Pregnancy Worries and Your Job

Pregnancy Worries and Your Job | CorporettePregnancy worries can run the gamut from childbirth to health issues to being able to conceive in the first place. Add in concerns about how your job will be affected by your pregnancy (to say nothing of parenthood), and you’re dealing with a TON of worry.  But is it as bad as future moms might think — and is there any point to worrying about it before it happens (or is that similar to Sheryl Sandberg’s thoughts on “leaving before you leave“)? We’ve talked about many aspects of being pregnant — negotiating future maternity leavehandling frequent doctors’ appointments, working through first trimester exhaustion, and how to announce your pregnancy at work — but we haven’t touched too much on the worries that can loom large when you’re thinking about getting pregnant.  Reader B’s pregnancy worries involve handling her future pregnancy at work, as well as postpartum body changes:

I have a question that I have been looking everywhere to find answers to but have been unsuccessful, probably because the subject matter is TMI for most people and also very personal. I do not have kids yet but my husband and I plan to try in the next 3 years or so. Honestly, there is only one thing holding me back right now and that is my job. I absolutely love my job and plan to return after having a baby (I realize I could change my mind after having a baby), but the problem is that right now I share an office, with a male colleague. (I also realize that my office situation could change in 3 years, but I see no evidence of that happening.) My concern is with figuring out how to deal with bodily changes both while pregnant and after the baby comes and I return to work. I know that women deal with frequent bathroom trips, nausea, bladder accidents, milk leakage. How do I handle that while I office with a male coworker?

Hmmmn. I’ll agree that there are definitely body-related changes both during pregnancy and postpartum — but I worry that Reader B may be putting the cart before the horse here (and, you know, packing the cart with a lot of unnecessary anxiety!). A few thoughts:

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Planning Your Career for Babies

Planning Your Career for BabiesWe’ve talked about how to financially plan for babies recently-ish, but we haven’t discussed other broad aspects of planning for babies since 2010, when I was pregnant with my first but hadn’t yet announced it here. (Ah, although we did have a nice discussion about when to get pregnant, which I’d forgotten about.) So what does planning your career for babies look like? I just got this related question from Reader K:

I am a 33 yo associate attorney at a small firm. I was pregnant with my first and then had a miscarriage in October. It was going to be perfect timing work-wise — due at the end of April. So here I am, possibly ready to try again. I have a big trial in a case that’s solely my case in February 2017. I doubt it will settle. Is it irresponsible of me to just try for a baby again regardless of timing? Work is very important but I also feel timing babies around work may be a fool’s errand.

I’m curious to hear what other readers have to say, but of course I have some thoughts. As a mother of two kids under 5, my advice to those of you trying to plan your career around eventually having a baby: Don’t. Some notes:

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Tales from the Wallet: Financially Preparing for Baby

financially-preparing-for-babyWe’ve talked about some of the major financial milestones that can affect your life, like wedding and grad school — but we haven’t yet talked about how to financially prepare for baby. (We have talked in general terms about family planning, as well as when the “best” time to get pregnant is.) So here are the questions: how can you prepare financially for a baby?  What considerations should factor into the decision to start trying?  Mamas, what are your best tips for the women still just pondering it? 

First, a story.  I remember being pregnant with my first child and reading a story somewhere about how babies were so expensive.  Yeah yeah yeah, I thought.  Sure, there are big purchases like a stroller and a crib.  But a baby shirt is like $5! Diapers are like, what, $20 a box?  NBD.

Stopped laughing yet?  I didn’t get it — in a big way.  CHILDCARE is the huge expense for children.  It really escaped my notice that if I wanted to work for 40 hours a week, then someone would need to watch the baby for 40 hours a week.  In most states, public school doesn’t kick in until kindergarten — aka, age FIVE.  So that’s five years of childcare — per kid — that you need to figure out.  We’ve talked about the pros and cons of different childcare arrangements over at CorporetteMoms, and last week we talked generally about parental budgeting — but I thought we’d bring the conversation over to Corporette.

For my $.02, for those of you just considering a baby, I would say:

  • Lock down health insurance.  I would strongly, strongly, strongly advise you to get health insurance (a good policy!) before you consider having a baby.  Doctors’ visits add up, as do ultrasounds, visits to specialists, and the ultimate labor and delivery bill.  (I believe my copay was $1000 for each pregnancy, but for my relatively uncomplicated births I recall seeing that the hospital bill for Jack was $16K, and for Harry it was $14K…. I definitely would not have wanted to be facing either of those numbers without insurance.)
  • Know your maternity leave policy. Note that you are only eligible for FMLA leave if “you have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, and have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.” We’ve also talked on here about negotiating for maternity leave at the interview stage, as well as (on CorporetteMoms) what an ideal maternity leave would look like.
  • Consider getting short-term disability.  Pregnancy may or may not be covered — and it may not be covered as a preexisting condition — so it’s best to think about this before you get pregnant.
  • Know if any vesting periods apply to you.  Stock options, pension plans, 401K matches, etc — if any of those employee perks may apply to you, take a look so you know what the situation is. If you’re only ten months away from being fully vested in a big perk, you may want to wait to start trying for another month or two.
  • Get a budgetary cushion.  You will need some cash for doctors’ copays and baby essentials, and you’ll eventually be able to roll that cushion over for childcare expenses.  In a perfect world I would suggest you have at least $1K-$5K cash, but obviously a lot of people have gotten pregnant with a lot less and been fine.
  • Talk to your doctors.  Finally, if you haven’t yet started trying to conceive, a minor note — talk to your doctor (and have your partner talk to his doctor) before you start.  My doctor suggested I get some more shots (the MMR vacine, if memory serves) that I could not have gotten while pregnant or nursing, and I also had genetic testing done. Unexpected health complications can be expensive, so being proactive here can really help.

Meanwhile, once you’re pregnant, I would suggest:

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Handling Frequent Doctors’ Appointments

How to Handle Frequent Doctors' Appointments | CorporetteWhen you have to take time off work for frequent doctors’ appointments, how can you schedule them to minimize the effect on your workday?  What are the best ways to explain your absences to your boss, secretary, and other coworkers?  Reader L wonders:

I was wondering what the proper etiquette is to deter nosy coworkers when you are frequently in and out of the office for medical attention.  While my team superior is aware of the procedures I need done so I can request time out, the other people that I work with daily are extremely nosy and ask questions as if they were trying to diagnose me.  One even asked about my bathroom habits!  As a young professional, how do I communicate to people I work with and under to explain frequent absences without compromising some privacy?  Telling them I was out for a procedure or just not feeling well is apparently too vague and spurs intrusive follow-up questions.  I understand that they are genuinely concerned, but I want to keep my health problems private except for HR and my boss.

Meanwhile, a second reader, S, is stressed about how her high-risk first-trimester pregnancy is affecting her job. Due to a subchorionic hemorrhage, she’s limited in her activities at home and at work, and she was nearly hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness). She hasn’t yet announced to her coworkers that she’s pregnant.

Great questions, Readers L and S.  I think that any time you’re getting into the realm of health-related issues (whether pregnancy or other things), it’s in your best interest to keep things on the DL — coworkers just don’t need to know until there’s Something to Know.  We’ve talked about how to deal with a miscarriage at work, as well as how to deal with a potentially embarrassing illness — but we haven’t talked about this directly.  These are a few tips that I can think of, but I’m curious to hear what readers say:

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The Best Stores for Maternity Wear

The Best Stores for Maternity Workwear | Corporette

2016 Update: Check out our latest discussion on stylish maternity suits and other maternity workwear over at CorporetteMoms.

We’ve talked about the best stores for workwear for tall women, for petites, and for plus sizes; the last one we’re going to talk about is the best stores for maternity wear.  Spoiler alert: the choices are never great — but they have expanded quite a bit since I was pregnant (and since we last looked at professional maternity clothes).  Today I’ve asked blogger (and Corporette reader!) K from Work That Bump to guest post and round up some of the best stores for the working pregnant lady.  Welcome, K! – Kat.

Scaling Mount Everest, running a marathon, and collecting a suitable maternity working wardrobe — it may not seem that the last one belongs, but trust me, it does.  So although I can’t comment on the first two feats, I was thrilled when Kat asked me if I would guest post on the third.  I’ve created what I hope to be a comprehensive list of maternity brands and stores (something I wish I had when I was pregnant). Other issues I’ve addressed that may be helpful: I recently spelled out my approach to shopping for maternity wear and my maternity-wear budget. I’ve also tackled the difficult questions of intimate apparel while pregnant and a transition wardrobe while pregnant.

Before we get into the list of stores, though, it is worth noting that you can score some good prices on maternity wear on Gilt, Rue La La, Zulily, and Haute Look.  Gilt currently has eight pages of maternity wear from good brands like Maternal America and Eva Alexander, as well as nursing bras, jeans, and casual tops for the weekends.  For example, I really like this Charlotte dress from Nom Maternity that is available for $60 on Gilt (pictured above) — it should prove to be very versatile: you could wear it with pumps and a blazer for work or with riding boots and a cardigan for chilly weekends.

And now to the list of stores and brands: [Read more…]

Planning Company Travel Six Months Away — While Secretly Pregnant

When to Tell Your Boss You're Pregnant | CorporetteWhen should you tell your boss that you’re pregnant? Are there any circumstances where you should tell your boss earlier rather than later?

My husband and I are expecting our first child. I haven’t told anyone at work yet, since we’re still in the first trimester (due in June). I’m two years into my current job, and love my company and my work.

A few big opportunities and changes just came up that may affect my plans to “break the news” about my pregnancy earlier than intended:

(1) My boss, who supports my advancement within the company, just got a new position. With a change of management, I may not have a boss who is as supportive of me, especially given that I intend to be out of the office for three months.
(2) My team is planning now for travel that must occur in the spring. Travel involves going to developing countries, which I won’t be able to do on the cusp of my third trimester.
(3) I just found out I am scheduled to present two of my biggest projects to our Board of Directors in June, which is a major career opportunity for me. This cannot be rescheduled for many reasons.

Any advice?

Congratulations, A! We’ve talked about when is the best time in your career to get pregnant, how to announce you’re pregnant, and how to negotiate maternity leave before, but your circumstances may be sufficiently different so I’m curious to hear what readers say. For my own $.02:

The standard wisdom is to wait until the end of your first trimester because the risk for miscarriage decreases then, and I really don’t think you should vary that here.  (At the very least, wait until you hear the baby’s heartbeat!)  (Readers often recommend the work/life balance book, Balance is a Crock, Sleep is For the Weak — as the authors there say about announcing early to your boss: “shut your piehole.”) To put it another way: What are you hoping will change based on your sharing your news? [Read more…]