Discovering that you’re pregnant is one of the most exciting moments in life. The moment you see that little line on the test (or hear it from your doctor), you know that everything is about to change. Your future is now one of parenthood, with all of the joys and trials that that contains.
Slowly, you will begin to think of the other ways in which your life is going to change. You might consider the impact on your social life; or have a jolt of realization about how you have got an awful lot of learning to do. You have a lot to learn, for example, about what pregnancy has in store for you. You will then come to realize the possible impact on your career.
This can be a sobering experience.
While it shouldn’t be the case, it would be naive to deny that pregnancy has a tendency to cause harm to careers. Not because it’s impossible to juggle life as a working Mom (millions of women across the globe manage that just fine), but because of the attitude that some employers have to women of childbearing age.
Some will outright admit they try not to hire women in this bracket, which is – of course – straight discrimination, but of a type it’s difficult to fight. Some women go back after maternity leave and discover they are never quite treated in the same way.
That’s of course if they are able to even take maternity leave. The US has some of the worst protections for new Moms in the world, way behind the other leading countries. This is something that is often talked about, but very little is done about it.
So how do you go about discussing not only this pregnancy with your work, but any future pregnancies that you may have? How is it all going to shake out? Is motherhood going to damage your career prospects?
Let’s deal with these one at a time.
Step One: Know Your Rights
Brushing up on your rights as an expectant mother should be one of the first things you do, before you breathe a word of your pregnancy to anyone but your partner and close family.
It’s also worth finding out what your company offers in terms of maternity leave. If you’re not sure what a good maternity leave policy looks like, then you can find out more here and see how your company compares.
You then also need to look into your healthcare coverage, as this may not be automatically included. You might also find that you are only entitled to certain provisions, such as only one night in hospital. Make sure you’re armed with information.
Step Two: Request A Private Meeting With Your Boss
This is not news that your boss should find out at the same time as you tell the rest of the office. Request a formal, private, meeting, and explain your intentions. There is no need to go in gung-ho, saying you know your rights, and here’s what you’re going to do – that’s background information you should only fall back on if you have to. Hopefully, you’ll have good employers who will be more than willing to work something out for you.
It helps to have a plan in place for what you are asking for. Figure out the time you want off and if you want your duties (particularly if you have a physical job) reduced during the pregnancy – but don’t present them as set in stone. Even if you’re not, giving your boss the impression that you’re flexible and want to work something out that works for both of you is going to be vital.
Step Three: Make It Clear You Have Motherhood and Work Planned
If you go into this meeting with no clear idea in mind for the future, then this can be problematic. Of course, it’s the immediate future you should be considering – namely, how you plan to balance the responsibility of being a parent with your job when you return. If you give the impression to your employer that you’ve got this all under control, they’ll be more likely to take it in their stride.
Step Four: Refuse To Discuss The Future
If your company is rude enough to ask about your future plans, then simply refuse. Say you are focused on this pregnancy and have no idea about what might happen further down the road. If they press you for an answer, then it might be worth referring it to your union (if you’re in one) or human resources. You don’t have to answer about your future plans, so don’t be persuaded to.
Step Five: Enjoy Your Pregnancy
Hopefully, by this point you will have come to good terms with your employer and have a way forward in mind. All that’s left is to enjoy your pregnancy and look forward to the wonders of motherhood!