There are pros and cons for being pregnant and working from home. We take a look at a few and share suggestions for how you can enjoy a comfortable and well connected pregnancy while working from home.
Being pregnant and working from home has many advantages - you're never far from the loo (bonus if you're suffering with morning sickness), you can wear comfy joggers or leggings all day long and there's more opportunity for a lunchtime nap. Simply put, it's easier to look after yourself when you're at home. You can plan your diary around antenatal visits, make sure the fridge is stocked with healthy food and snacks, go for 'walking meetings', do a spot of yoga or take the dog for a walk round the block when you need some fresh air and a leg stretch. What's not to love?
On the flipside, it can be a pretty lonely and isolating experience. For a start, telling people virtually that you're pregnant can be awkward. Where you might've had office word-of-mouth or a growing bump as a clue, working from home can make it feel a bit like a secret pregnancy. There's no 'showing-off' your bump, it's not captured on camera and it certainly isn't the most natural feeling to stand up and do a twirl! There also isn't the opportunity for daily office chats to share experiences or ask advice from colleagues, so conversations might happen on a Teams chat or at the end of a virtual call instead. It's probably not how you imagined your pregnancy would be.
To help you feel more comfortable and connected, check out these top tips:
- Be open about how you're feeling. You're bound to have good days and not-so-good days. It's hard for others to notice if you're feeling sick on a video call, so let them know - your colleagues will understand if you need to dash away or rearrange.
- Manage expectations. Remember to talk with your manager about your expectations while you work at home during this time. Talk to them if you're feeling 'out of sorts' and need extra support.
- Schedule regular breaks. Whether you're needing a nap, fancy a walk, or need a peanut butter and cheese sandwich, it's really important to take breaks. Schedule them in your calendar to remind yourself and let others know when you are/aren't available.
- Don't sit still for too long. Having virtual meetings means less walking about. Set reminders or use your scheduled breaks to get up and have a stretch or a walk around.
- Reduce your meeting times. It's too easy to 'Zoom' from one meeting to the next and before you know it you're feeling super thirsty, or your baby is dancing on your bladder. Rather than hour-long meetings, try making them 45 or 55 minutes long to give you time between to get some water or a stretch.
- Make yourself comfortable. You may want to consider raising your feet on a footrest (if you have one) or a makeshift footrest such as a box, this will give you extra support and reduce swelling. Support your lower back and cushion your tailbone with a cushion or a rolled-up towel/blanket.
- Set boundaries. It can be harder to properly switch off when you're working from home. Just because your laptop is easily accessible, doesn't mean it should be. Be strict with your working hours and make sure you communicate them with others.
- Buddy up. Find out if anyone else at work is expecting and set up regular calls. It's lovely to connect with other parents-to-be and gives you some guilt-free time to talk about all things baby with others who are just as excited as you!
- Communicate plans for your parental leave. Working remotely can make it more difficult to discuss and plan ahead for what will happen with your projects when you're on maternity leave, and to discuss plans for your return. In the lead-up to your leave, set up regular calls with your manager to discuss your parental leave - you might want to talk through project handover, 'keep-in-touch' days, and return to work plans, which leads on to our final suggestion...
- Make a transition plan. Making a transition plan will help you get clarity on who to transition what aspects of your work to, and can become a guide for conversations with your manager, as well as a handy document you can share with stakeholders as needed. Your plan should contain detailed information about projects, owners, stakeholders, and milestones.
Learn more about our Parental Leave Toolkit.
Remember, your pregnant body is working overtime so be kind to yourself and listen to your body. If you need further advice, contact your maternity care team and/or your work's occupational health team if you have one.