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If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m expecting a baby in September! So, I spent my first and second trimesters teaching while I was pregnant. Before I got pregnant, I was very naive and thought that if I wasn’t “big”, not much would be different. Pft, yeah, I was dumb. Now that I’m out for the summer, I thought I’d share some of the lessons that I learned the hard way.
TIPS FOR TEACHING WHILE PREGNANT
- Go to bed early and sleep as much as you can. The hardest part is bring “on” all the time while you are EXHAUSTED. There were a few Saturdays that I spent the entire day in bed recovering from the week. During the first trimester, I took a nap, ate dinner, then went to bed for the night a few hours later. Growing a human is exhausting; you need sleep!
- Tell you partner teacher or next door neighbor early. My “next door neighbor” teacher was the first person at work that I told. I needed her help. I had to run to the bathroom all the time and needed her to watch my class a few times. She was much more understanding and was there in the blink of an eye. I think it helped that she understood why I needed her help a little more often.
- Keep food with you at all times. I didn’t get very sick my first trimester, but I think it was because I was very proactive. I highly recommend keeping a large stash of crackers, dried fruit, hard candy, and anything else you can stomach in you classroom. Some people like those Preggie Pop Drops. I loved the Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal. It is also a good idea to keep a huge water bottle full of water. Snacking continually through the day and drinking LOTS of water made me feel better.
- Get a stool. Staying in one position all day bothered me. I couldn’t stand all day, but I couldn’t sit all day either. I rotated between sitting at my desk, walking around the room, and sitting at a stool while teaching. When I started doing this, my back and hip pain reduced significantly. Do what you gotta do. This is the stool I bought.
- Rely on more independent work. There were days that I was exhausted and/or felt awful. I would tweak my lesson plans to have my kids work independently for at least part of the class period. I used lots of activities from Teachers pay Teachers and had them work on homework with their partners. This was a lifesaver.
- Tell your principal early. I told my principal and department chair when I was 9 weeks. I know that not everyone would be comfortable with that, but I think it worked out in my situation. They were much more understanding if I needed to run to the bathroom a million times and they were awesome about doctor’s appointments. I was also let off lunch duty. I never expected that, but it was SO nice to have an extra few minutes to catch my breath.
- Be super honest with your students when you aren’t feeling your best. There were a few days that I arrived at school looking just awful. I told the kids at the beginning of class, “See how awful I look today? That’s how I feel. I really don’t to take my grumpiness out on you, but you’ve gotta help me out today. Let’s just all do what we need to do to get through this class period.” While those weren’t the best days, I felt like it was important for the kids to understand where I was coming from.
My students had TONS of questions for me. My policy was that I would answer anything that I felt comfortable with, as long as it didn’t interrupt class time. I would rather have them hear more accurate information from me, rather than get bad information from who knows where. I also had the approach of “Don’t have kids now, you’re not ready, I promise!”. Here are some of the questions I did answer (some of them are personal):
Are you sick everyday?
Do you have any cravings?
Is it uncomfortable sleeping?
What does it feel like when the baby kicks?
Do you have stretch marks? (Which started a conversation about what stretch marks were and how you get them.)
Are you going to eat your placenta? (That was a hilarious conversation about different cultures.)
Does it hurt if you poke your belly?
I did end up letting a few students touch my belly. They came after school and asked first. It surprised me, but I don’t really care if people touch my belly, as long as they ask first. I also ended up having a very serious conversation with two girls after school that came to ask about conception. Apparently one of them thought she was pregnant and felt safe enough to talk to me about it. I wasn’t prepared for this type of conversation, but I did tell them that this was a BIG deal and she needed to talk to her parents. She didn’t want to, but I told her that one extremely awkward conversation with your parents is much better than lots of things that could potentially happen.
Working while pregnant was certainly an adventure. If you’ve taught while you were pregnant, do you have any tips you’d recommend?
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