opportunities
Trying to find time for fitness is a challenge for anyone, let alone a mother-to-be. With my first baby, I hoped I would be the “yummy mummy” who effortlessly hits the gym throughout her pregnancy. That most certainly did not happen, especially at the end of a long workday and congested commute.
This time around, it’s much easier to set my schedule to include exercise. I can start work earlier in the morning, during the time I would have spent driving to an office. Once I’ve gotten a good start on my inbox and to-do list, I can take a break for some baby-friendly fitness. Instead of running or free weights, I have settled for slow, ungainly shuffles around the neighborhood and modified strength workouts. My self-esteem is already on the ropes as all these changes happen to my body, and I really don’t feel like going to a gym in form-fitting workout clothes to see myself struggle in the wall-to-wall mirrors. I can do my awkward planks and pliés in the comfort of my own home, but more importantly, I can find the time to do them at all.
4. Privacy Please
Everyone’s experience may vary, but in general, it’s safe to say that you’re not yourself when you’re pregnant. And when you work in a traditional office, all of these awkward moments are on display. You drop things, forget what you were just working on, maybe go the entire day with your shirt on backwards. Having gone through this in both the typical work environment and as a telecommuter, the home office experience wins hands down.
Random crying jag for no rational reason? No one needs to know! And you can rule out the fear of your water breaking in front of your team in the conference room. No belly touching, no name critiques from your inquisitive coworker, no unsolicited advice and old superstitions while you’re trying to finish an important task. Not to be a party pooper, because you know they just want to share in your excitement, but it can be tiring when people are up in your baby business all day. It can be a relief to go through it all without an audience.
5. Juggling Appointments
Proper prenatal care means going to the doctor a lot. Once a month to start, then up to every other week, and weekly towards the end. With a few more visits peppered in there for blood work or ultrasounds, even in a routine pregnancy you’re going for roughly 15 appointments over the space of nine months.
Being able to juggle these appointments along with other obligations is so much easier when working from home. When your appointment is running late, you aren’t sweating it so much because you know you can catch up on work later in the day, perhaps after dinner. This flexibility is especially important for those mamas who need additional monitoring and care. For women who go overdue or are put on limited duty/bed rest, you can still do some work with the doctor’s approval, instead of going straight to disability or having to quit your job outright.
Let’s face it, it’s already difficult enough in the U.S. to get adequate leave from work post-baby. Needing extra time away before your little bundle is even here is going to put even more pressure on you. Working remotely, you can continue to contribute. This flexibility allows you to earn your paycheck and also put your employer’s fears to bed about being short-staffed, without putting you or your baby at risk.
Agree? Join me and become one of the 1 Million for Work Flexibility, to help pregnant women everywhere have access to the flex they need.
photo credit: istockphoto.com