Every time I think of about having another child, I remember the curse that is morning sickness. This "special" form of unbridled nausea is as debilitating as it is annoying, and since it can occur all day long someone really should consider changing its damn name. When you’re working full time, it’s even harder to cope with the consistent, seemingly endless nausea and vomiting. So, if you're a co-worker and a decent human being, it's your job to help someone suffering from morning sickness any way you can. OK fine, it's probably not in your job description, but you know what I mean.
When I was pregnant with my son, my morning sickness was a morning, noon, and night "code red" situation. Any little thing could trigger my nausea, but I would never throw up. It was maddening because I felt like if I could only puke, maybe I would feel better. Instead, it was akin to riding the Ring of Fire at the carnival... but for the rest of your miserable life. Everything smelled terrible to me, too, so my finely tuned senses only made things worse.
I was also attempting to hide my pregnancy, which truly made this common pregnancy symptom all the more burdensome. I knew that some offices frown upon and even discriminate against pregnant persons, so I figured the longer I kept quiet, the better. But pregnant folks shouldn’t have to hide their pregnancies, or put themselves in a position to feel even more miserable just so others can feel comfortable. So with that in mind, here are some ways you can help a pregnant coworker at work who's undoubtably suffering from morning sickness:
Don’t Eat Anything Smelly
Keep your smelly food far away from any and all pregnant people. Unless you want to smell vomit next to you immediately after, it’s best to keep that salmon whatever, or that deviled egg, far, far away. In fact, maybe just stick to eating simple sandwiches and salads for now, as a courtesy.
Don’t Microwave Anything Smelly In The Break Room
Some jerk in my office used to microwave fish constantly in our break room. It was the absolute worst and I could smell it clear across the other side of the damn building. Don’t be that jerk. Please.
Refrain From Wearing Perfume, Cologne, Or Other Fragrances
Is it just me, or do people in offices love to douse themselves with smelly stuff before work? If that happens to be you, and your co-worker is pregnant, maybe stick to simple deodorant for now. Seriously, no one wants to smell you anyway.
Cover For Her When She’s In The Bathroom
Pregnant people use the bathroom a lot. They have to pee all the time, and sometimes they also have to puke or, at the very least, dry heave for a while. If someone comes around asking where your coworker is, make something up about why they’re back in the restroom. You can always use the old dysentery excuse (which will confuse those who don’t know what dysentery is, and scare the others who do know and to the point that they stay far away from her desk).
Offer Her Gum Or A Mint
If you happen to have some breath-freshening magic in your bag, kindly offer some. She may say yes, she may say no, but either way you’ve covered your bases.
Be Her Lookout If She’s Especially Exhausted
Having morning sickness takes a lot out of a person, so your coworker might need the occasional break. Bosses, however, don’t always understand that need. They want productivity, people. So take the time to tell your coworker that it’s cool to take a quick snooze in her cubicle. You'll stand guard and be on the lookout so she can get back to feeling like a human being.
Offer Her Some Simple Snacks
Have a granola bar or some crackers or an apple in your desk? Offer it to your pregnant friend. They might be too sick to accept, but if they can keep food down down that snack will be a true lifesaver. Not letting yourself get hungry is a big help in keeping nausea at bay.
Field Questions For Her When Possible
Are your obnoxious co-workers coming by her desk to hassle her about not coming out to happy hour? Is your boss coming around to ask when she’ll have her project ready? Be a true knight in shining armor and interject. Maybe ask those inquiring minds some questions and serve as a distraction.
Obviously, ask her ahead of time if she needs this kind of help, but it can be nice to have someone in your corner during these particularly intrusive moments.
Cover For Her If She Needs A Quick Walk Outdoors
Sometimes all a nauseous person needs is some fresh air. Do what you can to help your coworker sneak away for a bit.
Volunteer To Take Something Off Her Work Plate
While not necessary, if you happen to finish your work load early on any given day and there’s a way you can help your sick co-worker, by all means, volunteer! Yes, it’s technically unpaid labor. But you will be saving this person (especially if they need to hide their pregnancy) a world of hurt, and chances are they will not forget your kindness when the tables are turned and you're in a position of need.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.