Planning to Have a Baby as a Nurse Practitioner

Over the past year many of my friends have taken the life-changing leap into motherhood. My weekly walks with girlfriends now often consist of chatter about organic baby food, crib bumpers and spit up...in a good way. As I think about making this transition myself one day, there is a lot to consider. Not only does prospective motherhood have me contemplating what daily life with kids will look like, it also forces me to make some important decisions about my career.

Many of my nurse practitioner friends are in similar situations. With graduate degrees, good heads on our shoulders, and successful careers, we plan to continue working once we have children. But, like any change, we anticipate this could be a tough transition to handle. So, I've turned to my BFF, Corrie, who is also a nurse practitioner, to help shed some light on her motherhood experience and what it was like being pregnant while working as an NP.

My friend Corrie is a totally rockin' NP. After working in family practice to get a solid foundation in her career, she moved on to work in an electrophysiology(!) cardiology practice. Have a questions about the heart's electrical activity? She's got answers. Not only is she crushing her career, she runs marathons, does triathlons and most of all is the kind of friend I can always count on. Corrie now also has a six month old daughter who is so adorable. Corrie and her husband, both with rewarding medical careers, are great examples to me personally of how to manage family and the crazy world of working in medicine.

Here's what Corrie has to say about what life as a nurse practitioner looks like when you're expecting.

Let's start at the beginning. You were working as a cardiology nurse practitioner when you got pregnant. Did you have to adapt your work as an NP in any way to accommodate your pregnancy?

As nurse practitioners our work settings are unique so we may need to take some added precautions compared to other expecting mothers. For example, I was pregnant during flu season. When interacting with patients I started wearing a mask which wasn't something I had ever done before. Also, I worked in and around the cath lab so I was very conscious about radiation. If you work in a hospital or operative setting, be aware of the potential hazards around you because as nurse practitioners we do encounter some risks. Know your hospital's policies about thinks like wearing lead vests in the OR etc. so you are as safe as possible.

Adapting your work to potential pregnancy risks can be tricky, especially when you don't yet want anyone to know you are pregnant. Unfortunately, accounting for your baby's safety may force you to reveal your pregnancy sooner than you really want to. I recommend identifying one trusted colleague to tell that you are pregnant. This person can usually help you avoid risks without the need to let your other coworkers know you are expecting. Once people do find out they are typically more than willing to help accommodate your pregnancy.

Also, working as nurse practitioners we are on our feet for a lot of the day which can be exhausting, especially when you are pregnant. Stay well hydrated and bring plenty of healthy snacks with you to work. This will help sustain you throughout your day. When you do have days off, take advantage of the time to rest.

You made a mid-pregnancy job transition. How do you recommend handling looking for a new job while pregnant?

Last year, my husband and I had to relocate for his job. This left me in an awkward position where I was a few months pregnant and trying to find work in a new city. It felt misleading to accept a job offer when I knew in a few short months I would be taking a maternity leave. I ended up telling my new employer I was pregnant after the job interview process but before I had started work.

The company where I work hires a lot of young women and was used to having nurse practitioners take maternity leave. The company culture is very supportive of young families and made me feel comfortable both about leaving and coming back to work and had a plan in place for my absence. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I also had to go on bed rest for a few weeks. Working for a company with a culture that supports working moms was helpful during this unexpected time of need.

If you are pregnant and interviewing for nurse practitioner jobs, I recommend evaluating the company culture. Look at the work-life balance of other employees in the organization to help judge how the information will be received. Base your decision on when to tell a prospective employer about your pregnancy on the job and situation. Keep in mind that during pregnancy, and once you do have a baby, you can't plan for everything. Ask yourself "Is this employer going to accommodate all the doctors appointments I will have when pregnant?", or "Is this company going to be able to work with me if I need to go on bed rest?". Finding a job that will be understanding of these types of situations is important.

When and how did you start getting a childcare plan in place?

I began looking at childcare options a few months before the baby was due. I started the process by asking other moms in workplace, and other moms in general, what they were doing with their kids while they were at work. Asking coworkers about childcare options is most helpful because they tend to have similar schedules to yours and know what works best given your specific job.

I did a lot of research about local childcare options and ultimately visited three daycare centers. Daycare seemed like the simplest choice because you pay a deposit and your child starts on a certain day. It was straightforward. Also, the daycare center is always open so you don't have to worry as much about scheduling. At first, this seemed like the best option for us. Then, once the baby was born I wasn't comfortable with the daycare situation I had chosen so we decided to have a nanny come to the house to care for the baby. I like having the peace of mind that my child is being cared for in our own home. If you choose to go with a nanny, make sure you find someone reliable and who is a good personality fit for your family.

Fortunately, once your baby is born, you still have a few weeks to nail down childcare. When you do have your baby, get serious about making your final choice. Whichever option you choose, make sure to do a few test days before returning to work. For example, I had our nanny come over for a few hours once, then for a whole day before I actually went back to work. This way, we were both able to establish a routine before the real thing.

A big "Thank You" to Corrie for sharing the ups and downs of working as a nurse practitioner while pregnant. Does anyone else have any advice?

Stay tuned for Corrie's next interview about going back to work after baby.

 

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Comments

Thanks for writing about this!

Colleen

Great article! I might also suggest talking with your employer about adjusting your daily schedule once you return from maternity leave if you choose to breastfeed. I failed to do this and struggled to find time (and relaxing let-down time at that) to pump in between patients. A coworker who delivered after me scheduled in two, fifteen minute blocks per day to pump. Other than that, finding a company that understands that your family needs will change as your children grow is essential to remaining an active parent once your baby is school age (class parties, volunteering often don't give much advanced warning!).

Claire