Family planning · Life · Work life balance

Pregnancy and dentistry

Pregnancy does impact the way in which we practice dentistry. For those of you interested in growing or starting a family down the road, I hope this post is helpful. I’ll share some accommodations that made work more comfortable, and some challenges to be wary of. 

We found out we were pregnant a few weeks after I’d finished my residency at Alameda Health Systems. I was due to start working in a couple days and was just done vacationing with my parents who were visiting us from overseas. It was a relaxing time, yet a time filled with many decisions. 

Continuing education courses

I had several CE courses planned for the summer that lay ahead. My travel was also already booked. I was on the east coast attending a conference when I became sick. Luckily, one of my closest friends was attending the course with me. Even though I was only a few weeks into the pregnancy, confiding in her helped tremendously. She helped me stay calm and became the first person outside of B and I to know about the little one! After consulting with my ObGyn over the phone, I stayed in the city for a few more days allowing my body to recover from the illness and then flew back home, canceling the other 2 conferences I had lined up right after. 

While it is okay to travel in the first and second trimester of your pregnancy, know that your body is going through changes and needs time to adjust. Sometimes, our body and mind are not on the same page during pregnancy, and you may have to settle for an alternative, or be okay with canceling plans! 

All my domestic flights are booked through United for this reason. Their cancellation and rescheduling policy is fairly straightforward, never necessitating a call and easily done over their App!


While others may have different opinions about this, I like to play it safe since I am more prone to getting sick due to food choices than most. We traveled to Italy and Austria towards the end of the first trimester. I did not eat any meat or bread during the trip! Okay, I lie. I ate a little bread but certainly not the daily pizza. It was hard watching my husband chomp down on delicious pizzas and pastas, while I stuck to salads, fruits and sauteed vegetables. I was also wary of trying cheese while traveling. 

The global recommendation for pregnant women is to stay away from uncooked meats and unpasteurized dairy products. I didn’t know how to ask Italians if the cheese was pasteurized or not, so I had to make do with skipping a lot of it! Luckily, you can still enjoy cappuccinos and as much decaf as you’d like!

Portable dentistry

Most of my friends and colleagues struggled with dentistry towards their second trimester. Mainly because their belly size would impede being seated comfortably behind the patient. It is also not advisable to be seated in the same position for long periods of time during pregnancy. So quadrant dentistry or multiple crown preps that are typically longer than an hour, would easily become uncomfortable. If you want to do it properly, you should frequently get up and take mini walking breaks. This would lengthen the appointment, and require the patient and team to be on board. 

I found that performing portable dentistry was easier in this context. Most, if not all of my dentistry is done standing up. This allowed me to position my feet width apart, relax my shoulders and keep going. Having an ergonomic set of loupes also helped tremendously. I can’t imagine bending my neck and doing dentistry in that hunched position any more. Nobody should!

Speaker opportunities 

There were a few speaker opportunities that were scheduled throughout my pregnancy. I was able to make good on all of them and made it through every talk with a big bottle of water next to me. Getting breathless is very common during pregnancy so staying hydrated is important. I recently invested in the large 128 oz bottle available on Amazon that I now swear by. It’s with me every day and I will probably continue using it for a few years post pregnancy/nursing. 

Less is more 

The body goes through many changes during pregnancy and a day packed with events that would previously feel normal, now seems absurd. You simply do not have the same amount of stamina and energy anymore. Listening to your gut and taking it easy are key. An important thing to remember at this time is you will probably not get this much peace and quiet again in your life very soon, so enjoy it to the fullest now!

I had to reluctantly decline many events throughout the pregnancy. My nephew’s birthday party, local CE courses, meetups with other dental professionals and/or friends. Prioritizing my convenience and comfort became very important. I’m happy to share that people do understand and your relationships will remain intact despite the changes!

Tuning out the noise

While others complimenting your ‘glow’ and showering the baby with blessings are precious moments, people providing unsolicited advice about delivery and opinions about breastfeeding/parenting are not. I was alarmed at how casually people bring up horror stories of their friends’ or colleagues’ nightmarish births. 

Why would you even share those? I also realized at this time that I may have been unknowingly doing similar things when I was not pregnant. Sharing birth stories seems like fun, but for those of us who are expecting to go through it very soon, it only adds to our anxiety and stress! 

I can for the most part be very direct with people. However, because this is a sensitive topic and most of these conversations were being directed at me by my colleagues in dentistry, I decided to instead meditate when these conversations were going on. Tuning out the noise becomes easy once you’ve had enough practice. It also makes the conversation seem funny in a way. The truth is that the worst case scenarios you often hear about are just that. They are the worst case and rare. Just because it happened to your dental assistant’s friend, does not mean it will happen to you.


Planning for next steps such as maternity leave, future conferences and speaking opportunities, and working out schedules with your partner is very important. You are now going to become a family of 3, so scheduling things in advance is needed! This comes naturally to us dentists and may not come naturally to our partners, so working as a team is mandatory. 

Ever since getting pregnant, I feel like my life has been overtaken by excel sheets. I have excel sheets for baby products, registry items, our schedules for 2024, work delegation items and others. It may seem excessive to those of you reading this, but believe me, it helps to stay organized! It is because of those excel sheets that we feel a lot more prepared and have things working out smoothly in these last few weeks before the baby arrives. 

There will always be some surprises but we like to minimize those chances!

What’s most important

I get this question a lot from my mentees at dental schools. Some of them are not married or have even identified a partner, yet are thinking about how family life will impact their careers! The most important thing about starting a family is who you start it with. If the person you choose as a partner is kind and thoughtful, life is going to be as comfortable as you could hope it would be! This is advice I’ve heard midwives and ObGyns give too. Having a baby will be a lot easier if you have a supportive partner who is as invested in the family as you are. 

Who you marry is the most important decision you will make for your career and life! Sounds sexist, but for those of us who married amazing people, know this to be true. 

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