Pregnancy is one of the most rewarding and challenging times in a woman’s life — doing travel nursing while pregnant adds another level of complexity.
While you do have to be much more careful while taking travel nursing jobs, you shouldn’t let your pregnancy deter you from having an amazing experience! Here are some tips for working as a travel nurse while you’re pregnant.
Travel nursing while pregnant: Tell your recruiter when you know you’re expecting
You might be tempted to keep your pregnancy to yourself for a while, but it’s important to let your recruiter know as soon as possible. He or she can help you find an assignment that fits your schedule better and help you plan for maternity leave. Your recruiter can also help you find a job that won’t put your baby at risk. For example, you may not be able to work as an oncology nurse while pregnant because of the harsh chemotherapy medications.
Make sure the facility where you apply knows you’re pregnant
Once your recruiter knows you’re expecting, it’s important that he or she tells the facility where you apply as well. While it may be more difficult to get a travel nursing job when you’re five or six months pregnant, most hospitals will hire you for a short-term assignment as long as you’re physically able to keep up with the demands of the job. Ask about the expected patient load, the types of patients you’ll be seeing, and whether you will be floating to a different unit.
Tell your supervisor if you are uncomfortable with any patients you’re assigned
Trust your instincts. If you feel a patient you’re working with is unstable and might hurt you or your baby, tell your supervisor or another nurse immediately. They should be understanding and help you find someone else who can take care of that patient.
Protect yourself from germs as much as possible
You’re a nurse, so you’re already great at washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces. When you’re pregnant, however, it’s even more important to keep from getting sick. Avoid patients who have the flu and other airborne diseases, and stay out of the waiting room or other public areas as much as you can.
Avoid chemicals, anesthesia, and other hazardous situations
Do not touch or use hazardous chemicals to clean with or expose yourself to harsh medicines like chemotherapy drugs. Be careful when administering intravenous medications or giving shots to avoid an accidental needle stick. Make sure you wear a radiation badge for yourself and your baby at all times to monitor the amount of radiation you are exposed to from x-rays. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation and worry about putting your child at risk, ask for help.
Take time for yourself
Break your habit of working a 12-hour shift without using the bathroom. Keep a giant insulated mug of water at the nurse station so you can take a sip whenever you walk by and stay hydrated. Figure out some healthy snacks like protein bars, string cheese, and fruit that you can nibble on throughout your shift as well. If your legs and feet begin to swell, wear compression socks and loose-fitting scrubs to relieve pain. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at home and relaxing when you can. Finally, remember to take your prenatal vitamins and eat as healthy as possible.
Get regular checkups
When you’re working as a travel nurse, you’ll be far from your regular OB/GYN or midwife. Before you start your new assignment, ask the facility if they’d recommend someone you can visit for a checkup or to call if you have any questions or problems. You can definitely keep in touch with your doctor or midwife back home, but it’s important to have someone nearby to check on your health and your baby’s.
Plan ahead for your maternity leave
Make sure your recruiter and the facility know if your assignment end date is firm, so you can plan your maternity leave and have time to return home before your baby is born. You may be able to extend your assignment if you feel healthy enough to continue working (and the facility offers an extension). However, it’s best to plan to end your assignment early in case you deliver your baby sooner or have any complications. Give yourself plenty of time to be home and ready for your baby to arrive.
While working as a travel nurse while you’re pregnant can be challenging, it’s also a great way to build your skills and gain invaluable experience before your baby comes. If you’ve taken a travel nursing job while you were expecting, share your tips with us in the comments below!