Pregnancy and birth, whether it’s your first child or second, can be a challenging experience for any expectant parent. The responsibility of juggling a job and preparing for parenthood can feel as though you’re expected to be super-humans—this can be especially true for women who often face the mother-manager syndrome as they’re expected to perform their jobs and then some.
Throwing a pregnancy into the mix can make things quite difficult for working professionals. This is why it’s important to understand your rights, prioritise your work-life balance, plan ahead, and accept help when necessary to give you the space you need to become a complete champion during this time.
While pregnant women are generally safe to carry on working, it’s also important to listen to your body and the changes it’s going through. You should also accept that it’s not going to be simple all the time so you need to be open to and prepared for the physical, mental, and emotional rollercoaster that you’re about to embark on.
Prioritise work-life balance from the start
With over two-thirds of UK employees stating that work-life balance is important, it becomes that much more important when you’re expecting. In fact, research shows that stress in pregnant women can impact the baby creating a higher risk of developing health problems and disorders in the future.
This is why it’s important to set a precedent early on in the pregnancy—for both parents. While work-life balance is arguably more important for pregnant women, it’s also important for the father as well since pregnancy is a journey that needs to be embarked on by both parents in unison.
By planning your work-life balance right from the start your boss and your team will get accustomed to your work schedule and be more sensitive to your boundaries.
The best way to establish a work-life balance is to speak to your manager about how you can do this without neglecting your professional or personal responsibilities. Your manager may be able to accommodate your requests better and will be more understanding on days that you have to report to work a little late whether it’s morning sickness, OB-GYN appointments, or if you just need some extra time for all the breaks you may need to take throughout the day.
Don’t hesitate to ask for advice
Whether you’re an expectant mother or father, you’re going to need all the help you can get—after all, it takes a village. Don’t be afraid to ask questions you think are tough or be embarrassed to ask questions you think are obvious.
Asking for help is one of the hardest things for people to do but the chances are that you’ll have so many questions you want to ask your colleagues who are parents and have gone through the same journey that you are currently going through.
If you have questions then here are some that you can ask on behalf of yourself or your partner.
- Is it ok to work right throughout the entire pregnancy?
- How do I tell my boss that I’m pregnant/that I’m becoming a father?
- How do I tell my team?
- How can morning sickness be managed?
- Where can I shop for professional pregnancy clothes?
- How do I stay comfortable at work?
- What happens if I/my partner can’t work due to pregnancy complications?
Plan your maternity/paternity leave in advance
While paternity leave cannot be taken before the birth of the child it doesn’t mean that you can’t plan in advance. As soon as you have a due date you can begin planning your paternity leave so that you can walk into fatherhood stress-free and in control.
Maternity leave, on the other hand, can be planned and you can even create a maternity leave plan that’s something like this:
- Become clear about your deadlines and what you need to hand over to the person who will be covering for you while you’re away
- Give your boss and colleagues the same information so they’re on the same page (there’s nothing worse than having to pick up your phone for a work call when you’re busy juggling a newborn)
- Break your plan into three sections:
- Pre-maternity leave
- During maternity leave
- Post-maternity leave
If you’re able to do this then you can have a clear and precise outline of what you need to achieve before you leave and what others need to do before you go on leave, after you take leave, and when you return to work. This will make your transition from and into work as seamless as possible for everyone.
Final thoughts from Kinhub
Pregnancy and birth are life-changing and wonderful times in any parent’s life and being a working professional doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the joy of it all. Knowing the support system that’s around you and how to take the necessary steps in creating a comfortable space for yourself is an important aspect that you shouldn’t feel guilty about. If at any point you feel that you need an extra pair of ears, then don’t hesitate to speak to your physician for additional support.