9 Struggles—and Solutions—to Working While Pregnant

Working while you're expecting? Here are the most common pregnancy-related struggles—and tips to help you deal.

Pregnant Woman Working Syda Productions/Shutterstock
Being a working mom-to-be isn't always easy. But don't worry, we've got you covered. We talked to the experts about common pregnancies challenges—and ways to solve them.

1. You feel sick on your morning commute.

Pregnant women who commute on public transportation often complain about feeling hot and light-headed, especially if they are commuting in close quarters during the morning or evening rush. "This can cause them to faint, especially if they skip breakfast or don't eat a late day snack," says Kameelah Phillips, M.D., an OB/GYN based in New York City and founder of OBabymaternity.com. "I recommend that women hydrate—always have water handy—and pack a small snack for the commute. This can help you maintain your blood sugar levels which, in turn, will help prevent fainting." She also recommends asking someone to give up their seat. (People generally are willing to do so, but may not have noticed that you are pregnant.) "Also, during the winter, consider removing your scarf and coat prior to boarding the train or bus to prevent overheating," says Dr. Phillips. "If possible, consider staggering your work day to avoid commuting during the busiest times of the day."

2. You're totally exhausted during your first trimester.

The first weeks of pregnancy can deplete your energy and cause your productivity to tank, says Helen Anderson, certified lactation educator and founder of Milkies. The hard part? You also may not be ready to share your news with your boss. "To stay on your boss's good side, talk to her about your commitment to your team and other ways you can fulfill your obligations." You might offer to take some work home with you, stagger your work time, or look for other creative solutions. Most women find their energy returns in the second trimester so it may only be a short term need.

3. You need to go to bathroom—constantly.

Unfortunately, there's almost no way to reduce the need for restroom breaks. "Frequent urination in pregnancy is a fact," says Dr. Phillips. "You can minimize trips to the loo by drinking to quench thirst (not excessively) and completely emptying the bladder. Sometimes shifting your position and lifting the belly while on the toilet will help more urine to pass."

4. Your legs are swollen and painful.

Some women experience a lot of swelling during their pregnancy, especially toward the end of the day and the end of the pregnancy—and if your work requires you to be on your feet, that could make it even worse. "I encourage women to use compression stockings starting as soon as they wake up in the morning," says Dr. Phillips. "This can minimize the swelling and pain they may otherwise experience." And if you can, put your feet up while you work—even a slight elevation could help.

5. Your breasts hurt.

Many pregnant women complain about breast pain during pregnancy. The reason? It's your body's way for preparing for lactation, says Rebecca Agi, IBCLC , a lactation consultant. Your breasts may be growing, too. The solution? "I always recommend investing in some larger sized bras with good support," says Agi. Also, when it comes to buying nursing bras, Agi suggests waiting until the last month of pregnancy. "If it fits during that last month, it'll fit after delivery."

6. You're constantly hungry.

It is really important to manage your food intake during the day to prevent low blood sugar and early afternoon cravings. "I encourage women to always carry healthy snacks with them to prevent poor food choices," says Dr. Phillips. She recommends easy-to-transport options, including yogurt, protein bars, fruit, granola, and cheese.

7. It's tough to dress professionally as your belly expands.

Choose a few key separates that will grow with you: Jersey fabrics and other stretchy materials will stay comfy as your belly grows and will still look stylish even after your baby arrives, Anderson says. It pays to think ahead: Choose maternity clothes that easily transition to post-pregnancy and allow easy access for breastfeeding and pumping.

8. Your feet hurt.

Ditch the heels, says Kim Vopni, personal trainer and author of Prepare To Push. "Your feet will thank you, your pelvic floor will thank you, and your back will thank you." Heels pitch your body forward and lead you to lean back. Vopni explains that this leads to short tight calf muscles (hello leg cramps), short tight pelvic floor muscles (not what you want when you need to give birth), and poor posture that flattens your glutes and makes the muscles in your back ache. Solution? Stick with comfortable shoes.

9. You're tired, but afraid to drink coffee.

Here's the thing: most doctors will tell you it's okay to have coffee, just in limited amounts. Talk to your doctor. "Some women tell themselves they can't do certain things, but really, within moderation, you can. While there are definite no-no's during pregnancy—smoking, drinking, raw fish—a small amount of caffeine is safe," says Crystal Clancy, MA LMFT, co-director of Pregnancy and Postpartum Support MN, and owner of Iris Reproductive Mental Health. "I encourage women to cut themselves some slack. Don't deprive yourself of things you typically enjoy if they can help you face your day better."