June 26 2018 11:45 AM

Having a child changed the way I take care of myself while still being heavily involved on the farm.

I’m one to say that men and women’s role on the dairy farm can be equal. And yet, the differences between genders farming together become very apparent to me in the task of raising a farm family. This is especially apparent to me during the 9 months before that next generation joins the farm. Pregnancy is always a reminder to me that there is great power as well as limits to being a female farmer.

However, a fit and healthy pregnancy can go hand in hand with your role on the farm. As long as you are following your doctor’s orders and there are no complications that warrant added concern, keeping up with your usual tasks throughout your pregnancy is doable. That being said, pregnancy does warrant some thought and possible adaptations. As I head into the last month of my third pregnancy, I have been keenly aware of this lately.

My number one advice for farming while pregnant is listen to your body!

I know we all think we can do it all, and often do, but listen to what feedback your body gives you. It might require a little change of pace or way of doing things. While that can be frustrating, don’t be too stubborn to ask for help when it’s needed!

I also know with our crazy schedules that the last ones to get taken care of is often ourselves. Keep healthy snacks handy, and keep yourself hydrated. I also think it’s important to keep a tab on your energy level. Don’t feel defeated when your body really does need a nap! Pregnancy is a job within itself, and it’s okay to admit that growing a baby is hard work.

I’m not going to lie; I struggled with how my role on the farm changed when I had my first child. I think we have this mental perception as female farmers that we can do it all and with a baby in tow. While children and farm life can go hand in hand, there is nothing wrong with admitting that mentally and often physically is makes our tasks more difficult.

As we’ve added more children to our family, I’ve become more comfortable in saying what I need to keep myself physically and mentally healthy through pregnancy and beyond. The truth is, we are different as women on the farm. I applaud each and every one of you out there who finds the ways to make it work. Don’t feel defeated to embrace that difference and do what works best for you!

Darleen Sichley

The author is a third-generation dairy farmer from Oregon where she farms in partnership with her husband and parents. As a mother of two young boys who round out the family-run operation as micro managers, Darleen blogs about the three generations of her family working together at Guernsey Dairy Mama. Abiqua Acres Mann's Guernsey Dairy is currently home to 90 registered Guernseys and transitioned to a robotic milking system in 2017.