If you’re a first-time mom-to-be, you’ve probably been reading your fair share of advice on what to expect — both physically and emotionally — throughout the next year or so. But you’re probably feeling a lot less prepared to tackle these changes in conjunction with your career. Even if you’ve decided you’re going to take a break from work post-baby or you know you’d like to get back to the office as soon as you’re physically able, it’s pretty tough to anticipate how you’ll feel as you get through each work week, much less what you’ll want by the time baby actually arrives.
Even if you don’t feel like your pregnancy will have much effect on how you feel about work, it’s hard to control or anticipate how your employer or manager might react. Perhaps you’re not being offered the flexibility or paid maternity leave you might need, or maybe you’ll feel like you’re being judged differently now that you’re pregnant or when you return to work as a new mom.
That’s why we’ve launched the first-ever Pregnancy Week-By Week guide focused on work and your career, a weekly e-newsletter that provides mamas-to-be with career tips and anecdotes from hundreds of women, in all kinds of industries, who’ve been there. You can simply sign up by entering your contact info and due date, and you’ll then receive carefully curated advice each week, depending on where you are in your pregnancy, to help you navigate this transition in the workplace.
Here are some of the tips and themes you’ll get the deets on:
- There’s not one “right time” to tell your boss you’re pregnant, though many women opt to have the convo around their 12-week mark — and some strongly suggest not waiting until the last possible moment.
- If you’ve always prioritized your career, you’re bound to have mixed feelings about your pregnancy — and that’s totally normal.
- If you’re not sure of what your company’s maternity leave policy is, there are ways to get clued in before telling your boss your big news.
- You may feel like you’ll have a lot of extra time on your hands while you’re on leave, but don’t give yourself an ambitious to-do list. Despite your best intentions, you don’t know if you can be available, especially if you’ve never had a child before.
- You will have a much easier time (both in the long and short run) if you emphasize co-parenting and sharing care-taking responsibilities early on.
- Postpartum depression affects about 20% of women — and if you’re one of them, you should know that it’s a medical condition for which you should feel no shame, but it will require management, especially if you go back to work.
- If you can manage it, it’s probably better to stay a little bit in touch with your colleagues at least a bit when you’re out on leave, but there are smart ways to draw the line.
- If you have doubts about returning to work post-leave, don’t stress or feel guilty.
- You may feel alone or isolated because you’re dying to get back to work...and that’s perfectly fine, too.
- Pumping is pretty much a full-time job; you’ve gotta buy the right equipment, prepare, and even practice before you go back to work.
- You will probably miss your baby like crazy when you’re back at work and suffer from sleep deprivation at the same time — but there are ways to cope.
Your experience will not be identical to anyone else’s, but that doesn’t mean you should feel isolated as you work through this transition period.
Whether or not you have friends or colleagues who are in the same boat, it’s always helpful to hear from other mamas — particularly those who have juggled pregnancy and leave while also figuring out their next career step. If you give yourself the time and space to get informed, you’ll be more comfortable and confident as you navigate on your pregnancy and your potential return to work.
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