how do you handle being pregnant at work?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I’m about eight weeks pregnant. My spouse and I are very excited! BUT, the realities of Growing A Human have hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m dealing with constant nausea, and really intense fatigue — as well as all the weird little things I need to do to manage those things, like constantly snacking on a sleeve of saltines and wearing those little anti-nausea wristbands.

I haven’t told anyone at work yet, and probably won’t until at least the end of my first trimester. For the moment, I’m basically just dragging my feet through every day at work – I wouldn’t say I’m doing the absolute bare minimum, but my quality of work and engagement levels are…let’s say not as high as they might otherwise be. And I still feel like I’m operating at the very upper limits of my capacity — if I felt like I could get away with doing less while I feel this bad, I would.

I’d be curious to know from readers who have been pregnant at work, how did you deal with it? How did you handle the adventure of being pregnant when it came up against the daily demands of your job? Is it okay to just do less at work for the time being, or even take a day off if I’m feeling particularly crappy (even if I know that it’s a perfectly unremarkable way for me to feel at this moment)?

I think what I’m struggling with is that this is clearly just how pregnant people feel — I’m not uniquely stricken by all this first trimester nonsense, and I know that many people have it much worse — and yet, pregnant people continue to go to work! And we just, like, don’t talk about it! Am I supposed to just push through, knowing that this is what people have done for millennia? Is this something our society ignores or downplays because patriarchy/misogyny/etc.?

Readers who have been pregnant at work, let’s hear from you!

{ 361 comments… read them below }

  1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    Mazel tov, LW :)

    Yes, it’s OK to do less right now. Pressuring yourself to live up to some “I can do it all with no blips in performance” ideal helps no one.

    Also, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the first trimester tends to be the hardest as far as fatigue and other ass-kicking symptoms. By the time you get through T1, you will have adjusted somewhat. Also, T2 tends to be a lot less crappy with nausea, etc. I had way more energy and felt better overall. T3 has its own challenges, but again, you will be more adjusted by then. I hope the rest of your journey goes smoothly!

    1. bowl of fruit*

      agree. also, I felt like it was super clear my first trimester – I went to the bathroom to vomit every day – but literally no one noticed. it will feel very obvious to you, but likely no one will bat an eye. :)

    2. Tired*

      The first trimester was the most exhausted I have ever been in my life, except for the day after his birth. I was physically incapable of making it through the day without a nap on my lunch break and that would just barely get me through. Thankfully I work from home most days. I slept in the car on office days. Even after my baby came and was a terrible sleeper and was waking up every 1-2 hours every night for months, I was not as tired as weeks 8-16 of pregnancy.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          I fell off a toilet.
          I’d been taking my little office trash can in with me (save time, it’s efficiency to do both at once!) but getting to the point that a Planned Vomiting Session (yeah, it’s a thing.) schedule didn’t work. So I sat on the toilet, feet not quite touching the floor, planning to flush the toilet just as I hurled my saltines into the triple-lined trash can on my lap. This masked the sound of vomiting, somewhat.
          I had draped my arms over the trash can, face over the opening to save extra nausea from moving 12 extra inches-
          And fell asleep. Evidently snoring into a metal trash can sounds a LOT like vomiting, but I didn’t even hear myself. Then someone pressed the button to the hand dryer, which was obviously stolen from a military jet.
          I woke up, confused and alarmed, and shifted enough to fall off the toilet with my head stuck in the trash can. My 1980s hairdo had fancy combs in it; they caught on the liner bags. As I pulled my head out of the trash can, the liners came with the hair, and I just lay there quietly, hoping (??) nobody had noticed.

          Unfortunately, this was a medical building, and finding a woman on a toilet stall floor with plastic bags on her head triggers a certain amount of “Intervention”. The Planned Vomiting Session, oddly, did not happen.

          The more I tried to explain (without announcing my pregnancy,) the more wild I sounded. Since I could hear myself sounding like a nut, I had waves of laughing that, well, ya know, made the situation worse.

          Add to that, I had learned that Husband 1.0 (the father) had likely been going extracurricular- and told my work buddy. She helped by saying “I know she’s pregnant and her husband is cheating on her, but I never dreamed she was suicidal!”

          The nice lady who set off the jet engine saved the day. She described exactly what I had done as something she had had to do in the 1960s, where pregnancy was a firable offense. She told it right down to the beehive hairdo and cat glasses. She said that the exhaustion also made her fall down a flight of stairs, but that she thought I was exhausted and needed a day in the hospital on an IV because I was so dehydrated. Hospital bed +IV= sympathy. A therapist visited me twice, and after 2 days (in the obstetrics wing, luckily,) I was deemed fit enough to go home and also return to work.

          Pregnancy– It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.

          Good luck!

          1. Aitch Arr*

            I’m sorry Husband 1.0 was a schmuck, but thank you so much for sharing this with us, Carol. I am wiping away tears of laughter.

          2. Maestra*

            Oh this story is so perfect (aside from Husband 1.0).

            It had me in tears thinking this could easily have been me with my T1 exhaustion!

          3. acl-ny*

            Have you considered writing a script for a movie? :) If so, let us know when it gets made and released.

            1. SeluciaMD*

              Seconded! Your storytelling chops are on point. H1.0 was a schmuck but otherwise, your story had me in tears of mirth. Bravo!

          4. TechWorker*

            This sounds honestly horrific but I am glad jet engine lady was helpful! I hope the rest of your pregnancy was significantly less stressful!

          5. A. D. Kay*

            I am DYING here! I just sent your comment to my sisters, both of whom have had to be pregnant at work. I’ll let you know if I have any tips! >D

      1. ferrina*

        My Ob described it as running a marathon every day, and I was constantly exhausted. It was a relief to get to second trimester and get some energy back. (I was also lucky to have mostly uncomplicated pregnancies).

      2. Nonprofit Lifer*

        The fatigue was awful for me too. There were times that I just could not manage being vertical, even in a chair. My mind was still sharp, but my body just couldn’t.

        So I bought a camping recliner chair, learned to use my wireless mouse and keyboard balanced on my legs, dragged the monitor to the edge of the desk and sometimes just worked while lying down. The only problem was that often people wouldn’t realize I was still at my desk, because I was lower than the edge of the cubical wall. But it enabled me to keep working on days when I would have otherwise just had to go home.

        Obviously, this necessitated me telling people what was going on. I am incredibly fortunate that I have an extremely supportive workplace and supervisors. I was confident I wouldn’t face discrimination and I would be supported no matter what happened—because they had supported me the year previously when I had a miscarriage.

        Letter writer, you do whatever is right for you and your circumstances, but that said I’d just like to say that we, as a society, need to throw the idea that “you don’t tell people early in a pregnancy, because what if you miscarry” out in the same dumpster where we tossed tent-like maternity clothes meant to hide even the slightest sign of a bump.

        Losing a pregnancy is not shameful. If you had any other major personal loss (parent, spouse, best friend, a born child) you would be expected to need time to deal with it. Any decent workplace would give you that time, space, and empathy. And yet we expect parents to go though a loss that can range emotionally from “darn, this one didn’t take, let’s try again” to “unimaginable grief” and to perfectly hide it from everyone? Who does that serve?!

      3. Yoyoyo*

        I was so tired during my first trimester that one of my employees came to me concerned that something was wrong because I had “lost my spark.” I told him I was just tired at the time, but later when I told the team I was expecting he was not surprised! Evidently he has a knack for knowing people are pregnant in the very early stages; he said that was not the first time something like that had happened.

      4. Tired Mama*

        I took a ton of naps throughout the day. On my lunch break, on my two 15 minute breaks, on the toilet during bathroom breaks. I always would set a timer on my fitness watch to vibrate when it was time for me to wake up, then went home and immediately took another nap. Growing a person is incredibly taxing, it truly is the most tired you will be, even after baby comes.

    3. Diatryma*

      Yup, first trimester is every part of your body that can respond to hormones RESPONDING TO HORMONES, second trimester they’ve all figured out what they’re doing, third trimester is structural failure. Thirteen weeks in, a switch flipped and I was back to normal.

      1. Avril Ludgateaux*

        It’s also blood. Your blood production increases, but not all at once. The first trimester, your body is overproducing plasma (which it should continue to do throughout pregnancy), but the red blood cell production hasn’t caught up. You have a lot of fluid, but not enough oxygen being carried by it.

        That and a lot of energy is devoted to building the placenta – an entire organ! Think how much more sleep babies and kids need to fuel growth. You’re growing an organ and a whole baby in it!

        1. Velociraptor Attack*

          I have a 4-year-old and still sometimes go “I grew an organ for you!” when he’s feeling feisty. It does not guilt him as much as I hope it would.

          1. Just Do Your Timecard*

            I am going to use this with my 9 year old next time. I routinely tell her that I paid a lot of money to get her here (donor egg baby) so she’s become immune to that one.

        2. JustaTech*

          An enormous organ! Like, I was genuinely shocked how big it was when my son was born, and I’m a biologist.

          I was very lucky to only have the fatigue and not the nausea. My mom joked I’d already thrown up enough in my life (I’ve gotten sea sick on a surfboard).
          Since this was only last year I was able to do more WFH to accommodate naps and the early spate of doctor’s appointments.

    4. Enginarian (Canada)*

      I found a hidden place to nap. Locked the door and had my husband phone me to wake me up in 30, 45 or 60 min. No one noticed :)

      1. Magc*

        I learned to doze briefly sitting on a toilet in a stall in the multi-stall bathroom. Or maybe it was just that sleep was inevitable when I wasn’t moving and wasn’t trying to work. I also napped at my desk at lunch (or _mostly_ at lunch).

        But like everyone else, that was just a first trimester deal and over relatively quickly.

      2. CatDragon*

        I had keys to the server room and on several occasions passed out on the carpeted floor during lunch.

    5. RIP Pillow Fort*

      My second trimester was SO much better for my work productivity than the 1st. Even the 3rd wasn’t bad.

      The 1st trimester was the only time I felt like I was really struggling with work performance and I think you’ll find a lot of women who have been pregnant feel that way. But it makes sense given the ginormous hormonal and body changes you’re going through to prepare for the other 2 trimesters.

      Giving yourself a little slack is fine. You can’t expect to be the same level of productivity when you’re constantly trying not to throw up. And it’s a lot more noticeable to you because you know your productivity levels from before. But as long as you’re meeting your job requirements, that’s all your supposed to be doing. We’re human and you are allowed to not be 100% some of the time.

    6. Bookie*

      Agree 100%. Whether you’re growing a human inside of you, walking the sales floor with bunions, or managing prostate disease, these are health issues that make work difficult. Do less while your body is going thru its changes/challenges. My first trimester kicked my ass, especially during my hour long commute each way. Kudos to you for acknowledging what your body is telling you. And yay! A baby!

    7. Jessica K*

      Congrats! 1st Trumester is definitely a lot. I had nausea and extreme exhaustion as well… and really you just have to get through it (sorry for stating the obvious). Take it easier at work. Schedule a few late mornings or early afternoons for yourself to rest and recharge. Lean on your partner to do more of the heavy lifting at home w/chores etc. Set up some spa / self care time. Maybe even find one person you trust that you can tell so that you have an additional outlet to express your feelings, etc. and get support from (I chose a friend who just went through it herself). The good news is that most of the nausea and fatigue will abate by 14-15 weeks. And Idk if this will help, but I always get myself through the unpleasantness of a situation by reminding myself that it won’t last forever and I visualize myself getting to the “end”. I like to express things as % of completion (I’m a nerd lol). So at 8 weeks, I would tell myself that I was 20% done with the pregnancy and 67% through 1st trumester! Small milestones I could focus on and celebrate.

      Good luck to you and sending a lot of karma your way that you have an uncomplicated pregnancy and healthy baby at the end :)

    8. allathian*

      I got lucky because I didn’t have much nausea. What little nausea I had I dealt with by eating a cream cracker before I got out of bed. Some smells, especially coffee, made me feel nauseous, but I was lucky because I never vomited. But my husband had to switch to instant, because I couldn’t stand the smell of brewing coffee.

      I had to tell my manager earlier than I’d planned because she found me asleep at my desk one day about 8 weeks in. I hadn’t told anyone about my pregnancy except my husband at that stage. She sent me home on sick leave that day. I fell asleep on the commuter train more than once, too. I even fell asleep once on the train while standing up! It was very crowded, and I hugged a vertical handrail to stay on my feet, and just fell asleep.

      My coworker was frustrated that I couldn’t do as much work as usual, because she’d had no problems with fatigue during her two pregnancies. My then-manager wasn’t too sympathetic either, but there was really nothing either of them could do about it other than snark a bit. I work for a governmental agency in Finland, and they can’t really fire a pregnant employee for poor performance because unless they actually commit a fairly serious crime, getting someone fired takes long enough that the worst of the pregnancy fatigue would be over. While I wasn’t able to do as much work as usual, I was still doing reasonably decent work, and if all else failed, I would’ve gone on sick leave. I realize I’m very privileged because our sick leave is almost unlimited, although there’s a limit to how much leave you can take on full salary.

      I wonder how people manage a second or third pregnancy when their kids are very young and need lots of attention? I at least was able to rest at home whenever I needed to.

      But I got my energy back pretty much overnight as soon as I hit 13 weeks.

  2. Observer*

    Do the best work you can. If you have a decent boss and this is noticeably affecting your work, talk to them.

    Can you WFH and then move your hours around a bit? I found the ability to take nap in middle of the day paid major dividends.

    If you have a PTO bucket with flexible rules about scheduling, use it! Not too much – you want as much PTO as you can left for when the baby comes, but it’s perfectly legitimate to take some breathing time.

    Also, if you can do 4 10s and take a day off every other week or so, I found to be useful too.

    And, hopefully the nausea will get better!

    1. AY*

      Currently 28 weeks pregnant. WFH saved my life in the first trimester. I would sometimes send an email, turn on notifications, and then lie on the floor until I heard the ping of an email or instant message that required my attention.

      I also would just let my boss know that I wasn’t feeling well on my really bad days. She doesn’t pry and respects her employees, so that worked out fine. I did end up sharing with her a bit before I would have liked, but it made me feel a lot better about calling in quits at 3 or 3:30 some days.

      Weeks 8-12 were the absolute abyss for me so far. Just white knuckle through the next month and you may be in store for some relief!

      1. ferrina*

        WFH while pregnant is THE BEST!
        Being able to snack whenever I wanted, turn off my camera when I didn’t have the energy to get dressed, and take baths while working (helped soothe the stretching feeling from my abs being turned inside out)…I was much more cheerful and got more done that way.

        1. JustaTech*

          Snacking at the office was the hardest part for me, not because we had any rules about it, but because we were an open office and most people had given up masking, so I was trying to time jamming a kind bar in my mouth between unmasked folks coming over to talk.

      2. Jenn*

        100% was so grateful to work from home. I took shorter, more frequent breaks and that was easier for me. I was also exhausted in the 3rd trimester (more than the first for me) and was able to take decent enough naps during the day that when I signed back on later I was actually recharged. Also – sitting reclined rather than upright in a desk chair was the best. OP – can you work from home at all? Because I kept thinking the whole time: I’m so glad I don’t go into an office!

    2. Anon this time*

      If you have a decent boss, please do take advantage. I’ve never been pregnant at work, but I’ve supervised someone who was. I knew from the very beginning (I’m literally the first person she told). I knew that there would be extra sick days, appointments, and the occasional “I feel gross, can I please just work from home?” days. Our work can accommodate that with a little planning, so we talked a lot about how to pivot and prioritize as needed throughout the pregnancy. We also specifically identified the projects that could be delayed indefinitely if she needed to focus on the essentials for a while. If you were generally conscientious and trustworthy pre-pregnancy, your work lends itself to some flexibility, and your office isn’t full of bees overall, it can work out beautifully. My employee is very much a planner, and that made things so much easier for all of us. When she went into labor, the transition was extremely smooth-we just jumped right into the pre-set plan. We did plan for the unexpected too (babies have their own agendas), but luckily for us a healthy little Employee Jr showed up right on schedule.

    3. formerly pregnant person*

      Agree on a working from home and a mid-day nap! That made a huge difference during my first trimester.

      Also think you should okay not doing your best. Everyone employee’s performance ebbs and flows, just keep the crucial stuff going.

    4. Rock Prof*

      When I was pregnant, I brought a thermorest into my office and would take naps on the floor. Luckily, as a professor, I had a really flexible schedule outside of teaching hours and a private office, so I don’t think anyone ever knew.

    5. Quinalla*

      Agreed with this, do your best which won’t always be your “normal” best and if it is safe to do so, share with just your supervisor/boss that you are pregnant and really exhausted so apologies if you fall asleep at your desk, etc. I definitely had to just lay my head down at times.
      For most people after the first trimester, you feel much better so it won’t last forever! 3rd trimester you get tired again, but you are so obviously pregnant that it is less of an issue to explain, etc.

  3. Bend & Snap*

    First trimester at work was horrendous. I was leading a first-ever high-visibility project, traveling and keeping my high-risk pregnancy a secret while battling the crushing exhaustion. I had to do a red eye once and cried.

    I kept trash bags in my car to throw up in during the commute.

    Honestly I would get home from work and fall asleep in my clothes. Letting my body rest and eat when it needed to were about the only things I could do.

    It does get better in the second trimester!

    Congratulations and hope you feel better soon!

  4. Louise*

    “Am I supposed to just push through, knowing that this is what people have done for millennia? Is this something our society ignores or downplays because patriarchy/misogyny/etc.?”

    In my experience, the answer to both of these is yes.

    But also in my experience, your capacity to function while feeling non-functional improves. And as you become open about your pregnancy at work, people will sometimes be genuinely lovely and kind to you – giving you lots of grace to be operating at not your highest level while you’re going through this.

      1. Kasee Laster*

        You might want to keep an extra set of clothes in your car. I had to go back home and change several times the first trimester because I would do okay while the car was moving, and the minute I stopped at a red light, I would throw up.

        My husband worked from home at that time and he got used to me swinging back in to change!

        As college faculty, my partially-flexible schedule saved my life. I locked my office door and napped on the floor a LOT.

        Still, when I told everyone I was pregnant, two of my older female colleagues (both mothers) had long figured it out based on my exhausted appearance.

    1. Thelma*

      In my experience, no to both!
      I found that after I disclosed my pregnancy, the world at large was generally willing to bend over backwards to accommodate my needs. It was lovely and weird to have total strangers helping me (after I was showing) and coworkers actively stepping up before I even had to ask (as soon as I shared).
      It’s worth noting that often I wanted to scream I am pregnant, not sick! Sometimes the “helping” overstepped.

      Pushing through trimester 1/before disclosing does stink, but I’d attribute that more to our culture’s hush-hush relationship with miscarriages, death, grief in general than anything else.

      1. This Old House*

        IME, Yes to 1, No to 2. Once people know you’re pregnant, they can be so solicitous and helpful. (Sometimes too much so . . . sometimes just the right amount, when they offer to carry that heavy box and you say no because you’re pregnant, not dead, and 30 ft later you realize that was definitely the wrong answer!) The most prominent reason we’re expected to push through with no lagging, no help, no accommodations is because of the tendency towards secrecy/privacy in the first trimester, and everyone handles that differently. You can choose to disclose earlier if you want to!

        I think it typically goes 1 of 3 ways if you don’t: 1) no one notices, you’re not as obvious or performing as badly as you think you are; 2) everyone notices, because you’re throwing up in your garbage can at your desk multiple times a day in your open-plan office and it can’t be helped; 3) people suspect and have the decency to not say anything until you disclose. (As far as I know, I was #1 with my first and #3 with my second – it was the saltines that gave me away, apparently. But unless you’re a #2 situation, I think it’s usually a particularly observant boss/coworker who has been pregnant before who would pick up on that.)

        1. Emma*

          I used to have a colleague who had several pregnancies at work, and every time, my colleague knew straight away. “Fran didn’t get a coffee this morning, she must be pregnant.” You’d think there would be confounding factors there but, nope, right every time.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I was #3 with my first pregnancy for a particular colleague whose wife was pregnant at the time, because he clocked that my eating habits had suddenly changed to be very odd. So he discreetly and without mentioning his suspicions made sure I got what I needed.

          Meanwhile my cube neighbour had noticed all the vomiting, but said she thought I was just hungover a lot (to be fair, I was mid twenties and usually wore bodycon and high heels, so hangover was probably a better guess).

        3. It's all the patriarchy*

          This is valid and individual people can be very lovely, but systemically it’s still very much yes to #2! Lack of flex time, sick leave, and a culture that encourages keeping silent about pregnancy in first trimester, making asking for help and consideration much harder, are very much patriarchal problems! In an equitable society our institutions would acknowledge that people who can get pregnant bear different burdens than those who can’t and would give them the space for appropriate rest and flexibility without those adjustments falling totally on their coworkers’ and direct supervisors’ shoulders.

      2. Jake*

        My sister in law ran into that a lot. She wanted to still do a lot of things herself, but people wouldn’t let her.

        Now she’s pregnant for the second time. We’ll see if her coworkers behave the same way now that it isn’t a first for her.

        1. JustaTech*

          At my work we have some things my coworkers had to take over for me for safety reasons (radiation work, for example), but they generally let me keep doing the lab work I could do until I was so big I didn’t fit in the hood and couldn’t reach anything (so frustrating!).

          And then I took over the paperwork until I was an impediment to people moving around in the lab (it’s a narrow space and my belly stuck out a ton).

    2. Corinne*

      This is the thing! It’s hardest during T1 when no one knows and you aren’t showing. Then (for me and many, anyway) the fatigue and nausea let’s up just as you’re able to more safely disclose, and then most people are super helpful and accommodating. You’re almost there! One foot in front of the other! And yes, take a half day here and there. Even knowing you have a half day every other week can really give you a boost. And nap nap nap, eat eat eat. Good luck!

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      And as you become open about your pregnancy at work, people will sometimes be genuinely lovely and kind to you – giving you lots of grace to be operating at not your highest level while you’re going through this.

      The flipside to this is that I had people just assume that I was not operating at my best while pregnant and try to make decisions about what I could and could not do based on the fact that I was pregnant (plus their assumptions about what pregnant people could and could not handle) and not reality. I found it very frustrating and told no one I was pregnant the second time until it was completely unavoidable.

      I also had to use a few pregnancy discrimination keywords to avoid being left off of a high-visibility project because the idiot manager I had at the time decided a pregnant person would surely be too sick/tired/pregnancy-brained to hit the deliverables without consulting said pregnant person.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Wow. There’s quite a difference between “product shares a go-live date with your fetus” and “preggo brain amirite”.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Right! I would not have been the least bit offended if my due date had conflicted with even the worst-case scenario schedule. I had no interest in doing the project roll out from labor & delivery. But everything big was done by 7.5 months, and the wrap-up/debrief would have happened over a month before my due date. This was totally about my ability to be pregnant and work at the same time. I think idiot boss was actually surprised when the project went well and finished a few days ahead of schedule, plus my team got some really nice praise from the C-level – I got the sense they were almost hoping I’d fail so they could I-told-you-so me.

  5. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

    Honestly, it’s been a while and I don’t really remember! Its one of those things you just deal with at the time and then looking back you can’t fathom how it worked (like WFH and virtual school, for a full year when one snow day is torture)

    I will say if you have a good boss/team it gets a bit easier once they know what’s up. If you are having a particularly rough day it’s easy to say you need to take it easy or whatever.

  6. Office Cheetos*

    When I was expecting, I felt the same way. The first trimester was probably my worst with nausea and being tired all the time. Pregnancy is portrayed as this glowing time of life where women are superheroes but that’s not always reality.

    I let my manager know I wasn’t feeling my best and needed additional time to complete things. I also asked to skip non important meetings to save energy. I occasionally took a day off (usually a Wednesday) that I scheduled ahead of time.

  7. Harried HR*

    Each pregnancy is different and so is each pregnant person. My first child I was sick for 9 months throwing multiple times a days from 6 weeks through delivery, however my second no morning sickness felt perfectly fine with energy levels, sleep etc. through month 8 and that was with a 5 year old !! If you are struggling during your pregnancy you might want to bring these thing up with you Obgyn they may have some solutions / resources that can make the symptoms more manageable

    1. On my lunch break*

      This is so true that it’s so different from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy, which makes it even more difficult to handle because some managers won’t have empathy if they or their partners had an easy pregnancy.

      I had an easy pregnancy with no nausea or throwing up whatsoever, little fatigue, low-risk, etc….and I worked a retail job at the time that was not a 9-5 m-f schedule so I could schedule my appointments on days off. That said, I worked my tail off up until the day my water broke because I was so paranoid about others perceiving that the pregnancy was negatively affecting my work in any way. Which is awful and unfair and a terrible reflection on how this country treats working mothers.

      It’s especially crappy because the time at which most people feel the worst (first trimester) is the time at which most people are not comfortable sharing the news. If you have a good enough relationship with your manager, I would maybe consider alerting them to what is going on if it’s affecting your work and you trust them to not share the news. Or maybe just keep it vague with “I have a medical situation that’s going to temporarily affect some of my work, how should I handle it?”

      I wish you luck and hope you feel better soon!

    2. Chutney Jitney*

      OMG, the first woman I ever knew who was pregnant was a lady at my college job who was sick her entire pregnancy. She would throw up on her way to work, at work, on her way home. For some reason, the only thing she could keep down was Campbell’s chicken and stars, which she bought by the case. I couldn’t believe she still came in every single day… And then she got pregnancy diabetes and had to be on bed rest the last 2 months. It’s still the worst pregnancy I’ve ever seen.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I had a friend who had hyperemesis gravidarum so badly that she was repeatedly hospitalized during her first pregnancy for dehydration and borderline malnutrition. I felt so badly for her and have no idea how she managed. I do know her second pregnancy was very closely medically supervised/managed. I personally think I’d have had an only child, had I endured what she did.

        1. Former Horse Girl*

          I honestly think the greatest bit of mythology ever created is the one around “the joys of pregnancy.”

          I had hyperemesis gravidarum, and threw up multiple times a day for all but about a month of my pregnancy (spread out through the whole time). I ended up hospitalized for long stretches with malnutrition and dehydration, and both got to the point that my calcium was so off it started to create cardiac issues. I developed anemia, but was allergic to synthetic iron and could only get it from food, which I couldn’t keep down, so I was also hospitalized for that. It was a horrifically bad 10 months (because newsflash, 9 months is another myth, 42 weeks is not nine months). I was put on bed rest and ended up with a C-section, which was actually the most pleasant part of the whole experience.

          I tell you all this, not to scare you or to garner pity, but rather to say this: I was wholly unprepared for how terrible a pregnancy could be, and yet, everywhere I went once I was pregnant, I constantly found myself having conversations with other women who had equally terrible or even worse pregnancies to mine. So why had I never heard about any of it? Why do we pretend that pregnancy isn’t a brutal assault on the body? Why do we pretend it’s no big deal and expect pregnant women to just shake it off, and glow? It’s infuriating.

          I was self employed and my business crashed and burned, though thankfully I had enough of a cushion to not end up homeless and a supportive family to help as they could. So many people don’t have that. But it was also the nail in the coffin of my entrepreneurship ideals, because there was no support, no help, no sympathy, my clients were terrible to me (I literally had one leave by saying “I love working with you, but now that you are going to have a kid i won’t be the center of your attention anymore, so I’m going to go elsewhere.”) So now I work for a large entity and have myself protected by laws and policies should my health get tanked again.

          I had my tubes tied during the c-section, something that usually required a class and a bunch of legal stuff, but my OB sighed off on it because he “didn’t think they could get me through another one alive.”

          But again, the point to me is that I was far from the only one. I met countless women who’d faced what I had, or eclampsia (sp?) or gestational diabetes or any other list of horrors pregnancy can inflict on you, and no one talked about it until you were “in the club.” All I could think was, how have they managed to keep this quiet? Women are struggling to survive pregnancy, physically and financially, and no one talks about it! Is it because we’re just so used to soldiering on?

          My kiddo is 13 now, and the love of my life. My husband ended up with stress-induced excema that he still battles to this day as a result of the anxiety caused by watching his wife try to die while carrying his kid. I always tell people being a mom is the greatest thing that every happened to me, and that being pregnant is the worst thing that ever happened to me.

          1. A mathematician*

            More than one doctor offered to stake for me to have my tubes tied during my c-section, and when I said no told me I could change my mind and let them know at any time. They did arrange for me to get an IUD inserted for free, probably because that was a lot cheaper than getting me through another pregnancy (and another c-section)

          2. 14 weeks*

            I’m really reluctant to be this person, but I can’t let misinformation stand. Standard pregnancy term is 40 weeks from last period, or 38 weeks from conception (not 42), so just shy of 9 calendar months. Which is plenty long enough to suffer.

    3. SoreThroat*

      That’s funny – I was coming here to say exactly this, right down to the differences in my pregnancies. For the first one, I was green to the gills for 9 months, couldn’t keep anything down except fruit and pasta. Was exhausted all the time and just plodded my way through until my doctor said he didn’t want me commuting into NYC anymore and I had to stop working about 6 weeks before my son was born. Second one was the total opposite – no nausea at all, no issues with food, plenty of energy.

      OP, if at all possible, talk to your manager. Being pregnant takes a lot out of you and you will need support and understanding at work. I wish you the best!

      1. WFH lady*

        Did you have a boy both times? Just curious whether there’s any (anecdotal) correlation between different experiences during pregnancies and the sex of the baby. My first is a girl and I’m in my first trimester with my second, and it feels a little different so far – less puking, different cravings.

        Working from home made my first pregnancy much easier than it would have been otherwise (one of the only upsides to 2020…) and now I’m so grateful to still be able to do so in my second. It also happens to be a pretty quiet time at work right now, so I’m taking advantage by setting my alarm and napping on my lunch breaks.

    4. working mom (of just one)*

      I too had ‘morning’ sickness from week 5 until labor. This was in 2018, when working from home was still a big deal in my industry; so I took the subway into my job everyday and toughed it out. I worked out a specific routine in the morning so that I could throw up enough to make it to the office – it featured waking up early and a lot of sitting in the bathroom. I did not tell work I was pregnant until week 20; as the bias absolutely still exists in some industries and I did not want my career penalized until we were through a busy period. I am sure people knew beforehand. What is key is working out a system that helps you get through as much as possible, figuring out what you can eat and keep down (I ate a lot of rice and fruit), going to the bathroom to just sit and de-compress; and resting as much as possible outside of work. I could barely stand without getting sick after 6p as I focused so much energy on getting through work. Thankfully I could do this as I had few responsibilities at home after work (first and only kid).

      In no way do I think this is how it should be – but the truth is for a lot of working parents and parents-to-be we are subconsciously penalized if we cannot “do it all”. That meant figuring out a way to get through the first half of my pregnancy with my usual heavy workload. Once it was public, I started to give myself more breaks and that included lunchtime naps which were a godsend those last few weeks. Best of luck!

    5. Felicity Lemon*

      Seconding the advice to ask your OB-GYN about options for dealing with the nausea — for my second pregnancy, the anti-nausea meds that she gave me made getting through a workday so much more bearable! (With my first, and a different OB-GYN, they didn’t offer them and I didn’t know enough to ask.)

  8. K12*

    First trimester always made me super tired and I would have days of feeling nauseous. I would work as normal but not at my usual 80-100%. If I felt really sick, I would take a day off to rest. Your body goes through a lot of changes in that first trimester – take care of yourself. Are you able to work from home at all?

    1. Margaret*

      I want to second this idea of taking sick days. I basically didn’t take any sick days in the first trimester because I was too paranoid about anyone noticing and wondering what form of sick I really was; in retrospect, no one would have really thought about it and I would have had one fewer day to “push through.” If your workplace is reasonable about taking sick time, absolutely take a day here and there.

    2. A mathematician*

      My lovely doctor told me to take a day off whenever I needed to, and she’d write a medical certificate if I phoned up to ask for one, no questions. I did take a couple and it was great.
      I told my boss that I was dealing with a medical issue – the doctor was confident I’d be fine in a few weeks but I’d need some time/a few appointments to get things under control. He was appropriately sympathetic and asked no questions.

  9. K8M*

    I can’t comment on the larger system, but when I was pregnant, yeah- I just pushed through it. It sucked. I had “morning” sickness all day with my oldest, every day until my midwife put me on Zofran to keep me from throwing up. I was exhausted all the time, and my husband was deployed so I was going through it all alone too. I only missed work for appointments, and once, early in my pregnancy when I passed out. I did have ways of coping, I kept a “second breakfast” in my desk for the days when I didn’t keep first breakfast down, I found certain smells and tastes that helped ease the nausea and used those at work, and I stopped staying up, and went to bed as soon as I got home if I felt like it. I’m not sure if I was less productive at this time, if I was, it wasn’t remarked on, and I just kept trying to do the best job I could.

    1. K8M*

      I also did not keep my pregnancy a secret at all, mostly because I’m a chemist and I needed to let safety people know so that I could know what additional PPE etc was needed.

    2. Autumn*

      Zofran is superb for morning sickness and it saved my bacon in my second pregnancy. In my first I was in nursing school during T1 and there was no zofran on the market yet. I remember I would go to the nurses office at the college and lay down for 10 minutes of bliss.

  10. Sloanicota*

    My advice to OP: use sick leave if you have it! You are feeling unwell. Rest.

    I always think it’s interesting how many people apparently don’t realize they are pregnant at all until they rush to the ER with stomach pains. It’s apparently not universal to feel this lousy, OP, so give yourself more slack! Everyone’s experience is different.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      A family member had been having investigations for amenorrhea for months before she gave birth to an entirely unexpected seven-pound baby. If an entire hospital doesn’t necessarily notice that you’re pregnant…!!

  11. Rainy Day*

    I’ve never been pregnant so I have nothing to contribute but I want to thank the OP for using the term pregnant people rather than women or mothers. Thank you for being so inclusive with your question and I’m sending good healthy thoughts to you and your baby!

    1. anon mousie*

      Yes! And additional thank you to the commenters who are doing so as well! It’s a breath of fresh air.

  12. danmei kid*

    You have a temporary medical condition. You are within your rights to disclose to HR and ask for accommodations if you need them and if your doctor supports you – such as remote work or seating arrangements if you are on your feet a lot, or finding out whether you can use allotted sick time or have to take PTO when you need to rest more.

    How much you talk to your manager about it really depends on how supportive your manager is about these types of medical accommodations. I used to work in a research lab and was pregnant at that time, so the fact I worked around toxins meant I had to immediately disclose and shift off some of my work, with the full support of both my manager and HR.

    1. Sloanicota*

      you also may not need to disclose to HR right now if you prefer not to! If you think more time to rest would make a difference, it’s okay to say you’re not feeling well and need to take sick leave, that you might be out all week, etc etc. This is sometimes a relatively short period of the pregnancy, a week of rest could make a difference (or not).

    2. SometimesCharlotte*

      I’d caution about using sick or PTO time unless you really have to – at least in the US where you’re going to want to have all the paid time possible later! And the 12 weeks of FMLA is cumulative, so if you dip into that during the pregnancy, it doesn’t reset after delivery!

    3. Diatryma*

      A bit of advice for people planning pregnancies who work with dangerous stuff: talk to your safety folks before you get pregnant. You can say ‘I’m planning to conceive sometime in the next few years and need more information’ vs ‘I just peed on a stick and am panicking’ or giving exact information to someone who should keep it confidential but maybe you don’t trust. Taking extra precautions can then be waved away with ‘sometime soon, not right now’ until you’re ready to announce that oh hey baby.

      1. danmei kid*

        Excellent advice, although in my case, my pregnancy managed to confound a reliable method of birth control in what my OBGYN referred to as a wildly rare 1/1,000,000 failure incidence, so there was no planning to make anyone aware of. There was in fact a serious commitment to *not* having a pregnancy (but when it did happen, we as a couple were happy with accepting it – our efforts to not conceive were based on timing rather than any lack of desire for a child). But had we been planning, I’d have been more alert to those issues you noted.

  13. Hills to Die On*

    I was lucky that we didn’t need my meager income for my first pregnancy so I resigned and then was hired back as a part-time contractor. I could go home and take a nap.
    Things that helped in the meantime:
    ~ Getting up early to deal with nausea and giving myself extra time to get up and moving. If I snacked in bed first, I was less sick.
    ~ Giving myself more time to review and double check my work to compensate for brain fog.
    ~ All the ginger ale and snacks at work.
    ~ I told people early so they knew why I was like this and asked for patience.
    ~ And yes, a lot of Suck it up. Unfortunately. Remember that it’s temporary.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Re “suck it up” – I have always been interested in how people are motivated by different things. For some people, “suck it up,” could be exactly the kind of hard home truths that they need. Some people love boot camp style workouts and tough love! For me, I liked the term I heard recently “embrace the suck” which makes the same point but somehow feels warmer and more compassionate. Others may have a kinder gentler mantra that works for them.

      1. robotropolis*

        Lunchtime naps. We had a windowless conference room where I would just go and put my head down for 30 mins. I had a bunch of miscarriages so I did NOT disclose early. Some people might have suspected but no one said anything to me at least. People were lovely once I did disclose and I interviewed and got a big promotion while 8 months pregnant! In Canada so I did 6 months of leave and my husband did the other 12.

      2. CurrentlyPregnant*

        Some of the best advice I got with my first pregnancy was to pick your favorite distraction (for me it was a fantasy book series) and dive in on the days you need to embrace the suck. I kept a book at work to read during lunch on days I was feeling really sick or tired. It helped motivate me to get through a tough morning when I knew I’d get to turn my brain off for 20 minutes with a beloved story. I’m currently pregnant again and reading the same series again!

      3. philmar*

        ironically “embrace the suck” is a mantra in the Marine Corps, one of the least warm and compassionate organizations I can think of.

  14. Pink Candyfloss*

    Agree with above commenter who pointed out that pregnancy is a medical condition and you can disclose any time you want to, HR will need to keep confidentiality but also support you and your manager if accommodations are needed. We think about having a baby as something people have been “doing for millennia” but people have also been breaking bones and getting cancer for millennia as well, and somehow we think of pregnancy as a totally different thing. It’s not, really, pregnancy is a medical situation and you can call upon whatever resources your company has that are designed to support. I had a very understanding manager and was allowed to increase my work from home days to deal with things like nausea (driving to work was just too much some days).

  15. ChicagoPeach*

    So that you can cut yourself some slack, I think it’s important for you to know that this is not how all pregnant people feel! Yes, some feel worse, but some feel a lot better. For example, I hardly had any nausea at all – I just needed a two hour nap everyday. So don’t think that you’re struggling when somehow all other pregnant people manage to do fine – you sound like you’re genuinely on the harder end of the scale.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is very true. I didn’t throw up at all either pregnancy, and the few times I felt nauseated, a couple of saltines typically did the trick. I did have gestational diabetes, which was the hardest part – all the doctor’s appointments and having to eat on a schedule (and not being able to eat my favorite, carby things). I worked a really demanding job through each pregnancy and found it more irritating that people *assumed* I couldn’t do things than anything else.

      I actually found working with a baby to be far worse than pregnancy – one of my kids is an absolutely awful sleeper, and I was dangerously sleep-deprived for well over a year. THAT is the time that I can’t believe I survived and kept my job for. I was a mess.

    2. Astfgl*

      That’s a very good point to keep in mind. I’m currently pregnant for the first time and while I expected the first trimester to be a bit rough, I did not expect to be too fatigued to work at all! I’m well into my 2nd trimester and still don’t have the energy to work (although thankfully I have a work-related part-time study that I’ve kept up with so far because it’s all digital). I’m privileged in this situation because in my country I’m entitled to sick leave for as long as I need it, so the only advice I can give is to give yourself as much slack as you need/are able to. I do however wish OP and anyone else in a similar situation the best of luck <3

      1. Astfgl*

        I forgot to add that if you can afford it there is also medication for nausea out there, my doctor gave me ones that were actually for travel sickness, including some that let me drive as well. So that might be something to look into.

    3. Lil Sebastian*

      Seconding this! I had two easy pregnancies with with completely manageable symptoms. But I keep my mouth shut about it unless explicitly asked so that I can be empathetic to others having a rougher time. Not all of us are toughing it out—we’re actually just feeling fine. We should all be able to react in a way appropriate to our situation. Do what you need to do to manage your personal and professional wellbeing without comparing your pregnancy to others—they’re just too different for that to make sense.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes to this!
        I had an absurdly easy pregnancy, while my immediate coworker had a medium-bad time (lot of pain, gestational diabetes), so I worked really hard to not compare. But also to feel grateful and not guilty that I wasn’t sick all the time.

  16. Mom*

    Nothing like pregnancy to make you feel like you are not in control of your body at all! You’re right, people don’t talk about this. And the “standard” of hiding pregnancy for the first trimester makes it even harder to navigate. Take the day off, if you need to. Do less, if you need to at work. You don’t have to be super woman. Just because this is what comes with pregnancy, doesn’t mean that you somehow need to power through it better than if this was a symptom of a flu or a cold. You know what you need to get through this, do that.

  17. tiredworkingmom*

    Being pregnant at work is AWFUL. I ended up telling only my direct manager very early because I was throwing up in the bathroom and didn’t want rumors to spread. Do what you can to get through the day. Enjoy those random bursts of energy and use them to be productive! Take a day off here and there to rest and recoup, ask if a hybrid or remote schedule is possible, and just do your best. It’s so hard but it does pass! My OB also recommended B6 and Unisom as a nausea remedy that helped me navigate my subway commute and get through the day. If you are really struggling, talk to your physician and see if they have any recommendations to ease your discomfort.

  18. Reality Check*

    For the fatigue, I just slogged through it. The fatigue is BRUTAL. So if you feel compelled to crawl into bed the moment you get home, do so, and don’t feel guilty about it. If you need/are able to go to your car and close your eyes for a few minutes, do so. Sleep all weekend. Do not feel guilty about this!

    Regarding the nausea, forget the preachy pregnancy advice and eat whatever the heck you can hold down. You’re in survival mode here. Also, peppermint. Peppermint tea, peppermint gum, peppermint anything works wonders for nausea. Go ahead and get some gum right now.

    The good news is as much as it sucks, it is temporary. You won’t be feeling like this throughout the pregnancy. Hang in there and good luck.

    1. Office Cheetos*

      Seconding all things peppermint. Also ginger helped as well. Ginger candy, ginger ale, ginger essential oils to smell.

      1. David's Skirt-Pants*

        Thirding peppermint and seconding ginger. I wasn’t sick during pregnancy but regularly felt nauseated while pumping milk at work once I was back! Someone recommended those and they did help me.

    2. Not the Droid You're Looking For*

      Nothing valuable to share except +10000000 to just eat/do whatever you have to in order to survive the nausea. I have a horrible core memory of wandering the aisles of Target in tears at 10 weeks pregnant for anything that didn’t make me want to immediately vomit when looking at the package. I came home with one singular box of Teddy Grahams.

    3. Autumn*

      I’m an RN, I worked maternity for 14 years, in addition to being morning sick all three times. With regard to food and morning sickness, they always say to eat crackers before you get out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t, they tasted like dried leaves. Jello on the other hand, was far more palatable. Second of all, jelly on toast or English muffins, plenty of baked chicken breast and don’t try to drink lots of fluids at meals, sip stuff slowly between meals, that peppermint tea is amazing, for me, ginger snap cookies and strangely, plain donuts, the kind you get in a box of six in the bread aisle. This shouldn’t work, because of the fat, but it did for me. If you haven’t been able to keep anything down for two or three days call your doctor, it may be time for IV fluids and it will make you feel so much better!

    4. 14 weeks*

      I want to thank you for the tip about peppermint gum. I’m dealing with all-day pregnancy nausea currently, I’ve tried various home remedies, but hadn’t thought about chewing gum. I don’t usually like it and haven’t had any in years, but I’d try anything right now…

      So I went out today after reading these comments and did buy some gum. AND OMG IT IS WORKING. Thank you!!

  19. ElizabethJane*

    Honestly I know it’s against conventional wisdom but you disclose your pregnancy early. It’s covered by the ADA (assuming you’re in the US) You get accomodations and you protect yourself if you performance slips (which is acceptable but yanno).

    1. outdoor office worker*

      Yes! This is what lawyers recommend for sure. You are protected from discrimination as soon as you disclose, but not before then. Tell them you’re pregnant!

    2. JustaTech*

      And a new law was just passed to give more accommodations to pregnant and nursing people. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act gives protections for things like extra bathroom breaks, allowing you to sit and stuff like that.

    3. Double A*

      Yes! Really think about why you are waiting til the end of the first trimester to disclose. For most people it’s because they fear miscarriage. But interrogate that for yourself — why would you not want your boss or coworkers to know if you miscarried? Be sure to be clear on that answer for yourself, and don’t just keep your pregnancy to yourself because that’s conventional wisdom.

      Some people are very private and it’s very important the them no one knows anything about their health status unless absolutely necessary, and that’s okay! But if you are keeping it to yourself because you mostly worry it would be awkward if you miscarry…well, let’s just say you deserve medical accommodations even there’s a possibility that something could happen that other people would find sad. Basically, don’t hurt yourself protecting other people from reality.

      For me, I disclosed early because there were some safety considerations at my work site and it made me much more comfortable to know that people around me knew what was up. And if I lost the pregnancy, I was okay with people knowing. I don’t think we need to protect people from the reality that many pregnancies don’t work out (especially in the current political climate. I think we need more transparency about the realities of pregnancy). Again, make the disclosure choice entirely based on what YOU are comfortable with.

  20. Staceyface*

    I was pregnant during my second year at a law firm as a Paralegal. I had horrible nausea, carpal-tunnel, migraines, heartburn, exhaustion, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and something super super fun called “fire crotch.” It was really, really difficult. Some days I would sit in my tiny office and just stare blankly at my computer screen and wish I lived a life of leisure where I could afford to take off the entirety of my pregnancy and lie in bed while a maid patted my forehead with a cool washcloth and brought me sour patch kids (they really help with nausea) in a crystal bowl. But I digress. My biggest piece of advice is to be easy on yourself regarding work. I have always been an extremely organized, high-performing employee, and it was a struggle for me to see my work quality slip during those 9 months – 9 months that I now consider to be the toughest of my life. Remind yourself that you are growing a human being, no easy feat, and if your employers are worth anything they will be beyond understanding once they know the situation. Take time off when you feel like you just can’t even, and know that the work will always be there when you get back.

  21. Lefty2233*

    This happened to me as well… about 4 weeks after I started a new job. The timing wasn’t ideal and so I did want to keep the news to myself until 2nd trimester. I was originally convinced that the new job had toxic mold or something because I just felt so tired and nauseous all day!

    Anyway… my trick was lots of water and a jar of hard candy (especially the starlight peppermints). It’s not unusual to have mints at work and mint can combat nausea and help stimulate your brain. I’d also use cinnamon disks or gum. I would carry them in my pocket in case I had an issue while I was away from my desk.

    The good news is it doesn’t last forever! Good luck to you!

  22. Anon-mama*

    Preggy pop drops helped with the nausea. It looked like I was having a mint or lozenge. If it’s really bad, talk to your provider–there are things that help, and if not covered by insurance, generic ingredients make the same thing, which was the only way I was comfortable and discreet.

    If you can afford the time off, take it on the bad days. This experience isn’t a competition; no one’s fatigue/pain/whatever is more valid than anyone else’s.

    1. Tuesday*

      Yes! The raspberry ones are the best, and they sell jars of just raspberry on Amazon. Straight up ginger candies just made me more sick, but the sweet/sour combo of the preggie pops really helped!

    2. 2 Cents*

      +1,000 yes, we’ve been birthing like this for millennia, but it’s not a contest. My pregnancy experience was so bad that I decided to stop at 1 rather then go for a 2nd. But if I relayed my experiences, someone else might say that didn’t sound so bad and I have 4 kids.

  23. Scientist12*

    I was lucky that I was pregnant while my company supported more work from home time than they do right now. So it was easier to at least be in the comfort of my home and have snacks available when needed.

    When I did have to go into work, I packed allllll the snacks and ginger ale and shamelessly ate at my desk. The only way I fought off nausea was by never being hungry. When I was done with work, it was an immediate nap on the couch before dinner.

    I also want to point out that while many people have been pregnant in the past, that doesn’t mean they were working at their peak performance at that time, especially in the first trimester. It’s perfectly OK to back off slightly and prioritize the important bits of your job as much as possible. I also agree with others about talking to your employer about any accommodations that would help you.

    I hope you feel better quickly and that the next trimesters are a bit easier to handle! Sending good vibes for the rest of pregnancy and this new baby! Congratulations!

  24. 2 Cents*

    First trimester was so hard for all the reasons you mention: the reality hitting you that you’re growing a human, that you feel like a bus ran you over (because you’re growing a human), that you don’t want to disclose yet (which is perfectly reasonable). My LO is 4. My first trimester meant morning sickness several times a day and my work definitely slowed. I figured if I was battling a cold or another ailment, I’d be “allowed” to take it easy on myself. I did what I could, then rested as much as I could at home — that meant 5:30 naps or 8 pm bedtimes and my SO picking up a lot of the slack. Second trimester, energy returned (though the sickness never stopped), and I felt like I could overtake the world! I found no one was really paying attention to me when I thought it was SO OBVIOUS I was pregnant. No one noticed I was drinking ginger ale or snacking on crackers all day. And honestly, as long as I hit my major deadlines, no one really noticed I had “slacked” at work — I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself. Give yourself some grace.

    1. JustaTech*

      Yes to folks not noticing!
      I was super, super showing before anyone asked (one of our long time maintenance guys who I’ve known for years, very sweet).

      The only reason I guessed my coworker was pregnant was because I was too at the same time, so I was paying more attention to the people around me.

      That said, I’m glad my former coworker Betty was gone because she would have guessed early and been a pest, but thankfully those people are rare.

  25. Tuesday*

    I don’t have a ton of advice, just sympathy, OP. I’m at 20 weeks myself right now and I just remember thinking how crappy it was that we’re expected to keep our pregnancies a secret for so long – I wanted everyone to understand what I was going through! No one was paying that much attention to me, though, even when I was eating the weirdest lunches and snacking all day long. It does get better for most people, although knowing that doesn’t help a ton in the moment!

    I wish it was more normal to talk about being pregnant in the first trimester and that workplaces weren’t so weird about pregnancy so we could feel comfortable being open about it at work. :(

  26. Sarah Lee*

    It’s definitely OK to take a step back at work when you’re pregnant! Until you’re ready to announce, you can let your boss know that you’re having a medical issue so that they have some context. Once you announce, I found that people were very accommodating and understanding. Some things I found particularly helpful was dialing into meetings so I didn’t have to schlep across campus (much easier now post-COVID) and asking for a parking spot close to my office.

    I got pregnant with my first about 6 months after taking on my first management role and I found it actually helped me become a better leader. Because I was exhausted all the time, it forced me to delegate tasks even though I knew I could do it better/faster myself.

  27. New Mom*

    Hang in there! For me the worst part by a long shot was about weeks 6-12. I felt so sick I was barely able to function at all. The worst of it was maybe weeks 7-10. After the 1st trimester passed I felt so, so, so much better and for the rest of my pregnancy I was capable of doing normal levels of work (although I don’t have a job that is physically taxing). My advice is scaling back as much as possible and taking days off when you can for the next month or so. Congratulations!

  28. Mom at work*

    Pregnancy stinks – but it is worth it…and whoever tells you its wonderful and beautiful is probably trying to sell you something.
    Its particularly hard for healthy ppl as they dont have experience at managing physical limitations. Healthy people are used to being able to just gun through everything
    Be kind to yourself. Try to be realistic about what your limitations are and if you have an understanding boss…it helps to be upfront. Its good practice for parenting and really any other limiting factor at work. Theres alot of broader advice at AAM to read through

  29. teachingmom*

    Congratulations, OP!
    I also had a doozy of a first trimester. I did manage to get away with doing a bit less at work. I also leaned heavily on my partner, which I’d recommend if you’re able. For a few weeks our routine was: I come home from work and nap while he cooked, he wakes me up for dinner, I eat and then go to bed. Resting HARD outside of work hours kept me functional at my job.

  30. Elizabeth*

    Yes, you just push through it and hopefully it passes quickly! I found that distractions actually helped, so if I got up and went for a jog (for some reason the only time I wasn’t nauseous is while I was jogging–weird!) and then got ready and actually went to the office, I felt better as opposed to staying home and wallowing in bed. As someone else mentioned, give yourself some extra time to eat a handful of Saltines in bed before attempting to stand up and while getting ready. And, yeah, basically snack all day long to keep your stomach settled and pass out as soon as you get home from work! My spouse–a person who has never cooked a meal for us ever–did literally everything in the evenings during the first trimester, including making me dinner and bringing it to me on the couch (and, when pregnant with #2, caring for the toddler). Good luck and I hope it goes by fast!

  31. Ellen*

    > Is it okay to just do less at work for the time being, or even take a day off if I’m feeling particularly crappy (even if I know that it’s a perfectly unremarkable way for me to feel at this moment)?

    I don’t know if it’s OKAY, but that’s definitely what I did! I was “lucky” to be pregnant during lockdown, so I wasn’t going in to the office at all. But even with full-time WFH it was a struggle. I was nauseated and exhausted every day; some mornings I could barely get out of bed. It was not the period of my best work productivity. But we’re all human and subject to the whims of our bodies, so you do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up over it.

    Congratulations! You’ll get your body back eventually!

  32. Claudia*

    I was lucky in that I did not feel particularly sick during the early trimesters, but the fatigue was real. Growing a human is exhausting!

    I told my direct bosses right after I told my family, before we were telling anyone else. I am fortunate that I have a great relationship with them and I knew they would be supportive. Luckily I did not need any accommodations in the early pregnancy, but it was a relief to know that they were aware of my condition in case I needed anything, and that they would keep it private until I was ready to tell others.

    If you have a good relationship with your manager, I would definitely recommend telling them early on! If you think about it, the reason we typically don’t announce our pregnancy until the second trimester is in case something goes wrong, in which case you would probably need to take some time off work and it will be better to not have to tell them about the pregnancy then, when it could be traumatic or upsetting.

    1. urguncle*

      Sorry, your last paragraph doesn’t make any sense to me. (CW for pregnancy loss)
      If I lose a pregnancy that I hadn’t disclosed, I shouldn’t tell my boss? I lost a pregnancy, told HR privately it was a miscarriage and I would be not logging in for the rest of the week and told everyone else I was having a medical emergency.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        Better not to find yourself having to mention the pregnancy for the very first time when it’s already over, I think was the idea.

      2. jes*

        I think Claudia meant the opposite- her advice is to tell your boss early, and then later if you have to tell them about a miscarriage, the conversation is a little easier than if you hadn’t told them that you were pregnant in the first place.

      3. Book lover*

        I read Claudia’s last paragraph a little differently: “If you tell your boss about the pregnancy now, you might find it easier to tell them about a loss or other emergency, should that happen, than you would if they didn’t already know about the pregnancy.” Wow, that’s a complicated sentence. I do think it’s a YMMV situation.

        (CW, pregnancy loss)
        I also lost a pregnancy I had told very few people about. I found those, “So, I was pregnant, but now I’m not,” conversations really hard. I started to wish I had told more people earlier. (At work I still told them f#$% all, because I was at a very bad workplace.)

      4. Kara*

        This is probably a person-by-person thing. Some people prefer to grieve in private and don’t want people’s well-meaning but painful reminders throughout the day. Others do better with not having to hide their pain from everyone and having support from those around them. There is no one ‘right way’; it’s whatever is best for you.

        In addition, if you didn’t disclose because you were concerned that your workplace might count ‘pregnancy’ against you, disclosing a miscarriage opens you up to long term problems because there’s nothing stopping HR/your boss(es) from worrying that you might get pregnant again.

  33. nerak*

    Congrats! And yes, both times I just pushed through. At one point I had to rush off the metro at a stop other than mine in order to throw up into a trash can, and then wait for the next train to resume my commute. Luckily that only happened the one time, but it was still obviously less than ideal.

    I was pretty miserable, especially with my second child, but one thing that helped me was to know that while I wasn’t necessarily my best at work, that part was temporary and my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing. I personally found it reassuring to have those symptoms, because it meant that things were (likely) going well with the pregnancy itself. The symptoms tapered off by about week 12 and I was still tired a lot, but no longer dealing with crushing nausea and I could handle work better moving forward.

    So basically, do what you can, disclose to HR if you feel like you’re REALLY struggling, and hopefully you’ll turn a corner in a few weeks!

  34. MomOf3*

    Ugh in my experience you have to just slog through the best you can, and do not feel bad about taking sick days or PTO if you have them (although I know it’s also important to save as much time off as possible if you don’t have paid maternity leave….which America is infuriatingly behind the times on). I also think the old advice of not telling anybody until after 1st trimester is outdated- if you want to tell your coworkers or boss why you’re struggling, go for it. My performance dropped significantly with all 3 of my kids during early pregnancy, and once I said “hi I’m pregnant and I feel like death” people were a lot more understanding. Everyone’s experience is somewhat different but also pregnancy is sort of a universal experience in that it isn’t totally unique to each person. If this is your first baby, there’s a good chance your first trimester will be the hardest and worst you’ll feel the entire time. Don’t feel like you have to keep it secret unless you just want to!

  35. Quality Girl*

    Congrats! Yeah… it can be pretty awful. I just hunkered down and did the best I could with some pretty debilitating fatigue. I did come clean to my manager earlier than I expected to because I snapped at a coworker due to said fatigue. But otherwise, do what you need to do to take care of yourself. You are growing an entire person! Take a sick day when you need to and don’t give work a second thought.

  36. Falling Diphthong*

    Is there anywhere you can lie down? e.g. I got access to the lactation room when I was pregnant, which had a couch for exhausted pregnant people. Being able to physically lie down for 15 minutes, rather than just sit, really helped. (I recall late in my first pregnancy–I think it was a weekend and so the lactation room was on a locked floor, and the office mostly empty–I lay down between two cubicals, because lying on the floor seemed obviously the logical thing over trying to remain upright one minute longer.)

    For nausea, you might try candied ginger or ginger tea. (I’m drinking Tea Pigs ginger-lemongrass at the moment.)

    1. UncleFrank*

      If you have a private office, bring in a pillow or a yoga mat and just lie down on the floor. I was lucky I didn’t have nausea… but the fatigue. I’ve never experienced anything else like it. I’m a professor on the tenure track in a male dominated field so I was NOT comfortable disclosing early and sick days weren’t really an option. But I used to take a little cat nap on the floor of my office between classes and it really really helped. And then some days when I got home I would get straight into bed, have my husband bring me some dinner, and then go straight to sleep!

      Really, just be easy on yourself. Try to figure out what HAS to be done. Everything else can wait until you feel better or someone else can do it. Congratulations!!

  37. Kvothe*

    No good advice, OP, just a lot of sympathy! I was pregnant during the pandemic and I honestly don’t know how I would have done it if I wasn’t working from home so I could sleep literally as late as possible and lie down every so often. Please take days off if you need to/can, and give yourself permission to do less and just get by for now. Second trimester will (in most cases) get a lot easier!

  38. SnowedIn*

    Congratulations! If you feel like it might help explain your dip in productivity, you could consider sharing with your most direct supervisor or closest coworkers. The rule of not sharing before 2nd trimester is rooted in other people not being comfortable with potential bad news. You’re allowed to celebrate your pregnancy and share however you want.

    Some tips that helped me in early pregnancy while working: take your prenatal vitamins, eat the right foods for your needs if the nausea allows, take up napping over lunch (car naps were essential for me!), get some exercise, and most importantly, remember you are growing a whole new organ and a human at the same time. Allow yourself grace and be ok with not performing at the same level as before. your body and mind are going through some monumental changes and it is temporary.

    1. Kara*

      The rule of not sharing isn’t just other people. People differ, and some people want to process grief and pain privately.

  39. BritishSouthAfricanAmericanCitizen*

    I have had 11 pregnancies, resulting in 12 children. I worked full time through every single one, but my first was likely my worst. I was a teacher and found myself rushing out of the class to the kids’ toilets next door to vomit. I took to keep rubbish bags in the bus (no car, public transportation). It should get better by about week 12, but if your nausea is crippling, talk to your medical provider. I had to take anti-nausea meds with my first pregnancy, and my pregnancy with twins. I know you are loathe to say anything to your boss because you are still in the first trimester, but if you think your work is suffering, you might want to mention it, so they know you have ‘reasons’ for being your usual self. When I was pregnant with baby #8 I’d go out to my car at lunchtime and nap. I’d nap when I got home from work, and on weekends when I had time and energy we (hubby and I) would prepare meals for the week, so one of us could pop them in the oven once we got home – one less thing to worry about.

    Meantime, just rest as you can; and feed your body whatever it needs to stop the constant nausea. I told my husband that morning sickness is like having a constant case of stomach flu, but that throwing up doesn’t relieve the symptoms.

    Best of luck!

  40. Pink Brownie*

    I’m so happy for you and, at the same time, so sorry that you’re feeling lousy! It’s luck of the draw with these symptoms, unfortunately. I felt fine, except I kept wanting to cry. So I was feeling like normal physically, and breaking down mentally.

    The good news is that you’ll start feeling better as you near the 2nd trimester. The bad news is you’ll start feeling run down again towards the end of the 3rd trimester. I did take a nap every afternoon when I got home, though that’s assuming you don’t have other children who depend on you and that your husband can pitch in.

    If you’re comfortable telling your boss, I would do so now. But if you’re not – just do what you can. You could reference a “rough time lately” if you’re okay mentioning something as long as it’s not the pregnancy. I was so excited that I told my boss as soon as I found out (at 5 weeks! Those tests are soooo sensitive!), but she was just as excited, and that may not be the same experience you have.

    Like others said, do what you can, and don’t be so hard on yourself – but it’s a good idea to clue your boss in, at least tell her that you’re doing your best and it’s a difficult time that will soon pass. If all else fails, blame your gallbladder! Same symptoms of nausea and just general ickyness.

    Good luck and congratulations!

  41. aebhel*

    Yeah, IME you just kinda slog through it – which sucks! The fatigue does usually get a bit better after the first trimester, which helps a lot. If you have a decent HR or manager, it might be worth disclosing to them now just so that they know you’re dealing with a temporary medical condition, but you don’t have to feel obligated to.

  42. Lurker*

    Ugh, working during first trimester nausea was the WORST. Cut yourself some slack – it is okay to do the bare minimum for a while. There are exceptions and hopefully you’re not one of them, but you will almost certainly feel better once you hit week 13-14, and it’s like flipping a switch (seriously – I felt so awful that it felt like it was never going to end and then one day I woke up and bam, I wanted breakfast and was full of energy).

    What helped me to survive was to confide in one or two trusted coworkers who had been through their own pregnancies and understood exactly how I was feeling, so when I was having a particularly rough day I could come and complain to them.

    Congratulations – you will make it through this even though it doesn’t feel like it – and the rewards are just about the best thing you can imagine! :)

    1. bamcheeks*

      Week 16-18 for me– I mention this just because when I didn’t feel better by week 14, I thought OH NO IT’S GOING TO LAST THE WHOLE 9 MONTHS, but fortunately that wasn’t the case.

      What I do quite like is that nausea tends to get better when the placenta starts working properly, and instead of your entire blood system being flooded with hormones it starts separating out the foetus’s blood stream and yours and directing them to where they’re ACTUALLY needed. So I always imagined the placenta coming in as a new manager: “Hi everyone, good to meet you, I’m Placen — oh my god, WHAT’S going on here? You’ve been doing WHAT? Oh no, oh no no no, that won’t be necessary. Can you just — focus over here. And you’re linked to what? Right, no, we’re going to have a put a stop to that. Are we all clear on that what the task is? Great, fab, let’s get on with this!”

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        21 weeks pregnant and I completely and utterly love your last paragraph. It’s so freakin’ true.

  43. Trillian*

    I told my boss at around 8 weeks because I felt so terrible and I was sure everyone noticed. Apparently no one had noticed and he was very surprised. So, take a step back and try not to strive as much.
    Also pregnancy brain is a very real thing. My work from that period has lots of errors in it and I dread opening projects from that period. It’s been ten years, so I’m able to joke about it. But I tell junior staff about it and state that I expect that their work quality will vary depending on life’s ups and downs. We have qa procedures just for that reason. If they need something looked at more in depth, I’m happy to check if they let me know. I don’t need to know the reason.

  44. Chauncy Gardener*

    And yes, it IS hard! I threw up the entire nine months and had bags in my car and purse. I used to fall asleep on the toilet at work (not a bad way to get a little rest, lol)
    Please give yourself a lot of grace while you grow this little human. Sleep a LOT on the weekends. Let stuff slide around the house. Take as much time off as you can from work. I’m sure you will feel better soon, but in the mean time, please eat what you feel like eating and go easy on yourself.
    Good luck!!

  45. CLC*

    Ok so for me I did years of IVF which my team knew about because it would have been impossible otherwise. My fantastic manager at the time would ask me how it was going during our 1:1s because it was it such a big part of my life and obviously affected my work. I was very open and matter of fact about the process and if I was out because of an early miscarriage, etc, I would just say that. Anyway, because of all this my manager and a couple teammates knew I was pregnant very early on. Another coworker heard me vomiting in the bathroom and I just told her I was pregnant. I have a hormonal condition that caused me to gain a TON of weight in the first trimester, so I was wearing maternity clothes early on. It also caused extreme insomnia the whole 40 weeks and brain fog, and I’m ADHD and chose not to take meds during the pregnancy so it was ROUGH from day one. I had other issues like panic attacks in the third trimester, some late term concerns about the baby’s health (turned out ok), etc. Pregnancy is NOT easy. I was just open with my manager about everything the whole time. I had a lot of privilege because I had been with the company a long time, I was in my 40s, I was considered a very high performer even while I was doing IVF, and I worked with very professional, mature people, including my manager. I also had the ability to work from home whenever I needed to. I did everything SO slowly and all day my body either wanted to sleep or get up and walk around. I forgot what I was saying mid sentence all the time. I honestly just did my best. My manager lightened my workload a bit, gave me easy tasks, didn’t make me travel or present if I didn’t feel up to it. She was on my side, as was the rest of my team. The thing I’ve learned after years of working is that everyone is going through something at any given time. Pregnancy, sickness, family issues, divorce, deaths, etc. If you aren’t at your best for a while, a good team will have your back, and then you have their backs when they need it. My person advice is just to be frank about what is going on. Adults know what pregnancy is. Ask for what you need.

    1. Vistaloopy*

      I totally agree with this. I also had been open about my infertility journey and IVF with my team, and it felt helpful to get their support. Once I was pregnant, everyone was happy for me and supportive with my constant nausea/vomiting (which did not go away after the first trimester, but unisom/vitamin b6 helped curb the vomiting a bit).

    2. Unfertile Myrtle*

      I’m going through IVF right now and I feel I have to hide it from my team/company because I only started in Oct. I did egg retrievals the first months I was with the company, and I just failed my first transfer cycle yesterday (and found out in the middle of a meeting).

      I wish I could tell my team about it but I had a really bad, unsupportive manager my first 4 months (never gave me feedback, never helped me learn anything about the job) and so my new manager (who is much better but has only known me for a couple weeks) has already expressed she doesn’t understand why I’m not performing better at this point, so I don’t feel I can share with her what I’m going through.

      OP, if you trust your team and your manager, listen to CLC’s advice and try to be open with your team about what you need because it will be so much easier than hiding it.

  46. Pookie87*

    I remember the absolute exhaustion of my first trimester. There was a Barnes & Nobles up the street from my office and I would go there on my lunch hours and sleep in one of their comfy chairs. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t ever wake up drooling a little. In a pinch I also slept in my car on my lunch.

  47. Boof*

    Sorry OP, I feel your pain! My first pregnancy was during a medical residency; of the fairly intense “boot camp” kind that you hear about. And yeah I got put on academic probation and I suspect the severe fatigue from pregnancy and baby contributed to that (other things too that I don’t think were right but whatever, I just said ok, these are the issues, this is how I will address them, I did, I was a stronger candidate for it and ultimately those with the most power had my back and I got in my first choice fellowship so; all’s well that ends well?)
    I treat cancer patients. I would relate a little too hard to the descriptions of nausea and fatigue of patients on treatment; even if my reasons and prognosis were very different (I would never tell them that I was feeling what they were because of pregnancy, just really related to it)
    I usually need 8 hrs of sleep a day. In first trimester, I needed 12, and I was still tired. It’s hard to get everything done when you need 50% more sleep!
    For what it’s worth – for me and for most people, the fatigue DOES get better. I felt like the more physically unwieldy I got the less tired I was XD
    Rest when you can, but also do as much as you can? Forgive yourself for not doing the same amount that you were before pregnancy. Hopefully your job isn’t one that they’re going to notice/get on you for doing the minimum for a while. If you have a supportive job, go ahead and tell them what’s up. I think the best thing is to make sure you do all the core / needed areas of your job, and do them well (hopefully) but realize you’re not going to be doing “Extra” and don’t expect yourself or try to take on extra things. And, frankly, this will probably continue at least a year past birth; newborns and babies take A LOT of time and energy and sometimes I think all the fatigue and discomfort of pregnancy just sort of gets you used to what you’ll be dealing with with the newborn – 1 year old D:
    You can do it. I used to think it was somehow feminist to pretend I’m not pregnant and can do everything as if I was a person not gestating or rearing a young child but now I kind of think it’s the opposite. Reality is IT’S HARD; IT’S A LOT. It’s ok to acknowledge that and adjust and not make everyone miserable / confused pretending reality is something else.

    Congrats op! It’s a wonderful and scary journey; I think many employers these days are supportive but they also try to follow your lead because everyone’s different; just decide what you need and ask for it!

    1. Boof*

      I just wanted to add – though my residency experience was not great, my current place (one baby in fellowship, one as faculty, and 3 early miscarriages which mostly sucked becuase 6-8 weeks of severe fatigue/symptoms x3 = 6 months of struggling to work normally with no baby to show for it at the end >:( ) has been super supportive. Even gave me a 10% raise relatively soon after coming back from 3 months paid parental leave and taking a 1 year “pause” on the promotion clock (optional, I decided it was a good idea for me as I felt it let me mentally be ok with not doing extra projects etc). So there are a lot of places that are supportive.

  48. Moonlight Elantra*

    Congrats OP!

    My advice? You have one objective during this time: SURVIVE. Give yourself the freedom to jettison anything that tires you out. My first pregnancy, I was getting up at 5 am every day to commute downtown and I was brutally tired, just, all the time. I also could keep nothing down during the day besides McDonald’s egg McMuffins. I ate one for breakfast and lunch every day for weeks. It was what I had to do to make it through the day.

    Also, if anyone tells you this should be the happiest time of your life, you have my permission to punch them in the face. I hated being pregnant (but it was worth it for the baby in the end). Good luck!

  49. Lucidity*


    There is a component of my job that involves radiation and cannot be performed by pregnant people. As a result, everyone at work knew I was pregnant as soon as I did, which helped because they were very understanding when I became horribly sick.

    My nausea lasted well into my second trimester. My job is highly physical – I’m on my feet almost exclusively for 10-12 hours straight. I kept leaving midday or taking full days off until I eventually had to take short-term leave until things improved towards the end of my second trimester.

    But, by then I was suffering from severe anemia on top of the usual extreme fatigue, needing bi-weekly iron transfusions. I needed a lot of accommodations to come back. I was switched to office work on a sofa where I could completely recline if need be, and my hours were adjusted so I could come in 9-5.

    I was lucky. My boss is a single mother of three kids so I had her full support. My team struggled with my unplanned absences, especially as we were already short-staffed and also dealing with a higher workload than normal, but she never made me feel guilty about doing what was best for me.

  50. Formerly pregnant person*

    I’m going to be very honest here. Being pregnant while working for me was an absolute disaster. I was sick through the entire thing, my nose bled a lot, the exhaustion was immense, brain fog kicked into overdrive (and never went away). My performance really suffered. They eliminated my job “at the end of the year” (I came back that nov) once I went onto maternity leave.

    So I mean, you can try to do less and just exist, but I would try your very best to stay on top of things. Depending on your work culture people may or may not give you a pass. Make sure you have a good annual review so if your employer pulls anything shady you can go to a lawyer. Without that good review everything will be blamed on bad performance.

      1. Formerly pregnant person*

        They were awful! My entire dept knew I was pregnant really early. I’m terrible at keeping secrets and we were all close so at least the women knew pretty much as soon as I got the positive test. The company was going through major upheaval with a new COO, executives were being pushed out, my boss (who had been with the company for 20ish years) left, and we had no real leadership. Head of HR was a woman and gave me no leeway. My only reference to pregnancy was my friend who by the end could barely walk, so I started convos early about possible accommodations and the company was terrible the whole way through.

        They told me a week before coming back my job would be eliminated. Six months after my job ended a new listing was up to rehire for my position. I went to a lawyer but as soon as I said my performance review wasn’t great he said my former employer didn’t break any laws but it was definitely sketchy.

        Anyway, worked out for me in the end I’m a damn rockstar in my industry and well-respected by my peers.

    1. Napster*

      I also ran into issues with my employer. I won’t bore you with details, and it ended up working out okay, but be aware that sometimes supervisors and HR can be horrible to pregnant people. Don’t be afraid to go to bat for yourself.

  51. Virginia Woman*

    Ugh…that sounds hard. I just have sympathy for you. I’m a mid 20s recently married woman and I am looking for a new job. Two weeks ago, I was asked in an interview for a local private school about my pregnancy plans/if I had a plan for balancing kids with work. I coldly said, “My husband and I have spoken about it and we’re not concerned.” I got offered the job but didn’t take it because of that question, as well as a “no pants” policy for women. When I told the company that I was declining the job, I told them my reasons, as well as including a link to the EEOC about pregnancy discrimination, which included a recommendation to NOT ask that question in interviews since it could be a sign of pregnancy discrimination. They responded with a general reply wishing me the best of luck in the future.

  52. AKD*

    When I was in my first trimester, I was in charge of a big event at the office. The evening before the event I had been out running party errands and when I drove back to the office I was so tired I drove right by the turn into the parking lot. Had to turn around and go back! Never have been so bone-crushingly tired in my life.

    I had to disclose my pregnancy pretty early to my manager bc I had a terrible cold/cough that led to sciatica. One of my legs was numb and I had shooting pains that made it hard to walk/sit for long periods. So I echo the others that said pregnancy is a temporary medical condition that means you will sometimes need accommodation!
    And congratulations!!

  53. Zozo*

    Congratulations! It’s so tough to be at work all day during that first trimester when you are feeling rough. I definitely had to sprint to the bathroom at work to throw up during my first pregnancy, and sat at my desk feeling miserable all day. My advice is to take some intermittent sick days to give your body a break, and rest AS MUCH as possible outside of work. If you don’t have any required commitments after work or on weekends, don’t make plans! JUST REST. I would come home after work and fall asleep by 6 pm, wake up at 8 pm to my husband bringing me dinner, and go right back to sleep. It will help you get through this time, and try to remember this just a phase and will pass soon. Good luck!

  54. ANON*

    I didn’t have bad nausea or anything, but I did have spotting and eventually ended up miscarrying. I was really checked out for a few weeks as I rode the rollercoaster of excitement and terror.

    What I found helpful was to actually disclose to a few people what was going on. Your mileage may vary, but despite (or maybe because of) what ended up happening to me, I was glad to have some people aware of what I was going through. I even ended up disclosing to my team lead – but I will say I have a close relationship with that person and felt comfortable in my situation. It helped my stress level to know that other people knew and were empathetic to why I wasn’t at 100%.

    Not saying this is the option for you. But I find the blanket advice is usually don’t tell ANYONE before the first trimester is over. And that’s really not the right answer for everyone.

  55. Four lights*

    Good luck! I remember moving slowly, but at the time I didn’t have a lot of work to do.

    Be gentle with yourself and prioritize. Try to give yourself what you need. After work I think I just ate pasta and napped on the couch. I think I napped on the floor in my cubicle a couple of times.

    When you get further along, an exercise ball can help with sitting. I sat all day, so I put an alarm on my computer so I would get up and walk every hour.

  56. bamcheeks*

    I’m not uniquely stricken by all this first trimester nonsense, and I know that many people have it much worse — and yet, pregnant people continue to go to work! And we just, like, don’t talk about it!

    Right?? RIGHT??! I was so struck by this too. And even amongst all of us who have done it and KNOW, the general sense that the thing to do is keep it quiet until ~12 weeks means that by the time we find out, you’re over the worst of it. I have had so many conversations where I kind of look back on the last six weeks and think, “Oh noooo, if only I’d known!” It’s so wild that by the time most people at work know, you’ve spent 6-8 weeks trying to cover up how awful you feel and that bit is nearly over. (My nausea dramatically reduced around 16 weeks.)

    On a related note, I am also still bowled over by how not OK I am post-birth, and I had perfectly normal deliveries. There are a few significant-but-unimportant things I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to do again (certain types of exercise, certain moves– star jumps, I’m looking at you), and a few normal daily things that I have to do in A Certain Way that just used to happen without thinking. And the weirdest thing is that I have absolutely no space to talk about this with any one else who’s had a pregnancy. Once I was out of the immediate 6-12 months post-partum, it just goes back to not being something that anyone talks about, and I have no idea whether any of my issues are “should go and see a doctor” or “everyone feels like this” or “not everyone, but a significant majority”. It is kind of wild.

    1. mmmmmmbop*

      I know you weren’t asking, but the answer is, if there’s anything you feel like you can never do again and you weren’t actually disabled by an unusual childbirth scenario, you should go to your doctor! Even just call them, ask for a physical therapy referral, and go get pelvic floor physical therapy. I was in pain for so long after birth, my obgyn was just like *shrug* it’s normal but you can go to physical therapy if you want, and it was LIFE CHANGING. I still feel different post birth than I did before, but it’s just different, not good or bad, not pain or limited movement, just different. And, probiotics specifically for vaginal health were completely transformative for my pain and sexual experience — I can tell if I’ve skipped a couple of days, it’s wild. (for reference I had a second degree tear that had some complications while healing, but that my doctor initially missed until I insisted on a third appointment with a slower, thorough exam. They had to remove some scar tissue and then PT did the rest.)

      1. JustaTech*

        I’m so glad my OB was like, here’s a PT referral, without me even asking (and also a topical cream that’s really helped). There is no reason to suffer and I’m so glad that’s her position too.

      2. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I actually did have ante- and post-natal physical therapy in my second pregnancy. I got discharged at about 6 months. I contacted another one a bit later and got an email about a “Mommy MOT” which was so grim and twee (and tbh gave me mega terf vibes, which were subsequently borne out when I looked at some of the clinic’s other social media) and didn’t really pursue it again after that.

    2. Boof*

      Oh man, my hormones went haywire post birth (and anemia probably contributed a lot too) – there’s some thought that depression and anxiety are almost the same thing and while I wouldn’t say I had postpartum depression, BOY HOWDY did I have postpartum anxiety. Like my mind / logical self would be saying over and over again things are ok, we’re fine, but my body was screaming that sudden doom is looming, everything tiny problem is a giant world ending problem that can never be solved, etc etc. Uhg.
      For my part I didn’t talk about pregnancy stuff at work because.. IDK, denial? There’s a certain amount of trying to keep a stiff upper lip + not quite realizing just HOW hard it was until things are “back to normal”. And I’m like “wow, it’s so easy to do these things [that were nearly impossible while I was pregnant] now, I guess I was pretty wiped out!”

      1. Moonlight Elantra*

        I had the most INTENSE dreams about losing my baby after my kids were born, as in “I put the baby down for a sec and when I turn around, they’re gone.” It was super unnerving at the time, but I figured my brain had some post partum hormonal things to work out.

  57. anycat*

    with my first, i was still full time in the office so most women figured it out since i’d puke every day in the bathroom (even though i tried to be discreet). my team knew because i had gone through IVF and were 100% supportive. we had a wellness room so i’d take a nap at lunch. my boss is also a mom and she fully understood what i was going through.

    with my second and being fully remote, i’d just turn off my camera and mic and run to get sick. i didn’t tell my team until much later, although my boss knew earlier. again, she was incredibly supportive and knew that she could rely on me even if my work wasn’t up to par. working from home allowed me to nap at lunch, or if i needed to be flexible to take a few minutes or a longer lunch and work a bit later that was okay.

  58. learnedthehardway*

    From experience, I had a horrible first pregnancy with nausea for the full 9 months, as well as various complications that made the whole thing an ordeal.

    I ended up taking a leave of absence for a month during the worst of it, and then worked from home 1 day per week (Wednesdays) for the rest of the time – there was just only so much I could do, and trying to push it made the nausea worse. Being able to work from home (in bed, honestly) on Wednesdays made it possible for me to regroup and recover enough to get through the rest of the week. Now that many jobs can be done from home, I would work from home as much as possible.

    Also, talk to your doctor about anti-nausea meds. In Canada, we have Diclectin. You can’t get it in the USA, but you can get the two meds that comprise it (one is a B vitamin). It helps quite a bit.

    Try using Tums (calcium carbonate) – that worked spectacularly well in the short term for my second pregnancy – I was desperate for a solution so I wouldn’t vomit during a client meeting, and someone had left a huge bottle of Tums in my desk (should have taken that as a red flag, lol). I could get a half hour at a time of relief, and you need calcium to grow a baby, anyway. I was able to get a longer-acting acid reducing medicine after I realized the nausea issue for me was acid reflux. Get your doctor to look into it – there are over the counter ones and one is safe and a couple are not (I can’t remember which is which, so won’t mention the names here). This worked for me but not for my sister, but it’s worth a try.

    Offload what you can, and make a point of relaxing and taking it easy when you can. Remember that the main priority is your and your baby’s health. Almost everything – like painting/decorating a nursery, etc. etc. – can wait. The baby will not care.

    I wouldn’t take on anything beyond what you need to do to keep your job. You might even talk to your manager about it, if it is truly affecting your ability to perform. I had to do that – luckily, my employer was willing to work with me. As a result, I ended up staying for much longer than I otherwise would have – because they took care of me, I was loyal to them.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      ETA – about the not talking about the misery at work. Being open about it ended up upsetting a colleague who was unable to have children. I felt really badly about that, but I couldn’t NOT feel horrible. All I could do was refrain from mentioning that I was feeling unwell. I couldn’t avoid vomiting in the staff bathroom.

    2. Sal*

      Diclegis is legal in the US! My nausea and vomiting were bad enough with my first (in 2014) that my OBGYN eventually prescribed Zofran (around week 18, I think?), but my literal-constant nausea finally lessened around week 20. With my second in 2017 I took Diclegis (a particular day in my open office where I had to walk briskly to the ladies’ and throw up three separate times between 9 am and 12 pm was the impetus) and it took everything from being at a constant level 4.5 of nausea to a 2–an absolute game-changer. (What I have found is that I never get above a 6 on a nausea scale anymore–once I’m at a 6, I just throw up. Perhaps I should re-do my scale.)

      But generally oh my god I was so sick and I was so tired. I did enough to not get fired, both times. The first time, I was hoarding my PTO for maternity leave, and the second time, I didn’t have formal PTO (and my maternity leave ended up being a sh**show of bad communication and bad planning). Moving slowly, eating all the Froot Loops and plain orzo and chocolate milk my heart desired, and crawling into bed at 6 pm while my husband took care of our toddler were all necessary.

      Congrats, OP! The nausea was worse than the fatigue for me, but hopefully you’ll feel better on all fronts soon, and you can come to the fun part (i.e., unapologetically eating two lunches).

      1. Veryanon*

        The two lunches thing is so true! What I used to pack for lunch would probably have been enough to sustain at least two lumberjacks for several days. LOL

  59. Veryanon*

    Congrats to you, LW! Yes, the first trimester is the toughest, but try to keep in mind that this will pass and don’t try to hold yourself to an impossible standard. I just tried to do my best each day and rested as needed (it helped that I had a private office at the time and could close the door if I needed to take a brief catnap or whatever). I kept crackers handy at all times as well. If you need to take a day off here and there, don’t be ashamed to do that.
    Hang in there, you’ve got this!

  60. 10 weeks*

    I’m in exactly the same boat. I think it’s totally OK to take some sick days and work from home if you can. What’s so frustrating to me and at least where some of the pressure comes from to just power through and do as much as I have been before, is I feel like I absolutely cannot let on that I’m pregnant right now. Both because it’s early and I don’t want to talk about it with co-workers, but also because my annual review was written last week and I do not trust my workplace to have some bias with respects to compensation and evaluations if they knew I am pregnant and would be going on leave for much of the upcoming year.

    I don’t have good advice because I don’t think there’s any real solution to this besides forming a work place where there is ample support both legally and socially for pregnancy and we just don’t have that right now (in the US at least). Sending you all the best wishes though, and much sympathy!

  61. alh*

    I was fortunate in that while I had nausea (all day, not just in the mornings) I was rarely actually throwing up, so I didn’t have to deal with that in the bathroom at work. It is definitely true that the exhaustion was worst in the first trimester and I felt great, the best I had felt in years, during T2 and into T3 (exhaustion came back at the end, as did all the physical discomfort you might expect with having a nearly fully grown baby inside you). The general advice about not telling anyone until T2 is to be taken with a grain of salt … the idea is that if (God forbid) something goes wrong, you don’t want to have to share that news with a bunch of people (unless you want to … let’s normalize talking about these things!). But there’s nothing wrong with telling someone in confidence, whether it be your manager or a close work colleague, and asking for their help, even if you’re not ready to make a big announcement. I told my manager at about 10 weeks, after the first ultrasound which showed it was a viable pregnancy, just so she knew what was up with the doctors’ appointments and occasional sick day. It is ok to just … do less for a bit. Be kind to yourself, rest, give yourself grace, ask for help. (And this is true for everyone right now, not just pregnant people!) I wish you a happy, healthy, uneventful pregnancy and much joy! Congratulations!

  62. Joy*

    My kids are 14 and 16 now but this brought back so many memories. I vividly remember throwing up into a recycling bin at work while my male cube-mate looked on. Luckily he had 3 kids so was totally unphased! Yes, do take time if you need it! Do take it easy if you can. You’re growing a tiny human to you’re doing two full time jobs. :)

    1. bamcheeks*

      My lowest point was turning to a total stranger sat next to me on a bench at the railway station and saying, “I’m so sorry, you don’t have a carrier bag on you, do you? I’m going to be sick.” She did, and she was very sympathetic! But it was awful. Thank god she wasn’t horribly emetophobic or something.

  63. Zofran*

    There’s no need to suffer with nausea. Ask your doc for an rx for zofran. Safe for you and bb and you’ll feel WAY better.

    I was nauseous the full dang pregnancy and zofran kept me from projectile vomiting all the time. It wasn’t until I got that u def co tell that I realized how much it was impacting me! So don’t suffer!

  64. Quokka*

    So right now you essentially have a parasite growing inside you – albeit a very wanted one! It’s the same run down feeling, just with a very long treatment plan. I absolutely could have written this letter word for word during my first pregnancy. It sucks and I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell people earlier next time without the whole 1 in 4 thing being an issue.
    I think the biggest thing is to remember that we truly don’t know what other people experience. So maybe others you see didn’t have it as bad as you. Maybe they did and you just didn’t notice (so perhaps others won’t notice this about you either).
    Best of luck and I hope prospective Bub treats you well for the rest of the pregnancy.

    1. Biologist*

      What an odd thing to say! The biological relationship between mother+baby vs host+parasite are so wildly different.
      Congratulations on your good news, OP! I hope you start feeling well soon. I know for me and many, the first trimester was the worst.

      1. AY*

        I actually have found this framing helpful when doing normal things absolutely exhausts me. It’s really easy to get down on myself for not doing enough until I remember that I have a cute lil vampire sucking up whatever he needs from my body. So, I’m really always doing something even when I feel completely useless and spent.

        1. Also Alex*

          “Parasite” is a strong word to me, but on some of my grumpier days I called him “the tenant.”

        2. Biologist*

          Interesting! I found it very demoralizing and trivializing. Baby is not just taking nutrients/blood/space/etc, they are working with the mom to change her body chemistry and physiology! Amazing and yes, SUPER hard work even when nothing else is happening.

  65. Quality Queen*

    Having been a working pregnant woman twice now, I can echo a lot of what others are saying. First, for most the first trimester is definitely the worst in terms of nausea and fatigue. Just focus on making it through that doing the best you can and resting as much as you can when not at work. I went to Zumba 2-3 times per week during my first pregnancy but every other day I came home and laid down on the couch until bedtime!
    The second trimester was pretty easy in terms of being at work. Towards the end of the third when space is getting tight for the baby and you get uncomfortable, then being at work can suck again. I work in manufacturing so I walk a lot during the day, which I actually preferred to sitting in my third trimester since my daughter had decided to camp out underneath my ribs, but even walking was sometimes sucky because of random lightening crotch attacks from loosening ligaments!
    One thing I do think helped is I was just upfront with people about why I was doing certain things so I wouldn’t be self-conscious about it. With the third trimester discomfort while sitting, I would tell people at the start of a meeting “hey I am going to be leaned back in this chair because that’s what’s most comfortable to me at the moment. I’m just letting you know so you don’t think I’m not engaged because of my body language.” Everyone was always really nice about it.

  66. Cataloger*

    Congrats! Ask your doctor for diclegis; this was extremely necessary for me when pregnant with twins. Take it easy. I created a little napping corner in our meeting room. When it was empty, I’d go in and lay down across three or four chairs for 15 minutes or so. That usually recharged me enough to get to lunch and then again thru the afternoon. I also said no to a lot of things that required me to travel to another location. It will get better (and then it gets worse).

  67. Already Up*

    My work when I was pregnant hosted a lot of evening events, and drinking was huge at those. I switched to gun and tonic when we started trying, and took one of our staff bartenders into my confidence once I was sure. She helped me by giving me tonics with a twist in the regular glass. Which sounds ridiculous in retrospect, but my boss at the time was a semi-functional alcoholic who was childless and generally scornful if women who weren’t smart enough to avoid getting pregnant like she was.
    I also enlisted an older friend in a different department who suffered from migraines and was known not to drink regularly to take dinner wine off my hands. I also avoided my grand boss’s wife, who is an ob, in case she could “sense” it. (When I told her later, she thought it was hilarious.)
    As for real, helpful coping mechanisms, I was lucky that my morning sickness didn’t hit until afternoon, so my afternoon snack of saltines was just a quirk. My job also had me on the go enough that wandering off to a restroom in a different area wasn’t very noticeable. I blamed that on wanting more steps if anyone asked, and got in the habit of using various restrooms on different floors at all times of day, not just when I needed extra privacy.
    And then I basically fell asleep on the couch 10 minutes after I got home from work and slept there until my partner woke me up to go upstairs to bed. I miss those naps.

  68. SweetTooth*

    For my first pregnancy, I told my manager early at around 9 weeks along because I trusted him to keep it private but wanted him to understand why I wasn’t performing as well as usual. For my second, I was WFH, so it was much easier to just lie down and take a break as needed. Both times, it was definitely more a matter of triaging and prioritizing. I focused on the essentials and didn’t do anything extra. If I needed more time or more help on something, I asked for it. My younger child is 6 months now, and I’m still in this season of life to an extent. Pregnancy is exhausting, and now with kids, my priorities continue to be different. I am less ambitious in this season, and that’s ok. I am doing what I can and am still reliable if not as eager to take on extra projects. Like in every other area of life, I have needed to work on communication. People generally understand when things are running late, but they would rather find out 2 days ahead of time than an hour past the deadline. Anyway, pregnancy is tough but survivable! Take care of yourself first and foremost, good luck!

  69. Mandie*

    This is honestly one of the main reasons I have never been pregnant. My anxiety and IBS are so bad on a regular basis that I already have to fight through entire days just to stay employed. I cannot fathom how I would cope with sudden, drastic hormonal changes, nausea, extreme fatigue, persistent heartburn, etc. I feel like it would totally incapacitate me. I know this isn’t a particularly helpful comment, but just know, LW, that it’s not just you! I think this is part of a larger issue of gaslighting
    women in the workforce. We’re just supposed to pretend we’re…not women? And manage “woman things” without bringing any attention to it. It’s weird, and it’s not right.

  70. Not your typical admin*

    Mom of 4 here. Congratulations! First, I want to say that give yourself grace. Do what you feel physically up to, and don’t feel guilty about what you can’t do. Every pregnancy is different, so don’t compare yourself to other people.

    If you’re comfortable, I would share with your boss and coworkers. I know it’s a thing to wait, but it made my life so much easier when people knew. People understood why I needed to sit more, and why I was running to the bathroom more frequently.

  71. MomofBoys*

    Ugh, I don’t know why it’s taboo, but yes, it’s still taboo. For some reason we just think we’re supposed to be able to muddle through and ignore those early symptoms of pregnancy or be labeled “less than” for not being able to handle it. My 3rd pregnancy was the hardest physically – I had GD, severe anemia, and absolutely crushing fatigue. I was a walking zombie that first trimester and absolutely didn’t think I would have the energy to get through it, or the rest of the pregnancy. I found the best way to get on top of that early T1 nausea (which I didn’t have with my first two!) was to eat/nibble/snack at all times, plus sip liquid until I made a meal out of it and then I’d be good to go. I had to tell my boss early because of how bad I was feeling and refreshingly they were very supportive! I also took a few days off that trimester to catch up on rest, which was so helpful, and the nausea luckily went away after a few weeks.

  72. 22 weeks today*

    For exactly the reasons you mentioned (No one talks about it!) My direct boss was one of the very first people I told with each of my pregnancies. I am 22 weeks now, but I told my first boss at 7/8 weeks because I wanted them to know that I am still engaged, etc. but I’m physically struggling and may not be able to give it 100% in the first trimester. This time around, it turns out my boss is ALSO early pregnant so she was VERY sympathetic and understanding.
    Take the time you need and when you are ready, I think you SHOULD talk about it! I tell folks that I felt horrible, I threw up a lot, and could barely stay awake. I think folks should know that every pregnancy is different and some struggle more than others.

  73. Becca A.*

    Congratulations, OP!! I had two very different experiences being pregnant; both were in office jobs but very different environments/fields. The first was in an office with mostly women, so even before I announced anything I got a lot of sympathy and support when my nausea was high (which was ALL THE TIME throughout the pregnancy). My boss was awesome, and basically told me to do what I needed to, snacks breaks, etc, with the flexibility to move my hours around while maintaining core hours.
    The second time my symptoms were a lot less, and I was on medication right away to help with the nausea, but I was in construction as a PM so I was walking a lot more, generally bring more mobile than my first pregnancy. My boss was understanding, but there was a lot more invisible pressure to suck it up and deal.
    My advice is to talk to your doctor about your morning sickness; there is absolutely no shame in taking medication to control it, and get your bearings back. I had a lot of luck with a combination of Diclegis and non-scrip Preggie Pops. That, and saltines.

  74. Cube Diva*

    Caveat: I had a really good team and a great boss. I also was the only person doing what I did at the time.

    I told my boss at about 8 weeks, when I first heard the heartbeat and felt comfortable enough with them. I also wanted to have someone aware in case it did end, it wouldn’t be out of nowhere. That info stayed with my boss only until I told my team during a full meeting about a month later. I think it’s 100% okay to do what you can and tough it out, but it might be nice to have at least one person in power have a little more context as to why.

  75. higheredadmin*

    Find a place to nap. I was once at a party and everyone started sharing their secret work nap spots while they were pregnant, including the server room and the public library across the street. If you can get a nap in at midday and another one after the work day (I had my husband drive me home and slept the entire way) you can just about make it. Growing a human is a LOT of work for your body, so you need to make the space to do it. It is also the first lesson in making and taking care of small humans, which is that each stage feels so intense and like it will never end, and then one day it is just done and you are onto the next. So you will literally wake up one morning and not feel like you want to die, and then it is on to the next thing. And it is also a lesson in that sometimes doing just enough to get something done is, in fact, enough. If you aren’t giving 110% to your job for a period of time, that’s OK!

  76. Kelsey*

    I was just in a very similar boat (24 weeks pregnant now!). I like and trust my manager a lot, and chose to tell her very early on, when I was 7-8 weeks (knowing that if I miscarried, I would need time off). I very much understand why many people would NOT choose to do this, but it was a great decision for me.

    She gave me a ton of empathy and understanding — I could take naps during the day, take flex time if I didn’t feel well, etc. And, she sent me a really kind first trimester gift — lots of nausea candies!

    I can’t imagine having to suffer in silence, and it bums me out that so many people have to (because of potential discrimination, not feeling comfortable sharing, etc.).

  77. Danielle K*

    I’m 34 weeks pregnant with my second child.
    I could have written this letter (and I actually did send one about US having horrible maternity leave policy).

    First time around my daughter was super high risk. (I’ll give you the ending now. Healthy happy 5 year old today.)
    I was so sick that pregnancy & literally had started a new job the week I found out I was pregnant.
    We had a shared bathroom with other offices and one day I was on my phone googling something to the effect of “is it normal to be this sick while pregnant?!” when my boss walked in.
    I ended up telling her that day what was up but also that it’s super high risk so I didn’t want to tell anyone else until I got further along.
    She was amazingly supportive and we’re still friends. She told me she thought I was still consulting with the phone thing.
    Let me take so much time off – often at the last minute.
    My girl loved to scare me and she’s still first percentile for weight but it all worked out.

    On to now – I work remotely in MA as a nonprofit fundraiser. The nonprofit headquarters is in OR.
    This pregnancy is “normal” and it’s amazing because I get to feel kicks and my belly is measured by the OBGYN – little things that don’t happen with high risk.

    I told my HR in OR as soon as I knew the pregnancy wasn’t high risk.
    I have about a month to go before maternity leave.

    Since I work remotely I can nap when needed and flex my schedule. (Doesn’t matter what time I’m emailing a donor – just that it gets done.)

    My advice would be to keep it to yourself until you feel comfortable. Yes, take days off when you need them.
    Yes, it’s ok to just be getting by and not being super extra above and beyond right now at work. Growing a human is hard work!

    Hope this helps you.

    Congratulations and I wish you an uneventful pregnancy experience. :-)

  78. It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SuperAnon*

    Currently almost 30 weeks pregnant, and while medically it’s been easy I am constantly DRAINED. I also work in a notoriously traditional conservative field that is pushing to improve diversity. I’ve been especially vocal in the past few years about equity, taking mental and physical health breaks, and wear bright red and purple hair (and have been promoted so it’s clearly not hurting me). A few things that have helped me:

    On in-office days, I front load my schedule so I take care of more meetings early in the day where possible. This way, I’m more mentally “on”. I also made sure to carry safe foods with me all the time – saltine crackers, peanut butter snacks, etc. I wasn’t immensely smell sensitive, but I have a bad gag reflex so I made my lunchtimes extra early before most people would eat so I could avoid the smells. I also avoided happy hours with after work commitments for a bit because I’m known to be a social drinker, and knew it would draw attention, if not (well meaning) questions. I also started wearing maternity wear immediately, I couldn’t squeeze myself into buttoned pants so I didn’t bother trying. I also have many stretchy pencil skirts that are professional enough for my role.

    I talked to my (male) manager right before the holidays at 3.5 months. I shared that I’m pregnant, I’m due X date, I plan on working up until I deliver if possible. We talked about our maternity and parental leave policies and what I’m allotted, but mentioned a few people I can and should talk to about how best to navigate the process. I also mentioned that this isn’t a secret, but I just don’t want to make a big announcement because I don’t want to draw attention, but we agreed I’d tell our immediate working team to avoid awkwardness since I’m senior to them all in age and title, and we’ll need to have plans in place for when I’m out. I also have known my manager for almost 10 years, working various projects together, so I felt comfortable sharing and discussing where I’m at, for example am I comfortable traveling still? Is our work schedule flexible enough or do I need to take extra leave for appointments? We talk about it in our regular 1:1, and I invite him to a meeting notice when I will be unavailable for appointments, no details but just an FYI.

    We’ve since joked in the office with our project manager (dotted line to me) and other team members that I’m never going back to button pants, and our little one will be a soccer player whether they want to or not with all the kicking. It was also made clear to me that I can be WFH full time, and will probably do so in my last month. I feel supported now, but the first trimester was incredibly scary and isolating because I had 3 total people who knew, my partner and 1 couple who were in the same boat.

  79. atalanta0jess*

    Ugh, yes, the first trimester + working is horrible. HORRIBLE. I told people pretty early on, because I was just feeling so horrid, and it was helpful. You know best whether you can trust your workplace with this information, but I worked with kind, compassionate people and sharing earlier in spite of social norms was very very helpful. A good friend had shared some experiences supporting others through miscarriage, and encouraged me to go ahead and tell anyone who would be in my support network if the worst were to happen. Why do we keep our needs for care and support a secret?

    Yes, that’s just how pregnant people feel, AND, the majority of pregnant people do not have horrid nausea, I was interested to learn. Unisom + B6 was a game changer for me, though I was lucky because it doesn’t make me sleepy. Might be worth asking your care provider about. I’ve found that it’s easy to get brushed off with a “yup, that’s just how it is” but if you can push a little they may have more options to offer.

    If you are able to without draining your leave, I’d definitely take PTO here and there. Of course it’s ok, you feel like death!! It’s hard to decide WHEN, since you feel awful every day, but its definitely legit. And yes, it’s ok to just get by. This phase will pass, and you’ll be working at higher capacity again. I definitely did the bare minimum during T1…there just wasn’t another option, honestly. I was napping at rest stops because I couldn’t make the 30 minute drive to work, for gods sake.

    Anyway, it’s total crap. Get support wherever you can. If your social group doesn’t already include folks who have been pregnant recently, it’s really nice to find some…having friends who are in the same dregs as you is hugely helpful, even if “mommy culture” isn’t your thing. (It’s def not mine, but I am so thankful for friends to share the realness with.)

  80. Lady A*

    Honestly, I was up front about my pregnancy right away to my direct manager. I battled so much nausea and fatigue the first trimester that I needed time to lay down on lunch breaks and they would usually last longer than I had originally planned. Thankfully, my manager was very understanding and was more flexible with me during this time, as long as my work was getting done.

    If you have an understanding manager, this might help you too. Otherwise, just do the best you can!

    Good Luck!

  81. lilsheba*

    I really wish in the US we would respect women more. At the beginning of pregnancy, when all those things mentioned hit hard, let people take time off without being punished or pressured. And at any point during the pregnancy let someone take time for themselves if they need to. They are growing a human! And once it’s born, we should give a year paid maternity leave like they do in the UK. The US makes everyone who is sick/disabled/pregnant etc work like dogs when they don’t have the capacity for it.

  82. JMR*

    I have never been pregnant, but I have managed pregnant women, and please – consider telling your manager! I realize that your ability to do this depends on your specific manager and your relationship with them, but if I, as a manager, know what you are going through, I can help. I can figure out ways to lighten your workload, either by putting some lower priority tasks on the back burner or by reassigning them to other team members. Maybe I can lighten your load by getting you out of certain meetings, or maybe we can make your physical workspace more comfortable (one of the women on my team was having back problems during her pregnancy and we were able to get her a desk with adjustable height, which helped). We can figure it out together. And if I’d picked up on your drop in performance without knowing the reason for it, I’d be worried – about your physical and emotional health, about your engagement at work, about whether it meant you had one eye out the door. I’d feel better as a manager knowing the reason you weren’t working at your normal level. (Which doesn’t mean you owe me the explanation! Just that if you feel comfortable sharing, I’d appreciate having the information.) And you didn’t mention this in your letter, but if you’re worried about what your boss might be thinking, and whether they’ve noticed your drop in productivity, you might feel better for having told them so YOU don’t have to stress about what THEY’RE thinking. So, yeah. Your mileage may vary on this advice, but I’d at least consider looping in your boss, who can work with you to make the upcoming months a bit easier.

  83. Georgia*

    Congrats! I had horrible nausea from about 5 weeks to 18 weeks, and the fatigue was insane. My performance 100% suffered, and I was sick during my job’s busiest time. I created realistic expectations for myself, and basically went home every day and just lay down/napped for hours after getting through it.
    I did end up telling my manager very early on – I had another colleague who was pregnant, and they were offloading her workload onto me in preparation of her mat leave, and I felt like I needed to be honest both for the workload of the team and my level of sickness. Unfortunately, my manager didn’t react well, and they used my deceased performance levels against me until I brought up the bullying to HR. I was being punished for going to my monthly, bi-monthly, and then weekly medical appointments (which could not be scheduled outside of work time), and when I brought that up my manager was aghast that I had connected the dots between her treatment of me and my pregnancy.
    My coworker who knew was SO supportive, and I was so glad to have someone who knew what I was going through and could go to bat for me when I wasn’t physically or mentally able to. My workplace was crazy toxic, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me they reacted this way. This was also pre-COVID and my workplace did not have a work from home policy (and it was VERY frowned upon back then), and I think it would have been so much easier if I could have worked from home some/most days during that period of time.
    Good luck!

  84. SometimesALurker*

    Congratulations, OP!

    Please don’t feel like you need to disclose earlier than you planned to — there are a whole wide range of reasons that might not be what you want to do! It’s an option, and it’s *possible* that it’s your best option, but it’s not the only option. It’s also fine to change your mind about when you want to disclose!

    I had a rough first trimester, too. I want to echo what everyone has said about about giving yourself permission to not be at your best. Being pregnant is a lot of work, especially if it’s a rough trimester, even mundanely rough. You are *constantly* multitasking. Working your butt off to meet deadlines? Growing an embryo/fetus at the same time. Vegging in front of the most mind-numbing TV you can find after work? Congrats, you’re still multitasking, because you’re growing an embry/fetus at the same time!

  85. Combinatorialist*

    I’m at 29 weeks and so heading into the final stretch. If you have a supportive boss, I would highly recommend telling them now and seeing if you can get accommodations to WFH more than usual if at all feasible. It made a HUGE difference for me to be able to lie down in my bed for 10 minutes at lunch, to have my full pantry and kitchen available to be able to eat whatever seemed like it was going to stay down that day, to not have to spend energy getting dressed or driving or walking in from the parking lot. Even when I had stuff that had to be done in office, I would wait for a few things to accumulate, drive in, do the stuff, go back home.

    Plus once you tell your manager, you can start figuring out who is going to cover your work when you take leave a lot more openly.

    And yeah, accepting that “your best right now” is not going to be “your normal best”. I would also find other people who have been pregnant at your job to confide in (as long as they can be trusted to not spread it around before you are ready). Even the toughest “I spend my weekends exploring unexplored caves” woman I work with was super sympathetic and told stories about how horrible her first trimester was and it made me feel a lot less alone.

    1. Combinatorialist*

      Oh, and while the common practice is to not tell your manager in case you have a miscarriage, my mom had a first trimester miscarriage on a business trip and needed to tell her boss at that time. She said that it really did not make it any easier to have to disclose the pregnancy at the same time as the miscarriage and that if it does happen (hopefully not!) you will probably need support/time off/medical leave from your boss anyway. Of course, you are entitled to these things without an explanation at all, but waiting to disclose doesn’t necessarily make it any easier (depending on the type of person you are)

  86. OrdinaryJoe*

    LW said: “Is this something our society ignores or downplays because patriarchy/misogyny/etc.?”

    Umm … not in all situations. In my case, it’s because I’ve been told – multiple times and in multiple ways – to ignore, not mention, not ask, and pretend I don’t see anything until I’ve been told that you’re pregnant. I’m just doing what I’ve been told and what I thought was respectful to your privacy.

    If you need or want help or have concerns or questions, I think you need to speak up.

    1. chips and scraps*

      I could be wrong, but my impression is that LW isn’t wanting individuals to swoop in and ask if she’s pregnant before she’s disclosed. More remarking on a general minimisation/dismissal of conditions like morning sickness, and an expectation that you’ll just soldier through it and not let your output drop in any way. A bit like it is for people who have really difficult periods, for example – it can involve a level of pain/nausea that you would never otherwise attempt to work through, but because it’s a ‘normal’ part of pregnancy/menstruation, the people suffering from it often don’t feel they have a right to slow down or use sick leave.

      Of course no one could know why LW’s output has dropped (if it has) until she announces her pregnancy, and I definitely don’t think you’re doing anything wrong by giving the possibly-pregnant their privacy.

  87. NinjaMonkey*

    Everyone’s experience is different, but my morning sickness lasted from a couple of weeks in until birth! Fatigue, nausea, brain fog… How DID I do it? Every visit, the doctor said it would end soon and it just didn’t. I say this only so you can level set that this may not be a first trimester-only thing to struggle through. Yours may be done in a few weeks, but if not, think about what you would do differently knowing it might extend the entire pregnancy. I powered through, each week thinking it would be the last hard week, able to do nothing but curl up on the couch after work, and doing what I could to have something “normal” to show for my workday. I would have cut myself some slack if I’d known what I was in for. Pregnancy is a medical condition, and there are accommodations that can be made. I hope your morning sickness ends soon, though!

  88. Rae*

    Here’s a couple things that helped me with the terrible nausea and fatigue I experienced during pregnancy:
    -Nutrition balancing: for every carb you eat be sure you get 0.5 protein. 30 carbs needs 15 protein. Peanuts butter crackers, hardboiled eggs and protein drinks were good for me.
    -walk for at least 15 mins after eating: I know it’s probably the last thing you want to do but it helped after lunch to relax for 15 mins, then walk for 15.
    -I managed to stay productive at work but everything else slid during the first trimester. I’d come home and go to bed at 6:30 pm.
    -bags in the car, keep a trash can handy at work
    -I did take a prescription nausea medication. It helped a lot (vomiting 5-7 times a day to once every 2 days) but I would still sometimes throw up if I didn’t carefully manage my food and exercise.
    – think about pumping at work now. Much easier to make a plan and change your mind than scramble your first few days back.

  89. 18 weeks!*

    As someone who is 18 weeks today, I actually told my direct manager at about 4 weeks that I was expecting so that if I was slower, worked from home more/randomly, had more doctors appointments, left suddenly for the day with little notice (just in case a medical issue arouse), or was “grouchy”/unresponsive that there was an underlying cause. I also asked him to let me know if he felt my performance dropped below an acceptable level so that we could come to an agreement about how to bring my performance up while still giving myself the leeway to self care during the first trimester. This took a significant amount of pressure off of feeling like I was barely performing at work but doing the best that I could.

    Granted this strategy only works because I have a good rapport with my direct manager and am secure in my position. Also, I had a miscarriage last year that was fairly public (emergency surgery and significant amount of time off unexpectedly) so work was aware that my husband and I were trying to start a family; in other words, it was no surprise I was pregnant.

    I don’t regret telling my direct manager and taking that “secret” off the table. It also opened communication channels up between us. I also felt like everyone knew by the time I went to “announce” but so many people said they had no clue. So I think the anxiety of feeling like everyone can tell is mainly in your head. Take a deep breath and don’t feel like you are waving red flags around! No one really pays attention to those sorts of things!

  90. Captain-Safetypants*

    I would second most of the things other commenters have written, especially the part about, if things get bad, disclosing to HR and getting an official accommodation on the books. I had to actually open a short-term disability claim for the first six months of my second pregnancy to protect myself for the time I missed due to vomiting and unending nausea.

  91. automaticdoor*

    Hi! I’m a year postpartum, so my first trimester was summer/fall 2021. I actually told my boss around 6-7 weeks — small company and it was HIGHLY obvious something was wrong with me between the vomiting and the exhaustion, plus I was a medium-risk pregnancy so I had doctor’s appointments like every other week even that early. He was extremely sympathetic (even though he’s a man in his 70s with no grandkids!). I found that WFH was my BFF — mid-day naps saved me. So, my advice is that if at ALL possible and you trust their discretion, tell your supervisor.

  92. Optimistic Prime*

    I was fortunate enough to have a very supportive staff and bosses. I was able to take it easy and pretty much do the bare minimum. A lot of them offered to do things for me so I wouldn’t have to, but that was more of the physical side. I ran the office which meant moving delivery boxes, etc. They wouldn’t let me do any of that. But I also got my FMLA paperwork done super early and I got a note from my doctor about needing bed rest. So that was on file right away. If I was feeling sluggish or needed to go home they let me. But I know that that office is not the norm. I was very fortunate.

  93. Diatryma*

    Lots of people have been pregnant at work, and lots of them have had rougher times of it than you describe… and lots of people have had easier times as well! Don’t feel that you have to earn anything by suffering.

    I didn’t tell anyone at work until four months in for any of my pregnancies, though I did check in fairly early with my first about any potential hazards in the lab I worked in, phrasing it as planning and a hypothetical (actually, now that I think back , I might have done that even before getting pregnant.) What affected me more with my first was the aftermath, and I was very up-front about what I could and couldn’t, would and wouldn’t do, partly because my job handled it HR-reporting-level badly and I was willing to throw down when I had the resources for it. Later in my other pregnancies, I mostly needed to train people on parts of my job I coud no longer do because I was too big.

    I feel like no one I work with now has blinked at pregnancies or the limitations that can come with them, but that’s when we know about them. We also have the basic manners to not speculate when someone says they have a series of health problems or running sick days for nonspecific reasons, so there’s no risk of a boss or anyone else putting us on the spot.

    I suppose my main point with all of this is that you are not the first pregnant employee they’ve had. You’re not the first employee dealing with a health issue strong enough to affect work but not strong enough to take off entirely. That doesn’t mean you have to suck it up– it means your employer should already have systems in place so there’s nothing to suck up at all. If something goes wrong, it’s not because you’ve done something wrong or could have handled something better. You are not doing anything unreasonable. Don’t listen to anyone, including yourself, who says you are.

  94. chs.29*

    Congrats, OP!
    My story is less advice and more big-picture future-planning stuff, but maybe it will help someone. T/W miscarriage.
    In my earllly 20s, I got pregnant unexpectedly. I already have health issues that affect me daily, so combined with pregnancy, I was in an absolute panic about what to do. My job was customer-facing and could not be done remotely. Sadly, I ended up miscarrying early on. Again, the pregnancy was unplanned, but it was still devasting. If any good came of it, I learned that personally, I am absolutely not willing to put myself through customer service work while pregnant, even if I just end up being sick the first trimester. My partner and I hope to have a large family, and I know that pregnancy is just one part of that – raising a bunch of kids will be its own job. So, shortly after my miscarriage, I got a job that can be done remotely, and I started working on my own side business. That way, when the time comes, I know I’ll have options for how to handle my new priorities while still working in some capacity. I hope this helps someone who may be weighing future options! I have muuuch more peace of mind about starting a family, knowing I can work remotely or potentially work for myself.

  95. executivemomming*


    If you have any ability to work from home, use it! You could go with “dealing with a temporary health situation – it’s not serious, but it’s easier to manage from home” until you’re ready to disclose. You can use this even if you have to work on-site to explain any not-your-usual behaviors or performance. Yes, plenty of people will guess that you’re pregnant, but if they’re decent humans they won’t ask, and you absolutely don’t have to disclose to them unless and until you want to.

    And definitely take a day off here or there if you’re feeling particularly awful. You have sick time, and you’re not feeling well. Use it!

  96. Melissa*

    I was teaching school while pregnant and I will say that those students did NOT get the best education of their lives! I was just so tired. But it really is temporary, and it is pretty short in the scheme of things. You’ll likely feel better once the nausea subsides in a few weeks. Then you’ll have some rough weeks at the very end. But in total, it’s 9 months, and you’re already two months in! It isn’t like you’ll be operating at sub-optimal levels for five years. Pregnancy feels soooo long when you’re in it, but it does pass.

  97. Milksnake*

    “Am I supposed to just push through, knowing that this is what people have done for millennia? Is this something our society ignores or downplays because patriarchy/misogyny/etc.?”

    Yup, and it sucks. Our society has no idea how to handle pregnant women and we more or less ignore them and their needs.
    You know your work environment better than anyone else. If you can do WFH, use PTO, etc. you do what you need to do to get by. But if you don’t want to disclose anything yet you dont have to. Honestly most people won’t notice and if they do notice you’re not feeling well it could be for any number of reasons. We’re human. We’re not perfect all the time.

  98. S. Frivolous*

    I had to tell my firm I was pregnant pretty early on as I spent the whole day vomiting and then came in the next day (when they would obviously expect you to go/stay home normally). I knew it wasn’t contagious but I ended up telling them just so they also knew that.
    The worst for me was how big I got and having to use public transport at 8 months gone. Ugh.

  99. Bend & Snap*

    Fellow IVF mom here. I told my bosses during the process/after loss too and it helped a lot.

    It’s really hard to be pregnant after IVF because you’re pregnant after a huge toll on your body.

    It’s obviously also hard not to be pregnant after IVF.

  100. Pandemic Parenting is Miserable*

    It’s totally brutal, just do the bare minimum. It’s terrible that this country provides so little support to small children and their caregivers that we are left too exhausted to revolt. (I think the cruelty is the point!) You’ll probably feel better later in your pregnancy but figuring out how to do what you can while feeling terrible is good practice for continuing to work for the next 5-6 years at a continuous deficit from sleep deprivation, constant illness, and continuous work disruption. (I have not had a continuous night of sleep in 7 years and also have not had a complete work week since 2019. Literally! Not an exaggeration. Have no idea how I am still employed.)

  101. The ‘baby’ is almost 50 now*

    I worked retail while I was pregnant. There were zero accommodations. I was standing for 4-8 hours depending on my shift. I would leave work, go get dinner on my way home, then stop to throw up by the side of the road. It was hell. The expectations then were you worked until you went into labor. Then you had your baby and came back to work after you got out of the hospital (4-5 days back then).

    Sorry, that’s not advice, it’s just how much things have changed, although not in retail!

  102. Logged*

    Yes, I think most of us do suffer quietly and push ourselves to do more than what is healthy for us. It’s terrible and unsustainable and places the greatest burden on the people with fewest resources. My only advice is to talk to your doctor/midwife about solutions for nausea, and then keep talking if the first ones they offer don’t work—your misery is real, important, and treatable. ( This is also my refrain about breastfeeding struggles—you deserve to use every tool to feel better.) An IV of fluids and zofran finally helped me vomit into the office toilets fewer times per day, after various oral and suppository meds did not.

    I know the “eat crackers and drink ginger ale” people mean well and are sharing from the heart about what worked for them, and still that sometimes comes across as minimizing someone’s serious illness. Not all pregnant people are ill in that way, of course, but I promise you the really ill pregnant people have tried all the crackers, sour candies, and ginger already.

    1. Logged*

      Have to clarify that I mean “breastfeeding struggles for people who WANT to feed that way” and that “every tool” may include stopping or lessening breastfeeding! New parents deserve good health, good enough sleep, and to have their choices honored.

    2. Observer*

      but I promise you the really ill pregnant people have tried all the crackers, sour candies, and ginger already.

      You would be surprised. I know a lot of people who didn’t try these remedies – often were unaware of them. Worse, sometimes you get people who are scared away from trying this stuff. On the one side you get the people who are dismissively told not to deal with “old wives tales”.

      On the other you get pseudo health zealots. Ginger Ale? “Do you know how much SUGAR that stuff has?! And it’s not even real ginger! Sugar free, you say? Why would even THINK about putting that poison in your system!” Saltines in the morning? “Do you know how much SALT those have? And Saturate fat! OMG, sooo high fat!”

      I wish I were kidding.

      So, it’s worth it for the OP to try any of these remedies she hasn’t tried yet. All of them are safe to try. And if they don’t work, she should go to her doctor and insist that they take her issue seriously. When you do, tell them what you have already tried. Because most of the time that’s the first line. Even when they take it seriously they prefer not to go the medication route unless it’s necessary. So get that piece in order before your next visit.

  103. ChemistryChick*

    Congratulations, OP!

    My experience with the first trimester was more on the fatigue side; I (thankfully) rarely had nausea and if I did it wasn’t during my work hours. It’s ok to do less. I made a focused effort to really pace myself to try and use what energy I had as efficiently as I could. I’m a chemist so I had to tell my lab manager earlier than everyone else for safety reasons…it helped me a feel a little better about the “I’m dragging arse and not as on top of things as I usually am.” If you’re not ready to tell people outright and someone asks you about anything or if you want to say something to a manager, you could just use the “Hey, I’m dealing with a medical issue right now” vagueness. I used that when my second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and no one asked for any other details.

  104. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    This is usually temporary and eases up after the first trimester (fatigue, nausea) until the miserable last couple weeks. I took power naps in my car (weather permitting) since I don’t WFH and accepted some temporary slowing of output – prioritize “have to”s and drop optional extra work/responsibilities.

  105. Another Perspective*

    Caveat that this answer isn’t really for OP, but here’s a perspective that no one seems to be talking about, but I imagine some readers may need.

    A few years back, I became pregnant unexpectedly and planned on terminating. So I was dealing with the stress of an unwanted pregnancy, the physical symptoms of the pregnancy, and all the shame surrounding it – namely, that I felt I couldn’t disclose it at work. (And in many places, this could be legally dangerous to share, though that didn’t apply in my case.) Fortunately, I worked a bit away from the others, so the team didn’t see any difference in me. The pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I did wind up disclosing that to management because it resulted in a mid-day ER visit. (I was fine.)

    My tips are:

    Carry snacks around to try to reduce morning sickness.

    If you are able to find a private space, even just to escape to from time to time during the day (empty store rooms ftw), absolutely do so. Your emotions may be all over. You may not want to be around your colleagues as much. That’s okay.

    Do what you can at work, but do NOT worry about maintaining things at 110%. You are going through high stress and your body is compromised. Don’t feel guilty if you wind up closer to the bare minimum for the short-term. This is not going to be forever.

    If you’re like me, you’ll puff up right away – I had boobs the size of Jupiter and couldn’t tuck in my shirts, more bloating than a bump. Lean towards comfy clothes and go as far to the edges of the dress code as you can.

    Most of all – care for yourself. Take time off after the end of your pregnancy if you can (I went back to work immediately after and this was a big mistake), do not feel obligated to disclose anything beyond what you absolutely have to, and carve out any rest time you can during your off hours. Feel whatever you need to feel, cope however you think is best. Personally, I was floored by how much the miscarriage affected me, even though I was not planning on keeping it. This is absolutely the time to be “selfish” and prioritize yourself.

    I also recognize that people may have limited opportunities to do any of these things, depending on the job or life circumstances. This is just what worked for me.

    Not everyone who is pregnant is planning on having a child, but they are still dealing with the usual trials of pregnancy and a ton of stress on top of it. It can be a form of personal hell. Even if you can’t draw on support from your workplace, I hope at least some of this might be helpful.

    1. Another Perspective*

      I’d also like to add that it can be incredibly isolating when you are looking for advice like this and the resources are all geared towards people planning to become parents – so if you have stumbled across this, years from now, and are feeling alone and worried, please know that your experiences are valid, too.

  106. Indolent Libertine*

    My prenatal vitamins caused most of my nausea; I’d get sick like clockwork after taking them no matter the time of day. If you’re taking these, you might try a different brand, and might even talk to your doc or midwife about discontinuing them for a while so you can stay better fed and hydrated right now.

    1. Also Alex*

      As you’ve alluded to, sometimes taking them at night _does_ help people. Some people also find it helpful to find a prenatal without iron and find that the iron upsets their stomach. Some people find that gummies are easier on their stomachs than pills.

      All this to say, OP if you’re nauseous, as an experiment it’s probably OK to cut out the prenatal for a day and see how you feel. If there’s an improvement, talk to your provider about the best way to proceed.

  107. JustMe*

    Personally have never been pregnant, but as an outside observer who has had pregnant coworkers: it’s totally acceptable to call in if you’re not feeling well, same as you would with any other illness. At OldJob, I had a coworker who was also experiencing significant nausea and migraines in her first trimester (I’m not sure if she didn’t know that she was pregnant or if she wasn’t ready to announce it) but she very calmly told the team, “Hey, I’ve got a health thing going on right now. Nothing to worry about, I’m just not feeling my best some days and may need…” I think some of her close coworker friends guessed she was pregnant, but the rest of us didn’t think anything of it and we were all happy to accommodate her. You do tend to worry when someone you work with has a mysterious health thing going on, so I’m sure your coworkers will all be very excited and relieved when you announce that you’re having a baby!

  108. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

    Congrats OP! I’m 21 weeks pregnant with baby #2. While there is an amount of “suck it up and do it” you have to do, give yourself some grace. In the first trimester, you’re building a person and an organ. After than, it’s a rapidly growing raver who likes to party all night and stomp/squish/what-the-hell are you doing to all the organs, nerves, and everything else in your abdomen.

    I disclosed my pregnancy early because my entire office watched me turning green and looking sick every day. It’s a risk, but my (tiny) department is very supportive of all things family. I’m glad I did because I feel like they’ve been willing to step in and help if needed, but understand that this is a temporary condition and I’ll be back to preforming at my normal level when I’m back from FMLA. And on days where I have the big appointments, like ultrasounds, I don’t schedule anything important in case something goes wrong and I need to go home to process the news.

    The only thing I do not completely recommend is starting a new job immediately coming back from FMLA. I did it, and it turned out well (I’m still here 3 years later and not looking to leave), but it was really tough.

  109. AnotherSarah*

    I’m in my third trimester now with my second baby, and I’m agreeing with all the advice to cut yourself some slack! The beginning of the second trimester may make things a lot easier for you (or it might not, sorry to say), but is also a good time, imo, to evaluate what worked for you in the first (delegating, WFF, using sick leave, etc.) because in my experience, third often looks like the first–I’m not as tired or nauseated but there are still a lot of physical limitations. But don’t try to plan ahead for that until you’re at week 14 or so! Congratulations : )

  110. Can't think of a fun name*

    Yes, it is okay to take a day off work if you feel crummy. (This applies to non-pregnant people, too.)

  111. Suffering*

    I was reading this and thought maybe I had hit “send” on my draft to Alison from a few weeks back! This is literally me! The only difference is I told my boss and grandboss at 7 weeks. I am 10 weeks and it’s really hard.
    First of I am not a whiner! I have had abdominal surgery, 3 herniated disks and some medical issues, I can usually deal really well. Pregnancy has knocked the wind out of me.

    I am remote and able to lay on the couch and work if needed some of the day (not in back to back meetings most days). I finally got some real meds a week ago and I am sitting upright and able to walk around now without puking. I really don’t know how people do this with in person or physical jobs. I have days where I puke many times, and then I’ll go a few days without puking but I have had non stop nausea, since 5 weeks.
    At no other point in my life have I been so sick (imagine constant nausea, regular vomiting, headache and exhaustion so bad you fall asleep sitting up for 5 weeks straight). Aside from pregnancy most people haven’t experienced anything like that! and it’s not magically easier because you know it’s your pregnant or if you want the baby.

    How often have you thrown up and literally 30 seconds later had to present something to an audience on zoom?? Anyone else would say I’m so sorry I’m sick I need to go home/to bed right away! but I just throw up, rinse my mouth and go back to my email/zoom/etc. It’s BIZARRE. It’s an intense chronic illness that thankfully has an end date.

    I find myself for the first time in my entire life questioning if it’s worth it to keep my job (I make much more, I need to keep it lol, but that’s never been a question for me!!).

    I am getting though it and feel like it’s worth it for the end result but it is absolutely crazy that we don’t really treat pregnancy like a serious medical condition that lots of women need time off work for. On the other side, if I didn’t have bad nausea the fatigue would get old but I could function at 90%, the constant nausea is debilitating for me at least.

    I told my boss so early because my work isn’t as good. I am a high performer, I just got a raise and stellar review, so my output is down to “average” now. We’re at a hyper growth start up and not being totally on it gets noticed. I am not going above and beyond and I’ve made more sloppy mistakes. I get a lot of “take care of yourself”, take off early if you can etc, from her and feel incredibly supported, but doing my job good enough I won’t get fired and just trying to eat any protein is honestly my goal in life right now.

    I have everything to make this better too, remote job, understanding boss, husband who is doing the absolute most for me, mom and MIL helping out and it’s still really tough.

    No solutions. I think having a manager who has understanding or gone though/witnessed pregnancy would honestly help, I honestly had no idea how hard this would be. If I were managing I could see thinking my employee is playing it up as society doesn’t really seem to talk about how hard it is being pregnant some times.

  112. VermiciousKnid*

    Congrats LW! Know that you are in good company, even though you’re miserable right now.

    I felt like utter trash from weeks 5-16. I actually suspected I was pregnant before I got a positive test because I got up, got ready for work, and then immediately went back to bed for two hours. The fatigue is no joke.

    I did a few things. First, I went hard with the caffeine first thing in the morning. I hit my full allotment almost every day just to stay upright. I also paid close attention to my symptoms and noticed that my nausea didn’t usually kick in until around noon. As such, I’d cram as much work (and food) as humanly possible into those few morning hours before the nausea set in. That way I could coast in the afternoons. If you find you feel better at a certain time of day, do what you can during that time of day and use your output to cover for yourself when you’re feeling your worst.

    It was not ideal, but it kept people off my back until I was ready to disclose. I told my boss at 17 weeks, earlier than I wanted, because I had to travel and needed my team to know that if I collapsed, they needed to tell the paramedics I was pregnant.

    Also, I hated being pregnant with the fiery passion of a thousand exploding suns. Luckily, it ended, and I’m quite fond of my kid. Don’t feel like you should be a glowing goddess. Hating pregnancy doesn’t mean the stuff that comes after isn’t wonderful.

  113. WorkingMomof2*

    Pregnancy varies from person to person, pregnancy to pregnancy. Do the best you can and take advantage of any options available to you. Wear the sea bracelets, take some B6, WFH etc. In all likelihood, you won’t deliver your best work and that is ok. Remember you are making a WHOLE HUMAN, the equivalently of running 40 marathons.

    On a larger societal scale, yes, pregnant people are just expected to work. We as a culture, and frankly as a species, treat pregnancy as much you do about nothing. And I hate to be a negative nelly, but that attitude is pervasive beyond pregnancy, especially if you are a mom/primary caregiver. Yes, people will tell you your baby is beautiful, how amazing you are etc. But when it comes to real support, do not be surprised if you don’t get much and don’t be surprised if you are “punished.” There is significant evidence of a motherhood tax. I say that not to scare you, but to prepare you. I was blindsiding by the change in treatment after having a kid and the lack of professional support. I attended conferences in 2019 that did not have lactation rooms. I faced veiled criticism for taking pumping breaks. No one said oh you’re a bad employee, more like oh you seem less focused, less available, less capable. People schedule meetings late and your absence or early leave will be noted. My non parent coworkers were offered better projects and advancement opportunities etc. This wasn’t specific to me, but something I saw and heard from other moms in my division. And not something that is obvious discrimination. Ultimately, I left this job and did find a more supportive one.

    I love being a mom, but our society does not make it easy in any way. Take care of yourself, take care of your baby. Know that taking a step back to be a present parent doesn’t make you a bad employee.

  114. Workingmama*

    If you have an understanding boss/direct manager who can keep it under wraps, and you’d feel comfortable, share it with them so they can help you navigate this. If you don’t, I recommend the medical letter route I took first. I was so sick I could barely sit at my desk the first trimester.

    I had my OB write a vague medical letter (my HR and owners were terrible gossips and I didn’t want them to know yet) saying that due to a medical condition, I needed to WFH for 4 weeks and due to the same medical condition I would be unable to work for 8hrs straight and would need a temporary change in my schedule to allow me to work a longer more broken up day. The dr letter was my saving grace. I could mange to get all my work done when I could do it from 7am-9pm with naps/sickness in the middle.

    I had to tell my direct manager eventually when the medical accommodation ran out, because then she did what she could to give me work that I could do with more flexibility, so I went into the office but if I was having a non productive day I made up work in the evenings and on weekends.

  115. Pugetkayak*

    I’m so sorry. I had unending nausea my entire pregnancy and sometimes I wonder how I made it. One day I literally thought “what if I just lay on the floor right now?” I even had to run to throw up while I was interviewing.
    I just tried my best to get through it. The only thing I can say is that it will eventually end, and that’s what kept me going.
    Also, I never took days off, because its not like when you are sick and you feel bad for a short period of time, plus rest helps you get better, but I knew I would still feel awful, but kept working.
    I would have really benefitted from WFH at the time I thin.

  116. Fabulous*

    27 weeks pregnant right now with my third!! I’ve had different bosses for each of my pregnancies and different work situations (though all positions were with the same company).

    Your actions obviously will depend on the type of work you do and whether you’re in-office vs. at home, but I ended up telling my current boss around 8-10 weeks because of the first trimester ick. I was just so exhausted and thankfully my boss is extremely understanding and flexible, so she’s been great with everything. I work from home, so she essentially told me to take breaks when I needed to and let her know if anything changes. I think I ended up napping twice in the middle of the day, but otherwise felt okay enough to just step away to deal with the nausea, etc. as needed.

    I know everyone is different (and every pregnancy is different) but something that helped me this time was just keeping small snacks around at all times to help fight the nausea. Nothing sounded good to me, but constantly snacking on crackers, granola bars, etc – whatever I could choke down – helped tremendously to feel more “stable”.

  117. HannahS*

    To address your question of whether this is downplayed because of misogyny, I think the answer is yes. It’s another situation where we can’t win, continuing from yesterday’s conversation:
    If you don’t have children, you’re selfish for not sacrificing yourself to the highest female calling of motherhood.
    If you become pregnant but suffer in pregnancy, it must be because you’re doing something wrong (eating wrong, taking the wrong supplements, not taking meds, taking too many meds) OR not being willing enough to sacrifice your health and well-being for your baby OR you’re selfish because your coworkers have to cover for you, how dare you demand that since you chose to be pregnant OR why can’t you boss-babe your way out of this like a real feminist?
    Once you have a child, you are most certainly Doing It Wrong.

    There is no winning. There is no way to be right, because at the root these objections are based on the idea that mothers aren’t really people. Do what you need to do.

    I had a tough but not medically complicated pregnancy. In first trimester, I lived on toaster waffles, crackers, and water with lemon and lime squeezed in. I took advantage of every opportunity to rest. My work performance suffered and I was reprimanded for it (super sorry I wasn’t at my best the day after I was told the pregnancy wasn’t viable!) Initially, I told people I had a health issue. I got accommodation related to limiting my work hours later in pregnancy (i.e. limited to 9h shifts, no overnights,) and I was exempted from most work that exposed me to illnesses that would have been especially dangerous to me (varicella, COVID.)

  118. AWing*

    When I was pregnant, I read a perfect description of the first trimester: “exhaustion on a cellular level.” I took naps in my office at work (college instructor). I slept as much as possible at home. I sipped hot tea because it was the only thing that seemed to not make my stomach churn. I ate ginger candy like I was being paid to. I didn’t worry about housework (and my spouse was working five time zones away so I was on my own!) and relied on any convenience foods that sounded remotely ok.

  119. Regina Phalange*

    This was the absolute best thing about being pregnant in early COVID. Getting the throw up at home, be exhausted at home, have the excruciating symphysis pubis dysfuction at home…I can’t imagine doing any of that at work! But we are planning for #2 soon and I’m no longer remote soooo I guess I’m gonna figure it out.

  120. Regina Phalange*

    This was the absolute best thing about being pregnant in early COVID. Getting to throw up at home, be exhausted at home, have the excruciating symphysis pubis dysfuction at home…I can’t imagine doing any of that at work! But we are planning for #2 soon and I’m no longer remote soooo I guess I’m gonna figure it out.

  121. Daisy-dog*

    Do you have a friend or ally at work who you can trust to keep this a secret (and who also will be sympathetic/helpful if circumstances change)? Maybe let them know if only for them to pay attention to how your work might be perceived. Or to give advice or cover for you in some circumstances. I know someone who did this and it was so helpful.

    Totally get that this isn’t possible in all situations!! I wouldn’t have had someone like this in half of my past roles. But it can be such a relief to share it with someone if you are lucky enough to have a trustworthy co-worker.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I think this is great advice. My trusted work-friend was an absolute godsend in the early weeks when I had horrendous morning sickness and she could blithely cover for me, or redirect nosey gossip. Our HR rep was … awful, so it would not have worked to disclose earlier, even confidentially.

  122. A Simple Narwhal*

    Is WFH available to you? If so I would use it as much as possible. I was horrifically nauseous and completely exhausted during pregnancy, and being able to roll out of bed at 8:29 to login for 8:30 was a lifesaver. I was “fortunate” enough to be newly pregnant during a covid resurgence where my company made everyone wfh full time so I didn’t need to ask for the accommodation, but my plan if they did make us come in before I was comfortable sharing was to just claim a generic health issue.

    They did end up requiring a return to office right at the start of my 2nd trimester so I disclosed to my manager and was able to get permanent wfh for my pregnancy, which made a huge difference. Some days I could barely survive the commute from my bed to the couch and spent most of the day working while lying down. Naps were crucial.

    Overall my biggest thing was to lower my expectations for myself and focus on just doing what I needed to, nothing more. You’re growing a new organ right now, that takes a tremendous amount of energy, so be kind to yourself!

  123. pregnantteacher*

    I’m also pregnant right now, and working is tough! For me, being at work itself is usually okish, it’s just that when I get home I have absolutely no energy left. Here’s what has helped me (for some context, I’m a high school teacher.)
    – I scheduled my doctors’ appointments so I had to take days off for them – gave me a regular break and there was absolutely no pushback from my boss, colleagues, or students. I’m lucky I had the sick days banked to do this. I could have scheduled them differently and had my entire mat leave paid, but this was worth having a few unpaid days to me.
    – I knew I was hoping to be pregnant this year, so I requested a schedule that had me teaching only one prep. Usually, I like two for variety, but this has really cut my workload down.
    – Normally I work the hours I have to to get my job done well – this means I probably work ten additional hours past my contract each week. Now, I work only contract hours. I deliberately decide what I won’t get done and try to spread it around across my job responsibilities. One week my lessons might be less inspired, the next I might grade fewer assignments than I normally would, or provide less detailed feedback. It’s not ideal but it’s ok.
    – I’m lucky that I have a supportive team, including a supportive coteacher, at work – I ask my colleagues for help. I did this before sharing I was pregnant as well.
    – I just do all the things that feel weird, but I need to do. I eat in front of my students during class, which I would normally consider rude. I leave the classroom for bathroom breaks. I act like it’s normal and no one has called me on it, including before I’d announced.
    – I am very careful not to volunteer for or accept any additional job responsibilities. Cool sounding paid committee I might have joined normally and would look good on my resume? Wow, that sounds so interesting, hopefully I can join next year. Unpaid training ‘opportunity’ that would add hours to my workday? I’m unable to participate without compensation. I’ve been at my school for a little while, so I can pull off saying no firmly. I’m also lucky that I’m not looking to advance in my career – no need to pad my resume when I’m happy where I am and as much as missing out because I’m pregnant sucks, I prefer it to trying to do everything like normal.
    – On my drive home I list things that went well about the day. It helps me stay positive and remember that even if I’m doing less I am still doing enough.

    The other thing I would say is how I’ve felt at and about work has changed throughout my pregnancy. Some weeks teaching was as exciting and enjoyable as it normally is for me, other weeks when I had more symptoms or was iron deficient it was terrible. I try to accept how I’m feeling about it at the moment. If I’m feeling really good, I might even do some more prep in advance. If I’m feeling terrible, I might read a book during my free period and go home directly after school….for me there have been many days where it’s not that I’m choosing to work less, it’s that I cannot work more.

    And yes, it is totally one hundred percent ok to do less at work while you’re pregnant….it is infuriating that our system doesn’t acknowledge that this is a medical necessity, but it is, and pregnancy is temporary.

    All the best to you and your baby – congrats!

  124. bookwyrm*

    How do people handle public transportation and nausea? I’m currently trying to conceive and have about an hour commute on the metro, and that’s one thing that worries me. Obviously carrying emesis bags just in case but… on crowded trains that has to be awful.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      If I was feeling rough I would get off at the next station, breathe or puke as necessary, then board the next tram.

      But generally if I could actually vomit at home before I left I would only feel sick whilst travelling, and not vomit again.

      Best of luck with TTC.

  125. Critical Rolls*

    There is a slightly different way to think about this. Pregnancy is not the only reason performance at work could drop for a while. There are lots of other health conditions and life circumstances that could negatively affect performance, and everyone who experiences them has to do the same balancing act of pushing through and caring for themselves. Reasonable people understand that no one is at 100% for their entire working lives. That’s okay! You are going to do the best you can under the circumstances, be honest with yourself, ask for what you need, and not do yourself harm trying to reach unattainable goals of inhuman productivity.

    That said, I hope things ease up for you as you head into the next trimester. Congrats!

  126. OlympiasEpiriot*

    You have to figure out what works best for you.

    For me, I was a resident engineer in the field on multiple construction projects during my pregnancy. I dealt with the nausea by consuming humongous amounts of Vit Bs. That worked for me. I also ate whatever I was craving; in my case, that was fish. Oily fish. The stuff they told me not to eat because I’d poison the baby. (Side note, by my request, baby was tested for heavy metals at 1 week old…all go and, specifically, no mercury levels detected.)

    I only told my project managers and asked them to not spread it around and only officially notified my firm when I had a schedule for leave. I stayed in the field as much as possible because as long as I didn’t mention it, everyone looks lumpy in Carhartt so no one noticed I was pregnant until I actually asked someone to lift a box for me at 8 months when it was changing how my body moved so much that I wouldn’t have been able to lift it myself safely.

    When I was in the office, some people (male and female both) acted like they had a right to talk to me and give me “advice” because I was pregnant. Like “now you’re going to have to buy a TV…it’s child abuse to not let a child watch TV” and “no, you can’t step on the library stool” when I had been climbing tower stairs out of excavations and using ladders on scaffolding in the field. Oh yeah, and the EA at the office holiday party WHILE I WAS SPEAKING WITH ONE OF THE PARTNERS came up from behind and put her arms around me and patted my protruding midsection. I turned around, pushed her away and growled “don’t you ever touch me again, not even to shake my hand, not if I am bleeding dying on the floor” and turned back to continue the conversation.

    I was treated like crap when I returned from leave. It took a while for me to leave myself. Had a lot of other stuff going on in my life and I felt I needed to make sure I had the health insurance.

    We really need to have a national single payer healthcare program exclusively. Right to health insurance needs to be divorced from employment.

  127. WalkandTalk*

    Just echoing the advice to give yourself all the grace. Clear your after-work calendar and feel totally guiltless about doing nothing as soon as you “clock out” for the day. Just catch up on rest. That way, every day, you just have to make it to 5 pm. Remind yourself of this often. You just have to get through the day. Don’t do everything. Do enough. Resist perfection and focus on getting things done with the resources you have available to give (this will help with work/life balance after the baby comes). For nausea, make sure you are getting enough protein, especially before bed and when you first wake up. A hardboiled egg if you can stomach it, or a very mild babybell cheese. It seems counterintuitive, but a lot of times when you’re pregnant and nauseous, it’s bc you need to eat.

    1. turquoisecow*

      Yes, I had a dietician and she advised keeping crackers on hand to make sure there was a little something in the stomach to counteract nausea.

  128. Kaisa (The Librarian)*

    Congrats! The first trimester can be rough. I know I was trying to hoard all my PTO to get as much paid time off as possible (yay U.S), but sometimes you just need to take the day off. For nausea I took half a unisom before bed basically all of the first trimester. It’s one of the main ingredients in one of the anti nausea meds that are prescribed, but cheaper and no prescription necessary (the other ingredient is B6, which I know some people take as well to get the full effect and stave off nausea, but I only ever did the unisom). Clearly with medication only do what you’re comfortable with and check with your doctor on any concerns.

    1. turquoisecow*

      Yes, I was given a prescription anti nausea medication at one point and that helped a LOT. For me the nausea persisted into the beginning of the second trimester – it was such a relief when it went away, and then I had a couple of weeks of being able to eat normally before I was diagnosed with diabetes. I actually lost a few pounds from lack of eating.

  129. Area Woman*

    Congrats! Both times I had severe nausea and fatigue, although not hyperemesis as I didn’t throw up or anything, just felt like a post-21st birthday hangover 24/7 (for me, it was all day, not just morning). I was borderline useless for periods of time, but ended up being very sedentary at home and did a lot of 8pm bedtimes to save all my energy for work.

    However, I told my boss both times (different people, different company). I was so sick, I needed support and flexibility more than usual. If you have any kind of reasonable work environment, they should keep it confidential and help you out. Better than they think you’re falling behind just because of slacking

    1. Area Woman*

      Also scrolling through the comments and side-eyeing everyone with their nausea tips…. Like, literally anyone can google these things and for a lot of people they don’t do anything. Also I had nausea both pregnancies the whole time, so it may be well meaning but don’t set yourself up like “this is almost over just get to 13 weeks”. Might be 40 weeks (or for my first, 34… yay preemies! Literally you can’t plan anything. Just ask for help and flexibility from your boss).

      1. Kiowan*

        Yes! For one, the anti nausea tips might not work. I was also told by everyone that the sickness would pass by 16 weeks. It didn’t. I was still throwing up into a Starbucks bag driving to work in my 7th and 8th month. It might be the whole time and there might not be a solution. I was super blessed to work for a company that had flexibility but it was only if they knew it was due to pregnancy.

        1. Area Woman*

          The OP wasn’t asking for advice on pregnancy symptoms… but how to continue being an employee through them. Pregnancy is different for everyone and I got really tired of people telling me what worked for them. If it’s obvious, I tried it! Ended up on a couple medicines for my second. But I digress. Stick to the question, people! Pregnant people are tired of being lectured about what’s going on with their bodies!!

      2. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Absolutely!! The nausea can be utterly crippling. I know a woman who was hospitalized due to it. Everyone is different and just because something worked for one person, it doesn’t mean it is going to work for another individual. (Hence why I qualified my experience with “it worked for me”.)

        Best anyone can do, I think, is not rely in advance on one particular plan and keep in regular contact with the OB/midwife/NP and let them know what’s going on!

  130. Elder Grad Student*

    This letter took me back to when I was first pregnant, making my way to the bathroom past all the people about 1,000 times a day. Nobody noticed. I also took lunchtime naps in my car. Nobody noticed that either. I worked in heavy deadline-based industry at the time so everyone was too worried about their own stuff to be nosy about mine. It was tough physically but I was lucky that I didn’t have to disclose early.

    1. Elder Grad Student*

      Adding this – people *did* notice when the assistant came back with lunch and had gotten me the wrong kind of soup and I burst into tears! But that was farther along when I had at least told my boss.

  131. turquoisecow*

    I was super lucky to be working part time, from home, during a pandemic and hike pregnant. Well, maybe the pandemic wasn’t lucky because it did make routine doctor’s appointments more difficult and Husband wasn’t allowed to come with me, but it was lucky in that no one was going to the office and there was zero expectation that I show up at all (previously I think it was expected I pop in occasionally for a meeting – that was often cancelled last minute – but everyone was remote during the pandemic).

    The hardest part for me was the first and last trimester. First trimester I was nauseous all the time and had low appetite – people definitely would have noticed my feeling terrible even though I didn’t regularly eat with my colleagues. In both the first and last I was super tired all the time, which would have made it hard to work for 8 hours straight, plus commute. I regularly took a nap in the afternoon. And then I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes, so I had to watch what I ate and do regular blood tests, plus insulin as needed.

    Because I didn’t go to the office, I was able to delay telling anyone until I was quite far along in the pregnancy, and it took them all completely by surprise when I did. (I asked my boss if we could talk on the phone, and he thought I wanted to tell him I was quitting.)

    Feeling exhausted is extremely normal for first and third trimester, probably harder to deal with in the first when you haven’t told anyone yet. If you have an understanding boss, you could maybe say that you have a medical issue you’re trying to get under control, or you’ve started a new medication, or you’re getting over a cold, and that should be enough. Up to you if you want to be proactive about it (just so you know, I’m feeling tired because of a medical thing, sorry in advance, I’ll catch up on X and Y when I’m feeling better) rather than wait until someone notices you slacking or showing up late.

    Best of luck, OP.

  132. Minerva*

    Congrats! I handled pregnancy by telling my boss a little earlier than I intended to at 8 weeks (though I asked her to keep it between us which she respected) because while I didn’t get nauseated I did start to cry for practically no reason (the copier is out of ink? WAAAAAAHHHHHHH) and be ready to fall asleep at my desk. My boss was also very pro-baby and a lactation consultant on the side so I felt comfortable telling her what was going on. From there I was able to work with her on my needs re “taking a moment away” or ducking out a little early as long as critical tasks were done.

    While there are legal obligations and personal preferences, how you handle being pregnant at work is super dependent on that environment. I know that’s not the best answer, but a boss who loves kids and champions work life balance is going to handle things differently a boss who thinks women should quit the workforce once they have kids. Only you know what sort of environment you are in.

  133. Lily Potter*

    Apologies if this has already been suggested, but it would be helpful if the LW indicated what she does for a living. At the extremes, advice given to an hourly union welder is going to be much different than a salaried professional without direct reports that works 100% from home.

  134. green_tea*

    I am on my second day back at work after maternity leave and remember vividly how hard working was while pregnant! I was very sick into the 2nd trimester, had a productive few weeks, and then once the third trimester hit, I was so over it and uncomfortable I was back to being unproductive again. I luckily had a very understanding boss and team who cut me a lot of slack and gave lots of accommodations. I’d just be honest with your boss if possible – this is only temporary after all!

  135. Kiowan*

    I had awful morning sickness for my entire pregnancy and work in management for a large supermarket chain. I had to tell my supervisor at around 9 weeks (and I asked him to only tell HR if needed as we hadn’t announced yet) because we had a pretty strict attendance and punctuality policy. I just had to get through it. I was kind of lucky in that I typically only got physically sick in the mornings so I tried to get up early and start the day to try to get it out of the way before work. I hope the sickness passes for you.

  136. Also Alex*

    I’m surprised that only one third-level comment has mentioned the placenta. Your body is building the placenta (which takes energy) and, in the meantime, baby is getting everything directly from you. Once you’re done finished building that placenta (around the end of 1st/beginning of 2nd trimester) many people feel on top of the world!!

    Do whatever you can to survive until then. Don’t assume that means 0 caffeine; ~2 cups of coffee a day is fine for most people. Not that it makes much of a dent some days!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I second “do whatever you can”.

      There are some very well meaning comments upthread about getting the right kind of nutrients, but for some people you really need to listen to your body and eat the one thing it tells you it will tolerate, even if that’s nothing but saltines for eight weeks straight (my first baby was grown on 95% tinned pears and plain pasta). Unless it’s a food your doctor has explicitly prohibited (eg liver, swordfish) then you eat what you can eat. And you sleep when you’re ready to sleep, even if you only got in from work ten minutes ago. And if you aren’t doing your best work, meh. It’s likely you are still outperforming your worst colleagues.

  137. Elizabeth*

    I found out I was pregnant about a week after I received a lateral move to a high-profile position in my office. The first trimester was not kind to me and I made it worse by convincing myself that everyone must be noticing how “off” I was and regretting giving me the position. When I told my boss (around 6 weeks because I felt like I couldn’t function), not only was he super excited for me, he hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary with my behavior.

    I know it’s not the situation everyone finds themselves in, but my male-dominated, mostly ex-military workplace, was lovely and supportive. Most of the stress and anxiety was self-imposed because I was worried about asking for “too much.” I remember tying myself in knots trying to miss the absolute least work for my OB appointments (which were across town through heinous traffic). In retrospect, I could and should have taken more time off. I’ve tried to be more proactive as a manager and affirmatively tell people these things are okay.

  138. My Name is Mudd*

    I told everyone as soon as I turned up positive. Because I’m one of those unlucky people who have all day morning sickness. There was a 95% chance on any given day that I was going to either rush to the bathroom or throw up in a trash barrel. I also needed to not sit near cigarette smokers or coffee drinkers, as both smells made me even more nauseous.

  139. Turtlewings*

    I completely get that you don’t want to tell your workplace and especially your boss yet. But to share a relevant example from my life — a couple of years ago, a coworker was supposed to open in the mornings, and I kept having to cover for her because she was constantly late. (I’m not supposed to be public-facing at all, but we had to open on time.) I liked this coworker! But I was still getting really annoyed about this!

    Then she confessed to me that she was pregnant and it was morning sickness that was making mornings so horribly difficult for her. Suddenly I was totally happy to open for her as needed, partly out of sympathy, partly because I was so happy for her, and partly because I knew it was a limited-time thing. Eventually morning sickness would trail off or, if nothing else, she would have the baby! XD And I was right, within a few weeks she was feeling much better and able to open without difficulty. So, at least with the right coworker, ‘fessing up earlier than you’d planned might be helpful, if you find that your troubles are making other people’s lives harder.

  140. Stokes*

    I’d add ableism to patriarchy and mysogyny. What you describe is really similar to many chronic illnesses. There’s not a lot of room in out work culture for feeling any kind of unwell in a regular basis. I do recommend taking advantage of ADA accommodations if you need them. Your doctor can help you and you don’t have to disclose your medical condition to your employer —just the accommodations you need for it.

  141. Age of the Geek, Baby*

    As someone who is 34 weeks pregnant, I feel you. Sometimes it’s still a struggle of what I can and can’t do.

    In the first trimester, WFH saved my life. I literally snuck home to take naps. I also took saltines with me when I had to be at work. I also just had more exhaustion than nausea, to be fair. It’s extremely normal – at least that’s what I kept telling myself, as I cried over how useless I felt.

    But it is OK not to be 100%. And don’t feel pressured to disclose until you are ready, and disclosure can mean a lot of things. I told my immediate team of two, including my Boss, about 8-10 weeks in. I said I did not want to make it a big deal until Our Very Important Client Party happened, and they respected that. I told the larger team the following Monday – though I did have a doctor’s note I threw at my Boss before the event saying I can’t carry heavy weight right before the Important Client Party happened (HAHA!)

    Things do get better in the second trimester, with the exhaustion and the nausea. Just keep in mind, it’s OK not to be giving 150% all the damn time now. Growing a human is exhausting.

    I will say, the biggest thing for me is just the weird social phenomenon that comes with being pregnant. After I emerged from COVID spike winter this month, one coworker asked to touch my stomach (no) and another just made a grabbing motion toward my stomach (hell no!) A VP who’s probably my grandfather’s day called me “Mommy,” which, ew, and I told him “Don’t call me that, I’m not your mother.” A lot of weird comments is what I wasn’t prepared for – but just acting incredulous to these people, much like Alison’s advice in other situations, works well. Shiny Spine and all, if I’m using language from Ehell.


  142. Lulu*

    Oh God I hated pregnancy. I learned the difference between health and experience; my health was very good, my experience was very bad. It’s okay to not like pregnancy. It’s okay to set your expectations to what you can actually accomplish in this situation. I often reminded myself that I was pregnant because I wanted a baby, not because I wanted pregnancy. Others have said that they improved significantly after the first trimester, and that wasn’t my experience at all. But I still got through it.
    All that said, I benefited from being able to WFH through much of the pregnancy. If you have that option, take it. Also, by eight weeks you can probably take Zofran. It was an absolute lifesaver for me. Ask your doctor about it (or other options) for managing symptoms.

    1. Elizabeth*

      “I learned the difference between health and experience”

      Amen to this! I was perfectly healthy and miserable at the same time. I found the experience profoundly de-stabilizing. I adore being a mom, but I am happily one and done!

      1. Lulu*

        I have one and would like another, but what I know now is that I can’t do it while working again. I need to wait until I don’t need to lift my toddler (I had no ab strength and lifting would set off constant contractions for the rest of the day), I don’t need to work, and I don’t need to return to work (I so want to be home with her; I can’t do this again). None of that is going to happen overnight, and it might not happen at all. But I know so much more now about making choices in life for what works for you and your family. Nobody else can tell you what you *should* be able to handle.

    2. Gato Blanco*

      But LW should note that not all docs will prescribe Zofran that early. I am currently pregnant and my doc will only prescribe it at 13 weeks.

  143. Rara Avis*

    I definitely had times when I was not my best working self and doing the minimum to get by. Really cut back on outside hobbies and did a lot of early nights. Once I was showing I asked for some accommodations — for instance, skipping an outside event in 95 degree temperatures when I was 8 months pregnant, and getting a tall stool to be able to sit down on the job. I wanted to save as much sick time as possible for my leave, so I was at work until 2 weeks before my due date (one week before the munchkin made their appearance). The key maybe is accepting that you might not be able to be a rockstar at work while you are busy with this other super-important project.

  144. kate*

    I have had 5 pregnancies, and the first trimester felt like having a 3 month flu. Nothing to do but muscle through it.
    In the final trimester when you’re showing a lot, people will usually happily extend you the slack that you desperately needed at the start and no longer require. Sigh.

  145. Incessant Owlbears*

    More than once during my first trimester I found a dark, quiet place to lie down in the middle of the day. Once it was the server room. A few times it was tucked under my large desk, next to the wall, where no one could see me unless they physically came into that corner of the room and rounded the furniture.

    If there’s any way to grab a nap, I would heartily endorse it. The first trimester took A LOT of my energy.

  146. SofiaDeo*

    If you have a decent manager, consider looping them in. Not on “pregnant” just “not well lately”. I like to think I was more on the “better manager” spectrum, and when staff told me they were feeling off/getting a migraine/whatever, I would see if I could assign/reassign work. So someone who was, say, needing a bathroom a lot wouldn’t be covering the phones. Someone with an incipient migraine wasn’t given work where a mistake would be critical, they got first-draft stuff that others would routinely check. IDK if this is something you are willing to talk with your boss, some will push for more than “I’m not feeling very well lately”. With so many nowadays being nosey/offering “advice”/commenting on disclosed medical stuff, I would hesitate to state the illness was first trimester pregnancy related. Covid and other illness with lingering effects abound this winter, perhaps you can just mention to your boss you are “feeling off” lately? Whether or not you think to include something like “I am working with a doc to deal with these symptoms” may be needed…it’s true, after all, without disclosing exactly what is going on. And in the unfortunate event you turn out to be one of the rare women getting hyperemesis gravidarum, the process for medical accommodation will have been started. I say this not to scare or upset you, just, as a licensed healthcare person, I always assess situations as “plan ahead for possible worst case scenario” even when they are statistically unlikely. It’s one way we manage to stay calm if/when things suddenly escalate. At some point, we have briefly considered what we would do “if”…so “if” happens, there is less hesitation.

  147. Lizy*

    So I’m definitely one of those people that sees absolutely NOTHING wrong with telling people I’m pregnant. I didn’t go blabbing on Facebook but I also didn’t hide it or anything, and many/most of my closest friends and family knew the same day I did. But I have been extremely blessed to have easy pregnancies and no complications or infertility struggles or miscarriages. So there’s that. But I also think the stigma around pregnancy, infertility, child loss, and the choice to have/not have children is very real, and I am passionate about helping to change that.

    As far as work – since you don’t want to tell anyone yet (which – let me be clear, is 100000% ok), I would just tell your boss/whoever that you seem to be dealing with a medical issue that’s got you extra-slow (or whatever), and that it should hopefully clear up soon. And yes, it’s absolutely ok to do less at work or take a day off. Take 2 days off. Take all the days off. Just because millions of people have been pregnant and felt crappy during the first trimester (and beyond) doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck and you’re entitled to give yourself a break. I know of at least a few times I took a catnap (with supervisor’s knowledge and permission) in the (unused) conference room. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

    IMO, do what you feel like doing. You shouldn’t have to “push through” anything unless you’re pushing the kid through your legs. Just the same as if you had a migrane, or a cold that left you extra exhausted, or couldn’t sleep the night before, or WHATEVER. I absolutely believe that making it all as normal as possible will help … make it normalized.

    Also, you will absolutely find that people talk about pregnancy/baby stuff a lot more once you’ve “joined the club”. There is just something about knowing someone else who has gone through something similar.

    So yeah – give yourself a break. You don’t have to tell the world; keep it vague. Ask for help! There’s nothing wrong with asking to temporarily redistribute the workload or lighten your load for a bit. “I think the weather is getting at me… I’m just exhausted recently. Can we look at projects and see if Kate or Jones can help out for a few weeks, or back-burner some projects until I feel better?”

    And most important – CONGRATS!!!!!

  148. Little Beans*

    This probably won’t be helpful to the OP, but still wanted to share so that people know there are a range of experiences! I actually was one of those rare people who never got morning sickness – in fact, I had no noticeable symptoms for my first two trimesters and worked completely as normal. Then my third trimester coincided with the onset of Covid and fully remote work – I had really bad sciatica and it was painful to stand or walk, so I was very grateful to not have to leave my house.

  149. Carol the happy elf*

    Hated those horse pills! They were PINK. When my daughter got married and that shade of pink was one of her colors, it actually made me a little queasy.
    They made my vomiting sessions taste like I’d been licking every rusty heap in the junkyard.

    One other patient at my OB/GYN had vomited so hard from hers that it got stuck up in the back of her nose, and had to be removed by an ENT doctor.

  150. iglwif*

    Full disclosure: I was pregnant a very long time ago (I have only 1 kid and she’s 20). I feel like I remember it pretty well but I may be wrong about that.

    I did not have morning sickness (although I did develop motion sickness which I had never had before), but I was THE MOST TIRED I had ever been.

    Once or twice, I literally nodded off at my desk, which fortunately for me was back in a corner.

    I frequently fell asleep on the train or bus on my way to and from work — fortunately for me I was commuting by public transit, not driving.

    For those first 3 months, upon returning home from work, I typically sat down on the couch and fell asleep as soon as I had my coat and shoes off. We ate a lot of frozen reheatable things, usually in front of the TV, and the apartment was very untidy. I frequently went back to sleep after dinner and my spouse had to wake me up to do my 23:00 progesterone shot.

    I got pregnant in early November (I know the exact date because it was donor-egg IVF), and in December I had to sing 3 carol concerts and 5 shows of Messiah. You know those really long solos in Messiah? Yeah, I definitely dozed off a couple times during some of those, sitting in the choir loft with 2500 people in the audience. I’m not proud of it but it is what it is.

    The thing that helped the most is something that it sounds like isn’t available to you: My boss had worked with me for 5+ years at that point and trusted me, she knew about my cancer and infertility, she knew we’d been doing IVF, she knew about the previous failed cycle, and I called her third, after my spouse and my mom, when I got that first positive HCG test result from the clinic. So even though no one *else* at work knew until I was past the scary first trimester, she was aware, and if I had to call in sick or go home early or whatever, she was cool with it. I fully understand how lucky I was with this!!!

    So I guess my advice is … since you do have to go to work, and may be in the US and thus trying to save up your sick days to substitute for mat leave, try to do as little else as you can get away with. Go home and nap after work. Nap on the weekends. Get takeaway if you can afford it, get your spouse to cook, whatever. Let the flat get messy for a while and try not to care. You are GROWING A HUMAN! Also, my experience was that after the dragging fatigue of months 1-3, months 4-6 were full of energy, for whatever weird reason. (Months 7-9 it was too hot and I was too huge to do anything. I gave birth in August following a garbage strike in July: do not recommend.)

  151. Mo*

    You can ask your OB about medication for nausea. I ended up being put on an OTC combo that was cheap and made me more functional. Sleep as many hours as possible at night (I was getting like 12 hours a night for a few weeks). I was fortunate to be able to essentially take a few weeks off and only do some minimal WFH. I don’t know how I could have managed full time in person.

  152. Momma Bear*

    Firstly, CONGRATS!!

    I told my boss when I was about 11 weeks and she’d already guessed. I made sure I understood how appointments could be handled with leave use and tried to minimize the impact of the appointments on the job. There were of course days where all the OB had on the calendar was mid-day but I did the best I could. I kept crackers and ginger ale at my desk. If I really, really couldn’t get through a day, I asked for a day off or to work from home, or just to go home. Everyone has their own levels of discomfort. Something I did was invest in some nicer stretchy pants and sneakers because no way was I wearing suit pants and heels (though other women did!) with my huge belly. Talk to HR – there’s paperwork they’ll have you do for short term disability and FMLA if you qualify. Do what you can to maximize your benefits. Start looking for child care NOW. Good infant care is expensive and hard to find.

    I think initially you only need to tell the people who need to know – your boss, your team. There have been a few women here who I know were pregnant but I never heard it directly from them so we never talked about it. IF I had to work with them, I kept it to the work at hand. You can keep the news to yourself, or just tell people yes, but you aren’t discussing your health at work.

    I’d also make a plan “in case” – my old boss was very concerned about me going into labor in the office. Having a plan might help everyone feel better if you need to leave suddenly. Also, start documenting tasks now so that regardless of when baby arrives, you’re ready to pass the work off and just enjoy your newborn.

    Also, before you come back (or even before you go) find out about things like where to pump if you choose to do so. Make them aware of this need and that a public bathroom is not good enough (ew). Maybe ask to come back PT the first couple of weeks.

    But as far as the day to to day? Do what you can when you can. As long as you’re not dropping the ball on everything, don’t feel like you need to be a superhero. Ask for help/accommodations when you need to.

  153. Sunny days are better*


    I was pregnant twice a little over twenty years ago and still remember how awful it was for me. I had the opposite of morning sickness. I felt great in the morning, and then around noon (I could almost set my watch to it), I would start feeling sick and it would get worse throughout the day, and last until I went to bed. Every single day for 13-16 weeks (depending on the pregnancy). Then one day it magically stopped – both times.

    I told my direct supervisor early on because I felt so awful and could see that my productivity was down, and asked her to keep it quiet until I was ready to tell people. That went fine.

    I also had a collection of crackers and used Sea Bands as well. I also drank ginger-ale with the fizz taken out (to prevent getting gas on top of everything else) which helped a bit.

    My goal every day was just to survive the day and do the best that I could – at work, at home, wherever. I set the bar very low, so that I wouldn’t be constantly disappointed in myself. I have no regrets. You will get through this, even when you think that you can’t. Hugs!

  154. Sciencer*

    “I’m not uniquely stricken by all this first trimester nonsense, and I know that many people have it much worse — and yet, pregnant people continue to go to work!”

    Many people have it much worse, but many people have it easier too (I was one of those). Don’t try to downplay your misery because you aren’t diagnosed with HG or anything like that. Nausea is all-consuming and very hard to ignore. Do what you need to do, take those days off when you need them, and remember that people go through less-productive periods at work for all sorts of reasons so there is no need to feel guilty about it. Pregnancy is a challenging medical condition, even when it’s wanted!

  155. Formerly Libraries*

    I had a 1.5-2 hour commute to work when I was pregnant and usually was able to keep the nausea down or vomit at home before I hit the road. Sometimes I would be late to work due to waiting for the morning sickness to hit and *could* have used traffic as my excuse except that my extremely hovering boss (who said many discouraging things about women “of childbearing age”) had 80% of the same commute as I did and would not have bought it. She didn’t have enough work of her own and so closely monitored the arrival times of all her reports to swoop in to “say good morning” as soon as we arrived.

    One day I was already late and decided to chance it but I took a large mixing bowl with me for the ride. I had to exit the freeway at 60 MPH while vomiting into a mixing bowl and sat in the abandoned parking lot of a closed Taco Bell at 7am until I was well enough to drive again.

    I ended up telling the department’s Executive Admin who was a superb secret keeper and who also disliked my supervisor so she made up all kinds of excuses for me until I moved offices. She was a star. I did not end up telling my supervisor that I was pregnant until I had to set up my FMLA and HR notified her (everyone else on my team knew).

  156. CatDragon*

    I had keys to the server room and on several occasions passed out on the carpeted floor during lunch.

  157. Jenny*

    It was awful. I did as little as I could get away with. Most conscientious people can get away with doing less than they think at work, especially for a short while. Most days I would try to go to work, and then just take a half day on the days I couldn’t hack it. I got on Zofran and it was a godsend…because my nausea never went away and I had it until the day I gave birth! Be kind to yourself, sleep as much as possible, and you can do this! <3

  158. Merrie*

    Being pregnant at work (heck, being pregnant in general) is about survival and doing the best you can do. You won’t feel this terrible forever and you’ll eventually be able to do more. Solidarity.

  159. Anon for this*

    I was pregnant with my two kiddos in the early aughts (which doesn’t seem that long ago). From unsolicited advice/comments to managers interviewing for my replacement while I was pregnant because they were convinced I wouldn’t be coming back after the birth, I’ve experienced everything a pregnant person can experience at work. :(
    It would be nice if pregnant people felt they didn’t have to hide being pregnant for as long as possible, and that we could normalize discussions around what is, after all, a very natural bodily function. Unfortunately, even in the year 2023 some managers get super weird about people being pregnant in the workplace and I can understand why people wouldn’t want to share the news until they have to.

  160. Lellow*

    I was signed off sick for a lot of my pregnancy because I was so ill. And I had to take a load of sick days before that.

    In the UK (in case this is relevant to anyone reading – I didn’t know all this ahead of time!) it’s recommended to disclose as soon as you know you’re pregnant because as soon as you do all your workplace protections kick in – all your medical appointments must be accommodated (at full pay) and your sick time should be recorded separately and can’t result in any absence-related disciplinaries. BUT your government maternity pay is based on what you actually earned over the three(?) months prior to going on mat leave, so if you are ill enough to end up on Statutory Sick Pay that can mess up your mat pay.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Additionally, if you are signed off sick in a certain window your employer can trigger the start of your maternity leave early (I can’t remember the details but there was a point in a difficult pregnancy where I needed to know). You might end up being paid more for those weeks than you would on sick pay, but your maternity leave entitlement and maternity pay run out sooner.

  161. Topothemornin*

    Each phase felt different to me. I felt like I had the flu the first three months; the middle stretch was fatigue and pre-partum depression; the last few months was major fatigue & slowness, being short of breath all the time, some back pain as all my ligaments loosened…fun, fun times. My mornings were okay but my afternoons, I fell asleep at my desk a couple of times. Sometimes I felt like my days were just about eating and surviving until the next day.

    It’s counterintuitive, but do what you can with your energy to ensure you get some active time in, even if that’s just moving around your house, a 15-minute walk outside, or something. I would make sure to walk and get lunch and it would get my blood flowing again and keep me from puddling at my desk.

    I do think there is an odd thing where we don’t prepare women for how awful pregnancy is, particularly the pains in the later months as your ligaments shift and your organs are displaced (which doctors just brush off–no medicine for you for this constant back pain, you’re probably drug seeking!), because we’re all supposed to revel in soon-to-be motherhood and have endless tolerance for pain? I love my kid and growing a human was a profound experience but frankly, pregnancy itself was miserable and I wish we could talk about that more without having to put the positive dressing on it.

    I actually experienced more problems at work AFTER pregnancy, with management not really understanding what pumping requires–we moved offices while I was pumping and I was consigned to pump in a cold, dark back storage room with no air flow (and two access doors and no guaranteed ability to keep people out), and it’s a large part of why I stopped nursing at that time. I think many people think it’s like urinating or something–for anyone with supply issues, which being away from your baby at work will exacerbate, you can’t just lock yourself in a dark room and be done in 5 minutes.

  162. EBStarr*

    “I think what I’m struggling with is that this is clearly just how pregnant people feel — I’m not uniquely stricken by all this first trimester nonsense, and I know that many people have it much worse — and yet, pregnant people continue to go to work! And we just, like, don’t talk about it!”

    One of the weirdest things about being a birth parent is how horrible it is in the best-case scenario, and yet it’s “normal” so you don’t feel entitled to a whole lot of sympathy. (Giving birth is similar — everyone acts so happy for you and yet even if it’s not a dramatic birth story it can feel extremely traumatic! I kept wondering why no one realized that my relatively unremarkable birth story was still the most horrible thing that had ever happened to me. It makes you feel a little bit crazy.)

    I don’t have a lot of advice. I am lucky to work in tech so when I was pregnant I just spent my first trimester openly napping in the office, since it was a perfectly normal thing to do whether you were pregnant or not. (My first trimester was pre-Covid, I hit 13 weeks in Feb 2020.) I was convinced everyone knew I was pregnant because I felt so sluggish, slow, and nauseous — I wrote barely any code and was eating only pizza for lunch every single day. But when I disclosed at the beginning of my second trimester, it turned out no one had noticed anything! So funny. So I guess I don’t have a lot of good advice — I just indulged every pregnancy problem I was having and no one noticed, which I feel like could be harder at a more traditional workplace, or if you’re not working in a knowledge-worker type profession which is prone to periods of not being visibly productive anyway, like engineering… I guess my one piece of advice is to get comfortable with things like taking a sick day because you don’t feel well. You’re gonna be taking sick days constantly once your kid is born (I’m writing this from my desk at home because my kid is on her 3rd day home sick from daycare…).

  163. Liz*

    When I was pregnant, but before I was ready to “announce” I just had a run of colds, allergies, headaches, etc. For constant snacking to help nausea – you’ve heard eating smaller portions through out the day is healthier! (Who cares if it is or isn’t..). I also found lemon ginger to tea to help with the nausea – also great for digestion!

    And honestly, you’re probably doing better then you think you are <3

  164. Youcandoit!*

    Congratulations! First trimester is just so, so, so hard. Be kind to yourself, it gets easier….then hard again.

    Parenthood is the best thing in the world, that I would never wish on anyone who didn’t want it. It is filled with the question of “omg how do people literally survive this moment?” Mine was when my baby was waking up/wanting to feed 8 times a night between 9-12 months. I cried in my pediatricians office and told her something MUST be wrong with my baby. Nope. Just a baby.

    No tips or tricks, just empathy and support. I guess the trick would be find the people who provide you empathy and support in your life and lean on them hard. And lots of ginger-ale.

  165. SarahS*

    Just hear to say I’m on my second baby, 22 weeks, currently working from my bed debating whether or not I can close my eyes for a quick 20-30 minute nap. If you can work from home, do it!

  166. GreenDoor*

    I guarantee as soon as you announce, you will have all kinds of formerly pregnant people coming up to you with their reassurances, tips, and mostly…understanding!
    Also, I had back-to-back babies and when I announced the 2nd pregnancy it was insane how many women I work with had the same experience! I got a second, but positively different kind of reassurances, tips, and understanding.
    Unless you work with absolute jerks, it’ll be fine! Congratulations!

  167. Another IVF mom*

    I was in an extremely toxic work environment during my first and second pregnancy. I did not disclose my first and ended up miscarrying – which I then disclosed in order to take time off. I came to deeply regret this due to my horrible manager who continually brought it up to me over and over despite my requests to not discuss my situation. Looking back, I should have just kept it to a “medical situation.” My second pregnancy (resulting in my amazing 13m old) I disclosed on the earlier side because I presented regularly over video calls to the CEO and had to several times go off camera/show up late. I regret disclosing but at the time I didn’t really know what options I had in such a visible role. My nausea was bad during weeks 6-10 and then let up tremendously. I snacked constantly which was the only thing to keep it at bay.

    For anyone wondering what became of my toxic work culture? They replaced my position while I was out on maternity leave. I resigned the day I was supposed to return. I took legal action which completely stalled out at the EEOC level. But the silver lining – I have an amazing new job with better pay, benefits and they are very supportive of pregnant and nursing women.

  168. Well*

    I just kept going and powered through. My job doesn’t give much leeway. I had severe morning sickness and the smell of frozen egg biscuit thing my co-worker heated up every morning made me violently ill. I asked him to eat them at home, or best them at home, and he told me in no uncertain terms that his days of worrying about morning sickness ended when his third child had been born. It was pretty clear the only person who cared I was pregnant was me.

  169. Napster*

    This advice is applicable *after* you give birth too, and not just at work: Do what you can. “What you can” will depend on the day. Growing a human (and caring for one) requires unbelievable amounts of energy. Listen to your body. Some days it will be capable of much more than other days. Strive to be okay with that. (And strive to not worry about whether others are okay with that.)

    All the best to you!

  170. wmsm*

    When I was pregnant and working for a company with general medical leave options, I ended up ‘calling in’ about once every two weeks. My work was not stuff with immediate or short term deadlines, and I didn’t need coverage for my sick days, which helped a lot with the whole “not feeling bad for the whole life adjustment and living with major physical symptoms unlike anything I’d ever before experienced”.

    I, too, had pretty run-of-the-mill pregnancies, perhaps easier than average with no vomiting due to pregnancy. It still changed my attention, my sleep, my mood, my appetite. Like your saltines, I would sip peppermint or ginger tea all day long.

    The hardest part of all was taking an overnight business trip with my team lead at about 10 weeks, when I was still not sharing the news. We ate at a restaurant he loved (he traveled there often), and there wasn’t a single thing on the menu I could imagine eating considering the nausea. I was miserable when I usually enjoyed many parts of work travel. Knowing I wasn’t penalized for being pregnant at that company, I really wish I had just told him then.

  171. Biology Dropout*

    Congratulations!! And oh my gosh it’s amazing how miserable pregnancy can be. What helped me being pregnant in an office was:
    1. I legit got a stomach flu and calling out sick, then getting a UTI and called out sick, so people chalked up me being super pregnant sick to those things. You can take a sick day or two on a bad day, and it will actually help if you need to leave early/nap under your desk on other bad days. “Yeah, just not over that bug yet.”
    2. Taking a sick day!
    3. Since it was so hard to make myself eat food, I’d go for a walk over lunch and walk down to the grocery store to see what looked edible that day. For some reason walking gave me more energy and made me less nauseous than sitting.
    4. Having a Preggie Drop in my mouth at all times. I just repackaged them into another container so no one caught on. Seriously, ginger was NOT cutting it and those drops made it so I could actually drink water.
    5. Getting Diglecis with my second pregnancy and Zofran with my third was really helpful. I don’t know why I didn’t ask for something in my first pregnancy, but it would have been nice.
    6. Throat punching ignorant people in my office. Well, in my head. People (once I’d announced my pregnancy) would tell me, while I was hanging over a trash can, “You should be feeling better by now!” Well, clearly not. (See #5. Nausea that bad/long-lasting needed drugs.)

    Good luck! Is there a room you can nap in to help “get over your bug?”

  172. Talley*

    You can tell your manager that you’re going through a temporary medical issue that will not affect you long term, but you may need to take it a little easy or need other accomodations for a few weeks. You don’t need to tell them what the condition is. By the time those weeks are up, you will probably be ready to start sharing the good news, if it’s not already apparent.

  173. Strong Independent Acid Snake*

    I know for some people it is a very stressful notion to have to tell the boss that you are pregnant and will be leaving temporally (or permanently if you decide/need to be Stay Home Parent). When telling the work place of your pregnancy do not be apologetic or act like this is a massive inconvenience for them. Be matter of fact about your plans and 9 times out 10 people will follow your cues and react in a normal way.

    Finally if anyone tries to tell you any horror stories about pregnancy or birth- shut them down! I had a colleague who was always trying to tell me how awful X Y & Z had been for her during pregnancy and birth and after spending a while redirecting the conversation I finally just said to her “I don’t like hearing about those things because it makes me very anxious”- it was awkward for a couple of days but she got over it and I was spared numerous conversations about her “nightmare” delivery.

    People having babies is not some weird or terrible event that workplaces are cursed to deal with.

  174. 1-800-BrownCow*

    First off, congrats on your pregnancy!

    Yes, working while pregnant is HARD! Some people seem to get through it easily (my coworker was due 2 days ago, still working, and was the most energetic person I know during the past 9 months, HOW?!?!?!).

    For me, I was blessed to not have bad nausea, however, the exhaustion for me lasted the whole entire 9 months. For all 3 of my pregnancies! All those that say the energy came back by the 2nd trimester, lucky them because that was not the case for me. And pregnancy brain is real! I would forget about meetings, which is not at all normal for me. I would make errors, forget details, mix things up. Ugh! Which thankfully after I announced my pregnancy to others, most were forgiving and understanding of my mistakes since it was not typical of me.

    I don’t know how comfortable you are with your manager, but my first 2 pregnancies, I let my manager know early in my pregnancy so if they noticed I wasn’t working up to my normal standards, I hoped they would be understanding. I asked them not to share my news, which I trusted they wouldn’t. It did help me feel a bit at ease in case something unexpected happened.

    Also, regarding your question about taking a day off if your feeling crappy, if you’re able to take the time, definitely do so. I know for some people, there’s concerns about using up all their sick time or whatnot, but if that’s not a big concern for you, definitely take it if you need it. My last pregnancy, I had a couple instances where I barely slept at night and was struggling by morning to stay awake. I felt fine otherwise, but knew I’d be dragging all day and likely doze off at my desk. I realized that I didn’t feel safe driving in my condition and knew for safety of my baby, myself, and especially other people on the road that calling out “sick” and staying home was the best option. Yes, I felt a bit of guilt, but I honestly do not regret the decision.

    Good luck to you!

  175. Jenna*

    Congrats! I work full-time in a pretty demanding consulting job and am currently expecting my second child (I’m about 24 weeks). I also had two rough first trimesters with exhaustion, all-day nausea and all that sort of fun stuff. 2 pieces of advice I can offer:
    1) This is not the case in all pregnancies, but is often the case: it gets better. The second trimester is usually when the morning sickness/nausea goes away and you get a lot of your energy back. Both times I’ve gotten to week 13 and felt worlds better. Hang in there!

    2) Accept that this is a particular season of life, and in this season, you’re going to do the best that you can, both professionally and personally. Then, leave it at that and be kind to yourself. It’s not at all unusual to need to pull back on the throttle professionally, personally, socially, etc. in the first trimester and during pregnancy – in fact, it’s so common. Then you will be in a season of parenting a newborn (hello sleep deprivation!), then a season of having a young child, and then when they start school it will be a new season. All of these seasons will bring additional changes to your professional and personal life. In every season you will adjust to what you can and can’t do – and it will be fine and you’ll adapt to your new normal. Every parent, especially every working parent, does. And in fact, every human being goes through seasons of life that require adjusting. Know that you’re not alone and that there’s nothing wrong with how you’re feeling or what you go through :) Hope this helps!

  176. alienor*

    I didn’t find out I was pregnant until 8 weeks due to irregular cycles, and then I didn’t disclose it until more like 16-17 weeks, so I spent quite a lot of time secretly feeling like crap. I was “lucky” to have mostly nausea without much actual vomiting, so there weren’t too many sudden runs to the bathroom to deal with. The fatigue was bad, but since I’d only been in my job at the time for about six months, I felt a lot of pressure to keep performing, so I’d force myself through the day while giving it my best, then I’d go home and immediately go to bed. If I could eat, my husband would bring my dinner plate to me there.

    The good news is, it really did get less physically difficult from the second trimester on. It wasn’t like throwing a switch, though – I had been hanging on for the 12-week mark, thinking I’d magically be better then, but it was more of a slow improvement over the next couple of weeks after I hit that milestone. I did have a different type of work challenge right at the end though, because I kept working a week past my due date. (I’d been there just over a year at that point, so I didn’t have a ton of PTO banked and needed to save everything I had to cover the gap between having my baby and disability kicking in.) I couldn’t take on any big projects in case I suddenly went into labor, so it was a lot of being bored and trying to find little things to do while waiting for something to happen.

  177. mama llama*

    I found it really helpful to change my expectations of myself outside of work.

    focusing on JUST eating, sleeping, and bathing when I wasn’t at work, and working fewer hours per week when possible, made a huge difference for me.

  178. Wristband alert*

    Just FYI, the first time I wore the anti-nausea wristbands, a co-worker clocked it right away. (She had a loved one who wore them through chemo). I wish I would have gotten those ginger chews instead.

  179. Didi Nic*

    So I did go through this a couple of years ago. I was lucky enough to have a coworker who was due with 6 months before me, so when I was very early pregnant I mentioned my fatigue to her. She told me that she spoke to our female boss when she was about 8 weeks along, and found it very helpful. I did eventually speak to my boss when I was 9 weeks along, and she was very helpful and empathetic. She told me how when she was pregnant she kept a sleeping bag under her desk in her office to take naps. She advised me that afternoon naps were my best friend, and luckily I was pregnant in the thick of quarantine in 2020, so I was able to work from home and nap in the afternoons. I was incredibly privileged because my boss is a woman who understood my situation. I would say that if you have a sympathetic boss, it might be worth just telling that person, just so you maybe have a person on your side when you feel like you’re going to drop a ball or two.

  180. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    First, the only thing that cured my all-day sickness was… Wait for it… Chocolate donuts.

    I found the nausea was made substantially worse by fatigue. So I cut a lot of unnecessary stuff out of life to rest. I did announce away earlier than anticipated… Like 7 weeks or something because I was so sick I had to go home and my boss’s boss was the only person around (last week of the year)… So I just got really matter of fact and went to his office and said. “I’m really sick and going home and taking sick leave. It’s not contagious. I’m pregnant, but too early to share, so this is between us.” And walked out of his office. I think he was just glad I didn’t get sick in his office.

    I also switched out to maternity slacks as soon as possible…. Because they looked close enough to what I was wearing that it wasn’t a sudden wardrobe shift right when I started plumping up.

  181. Marsha*

    I spent my entire first trimester literally only eating three things: triscuits, ginger ale, and mint chocolate chip ice cream with the chocolate chips picked out of it. (The mint soothed my stomach; the chocolate did not.) And no one at work noticed.

    I spent the first three months so low energy that sometimes I had to rest after walking to my office from my car (about 100 yards). And no one noticed.

    At 10 weeks pregnant, I fell asleep at my desk with my face on the keyboard. When I woke up, it took an hour for the imprint of my keyboard to no longer be visible on my face. You guessed it, no one noticed.

    Do the best you can, cut yourself some slack. Anything you can put off, put off. Take a lot of breaks, and do what you need to do for your health and sanity. Most likely (though this is not true for everyone), when you get to the second trimester your energy will return, and once people know, then the vast majority of people will be very kind and helpful when your energy is low. And if it is getting really bad, you may want to consider taking your boss into your confidence – it can make things a lot easier.

    You can do this. Just try not to fall asleep on your keyboard.

  182. helio*

    Thank you for writing in, LW, as I literally could have written this myself. Perusing the comments in hopes of some advice!

  183. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

    Male Manager here so maybe not the kind of advice you are looking for but I had an experience with an employee I want to share.

    This was during COVID when we were all working from home, and just days away from starting to return to the office. My employee, Joslyn was missing a lot of work which was not normal. It got to the point where I had to have a conversation of about attendance issues. She finally told me that she was pregnant and the nausea was really bad. So bad that she had been at urgent care a number times.

    That gave me a clearer picture of what was going on. The conversation immediately changed from an attendance management to figuring out how I could support her. I delayed her return to the office until things settled down for her. I told her she could take anytime she needed and just send me a quick note saying she needed to offline for a while. I told her, the only people I would discuss this with would be my manager and our HR business partner and I would be letting them know that Joslyn had not told anyone else yet and this was not to be shared.

    So if you trust your manager/supervisor let them know. There maybe some things they can do to help you. At least having a clear picture of what’s going on will help them work with you.

  184. sdog*

    Those weeks during the first trimester are the absolute worst, and sadly, I really do feel like people just “push through” because the alternatives kind of suck. Taking leave means you have less for after the baby is born (that was a big concern of mine). Telling people early (all mostly men during my 3 pregnancies) wasn’t that palatable either. I really just cut down on anything else out of work. I came home and collapsed. I stopped taking public transportation so that I could go out to my car during lunch and nap. By baby #2 and #3, I had an office and some work from home benefits, so I used that to take short naps during the day. And frankly, I stuck it out with a less intense job for years, knowing that it provided me with a little more flexibility during the time when I was having kids and raising little ones.

    Congrats! It does get easier in some ways, in that at least you don’t have to hide it on top of everything else.

  185. Raida*

    Your experience is the same and vastly different to other pregnant ladies. The problem being a manager that’s had kids might just say they were never tired, or immediately assume you’re going to be like this for the rest of the year before going on leave.

    Ideally, you’ll have a manager that you can talk to about a current exhaustion medical condition you’re dealing with, see if you can work from home, do half days in the office and half at home, all that kind of stuff to manage your work against your energy levels.

    Ideally, telling them before they feel the need to talk to you about the changes in your work quality, quantity, attitude, responsiveness, engagement, etc means they are aware it’s a medical thing and work *with* you instead of the first contact being about how you’re floundering.

    Ideally, you could also take Wednesdays off using PTO for the next month.

    The options available to you are limited by your household income and expenses, your job, your workplace, your manager, your colleagues, etc. and they’re different for everyone

  186. Gato Blanco*

    I am 14 weeks pregnant now. I genuinely think that there should be maternity leave starting the moment you find out you are pregnant. I am told that I am in the second tri now and everything should be easy with energy and no sickness and that just IS. NOT. TRUE. I am being crushed by exhaustion. I am losing weight from the nausea and being unable to force much of anything down. My doctor says I am having a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy so far. I have to lie down every 30 minutes just to catch my breath.

    Preggy pop drops help with my nausea some. Lying down as much and as often as possible helps. Planning meetings and work time on projects for times of day when you know you might be feeling a bit better can help.

    But, ultimately, I am here to commiserate because working full-time while pregnant is shockingly, unbelievably hard.

  187. Office Manager*

    Congrats!! I’m in my third trimester right now. I have a really good relationship with my boss so I told him right away stressing that it was a secret. This turned out to be extremely valuable for me because I knew that HE knew that I was a bit distracted. He was also able to make accommodations (like changing my hours around).

    But yeah, for me the first 5 months were BRUTAL. I mostly slept and felt sick that whole period. It did get better!!! I also told my work at 12 weeks so that I could use the pregnancy as an excuse :)

    Here’s something interesting though, I’m a very high performer and they actually brought in a temp for some periods I was just too sick to work, and it made them appreciate me a whole lot more! They are bending over backwards to accommodate my leave, so that was a big upside!

  188. UrbanChic*

    Congrats! I am an executive, and have been pregnant 3xs since 2017. I had hypermesis gravadeium with each pregnacy, and felt absolutely terrible for many months. The first thing is, if you are experiencing non-stop nausea, to try and take something for it. Second, absolutely okay to scale back. Do what you can. If you need to start later, lay down in your office (if you work in one), or go on brisk walks throughout the day do it. Absolutely take the day off if you need to. I also recommend – if you are getting sick to your stomach – to keep extra outfits at work. For me, once I was on medication, I could manage through the first 20 weeks ok, although I took many breaks and became a pro at throwing up in trash cans and the office bathroom. Second half of the pregnancy was good. I travelled throughout, and honestly, even though I felt really incapacitated in the moment while pregnant, everything went fine, even great, at work. So you are likely noticing it the most. Take care, and good luck!

  189. PerlexedPigeon*

    I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant and am grateful my office was understanding. I asked my wife what she remembered about my first try because I didn’t really remember. Her response: “you don’t remember because you were sleeping!”

    All to say, first tri tiredness is real, and you’re doing the best you can. Drag yourself through the day, nap when you can, and go to bed early. It doesn’t last forever!

  190. RagingADHD*

    People talk about pregnancy symptoms and working a lot. To the point that other people complain about it.

    I think part of what you’re encountering with the “people don’t talk about it” is that a) people don’t talk about it much *at work* with non-parents, for the same reasons it’s not considered appropriate to talk about how to manage other health symptoms at work,

    and b) if this is your first baby and you aren’t telling people yet, you haven’t built a network of other moms (especially working moms) who talk about it with each other.

    Once you disclose, you will get more people trying to talk to you about it than you ever wanted, and giving you more advice than you ever wanted, too.

  191. Not Always Right*

    I have not read previous comments, so apologies if this is redundant. It was my personal experience that the first trimester and the last 4 weeks of pregnancy were the hardest. Once I got past the first trimester, the nausea died down. The first trimester is when fatigue hit the worst. Once I entered the second trimester, my energy came back only to ebb away at the bitter end. I pray that this will be your pattern as well. Congratulations on your pregnancy and I hope you deliver a healthy baby. I was going to say a beautiful baby, but all babies are beautiful in my eyes.

  192. Lawyera*

    The first person to know I was pregnant after me and my husband was my office mate. I didn’t share it with her but she figured it out pretty quickly when I was nauseated every time I walked by the office microwave and a couple times she caught me with my head on my desk but I told her I wasn’t sick and didn’t need to go home. It is just very tough! But it does pass in most cases. There will be days where you feel like crap and days where you feel almost normal! Good luck!

  193. EmilyClimbs*

    Yeah it’s tough! And yeah, people mostly just muddle through, especially if you’re in the majority where it’s really only 6-8 weeks that are particularly tough and then you feel a lot more normal in the second and early third trimester.

    If you have the kind of job where you can work from home a lot (or have a private office) and there’s some flexibility in when exactly you get your work done, it helped me a lot to just close my eyes and lie down for the worse parts of the day (often but not always the morning) rather than push through it– and then catch up on at least some of the work at odd hours if and when I felt more up to it.

  194. Numbat*


    People come to work with all sorts of things going on in their lives and bodies, all the time. Some still do everything at 100% but most do not. Let yourself just be in that latter space; do your best with what resources you have available to you now. It’s perfectly reasonable to take the occasional day off, slow down, or otherwise not be your “usual self”.

    I was pregnant in 2020 so everything was different, but I remember being very tired, occasionally lying down or even having a nap, and generally just taking it all a bit easier. I was clear about what was time sensitive and important, and what could wait until later (or never).

    I had lots of snacks around me at all times, drank plenty of water, and got up for extra stretch breaks.

    I was lucky though, I had a very supportive manager and workplace, and a lot of autonomy.

    Second trimester is way easier!

  195. Christy*

    Allow yourself some grace. Everyone has times when they aren’t functioning at full capacity for one reason or another. Capitalize on the good days when you have them and know that this will pass and it’s ok if you’re not your best Every Single Day.

    Some hacks that helped me through the harder days though:

    -Remember it’s only temporary.
    -Ditch the saltines and go with oyster crackers- much easier to eat inconspicuously and without as many crumbs.
    -Keep a few types of snacks on hand. You never know when what you loved yesterday will suddenly make you sick.
    -Hard candies or Preggy Pop Drops can help you make it through meetings or times when you can’t snack as easily. Even sniffing peppermints can help!
    -Prioritize comfort right now. If you’re most comfortable when you look fabulous, then embrace your inner fashionista. But if you can’t stand in front of the mirror long enough to put your makeup on, it’s ok to spend the next few months on the less polished side of whatever is acceptable for your company.
    -If you’re comfortable with it and have a good relationship with them, tell your boss early! They can help you figure out how you can make your work life easier during this time.

    And Congratulations!

  196. Roja*

    I had a really, really rough pregnancy throughout, and I work a physical job (teaching ballet; flamenco dancer), so that was hard. I wound up having to loop in my boss earlier than planned since I got to work, wasn’t able to work, and had to turn around and go home. Luckily my boss loves babies and was incredibly supportive. I taught sitting down as much as possible, I got an assistant for my youngest class, and I otherwise gave myself leave to do whatever I had to do to survive.

    There’s a huge culture of push-through-until-you-drop in dance, so I had to get very good at advocating for myself and setting limits on what I could and couldn’t do, especially in rehearsal. It was a very hard mental switch to go from “must push through or consequences” to “must rest or consequences.” Doubly difficult emotionally since my pregnant coworker had a great pregnancy and could do pretty much everything the same… sigh.

    Dance workplaces tend to cross all sorts of boundaries that normal workplaces would look at askance, but the plus side to that is I could share how hard things were, and I got a lot of support.

  197. Longtallsally*

    Yep, pushing through is hard.
    I was working as a team lead in a satellite office far from the main project team, so lots of zoom meetings. I did choose to tell the two other members of my small team (who were based in the main office) basically so they could cover me if i missed something in the tired fog.
    Also helped that i was in a back corner of our office, so could eat crackers and put my head on the desk without causing comment from people going past.
    I know lots of people would not feel comfortable telling colleagues so early, but i trusted them and also am in Australia where we have reasonably good maternity leave and protection

  198. Shorts shorts shorts*

    Been there, done that…three times now.

    Constant supply of crackers, inventing new excuses for my sudden dislike of caffeine and vegetables (I eat vegetarian food most days), sneaking out for multiple toilet visits as the nausea and constant need to wee hit. I made peace with the fact that I could no longer sleep through the night and probably wouldn’t again for the foreseeable future. I picked the things I could still do well, put my energy into those, and half-arsed the rest. I learned to love hangingout on my couch every evening torecover from the day. I still miss having a great short-term memory but after years of pregnancy, having babies/ toddlers it’s probably gone for good. Turns out there are loads of great tools to help you remember things so I make full use of those.

    Congratulations OP – the journey to parenting isn’t always fun, but it is epic!

  199. Anon for this*

    Content warning: fertility treatment, pregnancy loss.

    I am lucky enough that my job has always had moderate access to work-from-home capability. With my first pregnancy, I was able to work at home in the morning until I had myself under control, head to the office for a short day, then come back home in mid-afternoon and work from home for a bit again later on. I told my direct manager at 8 weeks, because I felt like such a slacker, but no one had really noticed.

    My second pregnancy, I disclosed very early to one work friend, who then helped with a little “air cover” when I had a miscarriage at 7-8 weeks. It was, by pure coincidence, the night before I had taken off 2 days for a long weekend trip, which we cancelled but I still took the vacation days to mourn and recover.

    I then had 3 rounds of IVF to get my third pregnancy. I confided in a few trusted work friends — particularly after the miscarriage, I knew I wanted one or two people who knew what was going on. Everyone else got vague answers like “I’ve just been extra tired lately” or “It’s been a long week” or “Yeah, I’ve been under the weather lately”. By the time I told my manager at 12 weeks, I had looked so awful for so long, they were just glad it wasn’t “something worse”.

    There’s an added challenge if you lose an pregnancy after disclosing it to your manager/employer. They now “know” (i.e. can assume, whether it’s true or not) that you are trying to get pregnant and will again. They can allow that to influence decisions about which projects and responsibilities to give you in ways that will be very, very hard to prove constitute actual pregnancy discrimination — especially if it’s happening when you aren’t actually pregnant. I hate that this is a thing we need to potentially protect ourselves from, but unfortunately it is. It’s worth taking into account before deciding whether to disclose earlier or later.

    Good luck to OP. I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    And my heart goes out to all those commenters above who had tough pregnancies, losses, and all these related difficult situations. My tiny karma payment back to the world is to make life as easy as humanly possible for any direct report of mine who is pregnant or experiencing any related challenges.

  200. Rosacolleti*

    I’m a small business owner and have had quite a few pregnancies within the team in the last few years (when it rains it pours). They have all told me in confidence very early, twice literally the day they found out. This enabled me to ensure we ‘covered’ them.

    If you have that relationship with a senior at work, maybe consider confiding in them?

    And it won’t last, I promise

  201. G*

    If you have decent manager it makes a huge difference. My manager was the 2nd person I told after my other half. I didn’t tell anyone else until 2nd trimester but knowing that they knew and understood gave me the permission I needed to be as productive as I could be because I wasn’t worrying about my productivity. This does rely on having a great and trustworthy manager.

  202. Kate*

    I have been really lucky with both of my pregnancies: no vomiting and supportive work environments. With my most recent, the pregnancy was confirmed the day after Thanksgiving 2021. My sister died a week later. (She had cancer, but had been doing really well until she very suddenly wasn’t.) A week after her funeral, I learned it was twins. (It had been triplets, but only two heartbeats at that point. Round Seven of fertility treatments was the charm!) I ended up telling HR and the partners in my group (law firm) around week 10 because I was already starting to show. Towards the end of the first trimester, I started having severe bleeding. Everything was OK, but my OB told me I should take it easy for two weeks. I told our head of HR, who asked me to get a note from the doctor, which I did. The note said that I should be allowed to WFH due to pregnancy. (We already had a hybrid schedule so I was already WFH twice a week.) A week later, another bought of bleeding. I asked HR manager if I needed another note. She said, “The original note has no end date, so as far as I’m concerned it allows you to WFH as needed for the entire pregnancy.”

    It was a really challenging pregnancy, even without the intense grief. I was high-risk, so more doctor’s appointments than is typical plus monthly ultrasounds. Towards the end, I had to go back to fully WFH because my legs were so swollen. Throughout it all, my team and HR were super supportive. I was given a reduced workload when I needed it. No one was bothered by my frequent absences (or if they were, they didn’t let me know!), and other paralegals covered for me when I was too sick to come in and clients needed to be seen. Everyone just seemed to be genuinely happy for me! I never felt pressured to share medical details, either. (But the two people I’m closest to are firmly childfree, and both took morbid delight in hearing about all the awful pregnancy symptoms, pleased that they would never be going through it and having their suspicions confirmed that despite what other friends had said, pregnancy is not all sunshine and rainbows.)

    A few things I kept in mind that helped me not feel guilty about taking the time I needed: one reason the first trimester is so exhausting is because the body is growing a whole new organ – the placenta. (In my case, two.) Just because pregnancy is common doesn’t mean it’s easy. As no pregnancy is the same, so what is a breeze for some people is hell for others.

    My son is seven months old now (we ended up losing the twin halfway through), and I still feel like I’m phoning it in some days. Thankfully I’ve always been a high performer and my end-of-year review was off the charts good, so I just figure I do what I can and when he’s a year and I’m not nursing/pumping anymore, I will be mostly back to my old self. I also know that I’m in a protected class and there cannot legally be any negative repercussions to my job due to the pregnancy. (And being in a law firm, I know they know this.) Thankfully they are Good People, so I don’t expect that to be an issue, but it’s nice to have that in my back pocket anyway.

    Congratulations and good luck!

  203. Forgot my name again*

    Congrats and good luck, first off! This brought back some really cruddy memories of my first pregnancy. I *could not* stay awake at work. Even deliverately getting up and stretching legs every so often, I just couldn’t shake the drowsiness. It was exhausting, and in the winter time I caught every single bug going, really badly every. damn. time. But I really didn’t want to say anything and jinx it before the 12-week scan. The worst part was I had just taken a new job, and was filled with excitement at what I was going to do, the plans I had, so many ambitions for how awesome I was going to be and how much I was going to rock…and it all just flew right out the window – and I’m sure my colleagues were pretty nice but overall disappointed with how actually horrible I ended up being at the job. I still look back on it with – if not shame, then certainly regret. Now I’m just glad that those days are over and I can put a bit more of myself into my work again, but that bridge is now probably pretty charred.

  204. Heather*

    My 1T fatigue was no joke! I had to cut myself some slack. What helped us was super simplifying meal planning and I just took a 45 minute nap literally the moment I got home. I’d crawl into bed and spouse would wake me an hour later to eat. I also survived by clutching a box of triskets to me at all times. I told co-workers that I was taking a medication that was causing stomach upset and keeping some carbs in my stomach really helped. About 2 weeks into 2T it’s like a switch clicked and suddenly no nausea and fatigue was soooo much better. Hope you get the same energy bump. Hang in there!

  205. Steve, Ex-Mechanic, Current ADHDer*

    I was a different person for almost my entire pregnancy. Incessant nausea, daily vomiting, constant misery. I was well-known as friendly and helpful, and people were astounded at the physical and emotional changes that were obvious in me. I made more mistakes than I ever have in my life. I regularly left one to three hours early without saying a word to my manager. Once, I didn’t even make it all the way to the toilet to vomit.

    The truly wild thing? My coworkers were down with all of this. They helped cover my work. They either fixed my mistakes or drew my attention to them as gently as possible. One of them cleaned my vomit from the floor. I was truly my worst self and I will never forget the kindness and generosity I was shown.

    All of which is to say: there are probably plenty of people who manage to be high performers throughout a pregnancy. I wasn’t one of them, and things still turned out okay. I bet they will for you too, even if you’re not proud of the level of work you’re putting out at this particular moment.

  206. Librarian in the middle*

    I got SO LUCKY with the timing of my pregnancy. We found out on March 17, 2020…. the first week of official lockdown in my state. Work from home was teaching from home-but I’m the librarian and can’t really check books out from my couch. I ended up volunteering at my school handing out lunches every day for a couple hours and spent the rest of the day napping/craving food I couldn’t get because everything was shut down.

    When we finally went back to “real” school I was 8 months pregnant and miserable. No AC in my buildings and I had to go from class to class to teach. In kindergarten rooms there were only tiny kid chairs. Basically, I was in misery for 2 months working up to my due date.

    Best advice-ask for forgiveness not permission. I brought a chair to lunch duty and scooted around. I wore sneakers or sandals every day because my feet swelled too far for anything else. Are they really going to write up a preggo lady for that? Not in my schools at least!


  207. Savy*

    I remember this part! It’s awful. Awful, awful, awful. And only time gets you through it. I ate a lot of mint lifesavers, ate a lot of saltines, avoided the kitchen and garbage cans like they were the plague, and hammered tums like they were the best thing on earth. Nothing will ruin an afternoon like someone cracking open a fresh can of tuna fish in the break room. I also remember going through a few types of prenatal vitamins, because certain brands would actually make my nausea worse. As for the good news, there’s likely light at the end of the tunnel soon. For my first pregnancy, I was nauseated until around 20 weeks. For my second, I was better by my 14th. Is that great news at 8 weeks? No. But honestly, not much about pregnancy is glamorous or easy. It’s hard. You feel bad a lot. You get round. It gets uncomfortable and for some insane reason, people want to touch you without asking. I suggest you work on your RBF if you want to avoid this. But at the end, there’s an amazing little person who was worth all the suffering.
    I always felt like the more I explained to people how I was feeling in the moment (after they knew I was pregnant), the more considerate they became. Until then, you’re just keeping a secret of misery and saltine crackers, and there’s not much to be done about it. I promise, it goes quickly. Chin up! Looking at the floor can make you dizzy. Good luck, babes!

  208. Lizzianna*

    I had such severe fatigue when I was pregnant.

    A couple things I’ve since realized – first, I don’t think it’s as noticeable to most people as it is to the person experiencing it. Yes, I may have seemed a little off or low energy, but everyone goes through seasons like that and in a functional environment, we’re usually willing to overlook it or give people grace if it’s out of character for them, at least for a time. I’m lucky that I have a supportive boss, so he would have said something if it was affecting my work.

    Second, it’s important to give yourself grace, and take as much pressure off in your personal life as possible. When I was pregnant with my first, I would come home at 5, nap for an hour or so, get up, eat dinner, and then go back to bed by 7:30 or 8. Even though my husband really stepped up, my house was a mess and I cut way back on my social life. I had to learn to be okay with that. Again, it was just a season, and once I got through my first trimester, my energy really did start to come back. With my second, the afternoon napping wasn’t as much of an option because I already had a kid to care for, but I was still going to bed most nights within about 30 minutes of my son.

  209. another poster*

    Currently 38 weeks pregnant, with 5 days of work left to go. Some ideas.
    1) Lower expectations of yourself. Are you normally a rockstar at your job? Great, that means you can probably coast on some goodwill for a little bit. Once people knew about the pregnancy, people are excited, and I could get away with how foggy headed I felt ALL THE TIME. I hate feeling like an underperformer, and I had to just get over it. Prioritize what MUST be done over the nice to have parts of your job. If possible, schedule the important stuff when you feel better (if your nausea or fatigue has a pattern to it) Also, some weekends I napped multiple times a day, sleeping up to 18 hours… it helped me get through the week and it is ok.
    2) If it feels like a rough day and you have enough sick leave… then yes take it. For me, 1st trimester and 3rd trimester I’ve had to take a few half days and just sleep. It made a world of difference. Also if you have an office with a door, over lunch lay down on the ground and nap for 30 minutes during 1st trimester. Helped a ton. (brought a yoga mat and a blanket)
    3) 1st trimester: nauseau was killing me. I learned I needed to sort of constantly be eating or sucking on a ginger candy or drinking water or ginger ale. I just went with it. Turns out no one really cares that much or notices you. If you can, bring like a big water bottle or yeti cup or something (that isn’t clear) that you can refill with things. Ginger candy, you can act like it is cough drops and no one is the wiser. Also, at least for me, rarely am I in all day long meetings with the same people. So Jane may notice I’m eating a snack from 10-11, but she wasn’t in my 9-10 or my 11-12 to see that I was eating in both of those too.
    4) This is totally dependent on your job. I actually told my immediate supervisor and my admin assistant early, when I was around 9 weeks. I was FREAKING OUT cause I’d vomited in the work bathroom, but it didn’t mean I needed to go home, etc. This really helped me out, cause they were able to help cover for me as needed, remind me to eat snacks, adjust my schedule, etc.
    5) 2nd trimester is better by comparison, you won’t be as tired, or nauseous. But being pregnant is no walk in the park. So keep eating snacks, moving around as you need to, take all the bathroom breaks, etc. For me, it started feeling better around week 16. Varies for everyone. The flip side, I got pregnancy carpal tunnel so badly that I’ve been going to physical therapy for it for months and can’t handwrite anything. Do what you need to do to make it through.
    6) 3rd Trimester, oh man, I’m so done. So uncomfortable, and I need to move around every so often. Most of my nicer maternity clothes don’t fit anymore, and I need enormous shoes cause my feet are swollen (like 3 sizes bigger – they will go down). I’ve taken sick leave a few hours in the morning a couple times as my sleep has been weird. Also there’s a million drs appts and don’t worry about it. Your office will be ok without you.
    7) Take whatever flexibility you can. My job can be fully in the office, or mostly at home. I took way too long to decide to just be at home, influenced by a boss who was sending mixed signals about it. This is a time limited situation (pregnancy) so don’t feel bad, take the flexibility.
    8) Depending on your work attire, I suggest getting some maternity clothes you feel good in. I’m in a business/legislative environment. I got some cute wrap dresses and other dresses for work, 2 pairs of slacks, etc. (Thredup has great used stuff at good prices. Try facebook marketplace. I got some from Motherhood or Gap, both have great sales). I also spent money on a wrap coat in a size bigger than normal – that way I looked put together in colder months while pregnant, but it is still useable when not pregnant. I played up my accessories more and still felt cute. Which maybe sounds ridiculous, but it really helped me mentally. Many of my friends just wore their husbands clothes at the end (not an option for me – he’s a foot taller, and double my weight).
    9) People are so weird to pregnant women. I’m sorry about that! I’ve heard so many horror stories about labor, how awful the newborn stage is, randos touching my bump, so much unsolicited advice from absolute strangers, so many people making the same bad joke about “sure it’s not twins” or “looks like you’re about to pop!” when I still was only like 5 months. As much as you can, try to let it roll off your back and then bitch about it to friends/partner later on. Oh, and in my experience at least, work baby showers can get out of control, and honestly it isn’t about you. People LOVE babies and the excitement that a baby brings.

    1. another poster*

      OH! and have less going on in other areas of your life. I significantly cut back on anything else during the week except work and sleep. At some point, the only food I could stomach was at night, I’d want burned frozen pizza and bagged caesar salad. I went with it and didn’t worry about cooking for awhile. Don’t worry about a clean house or anything. Lower the bar significantly.

    2. Boof*

      Interestingly I had pretty much no randos ask to touch my belly in any of 3 pregnancies; one other pregnant lady asked about doing some kind of “baby bump” thing (where we both bump bellies? errr, no thanks) and the one I still feel a little cringe about; some med students managed to drag in an ultrasound and wanted to take a look (I was a med resident at the time). Which actually I usually think is a really cool idea and I would be all for it, except they didn’t ask ahead of time and mentally all I could think about was how my belly button was hairy (I’m sure they wouldn’t have cared, and usually I also don’t care) and I dodged it. I just wish they’d asked in advance before dragging in the ultrasound it would have been cool if I’d just had some heads up to get myself in… IDK whatever I considered presentable for a random ultrasound condition at that time. Hahaha.
      But yes otherwise 3rd trimester I feel like a bomb-bomb trundling around, maybe gonna explode any moment!

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