3 Helpful Tips For Parents Working The Night Shift

3 Helpful Tips For Parents Working The Night Shift

*This post may contain affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here.  

Written by Adela Ellis, RN, BSN

Working the night shift is never easy.   Add a kid or two into the mix and it becomes even that much more difficult.

Life can be challenging for working parents, even in the best of circumstances and working night shifts is no exception.  Raising kids when you are sleep deprived is challenging at best, and it’s often challenging to find someone who can take care of your children while you’re on the clock.

There are perks, though. For example, nurses are usually paid more per hour when they work nights instead of days, and working nights means that you’ll have more time to spend with your family during the day.  There is even some evidence that working the night shift can benefit the parent-child relationship.

Plus, the lines at the grocery store tend to be really short first thing in the morning when night shift workers are heading home. 

If you are a parent and you are struggling with how to make working the night shift work, you’ve come to the right place.  Keep scrolling to discover three tips for parents working the night shift.

Night Shift Nurse Tip #1:  Prioritize Self-Care

Woman Running

Night shift nurse tip #1: prioritize self-care

As a parent, you probably put your kids’ needs ahead of your own pretty much all the time. But it’s important to remember that you need to take care of yourself too.  Self-care is important for everyone, and it is even more important for nurses who work the night shift.

Working the night shift can take a serious toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

As humans, we are naturally programmed to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Working the night shift means fighting against one of your body’s most basic instincts, and it’s not easy.

To minimize the negative effects of working nights, you need to make self-care a priority.  Make sure you get plenty of sleep each day, maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and pamper yourself once in a while.

Set boundaries with family members (including your children) to ensure that you are able to get the rest you need. Don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to afternoon playdates if you need to sleep. If you want to be the best version of yourself, both at home and at work, you need to make taking care of yourself a top priority.

Even choosing the right clothing to wear to work can be a part of your self-care. Invest in quality scrubs that you will feel great wearing. Keep in mind that you’re likely to get chilly during the night and make sure you have a few nice scrub jackets in your closet. Invest in high-quality nursing shoes that won’t leave you feeling fatigued just a few hours into your shift. When you feel your best in cute nurse scrubs and comfy footwear, it’s a lot easier to make it through your shift with a smile on your face.

Additional recommended reading:  

Night Shift Nurse Tip #2:  Find an Amazing Babysitter

babysitter taking care of kids for night shift working mom

Tip #2 for working the night shift with a family: find an amazing babysitter

If you and your partner work opposite shifts, having someone to watch the kids while you are at work might not be a problem. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that you won’t need someone to watch them during the day too. You may get home first thing in the morning and not need to return to work until later that night, but you need that time to get some rest. 

Plenty of parents think that they can work at night and take naps throughout the day when the kids are asleep, but that very rarely works out. You might not need a sitter if your kids are in school during the day, but, if you have little ones at home, a good sitter is a must.

Find someone that you can depend on to watch your kids on a consistent schedule. You need between seven and nine hours of sleep each day (roughly), so make sure you choose a sitter who is available for enough hours each day to enable you to get some much-needed sleep. Consider sending your kids to daycare or choosing a sitter who can watch them in their home. This will help minimize the noise in your home and allow you to rest without worrying about why your little one is crying or being woken up by random noises throughout the day.

Night Shift Nurse Tip #3:  Learn to Embrace the Night Shift

Nurse working the night shift and smiling

Working night shift with a family tip #3: embrace the night shift

For most parents, one of the hardest parts of working the night shift is knowing that you’ll have to miss out on things like family get-togethers and school events. A big part of your kids’ lives will happen when you are asleep, and that can be a really tough thing to accept. If you want to successfully navigate working the night shift as a parent, though, you are going to have to learn how to embrace it.

Instead of thinking about the negatives, consider the positives. You’ll make more money and be able to pay off debt faster or surprise your kids with special treats. You’ll get to provide better care for your patients and build stronger relationships with your coworkers.

In addition, you won’t have to deal with things like grocery shopping during the hours when most of the world is awake. Your nonstandard schedule may even enable you to spend more time with your kids.

The Bottom Line For Parents Working The Night Shift

As a parent, you want what’s best for your kids. Often, that means doing things that you don’t really want to do––like working the night shift––in order to provide a better life for them. Working nights isn’t always easy, but there are things that you can do to face the challenges head-on and be a great employee and parent. Use the tips listed above to make life as a night-shift working parent happier and healthier for you.

Additional recommended reading: 

About the author:   Adela Ellis is a full-time nurse and part-time ambassador for Infinity Scrubs. Adela attended the University of Arizona and has been a travel nurse for the last 6 years. She enjoys working with different doctors, nurses, and patients from all over the country and blogging about her experiences. In her free time, she loves true-crime podcasts and cooking for friends and family. 

10 Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts

10 Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts

*This post about gifts for nurse moms contains affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here.

Nurse moms are pretty incredible humans.

Being a nurse or a mom is hard work in and of itself.  Add the two together and you have one incredibly hard-working, compassionate, multitasking superhero with skills that can save lives.

This holiday season why not give gifts that recognize both talents?  The one that is raising children to be strong, capable adults and the one selflessly helping total strangers.  After all, there is a fair chance that many nurse moms are not being appreciated or recognized for the dedication and hard work they put in, day after day.

The motherhood/nurse combination is a challenging balance.    Next time you run into a nurse mom who looks a little tired, know there is a good chance she hasn’t slept in a week.  And give her a high-five.

We hope you enjoy you holiday season and spend lots of quality time with your loved ones!

10 Fun Holiday Gifts For Nurse Moms

The Ultimate List Of Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts

1.  I’m a Mom and a Nurse Nothing Scares Me Pink Mug

2.  Keep Calm My Mom Is A Nurse Onesie 

3.  Keep Calm I’m A Nurse And A Mom Mug

4.  I’m A Nurse, What’s Your Superpower? 12 oz Wine Tumbler

Additional recommend reading:

5.  I’m A Mom And Nurse Nothing Scares Me

6.  My Mom Is A Nurse Dog T-Shirt

7.  Nurse Mom Boss Mug

8.  Wife Mom Nurse 16 oz Tumbler

9.  Wife, Mom, Nurse Retractable Badge Reel

10.  Nurse Mates Ultimate Nursing Bag For Women

Additional recommended reading:

 

Working Mom Health Tips For 12 Hour Shifts

Working Mom Health Tips For 12 Hour Shifts

*This post about working mom health tips for nurses working long 12 hour+ shifts has affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here.

Preparing for 12 hour shifts as a registered nurse requires some prearranged ground work and organization at home to ensure my day starts off on the right foot. As a working mom, I know I will be gone for a large chunk of time so I do my best to make sure things are properly set up at home the day before.

Additionally, as a ER nurse I know how important it is that I take good care of myself so I can continue to give the best possible care to my family and patients.  After all, I can’t expect others to listen to my health education if I don’t take my own advice and stay healthy too.  No excuses!

Working Mom sitting on kitchen floor with son

(This post contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

My top 4 priorities for keeping myself and my family healthy as a nurse:

#1. Grocery shop and prepare all meals in advance

I grocery shop every three days so I am able to prepare meals for my toddlers and for each of my 12 hour shifts at the hospital in advance.  To avoid scrambling at the last minute I always make sure everything is ready and packaged to go the night before.

I prepare several options for the kids breakfasts, lunch and dinner including:

  • Avocado or almond toast
  • Bananas, apples, kiwis, various berries
  • Black bean or chick pea pasta
  • Cheese squares
  • Veggies straws with hummus
  • Veggie/fruit smoothies
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Sautéed veggies

In addition, one day per week I make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice and keep it handy in the fridge for quick meal preparation. When I need it, I add veggies, nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, olive oil, tempeh or whatever else I have in the fridge at that moment. This is so convenient because I can whip something up  quickly for my work lunches and I also have it on days I’m home with the kids.

The Nutribullet is by far my favorite meal prep tool.

To say I use it at least twice a day would be an understatement!  In fact, this is my #1 working mom health tip.  I make everything from veggie smoothies, to salad dressings, to soups and blended coffee drinks.  It makes my life so much easier, especially now that we have kids and time is limited.

The Nutribullet is one of the best inventions of the 21st century I tell you!

I have a vegetable and berry smoothie with 1 tablespoon of Maca powder, flax seed and/or hemp seeds for protein, and acai powder. I alternate my veggies between broccoli, spinach or kale. For the berry part: strawberries, blueberries and raspberries although sometimes I’ll add half a banana or mango.


I also make several mason jars (16oz) of overnight oats on Sundays with a variation of flavors:

  • blueberry/strawberry/raspberry
  • peanut butter and maple
  • banana and walnut
  • almond and raisin

Then I’ll either add ground flax seeds or chia seeds for extra protein and antioxidant benefit. And I’ll top with a dash of cinnamon. These make such an easy breakfast to go!

Mason jars make breakfast healthy and easy.

#2. Sleep as much as possible before a 12 hour shift

Let’s be honest, 12 hour shifts usually end up being closer to 14+ at the end of the day.  And, many studies show that working 12 hour shifts is damaging to nurse health due to the length of time that nurses end up working.  In fact, an increased risk of depression, anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even some cancers have all been researched and publicized.

Since the shifts are not getting shorter anytime soon, the best thing that nurses can do to take care of themselves is rest as much as possible before shifts.  Therefore, I make it a huge priority to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep before shifts.  (This was so much easier before we had kids!)

A few things I use to help me sleep better at night:

    • Eye mask and ear plugs. After having kids I realized that I am am incredibly light sleeper.  In fact, even the slightest noises wake me up in the middle of the night.  Sometimes I have difficulty failing back asleep again, which is so frustrating when I work a 12 hour shift in the morning.
    • Restorative yoga poses. I keep a yoga pillow and a yoga mat right next to my bed that I use for restorative yoga poses about 20 minutes before I try to go to sleep.  It helps me decompress my from my day, check in with myself and put me into a snugly and sleepy mood.

A yoga pillow is great for restorative yoga poses!

I keep a yoga mat next to my bed for early morning and night yoga stretches.

#3 Get regular exercise on the off days

I always feel so much better when I get my heart rate up on my days off. The benefits of exercise have been well documented; it is essential for nurse self care.  It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood and decreases stress levels.  Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also helps nurses have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.

Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A yoga session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.  Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.

For me personally, yoga has been a total game changer for my stress levels.  But it’s also great to change up the routine a bit, and I enjoy escaping with my headphones for a run and listening to music.  Whatever you do is great, as long as you actually do it!

A blue tooth headset is great to use for a run or brisk walk.

#4.  Wear compression socks

Those who know me know I’m fanatical about compression socks.  Wearing compression stockings helped me work all the way through two pregnancies and I continue to wear them to this day.  They help keep your legs energized, prevent varicose veins, and keep your ankles and feet from getting so swollen after being on your feet all day.  Plus, they come in the cutest styles now.

Compression socks will save your legs and feet!

In conclusion

Being a nurse and mom is already hard enough.

But with a little preparation and focus on your personal well-being and time management you can be both a healthy nurse and mom and give great care to your patients.  It’s time to focus on nurse self care!

We hope this list of working mom health tips for 12 hour shifts helps to make your life a little easier.  Please leave a comment if you have anything you would like to add!

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

Additional Recommended Reading

Working Mom health tips for 12 hour shifts

Working Mom Health Tips For 12 Hour Shifts

Maternity Leave For Nurses:  How To Financially Prepare

Maternity Leave For Nurses: How To Financially Prepare

(This post about saving money for maternity leave as a nurse may contain affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

As a new mother, it is your legal right to take a maternity leave.

Maternity leave is so important for a new mother for many reasons:

Unfortunately, many women in the US only get 6 weeks of maternity leave (8 weeks if you have a c-section).  And if you are a per diem employee like me, none of that time off is paid.  For that reason I worked right up until my 9th month of pregnancy while working as an emergency room nurse at a level 1 trauma center (thank God for pregnancy compression stockings!).

Nurses work extremely hard to care for patients like they would care for a family member, yet when they have a baby of their own they often have very little time to bond with their flesh and blood.  Add the financial strain into the mix and it can become very stressful and overwhelming.  So what is a nurse who is also a brand new mom to do?

Well, I have half-glass full mentality.  So for the sake of finding solutions to this conundrum that so many women find themselves in, I compiled a list of ways for mothers to plan financially far in advance of baby’s arrival.  You must take care of yourself first!

Pregnant nurse at work

The average paid maternity leave in the USA is only 6 weeks for a vaginal birth and 8 weeks for a c-section.  And if you are a per diem RN then chances are that you will not be paid at all while you are on maternity leave.

Saving for maternity leave is crucial for moms so they can spend more time baby bonding and less time worrying about money!

Unpaid maternity leave for nurses: you need to save up in advance!

After my daughter was born in 2015 I went back to work as a per diem nurse (higher hourly rate and more flexibility, but no benefits – including disability or paid maternity leave).   Therefore, eighteen months later when I went on maternity leave with my second baby I had a completely unpaid maternity leave.  It made the whole situation much more stressful for me.  Thankfully I planned well in advance to minimize the financial burden.

Here is how I managed to save up an additional 20K for my second maternity leave:

#1.  Open a new savings account dedicated to maternity leave.

One of the easiest ways to save money is to pay yourself first. When you set up direct deposit for each paycheck you make saving much easier. That way you don’t even see the money hitting your checking account. Liquid money is good so you can use it when you need it.

Suzie Orman (one of my all-time favorite financial gurus) says that you want to have as much money saved up for as many months as you plan to take off, as well as an 8 month emergency plan. You never know when an emergency can strike, for example, a medical emergency, a job loss or worse. The faster you can start saving into an account dedicated to maternity leave, the more prepared you will be when it comes.

#2.  Make a budget and stick to it.

I prefer more of a no budget, budget strategy. Basically, I decide how much I want to save each paycheck and immediately transfer it into an online savings account as soon as payday comes.

I am aware of everything I purchase and review it each month by using a program called Mint to track my expenses. If you aren’t using this, you should be. Since I have started using Mint I have watched my savings rate take off farther than ever. It is amazing how much you can save when you know exactly where your money is going!

I’m always surprised how many people I talk to who have no idea what they really spend in a month. Needless to say, this is a poor strategy for preparing for an unpaid maternity leave. You’ve got to have a plan.

#3.  Make more money now or take on extra work.

If you are currently pregnant or even just thinking about it, now is a good time to take on extra hours at work. Especially if you are able to get overtime pay.

As a nurse, anything over 40 hours of work a week is considered overtime at my hospital.  I don’t work overtime anymore now that I have small children, but I did it during my pregnancies just to add a little more to my savings.

In addition, some holidays pay time-and-a-half rates. Therefore, I have been known to pick up shifts on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving or even Christmas. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but my family handles it by celebrating these holidays on the day before or the day after the actual holiday. When children are young, they don’t know what day it is anyway, so this strategy has worked particularly well. It adds up quite a bit when you are saving to be out for a few months.

Maternity leave savings plan for nurses

Nurse maternity leave: how to save up in advance

#4.  Cut all recurring expenses that you aren’t really using or don’t need.

Look at your monthly expenses and see if there is anywhere that you can reasonably make a cut. Are you really using the 100$ a month gym membership? Or does it make more sense to take daily walks and do online yoga classes at home?

My husband and I talk about money often and try to be responsible about our spending. Saving money is all about establishing priorities and having set goals. This has kept us in good financial health and kept us on the same page with our spending habits.

#5.  Look at the easy ways to cut back.

Families dropping from a dual income to a single income usually need to trim expenses somewhere. Make a list of everything you are spending money on, and be honest with yourself about what is an actual need. Here are a few ideas to throw on the table:

  • Nix the coffee cart habit = save $4 a day
  • Pack your lunches = save $12 a day
  • Cancel the cable you are barely using anyway = save $80 a month
  • Cook your meals at home instead of ordering take out = potentially $100’s in savings per month (if you eat out a lot)
  • Go on a 3-6 month spending freeze on things that are not an actual “need” =  $$$

Do you see my point here? There is A LOT of money to be saved if you just pay more attention to what you are spending money on.

I do consider myself somewhat of an expert on “trimming the fat” on my own spending habits since paying off a large amount of student loan debt in a short amount of time.  Saving money for maternity leave as a nurse was a very similar experience.

#6.  Don’t fall for the baby registry trap.

There are so many items that I was told I had to have for baby #1. Many of them are “nice to have items” that I barely even used (I’m looking at you grocery cart baby cover I only used 3 times!). Many of these supposed “must have items” from my baby registry are currently being stored away in my garage and will, at best, find a new home in our local Goodwill.

I remember looking through Pinterest at lists of “must haves” for the new mom. They are long and mostly unnecessary. Stay away from those lists!

For example, I was told that I “needed” the newborn insert for our stroller. But for the first few months I was using her car seat in her stroller. By the time I actually went to use the insert she has already grown out of it.   Same went for the ergo baby newborn insert- I didn’t even need it until she was too big to fit in it anyway.

If you actually need something, then go ahead and get it. These are just my thoughts as a second time mom with a lot of baby registry regret. With the exception of a double stroller and a crib, I can’t think of any other BIG items I will actually need for our new baby.

#7.  Consider the extra expenses that come with a new baby.

There will be some extra expenses after the baby is born. Some of the big ones for us are diapers, wipes, food, and additional childcare.  None of these things are cheap, so it’s good to be prepared for the expenses in advance.

You could always decide to go the cloth diaper route. I know people who have done this and it does save quite a bit of money. That, however, was not in our savings plan. There are some things of convenience that really are worth the money, and that was one for us.

Other big expenses include childcare enrichment classes (MyGym, recreation classes, music classes, etc.) if that is something you are interested in.

Childcare is our single biggest expense besides housing.  In fact, if I didn’t have the higher hourly rate that I get from being a per diem nurse, it might not even make financial sense for me to work as an RN.   We have a nanny that comes every Monday and Wednesday so those are the days that I work at the hospital (plus one day on the weekend when my husband is home to watch the kids).  If you have family that can help on days you work that would be a huge financial savings.

I have read that the average baby costs their parents $300,000 from the time they are born until the time they turn 18. And that doesn’t even include a college education! I don’t know about you, but that really makes me think about how we budget our money. (We have college funds set up for both of our kids which started the day they were born, but we are still going to encourage them to achieve scholarships!)

#8.  Think about the big picture.

Having a baby is one of the most amazing human experiences I have ever had. I absolutely love being a Mom. However, it can also be stressful at times, even with the most thoughtful preparation.

At the end of the day you can only do the best you can. Saving for unpaid maternity leave is just one of the things I did to try and ease the financial loss that comes with having a baby.  It is wise to try and eliminate as much stress as you can so you can joyfully relish in the awesomeness that comes with having a new baby.

Now, if only I could invent a healthy way to live on increments of 2 hours of sleep or less, I would be golden!  Best wishes to you and your growing family.

Are there any other tips on saving money for maternity leave as a nurse you would add to this list?  Leave a comment!

P.S.  HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up to receive your FREE E-BOOK “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care”  in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

Additional Recommended Reading:


9 Tips for Working As A Nurse While Pregnant

9 Tips for Working As A Nurse While Pregnant

*This post may contain affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here. *Post updated on 11/20/19

Nursing is a challenging career, and working 12 hour shifts as a pregnant nurse is no exception.  In fact, most pregnant nurses are concerned about occupational precautions as well as the health of their unborn babies at some point during their pregnancies.

Some of the questions I asked when I was working as a pregnant nurse were:

Was I going to be able to tolerate being on my feet all day? 

What is the best way to prevent dehydration as a pregnant nurse working 12 hour shifts?

And most importantly, how am I going to keep my energy up for my entire shift?!

But by taking proper precautions and always putting safety first, working as a nurse while pregnant is possible. In fact, many nurses work all the way through their pregnancies until a few weeks or days before they give birth.   This information is intended to help you thrive while working as a nurse while pregnant.

Talk to you OBGYN about your concerns about working as a pregnant nurse

First off, it is always important that you talk to your doctor to discuss any occupational concerns you have during your pregnancy. Continue the dialog at your prenatal appointments as you move along your pregnancy.  If you have questions in between your appointments then contact your doctor.

It is also crucial that you communicate with hospital management and your charge nurse about your pregnancy.  They cannot help you avoid potential pregnancy hazards if they don’t know that you are expecting.

Physical challenges of working as a nurse while pregnant

The physicality of working as a pregnant nurse can be very difficult for some women, especially for those working on high acuity floors such as the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit.  However, many hospital units are able to offer modified duty for pregnant nurses who have instructions from their doctors to stay off their feet.

However, there are still a few physical challenges that pregnant nurses should consider during nursing shifts:

  • Stress
  • Working night shift or rotating schedules
  • Heavy lifting
  • Exhaustion
  • Standing and walking for long periods of time
  • Managing nausea during shifts

Additional pregnant nurse precautions and occupational hazards to consider

Nursing is unique to many other professions because there are a lot of additional occupational hazards to consider, especially for the pregnant nurse.  Working as a nurse while pregnant can be dangerous for both mom and fetus, therefore it is always important to wear the correct protective equipment or even possible refrain from working with some patients with highly infectious diseases.

Here are a few pregnant nurse precautions to consider:

  • Radiation from diagnostic imaging
  • Standing and walking for long periods of time
  • Working with chemo or other teratogenic medications
  • Risk of infections such as c-diff, tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, and influenza
  • Physicality of working as a pregnant nurse (such as pulling patients up in bed)
  • Increased risk of varicose veins due to standing for long periods of time
  • Working with violent patient

pregnant nurse talking on phone during a 12 hour shift

Here are 9 helpful tips for pregnant nurses:

1.  Invest in compression stockings or socks

How compression socks help prevent varicose veins

Compression socks and stockings help pregnant nurses by preventing varicose veins due to standing for long periods of time.

During pregnancy, a mother’s blood volume increases by almost 50%!  That’s a lot of extra fluid to be circulating through your body when you are on your feet for 12 hour shifts.  This is also why many pregnant women develop varicose veins during pregnancy.  If you are a pregnant nurse and haven’t invested in compression socks yet, its time to get a couple of pairs ASAP.

Compression stockings are often overlooked as a proactive way to prevent some of the chronic issues that come from working in a profession where you are on your feet for such long hours.  Pregnant women especially benefit from wearing compression stockings or socks during a 12 hour shift for a few reasons:
  • Prevention of varicose veins
  • Improved blood flow and decreased risk of blood clots
  • Decreased swelling of ankles and feet

I was able to continue working as an emergency room nurse up until the beginning of my ninth month of pregnancy because I invested in a few quality pairs of toe to waist compression stockings.  I wouldn’t have made it past my 6th month without them!

2.  Wear good shoes

NIKE shoes for nurses

Pregnant nurses must make sure they have great shoes to support their growing belly’s.

Every nurse needs a great pair of shoes to get through a 12 hour shift.  But the benefits to wearing quality nursing shoes during pregnancy it is even more important.  You will be carrying an extra 25-35 pounds and your feet need support to carry that extra weight.  If you thought your feet hurt working as a nurse before pregnancy, wait until you are pregnant! Keep in mind that your feet will swell a little more during pregnancy.

Things to look for in a great pair of nursing shoes.

  • Comfort
  • Support and stability
  • Slip resistance
  • Work function
  • Price and warranty

You can read more about the best shoes for nurses here!


3.  Pack healthy and energizing snacks

Almonds: a healthy nurse snack!

Working as a nurse while pregnant requires that you fuel your body with healthy nutrients to keep your energy up!

During my first trimester I struggled quite a bit with nausea and an overwhelming feeling of hungover-ness (without any of the fun the night before).  I was also training to be an ER nurse, so it was more important than ever to be alert and focused.

By packing a lunch with nutritious snacks everyday I was able to keep myself energized as well as fend off nausea enough to get through each shift.  I just couldn’t go more than 2-3 hours without refueling myself with something healthy to eat.

Admittedly, when I forgot to bring food with me I would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the stash we gave our patients.  Although they were nothing special, for some reason they tasted amazing.  Never underestimate the hunger of a pregnant nurse!  I felt so much better and able to continue working afterwards.

Here are a few easy, fast, and high energy snacks to help your pregnant body stay energized through your 12 hour shifts:

  • Trail mix
  • Energy bars
  • Almond butter and apples
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Greek yogurt
  • String cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Edamame
  • Veggies and hummus


4.  Go to bed as early as you can.

To be a healthy nurse you must get a good night's sleep.

Pregnant nurses need their sleep!

You simply cannot sleep too much when you are pregnant.  This is a fact.

Here is a sleep secret that got my through 12 hour shifts during my pregnancy.  I would go down to the hospital meditation room during my lunch break, find a comfortable chair and literally pass out for 45 minutes.  I set my phone alarm to make sure I was back to work on time.  When it when it went off I was so deep in REM sleep that sometimes I didn’t even know where I was when I woke up.

The only way you are going to have the energy to make it through your pregnancy while working 12 hour shifts is to make sure you get as much sleep as you possibly can every night.  8 hours would be ideal.

5.  Aim for 30 minutes of exercise everyday

women practicing yoga

Prenatal yoga can help pregnant nurses deal with stress throughout their pregnancies.

It seams counter intuitive, but exercising while pregnant will actually give you more energy to get through a 12 hour shift. In addition, exercise during pregnancy prevents gestational diabetes and hypertension.

(It is important to talk to your doctor about starting any exercise routine during pregnancy.  There are rare circumstances when your doctor may not want you to exercise while pregnant.)

Non-impact exercises for pregnant nurses include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Prenatal yoga
  • Hand weights
  • Low impact aerobics


6.  Reconsider working the night shift

Nurse playing with daughter and examining eyes

Working the night shift can be especially challenging for nurses during their pregnancies. Consider switching to day shift.

The rigorousness of working 12 hour shifts as a nurse is exhausting as it is.  Add pregnancy into the mix and you might find that you are even more tired than ever.

Some pregnant nurses who have already been working night shift continue with that schedule and do just  fine.  However, those who have rotating day and night schedules might find it especially hard to switch back to the night shift once they become pregnant.

Talk to your doctor about whether it is safe for you to continue working night shifts.  Communicate with your manager about your specific health needs during your pregnancy. You may want to switch to a day shift only schedule for the duration of your pregnancy.

7.  Talk to your manager about modified duty

Pregnant Nurse at work

Many facilities are able to offer modified duty for pregnant nurses who can’t be on their feet all day.

As a pregnant nurse it may be necessary to have a modified work assignment.  Especially for nurses who work in rigorous units such as the emergency department.  The physical demands of pregnancy might be too much for pregnant nurses already struggling with fatigue, nausea or having to carry so much extra weight.

Talk to your manager to see if there are alternative assignments you can have such as working at the monitor, organizing paperwork or auditing patient charts.  If these options are not available consider the possibility of working shorter shifts or working two days a week instead of three.

Remember, always ask for help if you need it!

8.  Communicate with management about your intended time to go on maternity leave

It is important to keep open communication with administration about when you intend to go on maternity leave.  As a pregnant nurse, you cannot predict the future.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had every intention of working up until my 38th week.  But when I had my appointment at 31 weeks my doctor thought it was best that I didn’t work on my feet for more 6 hours a day.  While 6 hours seems like a lot in most professions,  it’s not much for a hospital nurse.    Sometimes we are on our feet for 10-12 hours a shift!

Yet, I still didn’t want to go off work because for some reason I felt like I was taking advantage of the system.  I thought I had the grit to work all the way through.  So, I waited for two weeks before I finally presented my doctors note to my manager.  When I finally did, I gave it to him with tears in my eyes because I knew he would have to put me on disability at that time.  My maternity leave started at that moment.

It was a good thing in the long run because I suffered a placental abruption and had an emergency c-section 7 weeks before my due date.  It is wise to listen to your doctor’s advice!

9.  Enjoy your pregnancy

pregnant women's belly

Enjoy your pregnancy, nurse!

Pregnancy can and should be a beautiful experience, even when you are a nurse working 12 hour shifts.  Far too often many pregnant nurses focus on the inconveniences and difficulties they face at work during their pregnancies  But with proper precautions it can – and should – be a time filled with good health, gratitude, abundance and most of all, joy.

Recommended reading for the nurse mom:

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pregnant nurse at the doctors office

Pregnant nurse tips: Working as a nurse while pregnant

Simple Time Saving Tips For Nurse Moms

Simple Time Saving Tips For Nurse Moms

(This post about time saving tips for nurse moms contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.  To contact us regarding collaboration click here).

To the mom who is a nurse:  You’ve got amazing skills and you are beyond capable of running the world.

At work you are busy caring for patients, organizing plans of care, giving life-saving treatments, advocating for patients, all while continuing to make them feel safe and well-cared for.  Now its time to apply your nurse time management skills at home.  After all, nurses know more then anyone about how to prioritize the most important tasks first.  Our patients lives often depend on it.

Simple Time Saving Tips For Nurse Moms

No one has the ability to multi-task the way a nurse does.  Here are a few time saving tips and tools to help you apply those talents as a mom managing a household:

Simple Time Saving Tips For Nurse Moms:

1.  Have your to-do list in your phone

I love planners because I think they are pretty.  Problem is, when you have children you almost never get a chance to look at them.  Which is why I have found it necessary to keep my to-do lists organized in my phone where I can easily see them.

Here are a few awesome apps to stay organized:

  • Trello:  This is my favorite!
  • Google Tasks:  simple tasks in Gmail and Google Calendar
  • Google Keep:  A bulletin board for your tasks
  • Remember The Milk:  very simple yet powerful task management

2.  Make preparing lunches and family meals easy

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3.  Listen to podcasts for perspective on nursing, motherhood, parenting and lifestyle tips

Podcasts are a great way to add a little adult conversation to your day.  After the birth of my first baby I seriously missed reading books.  So, I would take my daughter for long walks and listen to podcasts for hours.  I was able to walk off my baby weight relatively fast and learn about ways to make my life easier in the process.

Here are a few of my favorite podcasts:

4.  Make it super simple to tidy up your home

I remember people telling me just to “let things go” after I had a baby.  Then I heard it even more after my second baby.  I think this might be the worst advice I have ever gotten as a new mom.  Who feels better when their lives and homes are a complete disaster?  Not me.

I have found though the years that its easier to keep my home clean and organized when I don’t keep things that we are not using or providing a helpful service to us.  Basically, if its not being used, then its got to go.  Here are two books I read that inspired me to declutter our home and keep it that way:

5.  Make family photo books in 20 minutes with Chatbooks

ChatBooks is a mobile app where you can pick photos from your social media accounts or mobile device and have them printed in a pretty book.   Chatbooks are photo books for people who don’t have time to make photo books (ahem, nurse moms!)  You can easily add, edit, and rearrange your favorite photos to create a beautiful photo book.

Before I had children I had the time to spend hours making photo books and  ordering pictures.  Now that I have children, I want to document everything they do and make hard copy books for our family and ourselves.  Problem is, there just isn’t time anymore!  Chatbooks has been the best and easiest solution for this problem.

Every few months I go through my phone and make a new book.  I have books for both of my children first year of life, all of our family photoshoots, vacations, and other special events.  Plus, it has made it so easy to make great birthday and holiday gifts for grandparents as well.

6.  Get off social media

Limiting social media is simply one of the best time saving tips there is!  There is nothing more time wasteful then scrolling through social media or constantly uploading photos.

Focus on whats most important to you.  Besides, studies say that people who look at social media are likely to become more depressed.  And if your are a busy working mom, you have got no time for that!

I try and focus on any of these productive tasks instead of mindlessly using social media:

  • being a wife
  • raising an amazing kid
  • spending time with friends
  • writing in this blog
  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • reading
  • listening to music or a podcast
  • meditating
  • practicing yoga
  • sleeping
  • relaxing

Recently, I was reading an article about an author named Tim Ferris who wrote a book called The 4-Hour Workweek. He talked a lot about how being perpetually busy just for the sake of business is actually a form of laziness. Ferris explained that on a superficial level, being busy is a satisfying substitute for doing important work. “It’s very easy to confuse activity with productivity,” says Ferris.

This got me thinking…  Is my addiction to social media just me being lazy?  Am I unconsciously browsing social media instead of living my life with intention?  This realization inspired me to do an experiment and quit all forms of social media for one week.  And guess what?…  I survived!  And I was motivated me to limit myself to checking my social media accounts 1-2 times a week from then on.

I have so much more time now to focus on things that actually serve me well.

I hope these time saving tips inspired you to be more productive and purposeful.  Now, continue doing what you do best and continue running the world!

Additional Recommended Reading By Mother Nurse Love: