Dear Pregnant Teachers and Teacher-Partners,
Congrats! You're going to be a parent, in addition to having "your" kids at school. It's going to be a fun, but sometimes difficult, ride.
Below is a list of tips specific to teaching that I couldn't find in any baby book or app when I needed them most. Some teacher friends and I are sharing our best ideas to make YOUR journey smoother!
|Our dog totally knew what was going on!|
First TrimesterWe all know the feeling of "teacher tired", right? The physical exhaustion meets immense to-do list, combined with never-ending stress?
Well friends, sorry to say this, but there's an even lower level of tired, and it's called first trimester hormones. Here are some ways to deal:
1. Conquer how to go to the bathroom more (or less) often.
Between morning sickness and having to pee, you'll be going more often. You can either get a teacher buddy to watch your class for you, find a similar strategy, or try to go less often by sipping your water and coffee instead of chugging them. (NOTE that I am NOT telling you to drink LESS water. I just mean that you may have to pace yourself a little better than before.)
Tell a coworker who can duck into your classroom if you need to use the restroom (puking). I was lucky - I had another pregnant teacher, and we helped each other out! - Lauralee Moss
2. Change your relationship with food, especially snacking.
Sure, you knew some foods would be off-limits during pregnancy... but in addition, you may have food cravings, aversions, struggles to eat enough (i.e. morning sickness), or struggles to not eat everything in sight. I actually gained more weight than I should've during first trimester, due to the combination of decreased gym time (caused by my ALL DAY morning sickness) and increased snackage. You may need to change what and when you eat, and that does NOT mean you're being unhealthy!
My favorite foods were portable ones I could eat in small bites and/or quickly: apple sauce cups, grapes, Wheat Thins, yogurt in tubes, and that sort of thing.
3. Your brain might explode.
There is SO much to think about now! Everything from your health (and baby's) to your timeline (like your due date and maternity leave) to gender reveals, nurseries, registries... you get the idea. It can be tempting to just lie on the couch with the internet all night, instead of working on school stuff. (*Raises hand* Guilty...)
worrying overthinking by limiting your screen time if needed. You have many months until baby is born, and far less time for the kids or teens you'll see when you go to school in the morning!
4. Do NOT wait to...
- Ask your doc questions, especially with morning sickness, to make sure you're not struggling with something fixable.
- Buy a sea band! They might not look cute, but it WORKED for my morning sickness (somewhat), and it can be hidden with enough watches and bracelets.
- Start your baby registry gradually (so it doesn't get overwhelming). Go to the store(s) in multiple trips with different people each time.
- Tell (certain) people. I regret not telling certain adults sooner, because it meant that I missed out on valid pregnancy advice they could have given me. You don't HAVE to wait until 8-12 weeks for EVERYONE if you don't want to!
|The morning when my cravings struck!|
You know that feeling of a "good" teacher day? The one in which you accomplished everything you wanted AND looked good doing it? That's second trimester in a nutshell. You have comparatively more energy, less symptoms, and a cute bump that's becoming visible.
Enjoy the burst of energy during the second trimester, but don't over do it. Remember, that it's still just a job, save some energy for after school, too. - Lauren @Teaching in Stripes
1. You might eat like a Hobbit.
Remember how hobbits eat 6-7 meals a day? (Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, and so on?) You might become the same way, especially if/when your aversions and sicknesses subside. This means you'll likely have to change what you pack to school, when you eat, and WHAT you eat (in order to not inflate like a balloon in a science lab).
Keep small snacks in your pockets! It's hard for teachers to constantly be eating, but I got really sneaky about popping in M&Ms while I quickly turned my back to do something else. The kids didn't know I was pregnant until the second trimester, so I didn't want to have to explain why I was snacking all day (or change the rules about snacking in my classroom!) so hidden, bite-sized snacks really helped me survive. - Rachel M.
2. Everyone will react differently.
You're so excited to tell people (and for more people to recognize your bump), but be prepared to receive the full range of reactions to the news that you're pregnant.
In particular, be ready to have a poker face if you get...
- Questions about whether or not you're coming back afterward/next year (blunt, but true)
- A student (or six) who obsess over your pregnancy and get baby fever
- Students, parents, or school people who don't care, are disgusted by babies, and/or want you to "suck it up" (even if not in those words)
- Parents who need surprising amounts of reassurance (and details) about how your maternity leave will go and if their child will still get a top notch education
- Comments about how big you are, questions about when you're due, and unsolicited opinions (no matter what grade/age your students are!)
3. There's suddenly a LOT to do.
Whether it's dealing with the nursery, a baby shower, the pile of baby books to read, or doctor appointments, be ready for your work/life balance to be tested even further. You may have to do more tasks in small doses to get it all done over several days (instead of in marathons in one sitting).
I asked for help. At work. At home. I'm the type of person who wants to do everything and do it well, but narrowing down my "to-do" list to the most important tasks and asking friends, co-workers, and family to help with the rest made a world of a difference. - The Reading & Writing Haven
4. Do NOT wait to...
- Gradually accumulate maternity clothes. Hit up store sales, garage sales, coupons, and deals; start with basics (like tank tops and pants) and items that mix and match well. Don't drop big bucks all in one store or all in one occasion; your bump grows more slowly than you might think.
- Start your sub plans. You'll be SHOCKED at how long this can take to get done, especially since you're chipping away at 6 weeks or more of plans in addition to your normal daily workload! (More on this later, but grab a FREE maternity/paternity leave checklist here!)
You know how all students learn differently? Well, third trimester is a little different for every woman, so teacher-parents may have different experiences from here on out. Whereas my first two trimesters were pretty textbook, the third one wasn't exactly the same as other women in terms of what I felt and when.
1. You might not be able to get around the classroom easily.
I had a harder time weaving around desks/students, bending/squatting next to their desks for a conference, sitting on the floor (more like getting back up), and walking (waddling) quickly from one place to another.
Do NOT be shocked when your feet or back give you trouble, and do NOT feel bad if you have to plant yourself in a chair and ask students to come to you, especially in the last month!
Let the kids help you, prepare at the beginning of the third trimester for your sub, rearrange your desks so you can move around easily (not kidding, knocking stuff off student desks with your tummy is a real thing). - Jen White
2. The shoe struggle gets (even more) real.
I'm pretty religious about my teacher Crocs, but one day they betrayed me: they CAUSED my feet to swell more than other shoes! And then, eventually, my feet swelled enough in the final two weeks that I couldn't put them on, even if I wanted to. Thank God that it was February, and I had a pair of bigger boots that I could wear daily!
Just be ready to buy another pair sometime this trimester. Sorry...
Wear whatever footwear works for you! Even if you're normally a teaching in pumps & pearls kind of mom-to-be, this is the time to allow yourself a compromise of slippers, crocs, or whatever you feel most comfortable (aka - that your feet fit into!) wearing. - Madame Aiello
3. Maternity leave prep takes forever.
Okay, I forewarned you about this above, but now it's really true: parent leave prep CAN take longer than you think, depending on what you are required to leave behind for the substitute teacher, and you want to be super-extra-ready in case baby shows up earlier than you expected.
This is the time I started labeling my room for the sub (I kept it simple and just taped post it notes to the outside of cabinets and drawers so they knew what was in each one). If you need to leave sub plans, work on them a little each day and try to finish by 35 weeks so you don't have anything to stress about at the end! - Foreman Fun
Pro Tip: Leave your desk clean, well-labeled, and ready for the sub every night of the ninth month, if you can. You never know when your "last day" is, and you don't want to scramble more than necessary on your way to the hospital.
Make sure those sub plans are ready to go at a moments notice! My youngest son was supposed to be born in mid-October but he was born in September and I worked the entire day I was in labor thinking I was having Braxton-Hicks! - Lisa from Mrs. Spangler in the Middle
4. Do NOT wait to...
- Finish thank-you notes. You will NOT want to write these during maternity leave, even if you think you're going to "have more time" then. (Ha... more on that later!)
- Finish your "go bag". You never know if that baby is coming early!
There's a forthcoming blog post from me about teachers on maternity/paternity leave, as well as adoption. In the meantime, you can read more pregnancy blog posts here...
- Lauren's post about Ways to Announce Your Pregnancy at School
- The Daring English Teacher's Teaching While Pregnant Survival Guide
- Presto Plans' post about How to Survive Teaching While Pregnant