Maternity Leave: A Guide for Expecting Mothers in the Workplace

Finding out your pregnant is a moment filled with joy and excitement. It is the beginning of a life-changing journey and a moment of growth for your family. It should be a time to celebrate, but sometimes, working moms start to get a little anxiety ridden when they think about work.

It is difficult trying to think ahead 9 months and figure out how your office will survive once you leave, downright scary even.

Will people support you? Will they be able to pick up the extra work? Will your customers understand? Will it be weird when you get back?

Tons of questions revolve around expecting mother’s brains in the workplace. Luckily, were here to map everything out for you so that you successfully prepare stress-free. Check out our guide for expecting mothers in the workplace below.

Get Informed

The first step you want to take when you begin thinking about your maternity leave is to make sure that you’re properly informed. Specifically, take a look at the employee handbook and familiarize yourself with your state’s laws.

It’s always better to know what to expect, especially before you begin communication with your employer!

Know State Laws

Your first step should be making sure that you’re aware of any and all laws that revolve around your pregnancy and leave. It is important to note that it is illegal to discriminate against pregnant women in the United States.

There are federal laws in place that protect you against discrimination and ensure that you receive maternity leave. These are the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA).

The FMLA federally mandates that your job will not be at risk for three months post-delivery. This means that your employer cannot fire you, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be paid. Unfortunately, the FMLA has restrictions on which companies this applies to. Read more about it here.

Certain states take the FMLA and provide supplemented protections. Read in-depth summaries of the laws for your state at National Partnership.

Company Handbook

The next place you want to familiarize yourself with is your company’s handbook. Inside, you will find details on your company’s specific policy regarding maternity leave. This will give you a brief overview of what to expect with your company and a good starting point to talk with HR once you share the news.

Think About What You Want

When you identify your goals, both in and out of the workplace, it creates the basis for a well-oiled machine. This is something that you’ll want to do on your own and discuss with your partner, but not people in the office. You never know if you’ll feel the same once the baby comes so it’s best to keep discussion out of the workplace.

For instance, think about whether or not you’ll want to ask for more maternity leave or the possibility of returning to work only part-time. Understanding what you want and what to expect will help keep your options open and your stress levels down.

Look into your company’s policy on telecommuting if you don’t want to leave your child with a nanny or in daycare. If it’s not a possibility, start looking for someone you trust so that you will be more focused on work when you return to the office.

This is also a good time to decide whether or not you’ll want to ask for more leave time, regardless of it’s paid or not. Thinking about this before you communicate with your manager is a good way to ensure that you communicate efficiently.

Communicate

When you first find out you’re pregnant, you will experience a rush of excitement and joy. However, if you’re like most working moms, the sudden dread of telling your employer overwhelms you.

It might be a scary thought, but it doesn’t have to be a scary conversation.

Prepare yourself before you meet with HR and your manager. Have a plan in place for your next steps and you will be sure to catch them pleasantly off guard. If you decide to do this at the same time as you tell them your expecting, it will go even smoother. Check out these awesome tips on how to tell your boss you’re pregnant.

Once you begin communication with your manager and show them your plan, work together to set deadlines, determine who will take over your responsibilities while you’re gone and begin working on the transition.

When you create a timeline from the beginning, you’ll have a clear idea of what needs to be done by when. It’s also a great way to make sure that you don’t get too stressed during your pregnancy.

Be Proactive

Once you have all of the logistics set, it’s time to get proactive. Taking these steps will help ensure that you get everything taken care of that needs to be done before your big day.

Organize

A great suggestion is creating a book that includes all of your current projects, accounts and clients. Create it far enough out and continue filling it in so that your team is well prepared when you leave. This is crucial if you don’t want your phone to be blowing up with clarification questions!

Additionally, it is a perfect place to streamline all of the contact information for each account as well as what needs to be done next in order to continue progress. Make sure that you clearly identify any restrictions or rules for specific clients!

Communicate with Clients

During your time in the office, make sure you personally reach out to all of your clients or customers that will be transferred to another employee during your leave.

Chances are they will share your excitement and wish you good fortune. Set up an email list so that when your baby arrives, your clients receive a birth announcement. It’s a great way to keep relationships strong while you’re away.

Work Towards Seamless Transitions

Another great thing to do is begin working closely with your team on the projects you will be handing over. When you start planning for these transitions ahead of time you allow your clients to get comfortable communicating with someone new. It’s best to do this while you’re still at the office in case they have any questions or concerns for you specifically.

Make sure that you keep HR in the look with everything you’re doing so that they are able to handle any pressing problems that may arise while you’re gone.

Plan

Making sure that you have a strategic plan with your teammates is crucial. It will ensure that everyone is up-to-date and everything is ready for when you leave. Consider having strategic planning sessions to work through details.

You should also plan everything that you’ll need while you’re gone. This article provides an excellent checklist of actionable steps to take before your leave – it even goes as far as reminding you to clean your workspace!

Create a Return Strategy

Arguably the smartest thing to do before leaving is to create a return strategy. When you understand what you’ll need to do when you get back, you’ll be in a better position to jump back into things.

Try making a to-do list so you don’t stress while you’re away.

Conclusion

Maternity leave is a great time for new moms to bond with their babies. For working mothers, it is all too often stressful if you constantly have work in the back of your mind. Take these steps in order to map out your maternity leave and be fully present when your baby is born. If you have any concerns, talk open and honestly with your employer and your HR department. More often than not, companies are extremely understanding with pregnancy and leave. Check out our website to find great pregnancy tips, info, and product reviews. And remember, through the Affordable Care Act you are eligible to receive a breast pump through Byram Healthcare at no additional cost.

If you have anything to add, or want to share your story on being a working mother, head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment today!

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