Kitty is a registered nurse. She uses what she has learned on the job to inspire and encourage others to take control of their health.
Being Pregnant and Working at Night
You're going about your nightly existence when BAM!—you find out you are pregnant, and you still have to work the night shift during your pregnancy. While it seems improbable or even downright impossible, I assure you it is definitely not! Take it from someone who has been living this reality...it is doable. If you have to do it, you can do it.
With a little mindfulness and care, you can not only survive but thrive (along with your unborn baby) working night shifts while with child. Don't panic, just make a plan and do a little research and you'll be fine. Here are my tips on how to survive and thrive being pregnant and working at night.
Tip #1: Sleep
The most important thing to think about when working at night while pregnant is your sleeping pattern. You may be thinking, well that's an easy one. But it's not always easy when we as mothers have households to run during the days/nights we have off. So how do we juggle getting enough sleep, working at night, and taking care of a family?
If you have school-age kids, sleeping during the day directly following a night shift should be a piece of cake. The house should be quiet enough that you should be able to focus on your sleep more so than worrying about your significant other and kids.
But just in case you have to drown out your kids' voices and other neighborhood noises and disturbances here are some tips:
- Run a fan (a metal one is best to drown out noise. You don't have to point it directly at you, you can always point it at a wall if it's already cool in the room.)
- Play gentle sounds like ocean waves, forest sounds, etc.
- Invest in black-out curtains or draperies
- If you have a door in your bedroom leading to a bathroom with a window, close that door.
- Turn the television off (the light and sound might prevent you from falling into a deep sleep)
- Ask your family / roommates / etc. to keep the noise down as much as possible.
You'll also want to think about what kind of shape your bed is in. You really will need a nice comfortable mattress, as you will be sleeping on it during the day and when you are very pregnant. Comfort is important to a good day's rest. If you have to invest in a new mattress, go online and do some research. There are companies online that sell name-brand mattresses for half the price that a Mattress King will sell it for. Also make sure you have plenty of pillows. You'll need them for when you are heavy with child in order to support your legs and back, etc.
If you find you have a hard time falling asleep, do something beforehand to decompress. One thing I always do is take a hot shower. Let the water run over your shoulders and back for a few minutes and imagine all of your stress from the night shift running off of you and into the drain. Lay down and watch a short, funny TV show to get your mind off of work. Or try listening to some soft, slow music to soothe yourself to sleep.
Tip #2: Resting and Conserving Energy
Sleep is important, and so is rest for a pregnant woman working the night shift. You are going to feel worn down between night shifts...even if you get a lot of sleep. This is because a lot of your body's energy and metabolism is working over-time in order to make the baby inside of you strong and healthy, not to mention your body's clock is probably out of whack due to an unnatural night schedule. Your body is working to help your baby grow and develop in a healthy manner. So while sleep is essential, rest and conserving your energy is also crucial in maintaining you and your baby's health.
Here are some ways you can rest and conserve energy on your days/nights off:
- cuddle up and watch a good movie
- read a good book
- lay on the beach and just enjoy the sound of the waves
- order delivery or have someone pick up dinner instead of worrying about cooking every night
- run the car/truck through an automatic car wash instead of doing it manually
- ask your significant other/friend/family member to take the kids/pets out one day so you can enjoy peace and quiet at home by yourself
- Use paper plates/cups/utensils one night a week to avoid washing a ton of dishes (this helps when you are feeling especially under the weather)
There are many other ways to conserve your energy and ensure you are getting enough rest. Time management is a big part of this equation, as well. And while you might have moments where you feel "lazy" or "un-motivated", remember you're body is constantly at work...baking a bun in the oven! So don't feel guilty if things aren't getting done around the house as often as they used to. The house won't go to shambles if you don't vacuum every week...trust me.
Tip #3: Time Management
Managing your time appropriately (both at work and at home) is also very important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy and working the night shift. This aids in conserving energy, big-time! While at work, try to cluster tasks together as much as possible and don't procrastinate on things. These two things will help you to not feel so run-down or pressured while working night shift and being pregnant.
At home, time management is also important to maintain your health and a clean, functional environment. Like I said before, you don't have to have an eat-off-the-floor clean house every day of the week...just make sure you feel comfortable in your house on your days off.
Try using these time management tips while at home:
- Clean one thing/room per day off (dedicate one day off to clean the bathrooms, the next day do the kitchen, etc.) this helps in conserving your energy too
- Delegate some of these chores to your significant other or older children if possible
- Make a to-do list and cross three things off each day you have off
- Prioritize your to-do items (if you can't get everything done in one day, don't stress...save it for the next day you have off and relax while you can!)
- Save the big items for a time/day when you actually get a rare burst of energy!
Tip #4: Nutrition and Hydration
And last but surely not least, in order to have a healthy pregnancy and work night shift you must pay attention to your nutrition and hydration. Of course you've been told how important prenatal vitamins are, so make sure you're taking them on a daily basis!
Eating the right things and staying hydrated are not an option with pregnancy in general, but when you are working night shift they could mean the difference between a healthy and unhealthy pregnancy. You are putting a lot of strain on your body by carrying a baby and staying up all night...so you need to take in more healthy calories in order to provide your body with the nutrients and energy needed to make it through the night and through the entire pregnancy in a health manner!
Make sure you're eating the following things on a daily basis:
- Drink a lot of water! Cut down on caffeine and sugary drinks
- Fruits like bananas, mangoes, berries, etc.
- Veggies like broccoli, greens (these have folic acid which is essential for spinal and brain development in baby), etc.
- Dairy like milk, cheese (not aged), yogurt with enzymes (all dairy has protein as well as calcium and added Vitamin D)
- Meats such as lean steak and beef, chicken breast, and porkchops (if you don't eat meat, increase your intake of beans, legumes, etc. The iron and protein is important)
Don't feel guilty if you get cravings for sugary or fatty foods like slurpees, cheeseburgers, etc. You can absolutely indulge, as many times our bodies crave something that we need for our health or baby's health. Just make sure you're not making every meal a meal filled with junky foods.
While at work, be sure to stay hydrated...carry a bottle of water with you everywhere you go. Even if you work in a hospital, you can put the water bottle in the office or break room and force yourself to go for water breaks at least once an hour.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2015 Kitty Fields
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 21, 2015:
I have worked night shift but not pregnant. That really must be tough. I can't even imagine having to but I guess we just do what we have to. Am sure you are a stronger person for managing it. ^+
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on March 20, 2015:
GarnetBird - Thanks so much, you're right the fan works wonders.
Nell - Actually I'm the opposite LOL. I feel tired at the beginning of shift and start to feel better around 3 am!
Larry - It is indeed. :)
Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on March 19, 2015:
Good hub! My husband works graveyard, and I always run a white noise type fan. It really helps.
Nell Rose from England on March 19, 2015:
Great advice kitty, I have worked through the night, not pregnant, but I do remember how tired we get around 3am, something to do with the bodies hormones, this will be really helpful to those women who are pregnant and work the night shift, nell
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on March 19, 2015:
My wife worked pretty much up to the birth of our first child. It is a rough go.