There’s almost nothing worse than trying to keep your early pregnancy confidential at work and then dealing with pregnancy sickness at work – having to cope with nausea and vomiting when you're there. Coping with pregnancy sickness at home can be easier than at work, but getting out of the house and working can improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
If you’re suffering with nausea and vomiting, no matter what the time of day, being at work should be your choice. If you don’t feel that being there is helping you, consider speaking to a manager or your GP about spending some time at home looking after yourself. If sick pay isn’t an option, or you want to be at work but need ways to cope with the nausea and vomiting, this little guide is just for you!
Pregnancy sickness at work
While there’s still a lot to learn about why people can become so unwell during pregnancy with nausea and vomiting, especially during the first trimester, what we do know is that for most, it can be worse in the morning. Whilst this isn’t the case for everyone, high fluctuations in hormones during the morning hours contribute to feelings of nausea, or the physical need to be sick. Whilst there is always an option to see your GP and get medication for your nausea, it doesn’t always work for everyone. Below we will work through some of the ways to cope at work if you are feeling this way, including adjustments to how you work and when.
The time your work day starts
If you’re suffering from nausea or vomiting in the morning, consider if your working day could start later. Allowing yourself time in the morning to not rush out of bed. Getting ready slowly can allow your body to transition from lying down to standing more smoothly, as some nausea and vomiting can be caused by balance and inner ear problems.
One solution to this can be the Nevasic App found on the App Store or the Google Store. Nevasic is an app which encourages you to play its music through headphones first thing in the morning, before you move to standing. This music is not only calming but has beats and pulses to it which stabilise the balance receptors in the inner ear, helping alleviate the feelings of nausea and sickness.
Cleaning your teeth
Many pregnant people I’ve met struggle with cleaning their teeth, with the feeling of a toothbrush in their mouth making them gag. Whilst oral health is vital to your holistic wellbeing, vomiting repeatedly can cause damage to your teeth. Using a fuzzy chewable mini brush can help if you’re suffering from this issue or if your being sick while at work.
These small, chewing gum sized brushes help clean your teeth. Whilst they don’t live up to the standard of a normal toothbrush, they can aid you to get ready for work in the morning until you feel ready to brush your teeth normally – meaning you could take your toothbrush with you to work.
Coping with sickness at work during pregnancy
Once you’re at work, there are a few aids you could use to help minimise the effects of nausea and vomiting.
The first way to cope with pregnancy sickness at work is a travel band. These bands are normally grey in colour with a white dot protruding from them. They are a form of acupressure and should be placed three finger widths up from your wrist crease; they should be tight, so ensure yours are new.
Travel bands work when you are feeling nauseated and shouldn’t be used as a ‘just encase’ as they can cause feelings of nausea when used incorrectly. These bands can be used all day and hidden under a shirt or blouse if you’re keeping your pregnancy to yourself for the time being!
Change up your cup of tea
Another solution for work would be swapping your normal tea out for an herbal one. Depending on how you feel when you are sick will depend on which tea can be helpful to you. Peppermint is a well-known essential oil which aids the feeling of being sick. If you’re finding that you are becoming hot and sweaty when you feel nausea or when you are vomiting, peppermint tea has a cooling effect and can be used to help you feel better. I don’t advocate you drink this tea all day, therefore the use of a sugar free mint can be helpful during those times when you're busy at work.
If you find that you are feeling cold or clammy with your nausea and vomiting, root ginger tea is best. This tea is best made fresh, using freshly grated root ginger, which you could bring with you to work. This tea is hot in nature and encourages a balance within you to help with nausea and vomiting. It is important to know that ginger biscuits do not have the same effect. There is actually very little ginger in these biscuits, but there is a lot of sugar! Whilst this aids the effects of nausea for a very short period due to an increase in blood sugar, when this drops it can leave you feeling worse than before. Having something like a plain cracker in your desk draw can help, especially if you’re feeling hungry but can’t stomach a full lunch.
All herbal teas should be drunk with caution, and for those considering using them I strongly advocate you look at my herbal tea guide to ensure you have no risk factors which may cause you to be unwell when drinking herbal tea.
Get your eyes checked
If you work with a computer, as many of us do, ensure that your eyes have been tested recently, or in pregnancy. A change to how your eyes work can cause nausea if your eyes are having to adjust or strain regularly to your screen. Remember to clock off on time, if you’ve battled with nausea or vomiting at any point of your day this has taken up some of your energy, on top of a normal working day. Rest is vital both at work on a lunch break, and at the end of your day.
Top Tip! If you work in London and take the underground pick up one of their ‘bump on board’ badges. This gives people a gentle nod to offer you their seat, or care for you if you feel unwell when on the train.
Remember your work has a duty of care to you as a person, if you feel there are things they could be doing better, or adjustments that they could make to help you stay at work let them know. If you don’t feel supported at work, or if you’re not ready to tell them, speak to your GP or midwife for support, you are not alone.
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