Kara the Mom Nurse here!
So you're coming across this post because you're pregnant and you are a nurse. What do you do now?
I'll give you a quick backstory here when you are dealing with a nursing job and pregnancy.
I have six kids. I currently stay home with my littles because let's face it... they grow way too fast and I would push my emotions aside when leaving them to go to work. I got accepted into the nursing program when I was pregnant with our second child. I actually delayed the program until fall of that year so that I could have our child and a bit of time off before starting the program.
Once I started the program, I became pregnant with our third child! She was born in September (her birthday is actually coming up and she will be 7 years old!!!) I birthed her on a monday one week, and went to CLINICALS that friday. Call me crazy... but I made it through. Not without a few tears when I left the hospital that day... wondering what I was doing to myself!!!
I am not a quitter, and continued on through the program and although it was tough, I graduated that following May. Here is my graduation day!!!
I then graduated that May and took a contract as a nurse working in a very short-staffed nursing home. (Note to self-don't ever take a contract job ever again, details for another day!) I gained a ton of experience working on a rehab wing at that nursing home, so I don't regret where that brought me. I love working with the elderly population as well, but I wanted a hospital job. I wanted to work with mom's and babies, and you can't do that in a nursing home!!! While working that contract job I became pregnant with our fourth baby.
Due to the nature of the contract I would have to pay back a lump sum of money if I quit. So I was kind of stuck in between a rock and a hard place, pretty much being forced to work throughout the whole pregnancy on a super short staffed, busy rehab wing. I also many times had to work down the long-term care wings and deliver treatments and medications to residents that a TMA could not do.
This is not what you should expect right??? Being forced to work while pregnant??? I don't know, I powered through and was able to take maternity leave about a week before his due-date. Then I had to have my doctor write a note that I was to take leave early so that the short-term disability would kick in.
When you are working full time and you have not been at a facility for over a year, typically they don't give you full family leave benefits. Do check your facility as these can vary between facilities. It wasn't easy working up until I was due for the baby, on my feet for 9+ hours a day 4 days a week. But I powered through. My mindset was made up, that it was either pay back the money and quit the job or make it through the pregnancy and then quit.
When working while pregnant, know your capabilities. You are capable of MANY things, but know what your limits are. Put your feet up while charting, sit in a patient room with your feet up and chart if you must, and make sure you drink plenty of water. (but not so much that you have to pee every two minutes right???)
I felt like working on my feet while pregnant actually made the pregnancy go quickly, and then I made sure I took my vitamins daily. I also took a healthy NUTRIENT PACKED super juice that gave me natural energy, kept up my B vitamins for having to power through, and later I also found out that this juice is known to also benefit a VERY healthy cord and placenta!!! When this baby was born my doctor stated she had never seen such a thick cord and healthy looking placenta. I now drink this juice during every pregnancy for sure.
I kept snacks in my pockets so I could eat a quick snack while charting or during my bathroom break, to keep up my energy. You should expect to be on your feet many hours, so invest in a wonderful pair of inserts or shoes with support.
I also would expect towards the end of the pregnancy to have a lot of pressure on your pelvic area, due to the nature of being on your feet A LOT. You will probably want to invest in a good belly support band to help take the pressure off. I would also invest in a pair of ted socks... you know there are cuter ones now than those white patient ted hose :-). Those will be wonderful for those varicose veins that will probably pop up during pregnancy!!!
I would also expect to buy either bigger sized scrubs, or maternity ones. I preferred buying a bigger size of the kind scrubs that has the stretchy sides vs. maternity kind. My favorite was the cherokee iflex, linked at the top or off to the side! Here is also what it looks like here: (click the picture for the direct link)
I was able to quit after I had baby number four, and was offered a job at a hospital! I was so excited to start in a hospital, this was my dream job! I started working there and it was a small town hospital. I loved that hospital job, and then I worked there about 2 years. I gained experience and then got a job at a hospital I wanted to work at closer to home. I accepted that position while in early pregnancy with our fifth. I worked for about 6 months part time until the baby came, and then I went casual after I had baby #5. And guess what??? With baby number 5, I worked up until my due date as well, ON CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS DAY. He was born Dec. 27th.
So you CAN expect to work up until your due date, but do know your limits. If you're starting to have complications, or just feeling plain tired, don't wear your self out. I did that to myself and then I got irritable with my job and with my patients. This is not healthy for you or your employer, so do take the time YOU need for yourself and baby!!! There will always be another nurse, another job, and I never beat myself up about taking as much time for after baby as we needed.
Your employer will only give you the certain amount of time off before they can technically fill your position, but what I did was email my boss and had a good conversation with her about leaving or staying. And if they truly value your work and ethics, they will want you to stay whether casual or a new position there. That's another topic for another day too...
So just expect what I stated here, and also expect the unexpected!!! You never know when you might be led to a new place in your nursing career or in your home life career. (Heck, we moved to Alaska after kid #5, and I haven't gone back to work yet!!!) So follow your heart, know that God has a plan for you in your career and accept what is. But also know that you will get through your nursing job and a pregnancy, because I've done it three times. I can honestly say that nurses are strong, YOU are strong!!! Here is a picture of our family on one of our first hikes in AK!
Hugs to you on the pregnancy, Congratulations and BEST WISHES with your nursing career!!!
(I write this as my 2 month old baby sleeps next to me, he's our sixth baby!!!)
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