Being a career woman is hard enough without adding pregnancy to the mix. We are seen as more emotional, less rational, and less career-minded than our male counterparts. We get paid less even if we work harder. Pregnancy has the potential to enhance those stereotypes unless you can be proactive about it. Here are the Top 5 Ways to Master Pregnancy in the Workplace.
1. Be honest
Pregnancy doesn’t only affect you, it affects your coworkers and your boss as well. They are going to have to pick up your workload while you are out on maternity leave and may even need to make arrangements for assisting you throughout the course of your pregnancy depending on your duties. Let your boss know early on to give him or her plenty of time to adjust the office workflows. Also maintain that line of communication throughout your pregnancy in case you experience any complications, or your workload becomes more than you can handle.
2. Know your limits
You may feel like Super Woman, I mean after all you are growing a tiny human inside of you, but you’re not. Pregnancy takes a lot out of you emotionally and physically and you have to learn how to say no. Declining to take on a new project 6 weeks before your due date does not show a lack of commitment to the job, it shows a realistic analysis of your capabilities. You don’t want to look bad by committing to something that you can’t finish. You also may be used to tackling a certain threshold of assignment, but stress can cause complications in your pregnancy that jeopardize both you and your baby. Overworking yourself is only going to put you out of work sooner and longer, so recognize when too much is too much.
3. Stay comfortable
Your back hurts, you don’t sleep, you’ve gained a bunch of weight and none of your clothes fit. If you’re going to make it through 9 months of work, you need to be comfortable. Bring a heating pad to the office and ask for a lumbar support for your chair to help with back pain. Find something to prop your feet up on under your desk to minimize any swelling you may have (even if it’s only an empty trash can flipped upside down!) Make sure to keep snacks, water and any meds you may need handy to help combat heartburn, nausea and dehydration. Finally, find a few wardrobe staples appropriate for the office. Even if you have to go the maternity-jean route for comfort, you can dress it up with nice blouses, blazers and fancy flats (yes, flats).
4. Maintain professionalism
Just because your pregnancy hormones are raging doesn’t mean you have to be too. Take a step away from the situation before you react and let yourself regain composure. If you suddenly get overwhelmed with tears, find an empty room or take a 15 minute break in your car to get your cry on. Embrace the emotions flowing through you, just maintain a professional demeanor in the office and in front of coworkers.
5. Soak up the attention
As your belly grows, so are the number of comments, compliments and criticisms from people you swear you have never even seen before in your life. Enjoy it! This is such a special time in your life and you should be sharing that with whoever will listen. You can also use your pregnancy as a networking tool to get to know upper-level management or employees in similar positions but in different departments. You never know what a personal conversation about family and babies could lead to professionally.