5 Tips for Surviving Teaching while Pregnant (with twins!)

At the end of my seventh year of teaching high school math, I happily learned that I was expecting my second child the following December. Having already had a September baby a few years prior, I was thrilled that the timing was at least marginally better.

I felt confident that I knew how to navigate pregnancy and maternity leave for a second time. That confidence lasted all of four weeks until I learned baby #2 was actually babies #2 and #3!

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gone to that first OB appointment alone. My poor husband found out via text message while he was at work. No text. Just a snapshot of the ultrasound 😭🤭

There were tears. And joy. And more tears. I was terrified of the risks of a twin pregnancy but financially needed to stay in the classroom as long as possible before delivery. (We were saving up for a heart surgery for my firstborn.)

The twin pregnancy was a whole new level of uncomfortable compared to my first pregnancy. Extra-large belly, swollen feet, dizzy spells, nausea, and lots of contractions for months. It definitely interfered with my typical hands-on teaching style. I had to figure out how to do my job well while balancing my own health.

I want to share some of the survival tips that helped me navigate a high risk pregnancy while teaching.

1. Stock your desk.

Unfortunately, nausea comes with the territory when pregnant so stock your desk with all. the. things. I ate a mini candy bar between morning classes and kept a full assortment of crackers and applesauce in my desk.

Consider snacking during class if needed. I adopted a keep-it-discreet snack policy in my classroom for my students and myself. If it wasn’t disruptive and didn’t make crumbs, discrete snacking was okay.

2. Clear your plate.

Did you sign up to be on a ton of committees in your pre-kid life back when leaving 90 minutes after school ends was no big deal? Consider scaling back your extra responsibilities temporarily. This is likely to be easier if you learn you are expecting in the spring semester and can bow out of non-essential commitments for the next school year while still fulfilling current year commitments.

3. Rearrange the classroom.

There will be times in your pregnancy that you are too nauseous to go near the student with body odor, grow too big-bellied to fit between the rows, and have feet too swollen to stand all day.

Get creative with arranging your classroom to accommodate your new needs.

By the midway point of my pregnancy, being on my feet too much caused too many regular contractions. I rented a document camera from the library, set it up on a wheeled cart, and lined up with the last row of desks.

This setup enabled me to lead the note-taking portion of class while sitting. I could easily see most of the student’s desks to see who was on task. As an added perk, I wasn’t turning my back to my students while writing on the board!

4. Ask for help.

If you are teaching secondary, recruit your students to be your helpers. Do you need to rearrange your desks on test day? Ask your students to help move them. Do you need to move a box of copy paper across the room? Recruit some volunteers. Secondary students want to be helpful too, especially when they know you really need and appreciate their assistance.

5. Build a wardrobe.

Invest in a variety of comfortable clothes that are appropriate for your teacher dress code. If you’re pregnant with twins, be prepared to live in dresses or buy new pants in the third trimester - there’s a whole new level of belly size with twin pregnancies. I grew out of the clothes I wore at the end of my first pregnancy around six months with the twin pregnancy.

If you’re on a budget, check out online resale shops. Maternity clothes tend to be gently used and you may be able to afford higher quality pieces. I purchased my favorite maternity dresses this way and was able to pass them down to another teacher after I was done with them.
Click to view larger.

Read Part 2: Build the Best Maternity Leave Binder (so you can leave work at work)
Read Part 3: 4 Teacher Tips for a Smooth Maternity Leave Transition