Many mummies-to-be know this situation well: you’re sitting at your desk, fighting back waves of nausea while trying to get through the work day without throwing up the last meal you had. And because morning sickness typically affects women in the early stages of pregnancy (first trimester) – before most mums would like to share their baby news – dealing with the unpleasant symptoms without giving the game away thus becomes even more exhausting.
If you’re a new member of the ‘morning sickness club’, here are some effective tips to help you keep up your game at work while conquering every wave of nausea that comes your way.
What is morning sickness?
Morning sickness, also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), is an unpleasant but common symptom that typically begins arounds the fourth week of pregnancy due to the physical changes and hormone reactions taking place in the body.
Up to 80% of women experience morning sickness and while most symptoms stop after the 16th week, some mummies-to-be continue to have morning sickness even after their 20th week of pregnancy.
Morning sickness is a misleading name as symptoms (nausea and vomiting) can strike at any time of the day – it can be trigged by a variety of causes such as a heightened sense of smell, hunger pangs or even stress. But while morning sickness is an unpleasant experience to say the least, it is a regular part of pregnancy and isn’t harmful to the mother nor the baby.
Prepping for work:
- Keep plain and dry foods such as saltine or wholegrain biscuits, near your bedside and eat a few upon waking up. Filling your stomach a little can help to settle your stomach before you start the day.
- Comfort is key when it comes to your outfit. Avoid restrictive and tight clothing – opt for loose fitting clothes instead.
During your commute:
- For mummies-to-be who are getting to and from work via public transport, keep barf bags tucked away in a handy spot, along with wet and dry tissues.
- Carpooling to work? Get as much shut eye as possible when on the way as you’ll definitely get exhausted as the day wears on.
While at work:
- Prepare a ‘morning sickness’ kit in your desk that you could easily grab or put into an inconspicuous bag on your way to the washroom. The kit should include spare barf bags, mouthwash (if brushing your teeth makes you gag), non-nausea inducing essential oils, breath mints and fresh facial wipes.
- If you’re not yet comfortable with sharing the news of your pregnancy with your boss and the rest of the office, you could consider letting a few trusted colleagues know of the situation so that there’ll be someone to cover your work duties on days where you’re feeling unwell.
- Make a mental note of all the other washrooms in the building in case your usual bathroom spot is occupied when morning sickness hits. Also, keep a look out for nearby exit spots so that you could step out for fresh air when needed.
- Keep your stomach nicely balanced between full and empty. Even if you’re having a loss of appetite, keep your tummy settled by snacking on protein and calorie-packed snacks, such as almonds and saltine crackers. Alternatively, flavoured popsicles are a great way to keep you hydrated while helping to curb nausea.
- Morning sickness is the main cause of dehydration in pregnant women, and on days where it’s difficult to keep even fluids down, staying hydrated may seem near impossible. If water makes you feel nauseous, try reaching for peppermint or ginger tea, non-caffeinated carbonated drinks (Sprite, 7up, or ginger ale) or even snacking on electrolyte ice cubes.
- Having a craving? Take cues from your body and indulge yourself with whatever you’d like to eat instead of sticking to your bland diet. With that being said, avoid greasy or spicy food as it could trigger nausea or even lead to heartburn.
- If your office has a pantry area, avoid the kitchen during lunchtime (or whenever your colleagues could be heating their own food up) as the smells could set off your nausea. Similarly, opting for cold food might be a better option as warm foods tend to emit more nausea-triggering odours.
- As much as possible, avoid warm places as feeling hot can add to your nausea.
- If staring at the computer all day is part of your job scope, try tweaking your monitor to make it more comfortable on your eyes because the brightness, colours and even contrast of the screen could contribute to nausea.
- While it may seem impossible to look put together after going through a terrible bout of morning sickness, layering on some blush or lippie can help you look fresher.
- Your morning sickness may seem to come and go randomly, but tracking the symptoms might reveal a pattern that can help you recognise certain triggers. For example, if you find yourself getting nauseous at the same time every afternoon, it could be the smell of your colleague’s microwaved lunch. Once you’ve identified these triggers, you will be better equipped to tackle and avoid them whenever possible.