How I Handled Being Pregnant During a Clinical Rotation

My first clinical rotation was at a rural hospital in northern Idaho. Because it was so small, the occupational therapists there were involved in every setting- acute, outpatient, pediatrics, and hand therapy.

I was 16 weeks pregnant when I started my rotation and barely showing. Our clinical rotations are 3 months long, and when I left I was 28 weeks pregnant and REALLY feeling the difficulty of growing another human.

My advice for preggo students? Be upfront and honest with everyone involved in your placement! I told my fieldwork coordinator right away so that she could schedule out my fieldwork placements to accommodate my due date. That means I had to take the Fall Semester off and reschedule my second clinical rotation for Spring. I also told my fieldwork educator on the first day. I definitely scripted this and practiced what I would say because I was a little nervous how it might be received but she was very understanding. I reassured her I have been having a non-complicated pregnancy and that I did not expect my pregnancy to interfere with my duties and ability to perform occupational therapy services. I also provided the dates I knew I would have my prenatal appointments so that we could coordinate half-days and the like.

I think that the open communication made for a great way to keep the dialogue open and I became quite close with my educators and learned so much from them.

Actually performing my job duties was a little more difficult as my pregnancy progressed, but not impossible. The most difficult tasks were with my pediatric clients as it involved a lot of floor time and swinging in our Lycra swing and my growing belly sometimes got in the way. Again, difficult but not impossible with some body mechanic modifications. I would bring in a low chair and sit in that for floor time and I learned to use my whole body to rock the swing.

In terms of what to wear, I bought a few oversized nice clinic shirts and wore joggers everyday. I would just tuck my shirt into the front band of my jogger to keep the look a little more polished. I got lucky and I was able to find most of my nice blouses at Goodwill and the joggers I found on Amazon. I wore some black sneakers to complete the look and I was ready for anything from peds to acute!

I did find myself getting a little overheated some days and I would carry a handheld fan in my clinic bag that helped tremendously with staying comfortable. I would highly recommend getting one if you’re pregnant during your clinicals over the summer!

Finally, I carried a water bottle everywhere with me and made sure I had plenty of snacks. We stayed very active in the clinic and it was important I stayed hydrated. We also didn’t have a lot of time between clients to eat so I had some quick grab-and-go snacks on hand like Perfect Bars and homemade trail mix to eat really quick and tide me over until lunchtime. Also, if you do have nausea, I used nausea candies from Pink Stork that I would put in my pocket and suck on them if I was starting to feel it coming on and that really helped me too!

I hope this advice was helpful for any student who might be heading into a clinical pregnant. It is totally doable, just have the mindset that you can get through it and you got this!

-AA

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