If you’re TTC, it isn’t always easy to figure out how to make your career and your goals for your family line up. It can be even harder to figure out how to combine the two at this point, when there isn’t anything as concrete as a due date, or as pressing as parental leave plans.
Fortunately, Ovia parents and moms-to-be have a lot of advice to offer about preparing your career for your baby.
Right now – before you have a specific timeline dictated by your little one – is a great time to take a look around your workplace and figure out what you’ll need from your work environment, and what you might need to fight for or be prepared to explain the need for.
One Ovia mom described this by talking about her realization that she didn’t have many coworkers who had children – “The environment of academia doesn’t really support having kids – there’s more of a focus on career.”
She said she knew the people around her would support her, but that the larger system wasn’t set up to support her as an adjunct professor. Knowing this, she realized she’d have to have a clear vision of how she’d handle her pregnancy and maternity leave – she’d have to be her own advocate and create her own plan.
One step at a time
Another Ovia mom suggested that while it’s important to be realistic about the difficulty you may end up facing on the road to parenthood, it’s also easy to go overboard and end up scaring yourself. “Best case/worst case scenario is a good way to go about not overemphasizing the difficulty of pregnancy and work,” she said.
Make a few decisions early on
One of the big decisions you’ll end up having to make during the earlier part of your pregnancy will be when to tell people at work – from your boss to your coworkers to any customers or clients you might work with – about your baby. It’s a tricky question that all new moms-to-be have to face at some point, and it can be helpful to have an idea in mind ahead of time.
Otherwise, you may end up getting taken by surprise, like one Ovia mom, who ended up telling her manager and coworkers earlier than she wanted to while at a sales meeting in Napa where everyone was drinking. “Talk to the waiter beforehand,” she counsels other new moms who might find themselves in a similar situation.
On the other hand, another Ovia mom found that having her supervisors know she was trying to conceive was helpful. She hadn’t been planning on telling them, but she’d missed work due to a miscarriage and ended up being straightforward about the reason why. From that point on, she said, she felt a sense of relief about being able to be honest about her doctor’s appointments and other TTC and pregnancy related things.
Early disclosure isn’t everything, though – many new moms choose to wait to talk to employers about their pregnancies until they feel they’ve fully determined what they want to do about maternity leave. “I waited until I’d wrapped my head around what leave would entail,” said one Ovia mom.
Another new mom, looking back on her own pregnancy and leave, advised other new parents, “Do what feels right for you, but remember the concept of ‘telling vs. un-telling’ – if anything happens, you have to undo the damage, so you might want to be careful who you tell.”
It’s never too early to start planning!
In the end, there’s no one right way to handle talking to your employer about your pregnancy, and one of the most important factors will be your sense of how your workplace might respond – which means that right now is a great time to start taking notes.