Working In The Third Trimester: How To Stay Productive
The third trimester of pregnancy is when things start to get real. You’re sporting a bigger bump, which is putting physical strain on your body and you’re probably dealing with a lot of other pregnancy symptoms too. One thing I’ve had to work on in particular is how to stay productive when you’re working in the third trimester of pregnancy. I’m planning to work pretty much right up until my due date or baby’s arrival, but it’s not just a case of carrying on at work the way I always have done. Here’s what’s really helped me continue working as I head towards the end of my pregnancy.
I run my own business, which can be a blessing and a curse when you’re pregnant! Having said that though, a lot of these things would be considered reasonable adjustments that your employer can support with to help you perform as well as possible during this challenging phase of growing your tiny human.
You can read more about my experience of the third trimester so far in my 30 Weeks Pregnant Update.
Work from home (if you can)
This is the best part for me about running a remote business. I work from home permanently, as does the rest of my team. It means that I don’t have to get up super early to commute and I’m surrounded by my home comforts every day even though I’m working. I think this is making the biggest different in terms of me being able to continue working until very close to my baby’s arrival into the world.
Limit work events
Although I work from home, I do have a regular schedule of work events that I would usually go to. This could be business development events, networking or other talks and conferences that I would drive or get the train to. Ever since I hit the third trimester, I’ve actively tried to limit these and I’m being very precious with where I’m spending my time. It needs to be high value enough for me to make the effort as I know I get much more worn out when I have to go out of the house for a day. These events will still be there for me to go to after the baby is born!
Delegate and ask for help
It’s a good idea to start delegating anyway in your third trimester in preparation for maternity leave once the baby arrives. I’ve found it really helpful to lean on my team a little bit more during this time to make sure I don’t get too overwhelmed at work. After all, it’s overwhelming enough having to plan for a baby’s imminent arrival! If you’re anything like me, you might fall into the trap of trying to be superwoman and doing it all. But this is one of those times in life when it’s OK not to operate at your peak in your work. Doing what you can is enough right now and your health and wellbeing is always more important than work.
Create a handover plan
Creating a handover plan can be really helpful to help you wind down your work and start delegating tasks in the third trimester. Start by writing down all of the tasks you do in your role and then think about who can cover this while you’re off. It may be that you do this with your manager as they’ll have a better idea of who can cover your role and responsibilities during your maternity leave.
Take regular breaks throughout the day
I’ve suffered from fatigue caused by my anaemia during the third trimester, and that’s on top of the standard third trimester fatigue you experience when you’re carrying around a small human all the time. It helps me to take regular breaks through the day to maintain productivity. You might think that sounds counterintuitive, but I find I can get so much more done when I give myself limited blocks of time to complete certain tasks and can then reward myself with a small break afterwards. Sometimes I’ll go for a short walk, get myself a drink and a snack, put some washing away or have 10-15 mins on social media to give my brain a rest.
Do the hardest and/or most important tasks first
Identify the priority and/or hardest tasks that you need to accomplish each day at work. Then start with these. You might have heard of this approach generally because it’s a great productivity tip: swallowing the frog. Once you’ve achieved the absolute must-dos in the morning, it means you can take it a bit easier for the rest of the day and get done what you can, without worrying about not being able to do it when you get tired later.
Communicate with your team
Always make sure you’re communicating how you’re doing with your team! They’re there to support you and I’ve found I’ve needed support at work more than ever during the third trimester. You’re likely to have more midwife and hospital appointments during the third trimester, as well as finding it a bit harder to concentrate in the same way that you used to. Communicating these things helps your team understand how best they can support you and why they might need to take on a bit more than usual while you’re in the final stages of growing a human.
Consider working reduced hours if possible
This might not be available to you and you might not want to do it if it’s going to mean a pay cut before maternity leave, but working reduced hours is one thing I’m going to be doing in the last month of my pregnancy to give me time to rest and get everything ready for the baby’s imminent arrival.
Focus on the parts of your job you enjoy
It’s easy to get bogged down with all the tedious tasks that will no doubt be part of your job, so try to focus on the parts you enjoy during the third trimester. Delegate as much as you can that you don’t enjoy so you can use your productive energy on something that you look forward to.
This is a general pregnancy and third trimester rule anyway, but it’s worth repeating in the context of productivity at work. Make sure you’re keeping up your fluid intake to help your concentration. I find a big glass of water can do wonders when I’m flagging at my desk.
Make sure you’re comfortable
Comfort is key at this point in pregnancy. If you work from home, you obviously have the benefit of not having to wear anything too formal! If you’re heading out to work during the third trimester, consider investing in a few key maternity pieces that make you feel great but also fit around your bump, such as stretchy dresses and maternity tights.
Take some time off
You might be saving up your time off to take before your maternity leave starts. Or if you’re like me and working until much closer to the baby’s arrival, consider taking some time off during your third trimester to give yourself a long weekend or a week off. You can spend this time resting, nesting or maybe even going on a babymoon.
Give yourself a break
Finally, give yourself a break and don’t beat yourself up for not being as productive as you usually would be! Growing a baby is hard work for your body and even if you feel like you should be able to carry on like normal, it’s much better to do what you can and prioritise looking after yourself first. You’ve got this!