This is an article in our Pregnancy Week by Week series, a resource to help you manage your job and life, through and after your pregnancy.
Week 28: 6 Ways To Make Your Third Trimester Smoother Sailing At Work
The last three months of your pregnancy are when Baby (and yes, you) start to put on those final and important pounds. Between your growing bump and reading about how to prepare for labor, the reality of the big day is probably dawning upon you.
This can be an overwhelmingly busy three months, especially for those of you who already are running as fast as you can at work. Now you not only have all the normal demands of your day job, but you’re also trying to fit in extra doctor’s appointments, reading up about Kegel exercises and decorating your nursery! In short, you’re getting a small taste of what juggling moms' lives are like!
There are too many different kinds of women with too many different jobs for us to suggest there’s only one way of approaching work during these final months. But if we find there are certain themes that run through working moms’ reflections on women’s third trimesters at work.
Here are 6 tips to make sure you have a great few months:
1. Get ready a little earlier than you think you need to.
We all procrastinate sometimes, but since your estimated due date is just an estimate, be sure to leave yourself a cushion those last few weeks before your delivery date. You will feel happier and more relaxed knowing that you’ve taken care of business. In other words, don’t wait until Week 40 to start ticking off your To-Do’s on your maternity leave checklist!
Getting your hand-over plan in place a little bit before your colleagues and manager expect it will not only impress everyone, it will make life easier on you as well.
Our co-founder Romy had heard rumors about women whose water had broken at work and was determined to not have that be her fate. So she arranged to work from home for the last two weeks of her pregnancy. And yet, when did she go into labor? On her last day in the office. True story. So the point is, you never know when the baby could come. Be ready!
2. Take care of yourself.
We know it’s tempting to try to cram in as much as you can in terms of work before your maternity leave. You’re trying to meet all your deadlines, perform well, and show you are dedicated to your job and employer. But don’t let that dedication mean you are working yourself to an unhealthy place.
When Romy was pregnant with #2, one morning she (characteristically trying to do too much) practiced yoga, went to a special event at her son’s school, carried a heavy bag on the subway, gave a presentation to 400 people and then headed for the airport for a flight. By the time she landed, she was dehydrated and went into premature labor. At 28 weeks. She is outrageously grateful to the doctors who were able to stop the labor so that her daughter could be born healthy and independent ten weeks later. But the story could have been ended very differently. So don’t push it. Seriously. This not about you and how much your A-Type personality can squeeze in.
And for god’s sake, drink lots of water.
You know yourself best, but trust us when we say it’s doubtful anyone will really remember (or notice) whether you came in a half hour earlier or stayed an hour later on Friday nights your last month before maternity leave.
3. Get help if you need it.
It can be feel like a very overwhelming time, emotionally, when it comes to how you look at your career. Don’t keep it all bottled up inside. You’re hormonal -- in a good way -- but you don’t need to suffer in silence.
You can get temporary maternity leave coaching or career coaching support to help you think through conflicting feelings and doubts you have about what you’re going to do after Baby arrives. There’s also just old-fashioned conversations with your friends to explore and vent your feelings if you can’t share them at work or your partner isn’t a sympathetic ear at home.
4. Don’t shy from the limelight if you want it.
Despite how insurance companies can categorize pregnancy, it’s not a disability. If you are feeling great and sure you want to go for a leading role in a project, take on a promotion, or new initiative, raise your hand.
Yes, we realize that your maternity leave is around the corner but it’s important to show that you care and are still in the game if that’s how you feel. You can always figure out solutions to how to execute, when the time comes. That’ll be a high class problem to have.
5. Put your worries in the context of the bigger picture.
A lot of work anxiety at this time is focused on whether you can handle your career in the same way once you become a mom. The likely answer for many women is that your life is going to change massively and nothing will be “exactly the same.” But this doesn’t mean that you have wasted a huge investment if you decide you need to change jobs or to decelerate your career for some time.
And, we can’t emphasize this enough, you just won’t know how you feel about having a baby at home until you ….have a baby at home.
6. Focus on the positives.
If you think Baby can only be a career killer, you’re in for a surprise. While it may be hard to imagine now, many women realize that being a mom can make you a better human being, better employee or even manager. (And no, they’re not just saying that…)
Many women feel they become more compassionate, patient and also more efficient and productive at work once they become mothers. Sure, they may have less time overall, but that usually means picking up some mad prioritization skills.
No matter how you slice it, you are about to undergo a big period of change. Change can be stressful and it’s very normal to feel stressed. The great thing is that you have the next three months to get used to the idea of these changes. You’ll grow into them the same way you’ll grow into being a working mom -- one day and step at a time!
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Should I work for as long as possible before starting my leave?
I was planning on working right up until the very last possible moment so as to have the longest maternity leave I can but I'm feeling so exhausted these last few weeks that I almost just want to start my mat leave now. Anyone else have any suggestions...
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