For dedicated nurses who work long hours on the front lines of healthcare, the 12-hour nursing shift has become increasingly popular. While it may sound daunting, these extended shifts offer a range of benefits that make a significant impact on both nurses and patients.
In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of working 12-hour nursing shifts, highlighting their effects on work-life balance, patient care, and professional growth. Let’s dive in!
Pros of Working 12-Hour Nursing Shifts:
By understanding the advantages of these longer shifts, nurses may be able to make more informed decisions about their work schedules. Let’s explore the numerous benefits that 12-hour shifts bring to the table.
Longer Breaks and More Days Off
One of the notable advantages of 12-hour nursing shifts is the extended break periods. With longer breaks, nurses can recharge, refuel, and engage in self-care activities. Additionally, the compressed schedule often allows for more consecutive days off, providing valuable time for personal pursuits, family commitments, and leisure activities that can enhance work-life balance.
For example, throughout my career at the bedside, I appreciated 12-hour shifts as they allowed me to have four days off every week. This allowed me to spend more quality time with my family on my days off!
Who doesn’t want to work fewer days in a week? When you work 12-hour shifts as a full-time nurse, you get to work three days a week instead of Five. That also means that you have four days off every week instead of only two, like most other professions.
Enhanced Continuity of Care
Working longer shifts promotes improved continuity of care for patients. Nurses who work on units where patients stay for an extended period have the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their patients, gaining deeper insights into their conditions, needs, and preferences. This continuity allows nurses to provide more personalized and holistic care, resulting in better patient outcomes.
Reduced Handoffs and Communication Errors
With fewer shift changes, there is a decrease in handoffs and communication errors between nurses. This streamlined workflow enhances patient safety by minimizing the chances of critical information being overlooked or miscommunicated. It also improves efficiency, as nurses can focus more on patient care rather than spending excessive time on shift handovers.
Deeper Collaboration and Team Bonding
Although it may seem counterintuitive, extended shifts may encourage stronger collaboration and team bonding among nurses. Spending more time together fosters a sense of camaraderie, trust, and shared responsibility. Nurses can support and rely on each other, resulting in a more cohesive and efficient healthcare team.
Better Work-Life Balance
Working fewer days a week provides nurses with a better work-life balance. The extended time off allows nursesto prioritize self-care, spend quality time with family and friends, and engage in activities that rejuvenate them mentally and physically. This balance may help to prevent burnout and increase overall job satisfaction.
(In addition, working as a per diem nurse has given me an even greater work-life balance. I could choose to work as little as one day a week or as many as four or five as long as the hospital has a need for nurses.)
For nurses who prefer longer shifts, 12-hour schedules can bring financial benefits. Working fewer days in a week means that nurses can take advantage of potential overtime opportunities, allowing them to earn additional income.
Flexibility and Freedom
Working 12-hour nursing shifts often provides flexibility and freedom in scheduling. Many healthcare facilities offer various shift options, allowing nurses to select shifts that align with their personal preferences and commitments. This flexibility can be particularly valuable for nurses with childcare responsibilities, those pursuing further education, or those who simply prefer longer stretches of time off.
Working 12-hour shifts allowed me to get more creative with my work schedule. That factor has always been so important to me as a working mom. I wanted to be available when my kids needed me to be home from work. In addition, I often felt that I got to experience what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom and have the ability to also work full-time.
Less Commuting to Work (Save Time & Gas!)
Working three days a week instead of a more traditional Monday through Friday schedule means that you spend significantly less time commuting to work. In addition, if some of those days fall on a weekend, then you can miss traffic completely!
Personally, I don’t love working on the weekend because I prefer to be home with my family; however, I do appreciate how fast I can get to and from work. That is something to consider when you live in a high-traffic city such as Los Angeles.
You Can Take “Mini-Vacations” Without Using Vacation Time
When you have the option to have several days off in between workdays, it becomes possible to take mini-vacations without putting in a vacation request. In fact, I have taken up to a week off at a time to go to Mexico without using any vacation days.
When you consolidate your hours into longer periods of time per day, then you can take more days off in a row. For example, if I am putting my schedule in for a two-week period, I can request a Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for the first week and a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the second week. That leaves me with eight days off in between!
Summary of the Pros of Working 12-Hour Nursing Shifts ⇒
From improved work-life balance and enhanced patient care to opportunities for professional growth and financial advantages, these longer shifts provide a supportive and fulfilling environment for nurses. While they may require endurance and adaptability, the rewards are well worth it. By embracing the positives of 12-hour shifts, nurses can thrive in their careers and make a significant difference in the lives of their patients.
There are pros and cons to working 12-hour nursing shifts that you may want to consider.
Cons Of Working 12-Hour Nursing Shifts:
While 12-hour nursing shifts offer certain advantages, it is important to acknowledge that they also present unique challenges. These extended work hours can impact nurses physically, emotionally, and socially. Here we will explore some of the cons associated with 12-hour shifts, shedding light on the potential difficulties nurses may face.
Physical Fatigue and Exhaustion
Extended shifts can lead to physical fatigue and exhaustion for nurses. Long hours of continuous work, often involving physically demanding tasks, can take a toll on the body. Prolonged periods of standing or lifting patients can lead to muscle strain, joint pain, and increased risk of workplace injuries.
Many nurses work 12-hour shifts with minimal breaks. We are lifting and pulling patients, often spending the majority of our day on our feet, managing stressful and sometimes critical situations while doing everything we can to get through the shift!
Increased Risk of Burnout
The demanding nature of 12-hour shifts can contribute to a higher risk of burnout among nurses. The combination of physical exhaustion, emotional stress, and the need to consistently provide high-quality care can leave nurses feeling emotionally drained and overwhelmed. This chronic stress can impact job satisfaction, mental well-being, and overall work performance.
A University of Pennsylvania study on hospital nurses found that the longer the shift, the higher the levels of burnout and patient dissatisfaction. The researchers discovered that nursesworking shifts that were ten hours or longer were up to two and a half times more likely than nurses working shorter shifts to experience burnout and job dissatisfaction.
One reason may be that longer shifts give nurses less time in a day to care for themselves. I have found it challenging to do any self-care on days I worked 12-hour shifts because nearly every waking hour is spent caring for patients. Furthermore, the study found that nurse burnout associated with longer shifts increased the chances of the nurse wanting to leave the job.
Disrupted Work-Life Balance
Working longer shifts can disrupt work-life balance, especially for nurses with family or personal commitments. The extended hours spent at work may limit quality time spent with loved ones or engaging in activities outside of work. This imbalance can lead to feelings of guilt, strain relationships, and hinder self-care practices.
Impact on Sleep Patterns
Extended shifts can disrupt sleep patterns, as nurses may struggle to find adequate time for restorative sleep. The irregular and often overnight schedules can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or obtaining sufficient rest. This can result in fatigue, decreased alertness, and impaired cognitive function.
Challenges in Patient Safety
Prolonged work hours can potentially compromise patient safety. Fatigue and decreased alertness due to long shifts increase the likelihood of errors in medication administration, documentation, or patient assessments. Nurses need to be vigilant in recognizing the impact of fatigue on their performance and take necessary precautions to ensure optimal patient care.
If You Have Kids, You Probably Won’t See Them On The Days You Work
As a nurse and mom, one of the worst parts of working 12-hour shifts is that I don’t get to see my children at all on the days that I work. They are still asleep when I leave for work at 6 o’clock in the morning and they are already in bed by the time I get home at 8:30 PM. Even worse, when I work back-to-back shifts, I may not see them at all for 24 to 36 hours at a time. I could as easily have been out-of-town as far as they are concerned. Nursing is a good career for moms, but this is still something you may want to consider.
Summary of the Con of Working 12-Hour Nursing Shifts ⇒
While 12-hour nursing shifts have their advantages, it is essential to recognize and address the potential cons they bring. Healthcare organizations and nurses themselves should prioritize strategies to mitigate the challenges associated with extended shifts, such as implementing fatigue management programs, promoting self-care practices, and fostering a supportive work environment.
By understanding and addressing these cons, nurses can navigate the complexities of 12-hour shifts while maintaining their well-being and providing the best possible care to their patients.
My Personal Take on Working 12-Hour Shifts
Working a 12-hour nursing shift makes for a very long workday. But I’ve always seen it as the price I must pay for getting to spend more days at home. So, the benefits of the 12-hour shift far outweigh the cons for me. Admittedly though, I really do focus on the benefits of working 12-hour shifts as much as I can. I must remind myself to stay positive.
I have always been grateful to have work flexibility that allows me to spend more uninterrupted days off with my family than I would have with a standard 9 to 5 schedule. When I think about it in that way, I realize I am lucky to get to have the best of both worlds.
It all happens so fast. First, the baby starts to roll and crawl. Then they start “cruising.” And finally, your sweet little bundle of joy takes his or her first Frankenstein steps. And just like that, you have a walker!
Now, I may have been a little over-prepared when it came to baby proofing our house. After all, I am an ER nurse, and I have seen what can happen when a home isn’t baby proofed.
I wrote this baby proofing checklist in honor of emergency nurses weekand my desire to encourage other parents to take an active stance in baby-proofing their homes. If you are anything like us, you may be a tad bit sleep-deprived and overwhelmed. I hope this list helps to make it easier to create a more safe and baby-friendly home.
Why Is Baby Proofing So Essential?
Baby proofing is of paramount importance in creating a safe and secure environment for infants and toddlers. It involves taking preventive measures to minimize potential hazards and accidents in the home. By baby proofing, parents and caregivers can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and provide a nurturing space for their little ones to explore and grow.
Babies and toddlers can hurt themselves in an instant. The prevention of accidental injuries is the #1 reason why babies need safe physical boundaries in place.
Think of it like this: Playtime + baby-proofed home = safe space for growth and learning opportunities!
As parents, it is our responsibility to make sure our kids are in a safe environment. Children need a secure place to get messy, play, explore, learn, and have fun. By prioritizing baby proofing, parents, and caregivers can provide a nurturing and protected space where their child can flourish and grow with confidence.
Here Are a Few Things To Consider When Baby Proofing Your Home:
The first item on our baby proofing checklist is the safety gate. One second, your baby is playing in one spot, the next, they are on the other side of the house trying to open up the cutlery drawer in the kitchen. Once babies learn how to crawl or walk, they can be surprisingly fast! Safety gates help keep kiddos within a safe area. Remember that you want to make sure safety gates are screwed into the wall if they are at the top of a staircase.
Note: Although safety gates are a great way to keep your baby safer, it doesn’t mean that they can’t get hurt on them. A study from 2014 found that as many as 2,000 U.S. kids visit the emergency room for treatments resulting from injuries caused by climbing or falling through gates.
Although they appear to be just tiny pieces of plastic, corner guards and edge bumpers have been instrumental in preventing a few very BIG injuries. Why? Because many corners on tables and shelves are at the same height as toddlers’ heads when they are standing (or worse, running). Hello, head injury!
If your toddler runs into the corner of a piece of furniture with a corner guard or edge bumper, they are much less likely to sustain a serious head injury.
Doesn’t it seem as if toddlers like to explore every space you DON’T want them to be in? Small children are curious creatures, and forbidden places are exciting to them. They love testing their boundaries. Doorknob covers are great for keeping little ones out of the areas you don’t want them wandering into. Especially places like broom closets, bathrooms, or out the front door.
Door nob covers just spin in circles if a toddler tries to open them. But adults can easily open it by squeezing it tightly and turning the knob.
Sliding door locks are important for baby-proofing for several reasons:
First, sliding doors can pose significant safety hazards for babies and young children. They can easily slide open, providing unrestricted access to areas that may be dangerous, such as balconies, swimming pools, or staircases. Installing a lock helps prevent accidental falls and keeps children away from potentially hazardous areas.
Second, sliding doors can be a pinch point for little fingers, and they can get trapped or injured if the doors are not properly secured. A lock prevents the doors from being easily opened or closed, reducing the risk of finger injuries.
Baby-proofing measures, including sliding door locks, provide peace of mind for parents and caregivers. Knowing that your child is safe and secure within the confines of your home allows you to focus on other tasks without constant worry.
Remember, it’s important to choose locks specifically designed for sliding doors and to install them correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, regularly check and maintain the locks to ensure they remain in good working condition.
Toddlers love exploration and will open up every single drawer and cabinet in your home. And if there is one that isn’t locked, I assure you, they will find it! Use safety latches to keep household chemicals, cleaning supplies, and other hazardous things out of the reach of tiny hands.
There are several types of safety locks that you can buy depending on how much you want to spend and how much work you want to put in. We used these and they work great. You can install them instantly without any drilling and can uninstall them easily when you no longer need them.
The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places in the house for a toddler. It wouldn’t be difficult for a tiny hand to reach up and turn on a stove the moment you are not looking. Stove knob covers work very much like doorknob covers and makes it impossible for a toddler to turn on.
Note: It is a good idea to get into a new habit of using only the rear stove burners to reduce the chances that your little ones can get burned. If you do need to use the front burners, always make sure the handles of any pots or pans are facing inwards so those little ones can’t pull them off the stove and sustain a burn injury.
Second, in the event of an earthquake, you don’t want any heavy furniture falling over on the little humans below (we live in California, so we have to think about that here!). For aesthetics, you can anchor furniture from the backside, so you can’t even see it unless you are looking.
List of Things To Consider When Baby Proofing Your Home:
Install safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
Secure furniture, such as bookshelves and dressers, to the walls to prevent tipping.
Cover electrical outlets with outlet covers or safety plugs.
Use cordless window coverings or secure cords out of reach.
Keep small objects and choking hazards out of reach.
Lock cabinets and drawers with safety locks.
Install window guards to prevent falls.
Use door knob covers to limit access to certain rooms or areas.
Secure heavy appliances, like TVs, to prevent tipping.
Use corner guards or padding on sharp furniture edges and corners.
Store cleaning supplies, medications, and other hazardous materials out of reach.
Keep hot liquids and appliances, such as irons or curling irons, out of reach.
Ensure that cords from blinds or curtains are not accessible to children.
Cover sharp corners of tables or counters with edge protectors.
Place safety covers on stove knobs to prevent accidental burns or gas leaks.
Install toilet locks to prevent drowning hazards.
Remove or secure any loose rugs or carpets to prevent trips and falls.
Use baby gates to block off areas that may pose a risk.
Check for and repair any loose or unstable banisters or railings.
Keep plastic bags, including grocery bags, out of reach to prevent suffocation risks.
Consider installing a baby monitor to keep an eye on your child at all times.
Check for and repair any loose or exposed electrical wiring.
Lock away firearms and ammunition in a secure location.
Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in appropriate areas of the home.
Remember that baby proofing should be tailored to your specific home and the developmental stage of your child. Regularly assess your surroundings for new hazards as your child grows and becomes more mobile.
Baby Proofing Frequently Asked Questions
When should baby proofing be done?
Baby proofing should ideally be done before your baby starts to crawl or explore their surroundings independently. This typically occurs around six to eight months of age. However, it’s never too early to start preparing your home for a safe environment, especially by removing potential hazards and ensuring that essential safety measures are in place.
What do I really need for baby proofing?
The specific baby proofing items you need may vary depending on your home’s layout and potential hazards. However, some common essential items for baby proofing include outlet covers, cabinet locks or latches, corner guards, furniture straps, baby gates, door stoppers, toilet locks, and stove knob covers. It’s important to assess your home and identify potential dangers to determine which specific baby proofing products are necessary for your situation.
At what age can you stop baby proofing?
The age at which you can stop baby proofing your home will vary from child to child. It generally depends on their developmental milestones and individual behaviors. As a general guideline, most experts suggest gradually removing baby proofing measures once your child reaches around two to three years old and demonstrates a good understanding of safety instructions and limitations. However, it’s essential to remember that every child develops at their own pace, so it’s crucial to assess their abilities and behavior before removing any safety precautions.
What is the average cost of baby proofing?
The cost of baby proofing can vary depending on the size of your home, the number of rooms you need to baby proof, and the specific products you choose. On average, you can expect to spend a few hundred dollars on baby proofing essentials. However, keep in mind that investing in safety measures for your child is invaluable, and there are budget-friendly options available for many baby proofing items.
Do you really need to baby proof?
Baby proofing is highly recommended to create a safe environment for your child as they explore their surroundings. It helps prevent accidents, injuries, and potential hazards that may be present in your home. While constant supervision is essential, baby proofing adds an extra layer of protection and peace of mind for parents and caregivers.
How can I baby proof cheap?
Baby proofing doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some cost-effective ways to baby proof your home:
Use outlet covers: Affordable plastic outlet covers can help protect your baby from electrical outlets.
Secure furniture: Use furniture straps or anchors to secure heavy furniture such as bookshelves and dressers to the wall, preventing tipping accidents.
Repurpose household items: Use rubber bands or hair ties to secure cabinet doors, or repurpose socks as corner guards.
Place foam or pool noodles on sharp edges: Cut pool noodles or foam pipe insulation and place them on sharp corners or edges to protect your baby from bumps and bruises.
Use doorknob covers: Instead of buying expensive door locks, consider using doorknob covers to prevent your baby from entering certain rooms.
Remember, while cost-saving measures can be helpful, it’s crucial to ensure that the safety measures you implement are effective and reliable in protecting your child from potential hazards.
I hope you enjoyed reading this baby proofing checklist, written by an emergency room nurse & mom. It is always better to plan ahead and create safe spaces for our little ones. Accidents happen fast, but by setting up a few safety systems throughout the house, you can decrease the chances of having to take your child to the emergency room. Stay safe!
*This post contains affiliate links. Updated from original post on 11/4/18
Working 12-hour shifts as a nurse can be physically and emotionally demanding, and these challenges are compounded for a nurse who is pregnant.
Pregnant nurses may have concerns about the impact of working long hours on their health and that of their unborn child. They may also worry about exposure to harmful substances, such as radiation, chemicals, or infectious diseases.
I had a lot of questions at the beginning of my first pregnancy when I worked as a nurse:
Would I tolerate being on my feet all day?
What is the best way to prevent dehydration as a pregnant nurse working 12-hour shifts?
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, some nurses work all the way through their pregnancies until a few weeks or days before they give birth. However, it is important to remember that everyone has a different experience, and it is important to speak with your doctor, nurse practitioner, or midwife before making any decisions about what is right for you.
Talk to Your 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 with your pregnancy. If you have questions or concerns in between your appointments, contact your healthcare provider.
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 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 or intensive care unit. However, many hospital units are able to offer modified duties for pregnant nurses who have instructions from their doctors to stay off their feet.
Fatigue is a common concern for pregnant nurses who work long shifts. Pregnancy can cause fatigue due to hormonal changes and increased physical demands on the body. Long shifts can exacerbate this fatigue.
There are also other physical challenges pregnant nurses should consider during nursing shifts:
Working night shift or rotating schedules
Standing and walking for long periods of time
Managing nausea during shifts
Additional Pregnant Nurse Precautions and Occupational Hazards to Consider
Pregnant nurses may be concerned about exposure to harmful substances in the workplace. Certain chemicals, such as cleaning agents and pesticides, can be toxic to developing fetuses.
Nurses who work in settings where radiation is used, such as radiology departments, may also be concerned about the impact of exposure on their pregnancy.
Furthermore, infectious diseases pose a risk to pregnant nurses and their unborn child, particularly if the nurse is working with patients who have communicable illnesses.
Therefore, it is always important to wear the correct protective equipment or even possibly refrain from working with some patients.
Here is a list of some 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
The 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
Compression socks and stockings may help pregnant nurses minimize or prevent 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, it’s time to get a couple of pairs ASAP.
Compression socks 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 may 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!
The Reebok Women’s Classic Renaissance Sneaker is an example of a great nursing shoe for pregnant nurses. They are comfortable and supportive, with a slip-resistant sole that fits the activity level of being a nurse. Plus, they have extra cushioning in the right places to help you stay on your feet all day long. The added bonus is they also come at an affordable price.
3. Pack Healthy and Energizing Snacks
Working as a nurse while pregnant requires that you fuel your body with healthy nutrients to keep your energy up!
During my first trimester, when I was pregnant with my second child, 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 every day, 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.
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 were the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I had ever had. Never underestimate the hunger of a pregnant nurse. I always felt better and was able to continue working afterward.
Here are a few easy, fast, and high-energy snacks to help your pregnant body stay energized through your 12-hour shifts:
Consider throwing some healthy snack packs into your work bag for emergencies! It’s better to be prepared than tempted by the vending machine. Good luck, and remember – you got this!
4. Go to Bed Early
Pregnant nurses need their sleep!
You simply cannot sleep too much when you are pregnant. I don’t think there is any scientific evidence to back up my claim about this. However, that was definitely my experience during pregnancy.
Here is a sleep secret that got me 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 30 minutes. I set my phone alarm to make sure I was back to work on time. 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. I was that tired.
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- and during the day if needed. Utilize every lunch break you have at work to take mini power naps like I did!
5. Get Some Movement If Everyday (If Your Healthcare Provider Says Its OK)
Prenatal yoga may help pregnant nurses deal with stress throughout their pregnancies.
It seems counterintuitive, but exercising while pregnant may actually give you more energy to get through a 12-hour shift. In addition, exercise during pregnancy can help prevent gestational diabetes and hypertension.
(It is important to talk to your doctor about starting any exercise routine during pregnancy. There are some circumstances your doctor may advise you not to exercise while pregnant.)
Non-impact exercises for pregnant nurses may include:
Working the night shift can be especially challenging for nurses during their pregnancies. Consider switching to the day shift if you can.
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 the 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
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 those who work in rigorous units such as the emergency department. The physical demands of pregnancy might be too much for those 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. Although with pregnancy, you can’t predict the future, and babies tend to come when they are ready. Things happen and you may have to leave early anyway, but keeping communication open istypically not a bad idea.
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 than six hours a day. While six hours may seem like a lot for 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 – which, in hindsight, I realize was ridiculous. I thought I had the grit to work all the way through.
So, I waited for two weeks before I finally presented my doctor’s 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 had a placental abruption two weeks later and had an emergency c-section seven weeks before my due date. It is wise to listen to your doctor’s advice!
9. Enjoy Your Pregnancy
Enjoy your pregnancy!
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 hopefully is – a time filled with some good health, gratitude, abundance, and most of all, joy.
Working as A Nurse While Pregnant Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to work as a nurse while pregnant?
Yes, it can be safe to work as a nurse while pregnant, but it depends on various factors, including the type of work you do, your health condition, and the pregnancy itself. You should always consult with your healthcare provider and employer to assess any potential risks and discuss any necessary adjustments to your work duties or schedule.
How long should nurses work while pregnant?
The duration that a nurse should work while pregnant can vary depending on the individual’s health, pregnancy condition, and the demands of their job. Some nurses may need to reduce their hours or stop working earlier in pregnancy than others. It’s best to discuss this with your healthcare provider and employer to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.
What should I avoid as a pregnant nurse?
As a pregnant nurse, you should avoid any tasks or activities that may be hazardous to your health or the health of your unborn child. These may include exposure to harmful chemicals, radiation, infectious diseases, and heavy lifting or repetitive motions that can cause strain or injury. It’s essential to discuss any potential risks with your healthcare provider and employer to ensure that you can safely perform your job duties.
Should I work 12-hour shifts pregnant?
Working 12-hour shifts while pregnant can be challenging, especially as the pregnancy progresses, and fatigue sets in. It’s important to discuss your work schedule with your healthcare provider and employer to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. They may recommend reducing your hours or taking more frequent breaks to help manage your energy levels and reduce stress.
What jobs are unsafe during pregnancy?
Some jobs may be considered unsafe during pregnancy, depending on the level of physical exertion, exposure to hazards, or risks to the health of the mother and baby. Examples of jobs that may be considered unsafe include those involving heavy lifting, exposure to radiation or chemicals, prolonged standing, or exposure to infectious diseases. It’s crucial to discuss any potential risks with your healthcare provider and employer to determine the best course of action.
Which work should you avoid during pregnancy?
As mentioned earlier, jobs involving heavy lifting, exposure to radiation or chemicals, prolonged standing, or infectious diseases should be avoided during pregnancy. Other jobs that may be physically demanding or high-stress may also be challenging to manage while pregnant.
What week should I stop working during pregnancy?
The ideal week to stop working during pregnancy can vary depending on various factors, including the pregnancy condition, the demands of the job, and the individual’s health. Some women may need to stop working earlier in pregnancy, while others may be able to work until closer to their due date. It’s essential to discuss this with your healthcare provider and employer to determine the best course of action.
What month should a pregnant woman stop working?
Similar to the previous question, the month that a pregnant woman should stop working can vary depending on various factors. Some women may need to stop working as early as the first trimester, while others may be able to work until the end of the second or even third trimester. It’s crucial to discuss this with your healthcare provider and employer to determine the best course of action.
How do you explain leaving a job due to pregnancy?
Explaining leaving a job due to pregnancy should be done with honesty and professionalism. You can simply state that you needed to leave your job to focus on your health and the health of your unborn child. It’s important to be clear and concise in your explanation and to provide any necessary documentation or medical notes as requested.
3 Helpful Tips For Parents Working The Night Shift
*This post may contain affiliate links/Updated from 11/2019
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 its finding someone who can take care of your children while you’re on the clock is often difficult.
There are perks, though. For example, nurses are usually paid more per hour when they work nights instead of days, and working nights means 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
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 must take care of yourself too. Self-care is essential for everyone, and it is even more important for nurses who work the night shift.
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 must prioritize self-care. 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 you can 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 at home and work, you need to prioritize taking care of yourself.
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.
Night Shift Nurse Tip #2: Find an Amazing Babysitter
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
Working night shift with a family tip: 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.
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.
As a mom and nurse, I have a lot of information to share about this topic – all from personal experience!
One of the main reasons I decided to become a nurse is because I wanted a better work-life balance for when I started my own family.
In my first post-college career, I worked in the corporate world, working 50+ hours a week. At the time, my job also required that I frequently travel for business meetings – often for up to a week at a time. That is a long time to be away when you have small children!
At the time, I also had a few nurse friends who told me that they appreciated the flexibility nursing allowed them when they decided to start families of their own. Nursing was already a career that I was very interested in because I had the desire to work in a field where I could help others and make a difference in the world. And since starting my own family was something that my husband and I eventually wanted, becoming a nurse began to make a lot more sense.
So nine years ago, I went back to college to earn a BSN. I have since found that being a nurse mom has its challenges. However, I love both jobs, so it is worth it for me.
Here are the pros and cons of being a mother and nurse:
Being a mother and nurse has many perks, but it is not for the faint of heart.
For example, hospitals are open seven days a week, 365 days a year, and they need a lot of nurses to help with patient care. There are day shifts, night shifts, mid shifts, and even 4-hour break relief shifts available to many nurses. The flexibility also allows many moms to go back to school and earn an advanced nursing degree which can help create even more career opportunities.
There are also many times that nurses can work in a day- including 8, 10, and 12-hour shifts. In the hospital setting, most shifts are usually 12 hours. However, you can also work as a nurse in a doctor’s office, where shifts may only be 8 hours a day. And in some hospital specialties, such as the PACU or Cath Lab, nurses often work 10-hour shifts.
A five-day workweek can become three
Unlike most professions, many full-time nurses work three days a week instead of 5 (a benefit of the 12-hour workday). That means nurse moms get to be home at least four days a week to spend solid, uninterrupted, quality time with their families.
And as a bonus, you will be able to run errands during the non-busy hours. For example, I can take my kids with me to go grocery shopping on Tuesday and Friday mornings – and we are usually one of only a few shoppers there! Running errands is so much easier when the roads and stores are less busy. If fact, since I became a nurse, I can hardly stand shopping on the weekends.
Travel is a lot of fun in the years before you start a family. But once children come along, that overnight business trip doesn’t seem so exciting anymore. In nursing, you have the option to go to the same workplace each time you go to work. Unless you are attending a nursing conference, there is no reason that you would need to travel for your nursing career.
Nurses can work per diem
Did I mention that nursing is flexible? The most significant benefit I have found being a nurse mom is that I have the option of working per diem. Per diem means “by the day.” As a nurse, you have an opportunity to work the days that you want to work and stay home with your children on the days that you don’t.
Here are a few benefits of per diem nursing:
Higher pay than a career nurse
Work as little as one day a week or as many as five days a week (as long as there is a need for an R.N.)
Make your schedule
Cancel your shift the day before if you are needed at home
Add on a shift at the last minute
You can leave your work at work
Nursing does not require that you maintain a home office. In general, nurses do not have to bring work home with them. It is a great feeling to be able to leave your work at work. Best of all, you are not constantly worrying about quotas, reports that you need to turn in, or managing other employees – all of which many moms who work in business or other industries often have to do.
Cons of Having a Nursing Career as a Mom
Nursing is hard work
Don’t get into nursing if you think that it is an easy job. I assure you, it is not. Nursing is the most challenging work that I’ve ever done in my entire life. You will need some recovery time on your days off because nursing can be a very physically and mentally challenging job.
Because the work is so stressful and can often lead to burnout, I always emphasize how important it is that nurses take good care of themselves. Proper nutrition, exercise, yoga, and meditation are a few great ways that nurses can make their health a priority.
Being a mother and nurse at the same time is challenging because both jobs are arguably two of the hardest jobs in the world. Albeit, they also are extremely rewarding as well. So if you are up to facing the challenges that come with being a nurse mom, you can find a lot of joy in being both.
The shifts are long
Since most hospital shifts are 12-13 hours long, you likely won’t see your children at all on the days that you work. Therefore, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed, you will be focused on things entirely outside of your family.
For that reason, I do not work back-to-back shifts because I just don’t want to be away for my children for more than one day at a time (another reason per diem nursing works for me!).
12-hour shifts make for a very long workday. An unfortunate side effect is that you are going to be extra tired on your days off when you are with your kids. But let’s be honest, being at home with your children can be exhausting too!
You may have to work night shifts
Some nurses like to work the night shift. Unfortunately, many nurses, especially nurse moms, do not want to work the night shift. Working graveyards is hard on the body because you are always fighting your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Over time this can cause or exacerbate nurse burnout.
Also, depending on where you work in the hospital, they may have mandatory rotating shifts, meaning that all nurses alternate between night and day shifts. Talk about a confusing schedule!
Motherhood is the hardest job there is. And when you flip your sleep schedule around, it may make it even harder to manage motherhood because you will constantly be fighting with exhaustion.
You will likely have to work some holidays and weekends
Hospitals never sleep, and that includes holidays and weekends. While many people are enjoying a “family day” on a Saturday or Sunday, nurses are often working to take care of patients. Unfortunately, sometimes that can mean missing time with the kids, birthday parties, sporting events, and other special family outings.
There are many trade-offs to being a nurse as a mother. Sometimes you will miss important events, but as an exchange, you can be home during the week on days that everyone else is working.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider in the discussion regarding “Is nursing a good career for moms?” And many things depend on your current career and childcare situation.
I hope this information is helpful for you if you are a mom who is interested in becoming a nurse (or want to be a nurse mom eventually!) If you have any questions about the information in this post, please reach out to me in the comment section.
*This post contains affiliate links/ Updated from 12/2017
Preparing for 12-hour shifts as a registered nurse requires some prearranged groundwork 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 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 me when I talk about health about staying healthy if I don’t take my own advice.
How I Prepare For a 12-Hour Shift
#1. 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 chickpea pasta
Veggies straws with hummus
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.
In fact, I use it at least once or twice a day! 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.
In the mornings, I make a vegetable and berry smoothie with one tablespoon of Maca powder, flaxseed and/or hemp seeds for protein, and acai powder. I alternate my veggies between broccoli, spinach, and kale. For the berry part: strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, although sometimes ill add half a banana or mango.
I also make several mason jars of overnight oats on Sundays with a variety of flavors:
Peanut butter and maple
Banana and walnut
Almond and raisin
I either add ground flax seeds or chia seeds for extra protein and antioxidant benefits. And I’ll top it with a dash of cinnamon. These make such an easy breakfast to go!
#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 are 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 to 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 Earplugs
After having kids, I realized that I am an incredibly light sleeper. In fact, even the slightest noises wake me up in the middle of the night. And sometimes, I have difficulty falling back asleep again, which is so frustrating when I work a 12-hour shift in the morning.
I keep a yoga pillow and a yoga mat right next to the bed that I use for restorative yoga poses about 20 minutes before I try to go to sleep. It helps decompress me from my day, check in with myself, and put me into a snug and sleepy mood.
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 and are 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’s 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!
#4. Wear Compression Socks
These don’t actually help me prepare for a shift; however, they are super important!. Those who know me, know I’m a stickler for compression socks. Wearing compression stockings helped me work all the way through two pregnancies and I continue to wear them at work 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.
Nurses play a crucial role in the healthcare industry and are essential in providing quality care to patients. However, in the midst of their demanding and often stressful work, nurses tend to neglect their own health and well-being.
It is important for nurses to prioritize self-care and take the necessary steps to maintain their physical, emotional, and mental health. This will not only benefit you personally but also ensure you can continue to provide excellent care to your patients. Therefore, it is imperative that nurses recognize the importance of self-care and make it a priority in their lives.
Thanks, and best of luck!
How To Prepare For A 12-Hour Shift Frequently Asked Questions
How do I prepare my body for a 12-hour shift?
Preparing your body for a 12-hour shift is important to avoid fatigue and reduce the risk of injury. Here are some tips:
Get enough sleep the night before.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay hydrated.
Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and clothing.
Take breaks and stretch throughout the shift.
Practice good posture and ergonomics.
Stay mentally alert with activities like listening to music or podcasts during breaks.
What should a 12-hour nursing shift eat?
A balanced diet is important for nurses working 12-hour shifts. Here are some tips for healthy eating during a long shift:
Eat a nutritious breakfast before your shift.
Bring healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, or vegetables to eat throughout the day.
Pack a balanced lunch with protein, whole grains, and vegetables.
Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks and excessive caffeine.
Avoid heavy, greasy meals that can make you feel sluggish.
How far does a nurse walk during an average 12-hour shift?
Nurses can walk several miles during a 12-hour shift, depending on the unit and patient population. On average, a nurse may walk between 4 and 6 miles per shift.
How much sleep do I need for a 12-hour shift?
The amount of sleep you need for a 12-hour shift will vary depending on your individual needs. However, it is generally recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
How to survive three 12-hour shifts in a row?
Surviving three 12-hour shifts in a row can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you manage:
Get enough sleep and rest between shifts.
Stay hydrated and eat nutritious meals.
Take breaks and stretch throughout the shift.
Prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with friends and family.
Use your days off to rest and recharge.
What are the disadvantages of nurses working 12-hour shifts?
Some of the disadvantages of working 12-hour shifts for nurses include:
Increased risk of burnout and fatigue.
Difficulty maintaining work-life balance.
Increased risk of workplace injuries.
Potential negative impact on patient safety and quality of care.
Potential negative impact on personal relationships and mental health.
Why are 8-hour shifts better than 12-hour shifts for nursing?
Some of the advantages of 8-hour shifts over 12-hour shifts for nursing include:
Lower risk of burnout and fatigue.
Easier to maintain work-life balance.
More opportunities for education and training.
Lower risk of workplace injuries.
Potential for improved patient safety and quality of care.