9 TIPS FOR TRAVEL NURSING WHILE PREGNANT
While there may be some added challenges, many women continue to work as a traveling nurse while pregnant. As rewarding as a career in travel nursing can be, it shouldn’t hinder you from starting a family. Some nurses think they need to choose one or the other, but these aren’t mutually exclusive.
At OneStaff Medical, we encourage nurses to pursue all of their goals and offer resources to help accomplish them. As a result, we’ve put together these tips to help you keep your fulfilling career as a travel nurse, throughout your pregnancy.
1.Communicate with Your Agency
When you know you’re expecting, it’s best to communicate that to your travel nurse staffing agency as soon as possible, along with your needs and expectations for upcoming assignments throughout your pregnancy. Your staffing agency can help guide you through other decisions you may need to make, which can help you plan ahead. Having a travel nursing career while pregnant is very doable, but everyone deserves to be comfortable; it is up to you to determine what your level of comfort is.
At OneStaff, we know that your needs change when you become pregnant. Our team of recruiters is dedicated to finding you the perfect travel nursing assignment for every stage of your life and career. Our professional recruiters here at OneStaff Medical are here to meet your needs.
For some women, shorter shifts might be desirable, so it will help you find placements that offer eight-hour shifts rather than 12-hour shifts. We might also be able to find you positions in less stressful departments, as well as those with shorter contracts lengths. We’re dedicated to making your travel nursing experience comfortable throughout your whole pregnancy.
2.Look for Short-Term Assignments
Typically, a travel nurse assignment lasts 13 weeks, but every contract is different. Some facilities may offer longer or shorter contracts, based on their needs. Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, you may be looking for a shorter contract, which could impact your decision as you look for your next assignment.
Short-term travel nursing assignments can last between four and 13 weeks on average. With shorter absences, you’ll be able to schedule regular checkups with your doctor, plan your maternity leave, and move to your desired location to prepare for when your baby arrives.
Shorter assignments can also help financially if you’re finishing one contract but don’t have enough time to take on another full 13-week contract before the baby comes.
3.Know Your Options
Starting a family is a huge decision, and this is just the first decision in a series of many that you will need to make. We recommend that all of our travel nurses reach out to our recruitment team to better understand all of their options for placements, insurance, and childcare.
Many women choose to take time off from travel nursing around 37 weeks into their pregnancy. Depending on the type of insurance you have, this could cause a lapse in insurance coverage. Many travel nurses either use agency insurance, which OneStaff offers, or they use private insurance. However, agencies don’t typically cover maternity leave. At OneStaff, we do offer short-term disability in our insurance packages. That is an option for our travelers who want some time off for maternity leave. But it is important that you enroll for short-term disability when you initially register for insurance, as it will not be able to be added after insurance has been selected.
If you are going to have a lapse in coverage, you have a few options. First, if you have a spouse who can put you on their insurance, you can avoid losing coverage during this critical time. Some nurses use COBRA to cover them while they are out of work post-birth.
After the baby is born, it’ll be important to know your options for childcare before taking on your next travel nursing assignment, as well. Before you accept a new position, you’ll want to research facilities in your new location or make arrangements for newborn care.
Your travel nursing staffing agency can help with any questions you may have regarding your options.
4.Protect Yourself from Germs
As a nurse, you’re surrounded by germs and sick patients in need of care. Hospitals have procedures for keeping staff safe from germs, including protocols for regularly washing hands and disinfecting surfaces. When you’re pregnant, it’s even more important to protect yourself from illness.
As always, it’s best to follow hospital procedures when it comes to personal protection from germs and illness, but there are extra precautions you can take. If possible, avoid patients with contagious diseases, like the flu, and wear a mask and other personal protective equipment when in close contact.
If you do happen to get sick during your pregnancy, contact your doctor to be seen right away. Some illnesses can be harmful to developing fetuses, and left unchecked, could lead to potential complications, putting both you and the baby at risk.
5.Take Breaks During Your Shifts
Nurses don’t always get a lot of time for breaks, and travel nurses are no exception. However, when you’re pregnant, breaks and rest are important for your and your baby’s overall health and wellbeing.
Breaks can help ensure you’re staying hydrated and satiated. It’s recommended that pregnant women drink at least ten cups of water a day to stay properly hydrated and to help avoid complications like swelling, bladder infections, and even premature labor.
While there are some restrictions on nurses when it comes time to take a break for food, water, or the restroom, it’s important to take them whenever possible.
6.Plan Ahead for Your Maternity Leave
When you’re a travel nurse while pregnant, the best thing you can be is prepared. Planning ahead for maternity leave can put you in a better position when the time comes. If you know where you want to have the baby and when you want to start your leave, it’s much easier to coordinate your travel nurse assignments to accommodate your delivery date.
You’ll want to work with your facility and your travel nursing recruiter, so they know when your last day will be. Give yourself plenty of time to get home and have your baby without any rush. To be extra cautious, it’s recommended to plan your contract’s end date at roughly 37 weeks into your pregnancy if possible.
7.Get Regular Checkups
When you’re a travel nurse, it can be easy to skip doctor’s visits with your OBGYN. While you’re pregnant and working as a travel nurse, however, you need to prioritize checkups to ensure that both you and the baby remain healthy through the duration of your pregnancy. You can schedule appointments during times you know you’ll be home between contracts so that you receive care from your preferred provider throughout your pregnancy.
Depending on the location of your assignment and your schedule, you may not be able to make it home in the middle of a contract for a checkup. If that happens, or if you experience any complications, it’s best to find a close doctor or midwife that can help if the need arises. Ask your facility or coworkers for recommendations.
You can still call your preferred doctor for any questions or concerns.
8.Don't Stress About Taking Time Off
Prioritizing your health for your baby isn’t something you need to stress over, and coworkers and managers are generally understanding. Every pregnancy is different, and for some women, pregnancy requires extra downtime or even bedrest.
Oftentimes, pregnancy comes with many symptoms, like morning sickness, cramps, fatigue, nausea, and heartburn, which can be unhealthy to work through. Travel nursing while pregnant also adds the stresses of being in a new place, learning a new job or department, and adjusting to your new temporary home.
If you need to take time off for doctor’s visits or illness during your pregnancy, you shouldn’t feel guilty. This is normal for many women during pregnancy. Just be sure you keep clear communication with your facility and recruiter about what is going on if you need to take a day off.
9.Look After Yourself
A nurse’s job is to put the needs of their patients before their own to give them the proper care they require. When you’re pregnant and working as a travel nurse, you can still provide quality care, but you have to be sure to look out for yourself as well.
Your actions affect your baby, so putting your needs at the forefront can help you deliver a healthy, happy baby. If you need to carry a water bottle around to stay hydrated, buy compression socks or comfortable shoes, or ask for help from your fellow nurses, do it. You know your body, so you’ll be able to tell when something’s not right.
Deciding to work as a travel nurse while pregnant is a big decision to make, and choosing the right travel nursing staffing agency can help. As one of the best travel nurse agencies in the country, OneStaff Medical has the resources to find your perfect travel nurse assignment. We understand pregnancy can change your needs, and we’re here to help. Call us today at 877-783-1483.