Liz Narins month 3 of pregnancy

How I Juggled Work and Doctors Appointments Throughout My Pregnancy

Before I got pregnant with my son, I had an ectopic pregnancy that called for daily blood testing at an OB/GYN near my old office in New York City. Shuttling between my Brooklyn neighborhood, my downtown doctor's office, and my new uptown office every morning wore me down. So when I got pregnant again, I found a Brooklyn doctor who would see me as late as 6 p.m.—meaning I could swing by for regular check-ups on my way home from work.

Despite my new doctor's convenient location and flexibility, showing up for appointments every few weeks still interfered with my work schedule.

No matter how you play your cards, going to the doctor every few weeks for nine months just isn’t going to be super turnkey. Not unlike having a newborn, it will definitely interrupt your regularly scheduled programming at least a little. That said, there are ways to minimize the disruption and stress less. Here's what I did.

Keeping Your Secret

If you’re worried about coworkers noticing your spotty attendance before you tell them you're pregnant, try working from home on appointment days. This way, you can subtly sneak offline.

Because I was able to get check-up appointments at the tail end of my workday, cutting out early wasn’t what tipped my coworkers off to a baby on board. In fact, one team member said she suspected I was pregnant when she’d noticed my skin looking better than ever and my snack habits skyrocketing—there’s nothing better than free office snacks when you’re catering to a bottomless appetite! No matter how or when your coworkers find out, remember that your secret will eventually surface, so try not to let it keep you up at night.

Getting Ahead of Unexpected Time-Wasters

You can't snap your fingers to make traffic disappear or reduce public transportation delays on the way to your appointments. But you can minimize the time you spend away from your office by reducing time spent holed up in your doctor's waiting room. One strategy that worked for me: I'd call my doctor's receptionist before I left work for appointments to make sure my doctor was running on time.

Minimizing Stress

If missing work for doctors' appointments will inherently stress you out, choose wisely when you pick your doctor, even if that means going to a new one that's closer to work or home. While it’s important to feel comfortable with them, remember that your pregnancy lasts longer than your labor, and an accommodating practice may be a better choice than one with an inconvenient location or limited hours. After all, if your birth is anything like mine was, you’ll only see your doctor briefly when it’s game time—he’ll be a familiar face when you go into labor and the one who makes the calls when it’s time to push. At that point, you probably won’t be thinking about how much you missed at the office. 

Remember that your pregnancy lasts longer than your labor, and an accommodating practice may be a better choice than one with an inconvenient location or limited hours.

Still concerned about going MIA between 9 and 5? If your boss seems supportive when you share your news, you can try being crystal clear about how many appointments you’ll need to attend and when you’ll make up missed work. Hopefully, having a plan in place can give you peace of mind.

Maximizing Productivity

There's no question that missing work for doctor's appointments can set you back. But you can get some of that time back if you consider your doctor's visit a continuation of your workday—with a change of scenery. Early in my pregnancy, I got my doctor's wifi code so I could bring my laptop and log on to answer Slacks and emails from the waiting room. You won't regret packing your phone and computer chargers as well as snacks to keep you fueled and focused. If getting in the zone in a room packed with pregnant people poses a challenge, pop your headphones in and listen to your favorite playlist. Or, try my favorite—Coffitivity, a site that plays ambient cafe sounds that can help keep you focused.

Changing Your Perspective

One way to wrap your head around all the time you’ll be spending on your way to, at, and on your way home from the OB/GYN? Make it all about you. On nights when my husband met me at my doctor's office, we seamlessly transitioned from stirrups to date night, celebrating good news—a strong heartbeat! A clear genetic test!—by trying new neighborhood haunts after every appointment. If you’re attending appointments solo, treat yourself on your way to or from the office. You deserve that salon foot massage or favorite takeout—you really do!

By Elizabeth Narins
Elizabeth Narins is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, editor, and social media strategist whose favorite workout is chasing her toddler. Her work has been published by Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Parents, Health, Bustle, and more.