Working while being pregnant- the almost impossible and heroic mission of every superhero mom-to-be.
Here are the best tips and a foolproof guide to the ins and outs of juggling office politics, your boss, and happy hours, all while being pregnant with your future bundle of joy.
- Announce your pregnancy to your boss and coworkers
Nothing is more uncomfortable for those around you than not knowing whether you gained some weight or that you’re actually pregnant. Many women make the common mistake of just waiting until they’re in their 7th or 8th month when it becomes obvious. At that point, your coworkers will still feel uncomfortable they haven’t congratulated you (and they definitely won’t get you a baby shower gift if they don’t know you’re pregnant!) It also helps if your coworkers know on days when you aren’t feeling great, so they won’t think it’s simply because you’re slacking on your work duties.
Additionally, telling your boss you are pregnant as soon as you are comfortable is even more important. It is often advised to speak to your boss first as it is best he or she knows before hearing from HR or others. It is imperative that your boss knows you will be leaving for an extended period of time and that you have enough time to discuss various maternity leave options and part-time leave.
- Know your workplace rights
You cannot get fired because you are pregnant.
An employer can’t fire, deny a job, or deny a promotion to a woman because of her pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions as long as she can perform the major functions of her job. However, an employer is not legally required to make the job easier.
You cannot be forced to leave as long as you are doing your job well.
Pregnant employees cannot be forced to take leave while they are pregnant as long as they can perform their assigned work tasks. If an employee is absent from work due to a pregnancy-related condition and she recovers, the employer can’t force her to remain on leave until the baby’s birth.
You are entitled to the same work benefits as employees with medical conditions.
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you can part of your unpaid maternity leave while still pregnant if you are physically unable to work due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. Your job will be protected for a total of 12 weeks, including the time before and after birth.
- Properly deal with morning sickness and side effects at work
Many women get morning sickness during the first trimester, a time when you may not have yet announced that you’re pregnant. For this reason, you need a plan of attack for pregnancy symptoms at work, such as nausea. For example, keep crackers in your desk and have an emergency kit that includes a paper bag and washcloth in case you are nauseous or vomit at your desk or in your workplace bathroom.
To deal with fatigue, avoid putting your feet all the way up or leaning back in your chair.
In regards to pregnancy brain, take copious notes and use “cheat sheets.” Do your most challenging tasks first thing when you get to work or when you’re feeling your best. Say no to requests to take on extra duties until you see how you are handling the basics, and use your e-mail’s calendar program to keep track of appointments and meetings.
- Organize the details of your leave and how others (or yourself) will manage the workload that will happen while you are gone
A month in advance, tell your boss, clients, and coworkers the precise day you expect to stop working and a tentative date that you’ll be back. A few weeks before you leave, make a list of all the tasks you’re responsible for and offer suggestions to your supervisor about how to get them covered by coworkers. Talk to your boss about what work issues (if any) you want to know about while you’re away, and let her know how she can reach you. Just be sure not to overextend yourself by promising too much too soon. Your priority in those first few weeks is to let your body recover and enjoy your new baby.