For many professional women finding out they are pregnant provides mixed feelings. Delight that you are about to become a mum but also shear dread as you know your world is about to change in more ways than one.
Being a corporate woman and trying to get pregnant can also take its toll. Having a high profile or high stress job doesn’t help fertility and many professional women are trying to climb the corporate ladder before they have children therefore realising trying to get pregnant in your 30s or 40s is hard work on top of working hard!
As soon as the words I’m pregnant leave your mouth at work everything changes. No matter how much you think you it will not change you or your work situation, having a baby does.
Here are some tips and tricks to consider through this period:
Tell your employee as late as possible
You can tell your boss as soon as you get the all-clear at 12-14 weeks but consider waiting for as long as possible. Most bosses will not say anything about any extra weight gain as it is not PC and even though you notice it, it is unlikely they will. As soon as you tell them they will go into overdrive thinking about how to manage this. In many cases no matter what you say they see they are losing a top performer. If you tell them early into your pregnancy, they will have nearly 6 months to manage this which is much longer than if you had given notice.
At the end of the day, most senior contacts have only three months’ notice and this is enough time to manage this change in their business. The truth is as soon as you tell them you are pregnant you will be passed over for any new roles, projects and won’t be included in key decision making. This hurts so anything you can do to minimise this for yourself will ensure a more stress-free experience and pregnancy.
Prepare to talk about your ideal post-baby work situation and be realistic
When you do tell your boss or management team about your pregnancy, they will want answers to a lot of questions quickly about everything from how much your family might be able to help and what your intentions are and for how long you will be off, etc. Get on the front foot early with them about the plan and what you want to happen. Be suggestive on what you might like to happen and what would be an ideal situation for you. There is a high chance no matter how committed to your role or you are to the team you might not want to be doing the same hours or traveling as much post-baby.
Choose the maternity leave that is best for you. Do not let other people’s thoughts on the subject sway your decision but be prepared for everyone to have an opinion, as everyone does when you have a baby. There are a lot of options post-baby so think about your work-life balance, how to work from home and how to stagger yourself back to full-time overtime etc. What kind of things can you do to stay in touch regarding corporate days or annual holidays? Who is going to let you know and keep in touch with you? What else could make your return a little easier when it happens? You can change your mind while you are on maternity leave about your return but having a plan before you go for leave will help your business feel more confident about this change.
Put things in writing to your boss and your Human Resources team. Help manage expectations by being organised and ensuring everyone is on the same page. Sort out your paperwork and make sure you have copies of key emails in your personal emails. Unfortunately, you or your boss can be made redundant while on your maternity leave so best to ensure you have key correspondence on you, as a just in case.
What else can you arrange? Some practical suggestions include:
- Can you put your frequent flyer on hold what documents you need from whom?
- Can you pre-book all your medical appts to be the first or the last of the day so your work is affected as little as possible?
- Can you get any memberships etc prepaid so you can continue having access while on leave?
- Do you need to start checking out childcare options now to ensure you will get a spot when you need it?
- What do you need to do to claim the max maternity leave payment? Maternity leave is leave so why not get paid well if you can over this time and have you and that new bub looking fab for any pics!
Connect with other women in the business who have also had children and learn from their experiences
Even if your male boss is family friendly and has children himself, he probably wasn’t the carer in the household when his children were born. At the end of the day, women are still the primary carer of babies and young children and you will do the bulk of the caring and organising, no matter how wonderful your husband or partner is. The men you work with will likely have a warped view of bringing up children while working as their wife and partner will have done the bulk of the caring for them and they were probably too busy working to notice!
Women within your business who have had children will be able to tell you the reality of staying in the industry and working. They will have some horror stories to share about being mum and being corporate. They might be also able to give you some tips and tricks to help you on your return. Connect with them now, as it will be nice to have other mums to have a laugh with on your return, when you turn up to work with baby vomit on you one day!
Telling your employer that you are pregnant is big news and will change how you are seen within the organisation moving forward. Make it best experience for you!