Maternity Leave For Nurses:  How To Financially Prepare

Maternity Leave For Nurses: How To Financially Prepare

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pregnant nurse at work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2.  Make a budget and stick to it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maternity leave savings plan for nurses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#8.  Think about the big picture.

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Recommended Reading:


Working As A Nurse While Pregnant

Working As A Nurse While Pregnant

(There may be affiliate links in this post.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

Working as a nurse while pregnant

By taking proper precautions and always putting safety first, working as a nurse while pregnant is possible.  Here are 9 helpful tips for pregnant nurses.

a pregnant nurse at work

You can thrive during your pregnancy while working as a nurse when you plan ahead and take good care of yourself!

Invest in compression stockings or socks

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

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

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

Wear good shoes

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

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

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

During my pregnancy I alternated between 2 pairs of shoes that provided the most comfort, stability, and function I could find.  Here were my favorites:


Pack healthy and energizing snacks

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

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

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

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

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


Go to bed as early as you can.

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

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

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

Working as a nurse while pregnant

Aim for 30 minutes of exercise everyday

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

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

Non-impact exercises for pregnant nurses include:

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


Reconsider working the night shift

The rigorousness of working 12 hour shifts as a nurse is exhausting as it is.  Add pregnancy into the mix and you might find that you are even more tired than ever.  Some pregnant nurses who have already been working night shift continue with that schedule and do just  fine.  However, those who have rotating day and night schedules might find it especially hard to switch back to the night shift once they become pregnant.

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

Talk to your manager about modified duty

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

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

Remember, always ask for help if you need it!

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

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

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

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

It was a good thing in the long run because I suffered a placental abruption and had an emergency c-section almost 2 months before my due date.  It is wise to listen to your doctor’s advice!

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 should – be a time filled with good health, gratitude, abundance and most of all joy.

Recommended reading for the nurse mom:

Pregnant Nurse Precautions To Consider At Work

Pregnant Nurse Precautions To Consider At Work

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

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 are no shortage of occupational hazards for the pregnant nurse within the hospital setting. Working safely is the number one goal.  

It is crucial that you 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. 

Pregnant nurse precautions to consider at work

Pregnant nurse precautions and hazards to consider:

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 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

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 certain 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

Physicality of nursing while pregnant

Being a nurse while pregnant is especially 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 difficult to fit into tight spaces.  

Movement becomes even more awkward for pregnant nurses due to having an altered center of gravity.  In addition, 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

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 and/or begin to escalate towards violence.  I always had a security guard with me and I stayed a good distance away from patients when I felt that my safety could be at risk.  It is likely that I was 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 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 8 months pregnant and I was really struggling with a 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 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 really tired. (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 actually boost your baby’s brain development and make them smarter.  Who knew that working a 12 hour shift might actually promote health for both you and your unborn baby?

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

Additional Recommended Reading: 

I’m 28 Weeks! How This Pregnancy Is Different From My First

I’m 28 Weeks! How This Pregnancy Is Different From My First

I had an appointment with my OB two weeks ago and everything appears to be progressing normally with my pregnancy (thank goodness!).

However, I did have one tiny little scare. When looking at the screen I noticed that our baby was measuring at about 26 weeks, which totally freaked me out since I was 28 weeks.

When I brought it up to my doctor she said “No, everything looks great and you are 26 weeks.” To which I responded: “but I’m 28 weeks!” She looked at my dates and said, “No hon you’re 26 weeks and right on target!”

Seriously? How is that even possible? That is one of the biggest differences between my first pregnancy and my second. I was an entire two weeks off on how far along I was. And I have been so busy with a toddler that I didn’t even know it.

First pregnancies are magical. Second pregnancy’s are cool too, just way busier.

Sarah and little Zoe

Caring for this little one is a lot of fun. But I’m so much busier with a toddler these days that I lose track of time.

In my first pregnancy, I could tell you to the day exactly how far along I was. Weekly belly selfies were taken every Sunday to mark my progress. I knew exactly how big my baby was in terms of vegetable size, weight and length.

I practically studied fetal development on a daily basis. Weekly emails were delivered to my inbox telling me each and every detail of our baby’s milestones. I knew the exact time when she could open her eyes, suck her thumb, hear noises from outside the womb and every other possible developmental detail.

During my first pregnancy I practiced yoga at a studio several times a week, alternating between Vinyasa and prenatal. Then I would watch Netflicks and chill, sometimes marathon style. After all, why not? I was pregnant and I had the time.

Also, I also read every single baby book ever published (fyi, Baby Knows Best and Bringing Up Bebe where my favorites!).

My husband and I even started taking weekly Bradley Method classes. Which didn’t help me at all during my emergency c-section at 33 weeks. But hey, I ultimately still got my healthy baby girl, so who cares?

My second pregnancy has been cool too, sans all the extra me time that I had with my first. Toddler care taking has replaced pretty much all of those activities this time around. That is how I ended of forgetting how far along I was by two entire weeks!

Busyness aside, I love being a mom and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Baby Boy has reached eggplant size. Yum!

Sarah and Zoe, 28 weeks pregnant with #2

I’m trying to enjoy the joys of pregnancy while they are here. Despite the weird symptoms, there is something so amazing about being pregnant.

I have joined the third and final trimester, yahoo!

Our amazing veggie is now 14 1/2 inches and weighs in at 2 1/2 pounds. Right on track! Nice job, little dude.

Even though I haven’t met my mini-man yet, he has definitely been making an impact in my life. Many of the symptoms of my first pregnancy have returned. I’m suddenly clumsy. I’m fatigued. I have heartburn at least once a day. And I have the worst pregnancy brain (so embarrassing).

In addition, I have even welcomed a brand new pregnancy symptom that I didn’t have last time: lovely varicose veins, on my left leg only. They are SO delightful, I tell you. Once the temperatures finally dip below 90 in Los Angeles I’m going to have to resort to daily compression stockings – toe to waist – for the remainder of the third trimester. Pregnancy sure knows how to make a women feel sexy!

Zoe is going to have big sister responsibilities soon.

Zoe is going to have big sister responsibilities soon!

I love watching how my little girl is reacting to my belly bump with amazement. She now looks at it and says “baby” in the cutest, innocent voice. I don’t think she fully grasps that there is an actual human is in there… yet. But we are trying to verbalize it to her and are reading her a few children’s books about becoming a big sister.

Tonight she was able to say “baby boy” which pretty much melted my heart. She is going to be an excellent big sister! I can’t wait.

I have a few goals to reach before childbirth.

We are only five weeks away from the time when I had Zoe via emergency C-section. Although I am planning on having a full term baby, truth is that you can’t always plan ahead. Therefore, I have a few goals I am presently working on in advance:

#1.  Have a healthy full term baby.

I will be relieved to finally pass the 33 week mark. My doctor says the chances of having another placental abruption are extremely low, which is reassuring.

#2.  Continue working as ER nurse until it makes sense to stop.

With the help of my nifty 30mm graduated compression stockings, I am going to continue working as an emergency room nurse until I am either:

a) too big, or

b) too exhausted, whichever comes first.

As a per diem registered nurse I am not granted disability or maternity leave benefits. I can take up to 6 months time without losing my position, but I receive zero compensation before or after childbirth. Once I’m out, I’m out for a while. So I’m trying to hang in until it makes sense for me to stay home.

#3.  Figure out how to have a 2 year old and newborn share a bedroom without constantly waking one another up.

This one has been a real zinger for me as I can’t figure out how I’m going to make this work. The newborn will stay in our room for several months but then what?

If anyone has any tips on goal #3, I am all ears. Any expertise in this area is appreciated.

At the end of the day I am so thankful for a healthy, happy family.

Life is busy and tiring, but it’s all good. Pregnancy is a gift. Having children really is a miracle. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for a wonderful life and good health for my family and friends. That is the only thing that matters.

Thanks for reading.

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love

The Joys Of Pregnancy At 24 Weeks

The Joys Of Pregnancy At 24 Weeks

I am happy to announce that our pregnancy is entering its 24th week! Our little boy is growing faster by the day and weighs about 1.2 pounds. In a few more weeks I will be starting the 3rd and final trimester. Its all uphill from here!

Pedometer on Iphone

This is the app on my iphone. It reminds me to keep moving. Today at work I got 17,000 steps!

Sarcasm aside, I’m actually feeling pretty good these days, with the exception of a little fatigue and annoying pregnancy brain.  My bump is finally pretty obvious now so I so I can walk around proudly displaying a pregnant belly instead of just feeling full-figured and puffy.

I am still practicing yoga and working out when I can. My goal is to walk 10-15,000 steps a day, so I started using the activity app on my I-phone to track my progress. I admit, I am becoming so much dorkier as a second time mommy-to-be. I’m just a busy mom with a toddler trying to take good care of herself when she can.

Thankfully, this pregnancy has been pretty non-eventful. All of my prenatal testing has come back showing no signs of any health issues. Each appointment has gone smoothly without any big scares or hiccups (unlike my last pregnancy, which is a long story for another post!). I know nothing is 100% certain, but I feel optimistic that things will run relatively smoothly this time around (fingers crossed!).

The compression stockings are back (pregnancy is sexy!)

Last week I had to bring my lovely waist-high, graduated compression stockings back out of the drawer (they have been in hiding since the birth of our daughter in October of 2015).

As a nurse who works 12 hour shifts at a busy level 1 Trauma hospital, I have been a little concerned with the amount of time I spend in my feet everyday. I am specifically concerned about varicose veins which are a common side effect of pregnancy (and being a busy nurse). Pregnancy increases your blood volume by 50% and I’m also carrying an extra 12 pounds right now so its no wonder that my legs swell after 12 hours of being on my feet!

Woman wearing compressing stockings.

It just doesn’t get any sexier than maternity compression stockings (not my legs). The joys of pregnancy are many.

Alas! Compression stockings to my rescue! My legs are so much more energized at the end of a long shift after wearing compression stockings on then they are without them. They don’t feel swollen and they actually look visibly less swollen too.

I am sure you are profoundly intrigued and want details so I’ll tell you more about my compression stockings. I wear the Jobst 20-30 Waist High Closed Toe Compression Maternity Pantyhose. It just doesn’t get any sexier then that! Just a word of warning for ladies needing compression hosiery: this is not a place you want to be thrifty. I have tried the cheaper versions and quite frankly, they suck and are a waste of money. Mine are so well-made and will actually last through an entire pregnancy, unlike the cheaper ones.

I look like a whale trying to put them on in the morning. They are so tight on my legs it takes me about 6 minutes to get them all the way up (believe me, its a treat to watch!). Per recommendation, I put them on before I even get out of bed in the morning. Before the blood even has a chance to swim around my ankles.

I have a love/hate relationship with these darn things, but they work wonders I tell you. So I will continue to wear them until I stop working towards the end of this pregnancy.

More joys of pregnancy:  heart burn and nosebleeds

Due to daily, mild-to-severe bouts of heartburn, I have Tums strategically stashed in my work bag, the kitchen cupboard, the diaper bag, and at my bedside. Heartburn is just another great side effect of all those fantastic pregnancy hormones!

At about this time in my first pregnancy I started having frequent heartburn, which is something I never have had non-pregnant. Unfortunately, as I get bigger, it will only get worse.  Another one of the awesome joys of pregnancy that I get to deal with!

On another note, I luckily haven’t experienced any nosebleeds this yet. As mentioned earlier one of many fun physiologic changes during pregnancy is that your blood volume doubles. So nose bleeds can be unfortunate side effect. My last pregnancy I got a few nose bleeds right before laying down to sleep at night. Then I was up for over an hour each time trying to stop them!

VBAC or c-section?

At my 22 week appointment my OBGYN asked me of I wanted to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or another c-section. She really caught by surprise by this question.

I was under the impression that since my last pregnancy resulted in a c-section (due to a placental abruption at 33 weeks) that I had to have another c-section. In fact, I thought it was considered dangerous not to. Friends have told me that they had to have c-sections for their subsequent babies since they had one the first time.

My OB explained that I was still a good candidate for vaginal birth since I didn’t have a situation that prevented me from having a natural birth while laboring in my first pregnancy. Like, for example, if the baby wouldn’t descend down the birth canal, or I had gestational diabetes or severe preclampsia while I was trying to deliver naturally. She said that for women in my situation, most are still able to have a successful vaginal delivery. (I’ve since done a bit of research, and it does look like the statistics are in my favor).

I never even had an opportunity to go into labor with my first pregnancy. Instead, I had a freaky, rare and life-threatening situation called a placental abruption at 33 weeks. (Essentially, my placenta detached from my womb. Not good.  You can read about that here.)

By some existential miracle our daughter is OK. She is perfect, actually. She is smart, funny, precocious, brave, and absolutely amazing in 1000 different ways. On Halloween Day she will be two years old.

Anyways, back to my VBAC versus c-section decision. I have done a lot of thinking about it lately. Due to the fact that I will have a 2 year-old at home to take care of in addition to a newborn, I have decided to forgo my original c-section plan in lieu of a new VBAC plan.

My reasoning: a c-section requires major abdominal surgery that cuts through many abdominal muscles resulting in weeks of recovery. I want to be able to take care of my family the best I can when I get back home. Another c-section will make that even more difficult for me.

So my new plan is to have a regular, vaginal delivery. That is, if I can help it. If there is any concern whatsoever over the health of the baby, by all means, I’m 100% all for having another c-section. Priority #1 is to have another healthy baby.

There is no rest with a toddler in a second pregnancy

Zoe and Mom sleeping on couch

It just doesn’t get any better than a sleeping baby Zoe.

I don’t have the time to rest like I did in my first pregnancy. I do get tired and nap on my days off when my daughter naps. Working in the ER now is also much more tiring. It’s doable, just harder.

Fortunately, in some ways I also feel more resilient then before. I know what to expect this time around so there are fewer surprises. I’m not checking my baby apps every week to see what developmental stage our baby is in (I wouldn’t have the time to anyway). I just get to be pregnant and focus on what ever is going on that day.

That may be the biggest unexpected benefit of pregnancy the second time around. I’m forced to live in the present because I’m so busy and I have an extremely energetic toddler to take care of.

And I’m feeling the baby kick a lot! I love that part.

Weird side effects and all, I am glad to have the opportunity to go through pregnancy a second time. This will be the last time so I’m trying to enjoy it while I can.

Thanks for reading!

Sarah, Mother Nurse Love