How to handle morning sickness at work

Coach Amanda Alexander gives some tips on managing morning sickness at work.

Last year a study conducted by Dublin City University confirmed what decades of mothers have always known – there isn’t a cure for morning sickness – expecting women all over the globe groaned. Expecting working mothers groaned the loudest.

The thought of facing weeks of queasy train or car journeys, nauseous elevator rides or, even worse, green-faced interactions with work colleagues is enough to make even the most optimistic and excited mother-to-be want to call in sick and hide under their duvet.

While there isn’t much that can be done to change whether you will suffer from morning sickness during your working day, here are a few ideas that may help make your life a little bit easier. And remember, whilst the study claimed that there are no sure-fire and positive ways to alleviate morning sickness, that doesn’t mean you can’t listen to your body and work out what makes you feel better.

The practical: Getting to and from work

Take your time getting out of bed. Give yourself plenty of extra time in the morning to get ready – don’t rush!

Keep a combination of any of the following in your handbag – wipes, mouth rinse, toothpaste, toothbrush, moistened flannels, water, a few dry treats and some sick bags. That way if there are any nasty occurrences on your journey, you can clean up quickly and easily. If you are prone to regular vomiting, consider taking a change of shirt or jacket with you.

If you drive to work, consider looking for a colleague who lives nearby to car-share with. Remember to pull over to a safe place if you start to feel nauseous or dizzy.

Splurge on some maternity wear for the office – feeling comfortable and well dressed on the way to the office can help you to maintain that professional feeling even if you feel a little green around the gills! Wear comfortable shoes and you may want to consider maternity tights too.

The professional: Dealing with your colleagues

If you suffer from ongoing morning sickness, you might feel the need to tell your colleagues earlier than you would like. If you do choose to talk to your manager, be professional and honest. If you are able to predict when you feel worst during the day, perhaps suggest a small change in your hours. Avoiding rush hour on the train will certainly make for a more pleasant journey into work.

Ensure you have a comfortable work space and environment – remember that you can request a risk assessment at any time throughout your pregnancy. Putting your feet up on a stool or small chair may make you feel more comfortable. Take breaks throughout the day such as a short walk in fresh air or even some breathing exercises or stretches.

Remember to eat every couple of hours and drink water more often than that – keep dry crackers or fruit at your desk for quick and easy snacks.

Most importantly, remember that even the worst morning sickness will become a distant memory! After you have had your baby, there will be a lot of interesting and new challenges that you will need to face, ranging from one-handed diaper changes, juggling motherhood and work if you decide to be a working mum and wondering what you did with your time before you were a mother!

Amanda Alexander is mum to two fabulous boys and Founder and Director of Coaching Mums. Since 2003, Coaching Mums has helped thousands of working mums to swap guilt-ridden, stress-driven vicious circle for virtuous circles of calm, confidence and fulfilment.  

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