As women, we face a number of struggles in the workplace that our male counterparts simply don’t have to deal with. And for millions of women, the biggest challenge is balancing the desire to build a career and start a family. This begins with pregnancy.
Being pregnant while simultaneously trying to make strides in your career is tough, but not impossible. If you approach it from the right perspective and develop a targeted game plan for how you’ll handle different challenges along the way, you’ll increase your chances of excelling in both aspects of your life.
Understanding Your Rights as a Pregnant Employee
The first thing to know is that you have rights.
As Parents.com explains, “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.”
Having said that, an employer is not legally required to make your job easier because you’re pregnant. (Some employers will, and others won’t.) It’s ultimately up to you to be intentional in your approach so that you continue to perform well and stay healthy.
If you ever feel like you’re being discriminated against for your pregnancy, or if you’ve been terminated while pregnant, it’s a good idea to consult with a wrongful termination lawyer to learn more about your rights.
4 Tips to Help You Juggle Pregnancy and Work
There will always be certain aspects of pregnancy that you can’t control. You do, however, have a lot of say in how you handle your career in response to the pregnancy. Here are a few tips that will help remove some of the friction from this season of your life.
1.Let People Know
While it’s normal to keep your pregnancy a secret for a few weeks, don’t wait too long before telling people. Though you might anticipate backlash — particularly from your employer — you’ll find that most people are encouraging and supportive. By opening up, you give people an opportunity to extend kindness and be more flexible. Likewise, if you don’t say anything, there’s no way for anyone to support you.
2.Make Things Easier on Yourself
The worst thing you can do is attempt to “power through” and pretend like nothing is different. You should make things easier on yourself (and not feel guilty about doing so). Here are some suggestions:
- If you work hourly or have flexibility over your schedule, you should let your employer know when you’re most productive and adjust your schedule to account for these factors. If morning sickness is an issue, pushing your start time back a couple of hours may prove helpful.
- Plan meetings so they work around your schedule. If conducting in-person meetings, consider having people come to you or switching to a virtual conferencing software that allows you to stay in your office.
- Begin planning ahead for your leave. If you’ll be handing off work to someone else, keep them in the loop in the weeks leading up to your planned leave. You never know if you’ll have to leave prematurely, so it’s smart to plan in advance.
Make things easier on yourself and a lot of stress will dissolve. These are signs of intelligence, not weakness.
3.Plan Out Meals
You’re eating for two! This doesn’t mean you need to gorge yourself at mealtime, but it does require some thoughtfulness on when you eat, what you eat, and how you can prepare ahead of time.
Consider keeping a stockpile of healthy snacks on hand so you can keep hunger at bay throughout the day. Rather than eating out for lunch, which can expose you to nauseating smells and undesirable food options, back your own bagged lunch.
4.Get Plenty of R&R
Finally, make sure you’re getting enough rest and relaxation when you’re away from work. This includes both nights and weekends.
While there’s no set amount of nightly sleep pregnant women need, it’s highly recommended that you spend at least eight hours in bed every night (getting at least seven hours of sleep).
Give Yourself an Extra Dose of Grace
It’s important to remember that you’re growing a human being inside of you. There will be days where you don’t feel good. There will be times when you need to cancel a meeting and go home early. There will be situations where you have to push back a deadline or ask for help. And that’s okay. Give yourself some grace and learn to embrace the season of life that you’re in. Because this too shall pass.