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:

8 Pumping Essentials For Nurses Who Breastfeed

8 Pumping Essentials For Nurses Who Breastfeed

*This post contains affiliate links that I have personally used and have found essential for pumping at work as a nurse working 12-hour shifts at the hospital.  You can find my disclosure policy here.

Having a new baby is both incredible and overwhelming.  Breastfeeding can be hard for new moms (it certainly was for me!).   Once I finally got the hang of it my maternity leave was almost over and I had another problem to figure out:  how was I going to continue breastfeeding while working as a nurse?

Nurses who breastfeed may face challenges as they return to work.

There is good news for nurses who WANT to continue breastfeeding their babies for up to a year or longer as a working mom and nurse.  It is possible!  But you need to plan in advance and communicate with your workplace about your intention to pump at work.  And you need to have the right pumping supplies to make it possible.

If you don’t plan ahead, pumping at work can be extremely difficult.  But with the right pumping tools and a lot of determination, you will find that you can make pumping fit right into your busy nursing schedule!

Even I can’t believe how long I have been able to pump while working as a nurse.

I am happy to share that I have been successfully pumping as an ER nurse in a very busy level 1 trauma center for the last 13 months.  And I still can’t believe how well it is going!  Sure, there have been a few minor hiccups along the way (like forgetting my breast pump at home, whoops!).   But overall the experience has been way better then I would have thought.

I now know that I will be able to continue pumping breast milk for my baby for as long as I desire.  I want other working moms to know that they can do this too.  (Read more about what I have learned about pumping at work as a nurse).

Nurse in scrubs

Pumping Essentials For The Workplace:

Portable Breast Pump

This pumping essential is the highest on the must-have items, for obvious reasons.  Without it, you have no way to access your milk!   I am using the Medela portable pump because it is the one that my insurance covered and it works great.  You want to make sure that you have a double pump so you can pump both breasts at once to save time.  You can also use this bag to store your breast milk while you are away at work as long as you keep in a refrigerator.

Check with your insurance to see if they cover a portable breast pump before you buy one.  I live in California and my insurance gave me a breast pump free of charge!

(Just a note, the different brands do not work interchangeably with each other.  So you want to make sure you find one brand you like and stick with it!  Otherwise, you will end up with a bunch of parts that don’t work with one another.  You don’t need your back to work pumping supply list to be any longer then it already is!)

Breast Milk Bottles

You will need breast milk collection storage bottles to store your milk until you get home from work.  I use the Medela bottles because I already use the Medela pump but there are several other brands you can use as well.  Just make sure the ones you are using are made without BPA (it’s a safer plastic that helps retain breast milk’s beneficial properties).

I also like the Medela screw-on lids better than some other brands because they are leakproof.  (I tried a different brand and had an issue with leakage all over my packed lunch!).  You can wash them in the sink and they are also dishwasher safe.

Double Pump And Nursing Bra

For the sake of time and efficiency, it is very important that you double pump at work.  I really like this double pumping bra because it makes it possible to double pump without having to hold the pumps with both hands.  Once you start pumping you will find that having to hold the pumps in place is really annoying and makes it difficult to do anything else.  It also helps prevent spilling accidents since you can remove and clean one side at a time.

Reusable Nursing Pads

Engorgement is no joke.  There have been a few times at work when I wasn’t able to pump on schedule and I ended up leaking through my scrubs (you could barely see it, but still!).  As a result of that embarrassing experience I started wearing nursing pads when I was at work.   I already wore them at home from the time my son was about 1 week old.

I use reusable nursing pads made of bamboo because I have read that many disposable pads contain absorbent chemicals which come in direct contact with your skin.  They also run the risk of trapping moisture, especially if your are leaking. This can increase the risk of mastitis, a very painful bacterial infection that will make you sick and can be dangerous if untreated.  Disposable pads can also be expensive over time if you are frequently using them.  I have 12 reusable nursing pads and I run them through the washer and dryer with all my other clothes.

Breast Milk Storage Bags

The beautiful thing about pumping is that you can store your breast milk in the freezer!  So even if you have a surplus of milk you can put it away for later use.   These little breast milk storage baggies are great because you can write the date on the top section so you know how long they have been in the freezer.

Place them in the refrigerator for 12 hours before you need them to thaw them out.  Or place them in a bowl of hot water for quicker use.  These are a necessity for working moms who pump – I have used over 200 of them already!

Milk Storage Organizer

My freezer got a little overloaded with breast milk within the first few months that I was back at work and this milk storage organizer helped me to keep things more organized.  It also helped me keep the milk organized by date so I make sure to use the oldest milk first.

Pumping At Work:  Cleaning Parts And Sanitation

One of the biggest concerns of many nurse moms who are pumping at work is cleanliness.  After all, a hospital is a place where sick people go and it is more full of germs then pretty much anywhere.  The last thing a new mom wants to do is accidentally bring home unwanted bugs to their new baby!  Thus, it is so important to try and keep your breast pump parts as clean as possible while you are pumping during 12-hour shifts.

First, it is very important to try to pump in an area if the hospital that is as clean as possible.  Many hospitals have a lactation room set aside for employees of the hospital.  Talk to your administration about places that you can safely pump that are as germ-free as possible.  Bathroom stalls are not a place for a new mom to pump! You have the right to pump at work as a nurse in a sanitary place!

For more information on successful pumping during 12-hour shifts in the hospital read How To Pump At Work As A Nurse.

Here are a few essentials for keeping pumping parts clean at work:

Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump And Accessory Wipes (72 each)

Medela quick clean breast pump & accessory wipes are perfect for nurses at work with no access to soap or water for cleaning breast pumps and accessories.  Unfortunately, many nurses have no choice but to pump in empty hospital rooms with no running water and therefore have a difficult time cleaning pump parts.  These are still so helpful for me as a nurse who pumps at work.  One wipe cleans both breast shields, valves, and membranes.

I also use these for cleaning changing tables, high chairs, cribs and countertops, toys. and other hard surfaces when I am at home.  And the Medela quick clean wipes are unscented, alcohol and bleach-free as well.

Wet/Dry Bag for Breast Pump Parts with Staging Mat

Having extra-wide wet & dry bag to carry your clean and used pump parts make pumping more sanitary.

I also love using the staging mat so I can set-up & take down my pump parts on a clean surface. This staging mat snaps on to the backside of the bag so that you always have it handy. When you’re setting up and taking down your parts, you want a clean spot to do it, and now regardless of where you need to pump, you’ll have this with you. Just unsnap it from the bag and set it down on a flat surface – and you can do your set up right there. It’s also large enough for you to fit all your parts.

Take it one day at a time, Mama.

Breastfeeding while working as a nurse can be overwhelming, but you can do this!  I hope this list of pumping essentials helps you too!

There are a lot of products on the market and it can be overwhelming for a mom who is preparing to go back to work from maternity leave.  So, make it easier on yourself and have a plan in place before you go back to work (read more about how I pump at work as a registered nurse who works 12-hour shifts).

After successfully pumping at work with two babies I have whittled down my list to include the things that have helped me the most.  I hope this helps to guide you in the right direction to find what works for you too!

It is your legal right to continue to provide breast milk for your children and pump while you are at work.  Do not let anyone tell you differently or make you feel guilty about it.  Only you know what is right for you and your baby.

Let me know how it goes as a pumping mom in the workplace and please reach out to me if you have any questions.  Breastfeeding while working as a nurse IS possible!  Good luck Mama!

Additional Recommended Reading: 

Pump At Work Supply Checklist From A Nurse Who Works 12 Hour Shifts

Pros And Cons Of 12 Hour Shifts

Pros And Cons Of 12 Hour Shifts

Before you consider hospital nursing as a career you may want to weigh the pros and cons of 12-hour nursing shifts.  I wish someone had shared this information with me before I became a nurse so that I had a better idea of what to expect.  Especially as a working mother.

Nurse standing with her arms crossed

Pros of working 12-hour shifts:

More work flexibility

When you work 12-hour shifts you can get more creative with a work schedule.  That is so important to me as a working mom. I want to be available when my kids need me to be home from work.  In addition, I often feel that I get to experience what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom and have the ability to also work full-time (although I am a very tired mom these days).  

I try to make my schedule the same every week for consistency.  I usually work every Monday and Wednesday, and every other Sunday. However, if I need to be home on one of my usual work days then I can request to work a different day or switch days with another nurse.  

In addition, working as a per diem nurse has given me even greater flexibility with my schedule.  I can work as little as one day a week or as many as 4 or 5 as long as the hospital has a need for nurses (although I choose never to work more than 2 or 3 max).  

More 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 5.  That also means that you have 4 days off every week instead of 2.  

On the flip side, keep in mind that a 12-hour shift makes for a really, really long day.  Never underestimate the exhaustion that comes with working as a nurse for 12 hours a shift!  You will need those extra days of to recover.  

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 like Los Angeles. 

Congruence of care

When nurses work 12-hour shifts they only give report to oncoming nurses twice in a 24 hour period.  Working 8-hour shifts requires that nurses give report 3 times in 24 hours.  With a 12 hour shift, nurses do less handoff and are able to spend more time with the same patients.

Less caregiver change could potentially translate into a decrease in nurse error because you are handing over patients less frequently.  There is less chance for miscommunication. 

Congruence of care is more important on nurse units where patients stay for longer periods of time.  As a ER nurse we are used to having several new patients and handing care over to floor units more frequently so this may not be as much of a benefit if you work in ER.

Additional recommended reading:  12 Nurse Essentials I Can’t Live Without

Possibility of taking “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, Tuesday for the first week and a Thursday, Friday, Saturday for the second week.  That leaves me with 8 days off in between!

pros and cons of 12 hour nursing shifts

There are pros and cons to working 12-hour nursing shifts that you may want to consider.

Cons of working 12-hour shifts:

May put a nurse’s health at risk

It is no surprise that nurses work incredibly hard.  I come home at the end of a 12-hour nursing shift with an aching back and burning feet.  This is because I, like most nurses, often don’t have time to rest while at work.  When I do have a minute to sit down to chart, I’m lucky if I can find a chair.  I know a few older nurses who have been working bedside for 25 years and they literally have a permanent limp and can barely stand up straight.  

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 hold our pee for hours on end!  Some days when I finally get a break to eat lunch and I am at my weakest, I find that our break room is stocked with donuts and cookies.  My exhaustion can be overwhelming and the temptation for a little pick me up is never higher than right at that moment.   

With all of our education, nurses should be good role models for health.  But unfortunately, that is not always true.  We have created a culture that sets many nurses up for unhealthy habits.  

More nurse burnout

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 nurses working 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 that I work 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.   

If you have kids, you 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 still something you may want to consider.

In conclusion

Working a 12-hour nursing shift makes for a very long workday.  But that is 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.  There are some days I wonder how long I can physically keep up with the job before I permanently injure myself or completely burn out. 

Right now I remain passionate about helping others as a nurse and I am 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.

P.S    Sign up below for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” at the bottom of this article!

Additional recommended reading:

 

Pregnant Nurse Precautions To Consider At Work (Updated For COVID-19)

Pregnant Nurse Precautions To Consider At Work (Updated For COVID-19)

*Updated on 4/9/20 to include pregnant nurse precautions for COVID-19. *Affiliate links.

As an ER nurse who delivered my second baby in early 2018,  I have done a lot of research about pregnant nurse precautions to be aware of when you work in a hospital.  My goal was to make sure that it was safe for me to continue working in such a physically demanding environment with so many potential occupational hazards.

Fortunately, I was able to work safely right up until a few weeks before giving birth. As a per diem nurse, I did not have any maternity or disability benefits, so I wanted to save up as much money as possible before I went out on leave.  Thankfully, I was able to do just that.  But safety was still my number one concern.  I hope this information can help other nurses stay safe during their pregnancies as well.

Talk to your OBGYN

First off, you must 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.

My goal in writing this is not to make pregnant nurses afraid to work in the hospital.  I am so glad that I was able to safely work as a pregnant nurse for as long as I did.  Still, there is no shortage of occupational hazards for the pregnant nurse within the hospital setting. Working safely is the number one goal.

You must communicate with 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.

Additional recommended reading:  Prayers For The Sick And For Nurses During COVID-19

Pregnant nurse precautions to consider at work

Pregnant nurse precautions and hazards to consider:

COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has many pregnant healthcare providers, especially frontline nurses, uniquely concerned.  Because COVID-19 is so new, there hasn’t been enough time to study its effects on breastfeeding or pregnant women.  Also, many nurses who are working directly with COVID-19 patients say they don’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them from the virus safely.  That maybe even more problematic for pregnant nurses who directly care for COVID-19 patients.

On pregnant women and COVID-19, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) stated:

“We do not have information from published scientific reports about susceptibility of pregnant women to COVID-19. Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Pregnant women also might be at risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality compared to the general population as observed in cases of other related coronavirus infections [including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)* and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)] and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, during pregnancy.”

On pregnant healthcare personal and COVID-19, the CDC stated:

“Pregnant healthcare personnel (HCP) should follow risk assessment and infection control guidelines for HCP exposed to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Adherence to recommended infection prevention and control practices is an important part of protecting all HCP in healthcare settings. Information on COVID-19 in pregnancy is very limited; facilities may want to consider limiting exposure of pregnant HCP to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, especially during higher risk procedures (e.g., aerosol-generating procedures) if feasible based on staffing availability.”

Essentially, the CDC does not know at this time if pregnant women are at a higher risk when working with COVID-19 patients because the evidence is limited. As a precaution, pregnant women may want to consider working in lower-risk areas where they have less exposure to COVID-19 patients.

The most important take away is to always take care of yourself first.  You can’t care for your family and your patients if you become sick.


Radiation from diagnostic imaging

In the ER and on most floor units within the hospital, patients often receive portable X-rays at the bedside.  So naturally, I was concerned about radiation exposure and how it could impact the health of my unborn child.  I felt it was wise to air on the side of safety by not exposing myself to unnecessary radiation during pregnancy.

If you are in an area where x-rays are being taken, you must wear a lead radiation apron to protect yourself, especially if you are within six feet of the machine.  If possible, it is also a good idea to step outside the room while the image is taken.

In my nursing experience, x-ray technicians usually notify anyone within the vicinity of where imaging is being taken.  I was able to leave the area for a few minutes, whether I was wearing a lead apron or not.

Key takeaways: 

  • Notify management of pregnancy
  • Wear lead radiation apron
  • Step outside of the room when portable x-rays are taking place

Dangers from working with chemo or other teratogenic medications

There is evidence that handling some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, can cause adverse reproductive outcomes, including fetal loss, miscarriage, infertility, and preterm births.  In addition, it may cause learning disabilities in babies exposed to some drugs if nurses are exposed during pregnancy.

Wearing protective equipment, such as gowns, masks, and gloves, can minimize occupational risk to a pregnant nurse.  However, it does not completely eradicate it.

Nurses working in oncology or other areas where antineoplastics are prescribed may want to speak with management about the safest way to continue working.  In addition, you can insist on getting help from co-workers or management to give teratogenic medications to patients.  Moving to another work area may be a consideration if safety for the fetus is still a concern.

Key takeaways:

  • Wear protective equipment when giving medications
  • Ask for help from co-workers when working with teratogenic medications
  • Consider temporarily working in another area of the hospital during pregnancy as your management allows

Additional recommended reading:  Why I love being an ER nurse

Risk for infection

As a pregnant ER nurse, I was very concerned with the risk of infection from patients such as c-diff, tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, and influenza during my pregnancy.  Since the ER is often the first stop in the hospital for sick patients, I often didn’t know that a patient had a contagious infection until after they had been admitted. By then it was too late to protect myself if I hadn’t already.

Pregnant women need to be especially proactive with protective equipment and hand hygiene. It is ideal for all hospital employees to have their measles, mumps, and varicella-zoster vaccinations before pregnancy (most facilities require these vaccinations to work anyway). Hep B and influenza vaccination can also safely be administered during pregnancy.

As an added precaution, I made sure to change my clothes and shoes before leaving the hospital to minimize the risk of work-to-home contamination.  The first thing I did upon getting home was take a shower to rid myself of any other possible bugs I could have inadvertently carried home with me.

Key takeaways:

  • Stay up to date in all vaccines including the yearly flu vaccine
  • Adhere to strict universal precautions and hand hygiene
  • Request job modification to minimize exposure to specific patient populations
  • Minimize work-to-home contamination by changing work clothes and shoes before going home
  • Shower as soon as you get home from work

The physicality of nursing while pregnant

Being a nurse while pregnant is exceptionally hard work.  Not only are we on our feet for up to 12 hours a day, but pregnant nurses are also carrying an extra 25-plus pounds towards the latter part of pregnancy.  Additionally, the extra girth makes it significantly more challenging to fit into tight spaces.

Movement becomes even more awkward for pregnant nurses due to having an altered center of gravity.  Also, high serum levels of progesterone and relaxin loosen muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues.  For nurses who do a lot of heavy, repetitive work requiring lifting, pulling, or pushing their risk of musculoskeletal injury is increased.

It is wise for pregnant nurses to use patient transfer equipment and to ask co-workers for help with moving patients.  However, if your work situation is still too physical for you to manage safely during pregnancy, you may want to consider a modified duty in a lower risk setting with a less physical patient load.

On another note, pregnant nurses also have a higher risk of developing varicose veins due to an increase in total blood volume caused by pregnancy.  The added blood volume, combined with being on one’s feet all day, leads to poor circulation, puffy legs, and swollen ankles.  Compression socks or stockings can help reduce the risk of blood clots and varicose veins as well as prevent swelling.

Key takeaways:

  • Pregnant nurses may want to inquire about modified duty
  • Understand how the altered center of gravity and hormonal changes in pregnancy predispose a nurse to injury (despite using best lifting practices)
  • Use patient transfer equipment when available
  • Ask for additional staff help with transfers
  • Wear compression socks or stockings

Additional recommended reading:  Top 30 Ultimate List Of Nursing School Supplies And Essentials

Pregnant nurse precautions with COVID-19

Violent patients

I worked in our ER psychiatric hold area several times throughout my pregnancy.  There were a few incidences where I had patients verbally threaten me or begin to escalate towards violence.  I always had a security guard with me, and I stayed a reasonable distance away from patients when I felt that my safety could be at risk.  I was likely overly cautious at times, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Violence against nurses is not uncommon, especially in the ER setting.  Stay vigilant and keep away from any potentially threatening situations.  If a patient is escalating towards violence, then leave and call for help immediately.

Working during flu season

The CDC recommends that pregnant women get a flu shot.   Not only do hormone changes during pregnancy often make pregnant women more susceptible to getting the flu, but a common flu symptom is a fever, which may be associated with neural tube defects and other adverse outcomes for a developing baby.  Getting vaccinated can also help protect a baby after birth from flu through passive immunity.

My experience:  The flu season in December 2017 was unusually bad.   Many patients came to our ER for flu symptoms.  Unfortunately, almost every nurse was infected with the flu or a cold at least once during the season.  Myself, included.

At the time, I was over eight months pregnant, and I was struggling with how horrible I felt.  I always get a flu shot to reduce my chances of getting sick during flu season.  However, if I ever got pregnant again, I might consider starting my maternity leave towards the beginning of the flu season – especially, if I was that close to my due date.

An unexpected benefit of working as a nurse during pregnancy

One of the best gifts that pregnancy gave me was that it forced me to not be sedentary on days that I felt fatigued. (Although while you are carrying an extra 25-35 pounds of extra weight, you may not consider it a benefit).

Many studies show that not moving enough during pregnancy is bad for both mom and baby.  If fact, exercise during pregnancy can boost your baby’s brain development and make them smarter.  Who knew that working a 12-hour shift might promote health for both you and your unborn baby?

Good luck to you during your pregnancy and take care of yourself!

Additional Recommended Reading: 


Nurse Life:  How To Achieve A Work Life Balance

Nurse Life: How To Achieve A Work Life Balance

Many nurses struggle with finding a work-life balance.  With increasingly demanding 12-hour shifts, its tough to stay healthy and sane when you are continually going a mile a minute. In time you may become overwhelmed and unsatisfied with your nursing career and your personal life.

Nurse burnout is real.  The journey towards a satisfying work-life balance as a nurse is within your control and will only be attainable if you make it a priority. 

Consider doing a little soul-searching.  Take a moment to sit quietly with yourself and pinpoint precisely what you need to simplify your life.  Here are a few things to consider on your journey to creating a better work-life balance as a nurse:

a nurse smiling

* This post contains affiliate links.

1.  What are your priorities?

Take inventory of both your nursing life and personal life.  Is it possible you may be juggling too many balls in the air?  What do you envision your life to be like in 5 years? 

Sit down and write a 1, 3, and 5-year plan.  Make specific goals. You simply cannot create a satisfying work-life balance without fine-tuning your personal and work goals.  Be brutally honest.  Are you making major life decisions based on what you want to do or what you feel like you should do?

Many people (ahem, nurses!) are inherent caregivers who often give more to others before themselves.  Now is an excellent time to think about how you will care for yourself firstYour happiness and success is your responsibility.  Start by prioritizing what is most important to you!

2.  Manage your stress

You have to manage your stress to achieve a work/life balance.  This is a non-negotiable! 

Here are two helpful ways to manage stress:  #1)  get moving with some type of physical activity (may I suggest yoga?) or #2)  meditate (or just take a little time to chill out by yourself).

The benefits of exercise and mediation on physical and mental health are well documented in literature.  For example, The Mayo Clinic has stated that “yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate,” among many other benefits (my yoga practice has been a lifesaver for me!).

Also, a study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a significant reduction in perceived mental pressure.  Just imagine how much better YOU could feel as a nurse who commits to a regular yoga practice.

Note:  It doesn’t have to be yoga (although yoga has remarkably changed my life for the better over the past ten years).  Exercise can come in any form you want it to:  running, hiking, swimming, pole jumping, dancing in your living room.  The best kind of exercise is the kind that you actually do!

3.  Create more flexibility

In addition to the (literal) flexibility I get from yoga, I have also found flexibility within my workplace and at home.

12-hour shift schedules are already rigid enough.  To find a work-life balance that works for you, consider other alternative scheduling options available in your workplace.

As a nurse and a new mom, I found that becoming a per diem nurse allowed me to create a better work/life balance for myself.

As a per diem nurse, I am employed “by the day.” Hospitals need the flexibility of per diem nurses so they can manage daily staffing needs in the hospital.  There are many pros and cons to being a per diem nurse, and it is the only way I can effectively be a working mom at this time. Here is another way to create flexibility in your life:  Try squeezing your workouts early in the morning before your family is awake.  Sure, you will be tired, but you will also feel incredible for the rest of the day! (I have been practicing hot yoga at 5:30 AM twice a week before my tribe wakes up, and it is helping me function so much better).

4.  Think outside of the box

Working 12-hour hospital shifts at the beginning of your career is an excellent way to gain clinical expertise and build a solid career base.  But it is not the only career path within the nursing universe.  There are many unique and alternative avenues a nurse can take!

If you are a nurse suffering from burnout and looking for alternative career paths, you are in luck.   Finding a new way to practice nursing may help you find the work-life balance you have been looking for.

Here are a few ideas, just to get your brain thinking outside the box!:

Are you a nurse who is struggling with how to achieve a work-life balance?  I enjoy hearing thoughts and ideas from other fellow nurses.  Please leave a comment below!

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Is Nursing a Good Career For Moms?

Is Nursing a Good Career For Moms?

*Article updated 3/8/2020

Is nursing a good career for moms?

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 a 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:

Nurse Mom Career: A Nurse and Mother with a small child

Being a mother and nurse has many perks, but it is not for the faint of heart.

Pros to a nursing career as a mom

Nursing is a flexible profession

One of the greatest perks of being a nurse is flexibility.  It is possible to make working motherhood work with nearly any schedule.

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 for 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 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 work week can become 3

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.

There is no travel required (unless you are a travel nurse)

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 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 to per diem nursing:

  • Higher pay then 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 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

I would not 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.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider about the discussion regarding “is nursing a good career for moms?”  And many things depend on your current career and child care 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.

 

Are you considering nursing as a profession?  Leave a comment below!   

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