The Planner’s Guide to Pregnancy: What to Know Before You TTC

Preparing for Pregnancy: The Type A, Planner's Guide to Pregnancy and What to Know Before You TTC | Corporette2018 Update: We still stand by these tips on preparing for pregnancy, but you may also want to check out our more recent discussions on family planning and pregnancy, including how to decide if you want to have kids

What are the most important steps to take as you’re preparing for pregnancy and planning to have a baby?  If you’re a Type A, planner type of woman, what should you know ahead of time? Readers discuss this often, but I don’t think we’ve ever rounded up everyone’s advice.  So: if  you wanted to start trying to conceive (“TTC”) in six months, what would you want to check off your to do list? Are there certain things you’d focus on in your career, personal life, or health? For those of us who are Type A, planner types, this is an important question — what should you know before you TTC?

We’ve talked about financially preparing for a baby in our Tales from the Wallet series, as well as Kat’s advice on planning your career for babies, but we haven’t talked about the more general aspects of planning for a baby in a while. We’ve collected the most helpful reader advice here — what would you add? What would you tell a planner asking how to plan for her pregnancy?

Preparing for Pregnancy: Health

(N.B. Not intended as medical advice; please consult your doctor with any questions.)

  • “If you are still in open enrollment season, look carefully at the coverage options for you and your SO (if applicable). My policy was better at first glance, but it turned out they didn’t cover things like genetic testing (fetal DNA) and medically necessary formula.”
  • “I’d get any shots now, e.g., I wasn’t vaccinated against rubella as a kid and that can be very damaging for the foetus. Got the shot after I stopped breastfeeding. For me, I also wanted to lose 5-6 pounds first, which I did. More importantly, I was fitter going into pregnancy.”
  • “I would also go off BC and start taking prenatal vitamins now. As I mentioned before, I never got a period after going off BC and needed intervention to get pregnant, so best to know that sooner than later!”
  • “If you’re on hormonal birth control, go off it now and use condoms till you’re ready. No one tells you when you go on the pill that your cycle can take forever to regulate!”
  • “My doctor told me to start prenatals 3-6 months before trying, because by the time you are aware you are pregnant, key fetal development has already occurred so you won’t get much benefit from starting them after a positive test.”
  • “If you are overweight/diabetic, get blood glucose tightly-controlled.”
  • “I lost about 10 pounds (which put me on the high side of a healthy weight) and helped solidify healthier eating habits. It has made being pregnant and maintaining a healthy weight significantly easier, and it has also been easier to maintain those healthier eating habits while pregnant since they were already established.”
  • “Get into a steady exercise routine if you aren’t already (because it’s hard to start one when you’re newly pregnant), and clear up any minor health problems you may have now (e.g., getting that pesky mole removed, etc.). Oh, and get Taking Charge of Your Fertility — great guide for how to actually get pregnant. If you’re older, you may want to see if you can get your AMH and FSH levels tested to see if you might have a fertility issue. That way, you can be aggressive and plan accordingly. Finally, expect that it may take a while.”

Preparing for Pregnancy: Getting Settled

  • “I’d want to be living somewhere I knew I would stay for a few years, and be in a job I knew I wouldn’t be likely to leave in the next 18 months. Moving or changing jobs while pregnant or with a baby sucks.”
  • “Settle in wherever you want to be for next 2 years.”

Preparing for Pregnancy: Job & Benefits

  • “Make sure you understand your maternity policy. I have had people on my staff that were very confused and disappointed when they ran the math on maternity leave (we do offer paid leave, but there is a cap). My team is full of high earners that are well over the cap so the took a big pay hit they didn’t expect).”
  • “Do your best work at work to build up your ‘bank’ of goodwill. Pregnancy affects everyone differently, but for me I was surprised at how much it negatively impacted my focus, and in turn decreased my work performance, during certain times. I have been with the same company for several years though and generally do outstanding work. I found everyone to be super accommodating and very welcoming when I returned.”
  • “Make sure you have Short Term Disability coverage in place, if you need it. Many policies will make you wait a certain period of time before it will cover your pregnancy related STD.”
  • “I’d add saving vacation days if that’s how you’ll be funding your time off, and examining your health FSA if you still have time to change that. We maxed out ours for the year I was pregnant and am so glad — in addition to ‘normal pregnancy’ charges (vaccinations, ultrasounds, etc.), it covered our doula and childbirth classes.”

Preparing for Pregnancy: Relationships

  • “What I would be most concerned about at this stage would be making sure my relationship with my partner was solid and that we had discussed our expectations around sharing the work of child care in great detail. I see people around me planning the tiniest details of which crib to use, exactly what they should be eating each day, etc., but when they give birth they realize that their husbands are expecting a way more ‘traditional’ arrangement than what they want.”
  • “Make sure your desire to be with your spouse is bigger and stronger than your desire for babies and that it’s mutual.”

Preparing for Pregnancy: Fun Stuff

  • “Travel. Take that big trip somewhere exotic that you have been dreaming of, since it might be a while before you are able to consider going there again.”
  • “I’d approach this the same way you’d approach any big life transition. For example, what should you do six months before moving to a new city? Enjoy the heck out of your current life. Do all the things that you love to do now — those things you will look back on with fondness when this stage of life has passed.”
  • “Travel was a big one for me. I fully intend to keep traveling with kid(s) — my parents took me all over the world and it was awesome — but am aware that at least for a few years our vacations will look very different, so it was important to me to get some big adult trips out of the way. We have done big, ‘bucket list’ trips each of the last three years and are planning to do one more this spring and after that will be ready to TTC.”
  • “One thing that I wish I’d done is take some classes or otherwise engage in some hobbies that wouldn’t work well with kids. For example, I’ve always wanted to learn photography, but it’s not really practical to take some sort of regular class now (I could, but I’d rather not be away from the munchkins during my non-work time). We found that we were actually pretty well able to do most ‘going out’ type things with a baby (he was great in restaurants and such), but there are some things where you just can’t bring them. Also, if you have friends that you haven’t kept in as good contact with as you would like, take the time now to try to fix that, because you’re not going to get around to it later.”
  • “Drink a lot of red wine (or alcoholic beverage of your choice). Go to a movie in the movie theater. Boudoir photo shoot.”

Further Reading:

  • Preconception planning: Is your body ready for pregnancy? [Mayo Clinic]
  • 20 Things All Couples Should Do Before Getting Pregnant [Parents]
  • Seventeen things you should do before you try to get pregnant [BabyCenter]
  • Getting Pregnant Checklist [The Bump]
  • Your Pre-Pregnancy Checkup: 7 Things to Know Before You Conceive [Babble]

Pictured: Pixabay. What to Know Before You TTC | How to Prepare for Pregnancy | The Type A Guide to Pregnancy | The Planner's Guide to Pregnancy
If you're a Type A, planner sort of woman -- what should you know before you try to conceive (TTC)? How can you prepare for your pregnancy? We rounded up some of the best advice from our readers (young, ambitious professional women!)


  1. Get your home renovations done. Get your and your spouse’s quality of life medical operations done. I had my bunions operated after marriage and before kids and I’m so glad I did. I wish my DH had had his deviated septum fixed. If you work for the federal government and have less than 6 weeks of leave saved, go on the voluntary leave bank program during open season. Remember that you can’t be 100% prepared.

    • I guess this all make’s sense. But what does a Deviated Septum have to do with a baby? Will the baby have a straighter nose if your husband his deviated septum fixed BEFORE you TTC? Dad says it is in your husband’s sperm, not what you see. That is why beautiful women (who have had work done) wind up with babies that are, LET US SAY, not as photogenic. Dad says your best bet is to have a look at the guy’s family to see what your kid will look like, especially if it is a boy. That is one reason I am happy I never MARRIED Sheketovits, or even let him try and impregnate me. He was NO winner, and his family were NOT goeing to be on the cover of GQ, either. FOOEY!

    • Anonymous :

      “Get your home renovations done.”

      This – get it done before you TTC. Do not be me and have your new kitchen counter installed while you are laboring at the hospital.

      • Do not be me and have your renovations run 6 weeks late (they always do) and baby come 3 weeks early. Newborns are much easier to handle when your house has running water and, y’know, walls.

      • +1. You don’t want to be dealing with countertop material selection with a brand new baby.

  2. BabyShark :

    This is absolutely amazing, thank you so much for writing this.

  3. This is all really good advice, but I’d also advise women (and men, but they aren’t the target audience of this blog), to get used to not being able to plan for everything.

    I am a planner by nature (it’s in my job title). My husband and I started TTC in the spring, and I fully expected to have a baby by the next summer. Yet the months went on with no positive, and it started to become clear that it was going to be harder to have a baby than we had expected. It turns out, I have Diminished Ovarian Reserves, meaning I wasn’t born with the normal amount of eggs, and at 30, had the hormone levels, and thus fertility, expected of a woman in her early 40s. It ended up taking us 3 years and a lot of medical intervention for me to get pregnant.

    I’m not saying this to freak anyone out, just that I think a lot of women (myself included) get lulled into the idea that because we can track everything and plan for everything, we can control it. I don’t know that anything could have made this journey easier, and I don’t regret it, because I got my son at the end, but I’ve had to learn a lot about how to respond to situations out of my control, and acknowledge that even if everything is perfectly planned, it may still take an unexpected, or unwelcome, turn, and that’s not a reflection on my adequacy as a woman or a person.

    • Patricia Gardiner :

      This x1000000

    • Anonymous :

      Yes! And even if TTC goes 100% according to plan, pregnancy and parenthood both involve so much loss of control – start working on learning to let go.

    • Yep. My kids are five years apart because we unexpectedly ran into secondary fertility issues. It took a LONG time to uncover what was going on because I was in my early ’30s and everything seemed to be functioning normally. It was not.

      Again, not trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom, but planning was futile for a long period of time. As a type A planner sort, that really contributed to the mental/emotional overwhelm I was feeling. What I’d advise people is to take control of the things you can, but don’t expect to control everything. Taking care of you and your partner’s physical and mental health should be the first priority. Anything else is a nice bonus.

    • Mrs. Jones :

      Adding onto this good advice re rolling with it, accept that you may not be able to do all the things you plan/want to do, like [email protected]#$tfeed, stay at home, go back to work, lose all the baby weight in a month, etc. You do what is good for baby and good for you, and try to let everything else go. Baby will survive with formula, non-organic clothes, used stroller, etc.

    • Anonymous :

      thanks for this advice. I am likely to be TTCing in 3 months (either with my SO or possibly alone, as a SMBC) and I’m 38. All my fertility numbers are on par with that of a women in her mid-30s, but i know it could be a long road ahead of me, which is very contrary to my impatient, Type A nature.

    • I can so relate to this. DH and I waited until we had everything perfectly in place to start TTC, and we’re going on month 6 of trying (which, admittedly, isn’t that long, but feels like forever).

      • FOREVER! And is made worse when 7 women (yes SEVEN) at your firm are all due this summer (I’m at a 200 person firm). Ugh…

    • This cracks me up. I showed up for our company’s benefits briefing 5 months pregnant. The rest of the participants were all men, NONE of whom were expecting babies. They were all just thinking about trying! Gotta get those ducks in a row I guess.

  4. 30 years old, currently 17 weeks, 1st baby, big-law corporate lawyer in the mid-atlantic, currently trying to convince a cold-averse husband that snow-blowing is not that difficult since my baby bump is too ungainly for me to be pushing equipment around an icy driveway. A few nuggets below:

    If you don’t have an OB/GYN you like, start asking your pregnant friends. You can use this under the guise of “looking for a new doctor, current one isn’t working out, etc.” That way, you have recommendations in your pocket well in advance of that first positive, so you don’t have to spill the beans super early just to get a recommendation.

    Also, start taking prenatals, etc. early. I started feeling EXTREME fatigue at 3 weeks (i.e, a week before I knew I was pregnant, because you count from the first day of your last period) and took a regular multivitamin because I thought it was anemia – somehow I missed bone-crushing exhaustion as a pregnancy sign. Obviously switched to a prenatal once I got my positive, but then I was surprised to find out that the internet (and apparently most doctors these days) recommend upping your folic acid intake while trying to conceive so that your levels are high for those first few key weeks.

    Based on my opinion and advice from other colleagues in my office, generally, I think the advice about housing/job/etc. are good, but, at the end of the day, life is too short. Just do it. If you wait for a “good time” at work, it’s never going to happen, at least in my practice. If you can, it is infinitely helpful to have a year or two of reputational goodwill built up for those pregnancy brain days/days where you can think about nothing but puking, but if you’re past that, I wouldn’t wait. Also, it may take you a lot longer to conceive than you expect. We were quick (2 months), but friends of ours took a good year. For us, my husband and I had been talking about TTC soon – we’d been married about a year. My mother got unexpectedly diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer (no family history) at the age of 58, and after a month or so of working remotely, getting through her first surgery, first round of chemo, etc., I came home and told my husband that I wanted to try “now”. Mom’s doing well, almost done with chemo and heading in to a second surgery after which she will hopefully be done, but for me it sharpened the focus about what I really wanted.

    • OMG still so tired :

      Re: “bone-crushing exhaustion”

      I am usually the energizer bunny. I mentioned something like this to my mom who KNEW the moment I said that.

      So if you are at BigLaw, plan to have your hours dip or not to meet expectations and start looking at whether to CYA with switching to preemptive PT status (or discussing with a more senior attorney who’s been there).

    • Anonymous :

      Totally agree on finding an OB you like. We felt “stuck” with ours after visiting the first few times with our first son, and as the weeks went on, we resented him more and more. I am going to be much more planful next time around. Things to think about/research: which hospital(s) do they deliver at, what are their policies/philosophy on whatever is important to you (natural birth, planned c-sections, etc.), do you get to “choose” the doctor who will deliver your baby, do you see the same doctor throughout pregnancy or do you rotate, what is their philosophy on ultrasounds, etc. Also (and I can’t emphasize this enough) – do they run on time for appointments? You spend SO MUCH TIME in appointments once you’re pregnant, and if your doctor is always running late, it can add up!

    • I think it’s also recommended that you start taking prenatal vitamins *before* you get pregnant.

  5. OP from this morning :

    Ha, I just asked this exact question on the end of the morning thread, so this post is very timely for me! I’ll add what I’m already doing: one “last hurrah” European vacation, putting in lots of effort at work, trying to catch up on sleep, eating sushi and runny eggs/rare steak, attempting to make improvements to my diet and exercise and taking prenatal vitamins (which is the only thing my doctor said I need to do).

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I noticed this same comment on your earlier thread so just wanted you to know that even my high-risk OB was of the opinion that if you regularly eat sushi from a place that you trust and have never been sick, there is almost no risk in eating your regular items in pregnancy. Don’t mentally cut yourself off from everything you really like in your mind, most things can be responsibly enjoyed during pregnancy.

  6. I would add a note on the top that none of these people are doctors…. so take everything with a grain of salt. I was told by my doctor to not stop birth control until right before trying because people get pregnant at a high rate their first month off of it.

    • Anonymous :

      Stopping all BC is a totally different thing than stopping *hormonal* BC. I’m sure no doctor would recommend stopping BC unless you want a baby immediately, but my doc told me she advises those on hormonal BC to get off it and switch to barrier methods for a few months. I’ve used barrier methods for 15+ years without pregnancy.

      • Unless you want twins…then try that first month off when your body freaks and releases multiple eggs. I wasn’t planning on twins…who does but LOVE those little guys.

    • I don’t recall the specific timing any longer, but I did not get a cycle of any sort back for at least nine months after going off hormonal BC. We used barrier method while waiting for my cycle to come back and then NFP to both avoid and achieve pregnancy after that.

      • 25 Weeks and Counting :

        Second this comment and follow up with – you just never know how your body will respond. I was on hormonal BC for about 5 years. After I stopped, it took 4 months before anything happened and nearly 18 months before my cycle regulated to be monthly/predictable. But once it regulated itself – pregnant within 30 days.

    • Agreed! Found this statistic from a reputable medical website:
      “You can get pregnant right away after stopping regular-dose or low-dose hormonal birth control. About half of women get pregnant in the first 3 months after stopping the Pill, and most women get pregnant within 12 months after stopping the Pill.”

      • Indeed, I was pregnant the second month after going off the pill – we had budgeted lots of time, and were pleasantly surprised it was quick, as it varies so much across people. And we definitely did a lot of eating out at nice restaurants and finishing up some home projects during the pregnancy, as well as having done some of that in advance.

  7. Give yourself permission to feel unwell as a result of being pregnant. With my first I had the mentality that I had to tough out the exhaustion (not that I succeeded; instead I felt exhausted *and* guilty for it at the same time) but the second time around I’ve simply acknowledged that pregnancy comes with some limitations and that it’s okay if I don’t feel well enough to wash dishes for the umpteenth night in a row. A sink full of dishes won’t hurt anyone.

    Budget for help *after* baby comes if you can. We did not have the money the first time around, but we’re absolutely setting aside $1000 – $2000 to pay for some short term cleaning help / mother’s helper / grocery delivery / extra take out type stuff – little conveniences that we don’t normally spend much if anything on but will be so nice in those first few crazy months.

    • OMG still so tired :

      Or the next 18 years. Just sayin’

    • +1. I paid $5,000 to sleep after my twins were born. I told my husband he needed to get up and help or we were hiring help. He chose the help surprisingly considering how cheap he is. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was really nice to know that we had the extra funds set aside.

  8. If you use an HSA, start contributing now – max it out if possible. I wish I’d done that earlier in my pregnancy but didn’t realize it was an option. Luckily my hospital lets you make minimum payments with no interest, but it still took me over a year to pay off the birth.

    And honestly, I know they recommend taking prenatals before you start trying, but they made me SO constipated.

    • Not to be graphic and I know it varies from person to person but… I have had a lot of luck counteracting the constipation by eating prunes.

      • Anonymous :

        I really enjoyed the prunes baby food (and the pears) and would use that in baking (and instead of applesauce as a snack).

  9. This is a timely discussion for me. I am at a job which by nature is very inflexible (I have to work in a lab, nothing to do with manager or company) WFH means essentially you are not working as it is impossible to do anything useful from home. It is a firefighting kind of job where you never know your schedule in advance and things become very serious (“factory may stop working if you don’t resolve the issue causing millions of dollars of loss if yo don’t resolve something in time” kind of serious)within very short time. You are always working with other people, sometimes people from different countries. So you are always adjusting your schedule. All members of the team are men except me and my manager. All perform very well except two who have small children because they just cannot be committed to this kind of job.

    I am 33 and want to have a baby. I am extremely worried about my current job situation. I knew I cannot make a career out of this job. I have found another job which I think is perfect for next phase of my life. I can work from home, will know schedule in advance, not much interaction required with other people, I have worked with half of the people in new team and they like me and respect me a lot. In fact, this opportunity came to me because one of them thought I am the perfect match for the job and reached out to me. The new job is in the same company.

    I got a glowing review few days back. My current manager praised me a lot and said I am such a key member of the team etc. Now, I have to tell my manager that I am leaving. I feel bad about telling this. I think just telling the truth is the best thing, but worried that she may convince me to stay by saying that the team will accommodate me (knowing myself, I may feel very difficult to say no to her and move on). If I give some other reason, I may burn bridges with her. I really want to move though. What shall I tell her?

    • Anonymous :

      Congrats and I’m sorry re current job. Marie Curie made the lab life work for her but it was her lab, non? This is not your lab. Hopefully current boss sighs, agrees that this is not Marie Curie’s lab (for you), and acknowledges that it is time for you to go and wishes you the best. If not, JSFAMO.

    • I think you just paraphrase what you said here – you have decided you need a more flexible job, and you want that to be a formal, routine part of the job. (Not just an accommodation based on your current boss liking you.) Thank her for the opportunity to grow, and if she offers accomodations, just repeat “I appreciate that, but as difficult as it is for me, I’m at peace with my decision to leave. Thanks again!”

    • Anonymous :

      Agree with Anon above, re: wanting a job with more flexibility and maybe say something about wanting to take on a new role. I’m in science too and I feel you on how inflexible it can be if you always have to be in the lab. It’s good that you are taking the step to make your life easier.

  10. Get life insurance before you get prefnant! I never saw the point in having it until I was pregnant and had it on my list to do before the baby comes. Guess what? Insurance adjusters don’t take into account that you gained 25 pounds because you are pregnant, they just put down that you recently gained 25 pounds and your current weight and you get penalized for recently gaining a significant amount of weight and being overweight.

    • This. I got denied because my cholesterol levels were out of whack, even with a note from both my PCP and OBGYN explaining cholesterol measures aren’t valid during pregnancy, and verifying they are normally well within accepted ranges.

      I actually lost my entire plan (I had applied for an increase, but they deemed me enough of a risk based on weight and cholesterol that my rates were going to skyrocket even to stay at the current level) so thank goodness for my 1x salary through my job. Fun times.

    • Anonymous :

      ST Disability too. In case you have complications from pregnancy.

  11. We are going to TTC later this spring, and I went to my OB-GYN earlier this year for a prenatal checkup. I would highly recommend it, as she discovered I have an autoimmune thyroid condition that may cause difficulty getting pregnant and has an increased rate of miscarriage if untreated.

    Also, don’t plan any vacations to Zika areas or places near Zika areas.We had planned a bucket-list style trip to a non-Zika area where Zika was found one month before our trip. It was a country bordering another area with confirmed Zika cases. It seems obvious now, but I wasn’t thinking that way when I had planned the trip and picked a destination where I could check the “Zika-free” box. We had planned to use this trip to kick off TTC, but ended up delaying by 6 months (recommendation for males) to err on the safe side.

    • Anonymous :

      How did you get your OB to do a “prenatal checkup”? I went in for my annual exam and told my doctor I planned to try to conceive soon. She did the normal annual exam, pap smear and told me to start prenatal vitamins two months before going off BC, but she said no further testing was necessary or recommended until I get a positive pregnancy test.

      • I think it depends on the doctor. My previous doctor said the exact same thing, except for she also ran a blood test to test my thyroid (and said the level was fine). Her exact words were have fun and make sure to do it between days 7-14 of my cycle at least a few times a week. I had only gone to this doctor twice and that advise annoyed me (in particular because I normally ovulated on day 17-18, so her advice was only helpful if you ovulate on day 14). I ended up going to my SIL’s OB. They actually do a prenatal checkup, where they test your thyroid, test if you have rubella antibodies, and answer any questions you might have. The new doctor also said my thyroid wasn’t at the optimal level (TSH between 1-2) and was surprised my old doctor didn’t put me on thyroid medications (there seems to be an old school vs. new school of thought around what level it should be at).

      • Try asking for preconception counseling. Mine involved a blood test to see if I had rubella antibodies–I assume if not, I would have gotten the vaccine before we started TTC.

    • Anonymous :

      Ask to be checked for CMV antibodies as well. We lost our baby at 28 weeks pregnant due to CMV infection contracted in my first trimester. It’s not a standard of care right now but it’s smart to know ahead of time if you’re susceptible to primary infection.

  12. Stayed home for 2+ years, not planned! :

    You may not want to return to work as early as you think. I had planned to go back after maternity leave but my child turned out to be high needs and I paniced at the thought of leaving her. Now at 2+ of age she is starting to want distance from mom and the company of other kids. We had to tighten our belts but I feel we made the right choice. Maybe our next kid will be more easy going…

  13. I would add that all of this planning if fine and great, but be prepared that things might not go as planned. We wanted to try for a summer baby. In true type A fashion, I got a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility and read it cover to cover. I got off of BC three months before we were going to start trying and starting tracking my temps. I started the prenatal vitamins. Statistics say if you are timing right, there is a more than a 50% change you’ll be pregnant in 3 months and an almost 90% chance you’ll conceive in 6 months. We’re still trying (9 months and counting) and the stress it causes is out of this world and totally different than work stress. I’d say make sure you start saving money beforehand. You’re either going to have a baby to pay for or need the money saved up for fertility treatment. Knowing we have money stashed away and can do IVF if it comes to that is a little bit of a saving grace…

    • Anonymous for this :

      OMG, Type A’s raise your hands. Plan to TTC in almost exactly six months– have a copy of TCYF sitting in my Kindle right now.

    • In addition to temping, read up on tracking mucus. Sounds disgusting, but for me it has been a spot on indicator.

  14. Just because I see a lot of comments saying that it often takes much longer than you think to get pregnant and also a lot of advice to take prenatals – you can take a good multivitamin with the recommended amount of folic acid in the TTC stage. Maybe it’s just me but I found it easier to be taking a regular multi vitamin.

  15. Cautionary Tale: I thought that I should time my pregnancy to be more convenient for my employer than for me. So I specifically planed to TTC/take months off from TTC in order to have a baby at a time that was most convenient for them (i.e. not during tax season). So I did, and wow, that was moronic. I was so used to putting their needs above my own that I screwed myself over. I took my perfectly planned out maternity leave in Oct-Dec and came back for tax season in January. Let me tell you how great it is to go into tax season with a 12 week old and be working 70 hours a week with a 4 month old. Who needs to ramp up slowly when you can try to kill yourself from exhaustion instead?

    This will probably fall on deaf ears, since it’s the sort of thing I completely would have blown off pre-kid. But sometimes you have to put yourself first, and this is one of those times. Have the baby when it is best for YOU, not when it is best for your employer, accepting that it is often out of your control anyway. It is not failing as a woman or a feminist or an employee to put yourself first for once. I wish someone would have said that to me.

    • Anonymous :

      This is great advice. Take your maternity leave during the busiest period if at all possible, it gives you 9 months to adjust to being a working mom before you hit the busy period.

    • Sassyfras :

      YES. And I had such a sweet, sleepy little newborn. I thought going back to work would be no problem while I was on maternity leave. And then the four month sleep regression hit….

    • Senior Attorney update from junior high :

      And also? Timing your pregnancy is great if you can do it, but don’t count on pulling it off!

  16. WayPastNeedingChildcare...Thank Goodness! :

    I haven’t seen this mentioned and I can’t stress it enough: Investigate child care!! Even if you have a quality child care center in the building where you work (as I did) there can be long waiting lists (especially for the high-quality ones). While you typically can’t put your name on a list if you aren’t pregnant, you can investigate your options, choose what you want, then investigate other options in case your first choice doesn’t work out…grandparents willing to watch baby for a month or two?

    • Sassyfras :

      I know several daycares near me who accept (and friends who have gotten on) waiting lists before conceiving. Some of them still had to wait until baby was 2 to get in…. but yes. Research daycares. Long before you think you need to.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes. I did not know about this until I was about 6 months pregnant, but year+ wait times are pretty normal in the DC area. And if you think you’re going to get infant care for less than ~$1500 a month, you are delusional. $2000+ is market in prime areas.

      There are a whole lot of childcare options between a family member and a for-profit daycare center, though. Nanny, nanny shares, in-home daycare centers, nonprofits, “inter-generational care” facilities (Easter Seals does this in my area; it’s a lovely idea, but didn’t work for us logistically). If you are interested in a nanny or especially a share, you need to have an extensive conversation with all the parents involved about what you expect and what kind of caregiver relationship you’re looking for.

    • Anonymous :

      Any advice for finding good childcare? We’re TTC now and I’m already very worried about this. We live in a small university town in a dark red state, and I am really unsatisfied with the options available to us. There is a university-affiliated daycare, which would be very convenient (DH and I both work at the university), but it is a lab school which means the students are subjected to psychological experiments and testing, which I’m concerned about. Technically students can opt out of every experiment but I have heard there is a lot of peer pressure not to opt out and students whose parents opt out of everything will be gently encouraged to find a new daycare. The non-university daycares are less convenient and (more importantly) just about every one of them has a reason I wouldn’t feel comfortable there, from a Christian affiliation (we are Jewish and not religious) to a recent scandal about an employee possessing child p*rn.

      I guess the solution is a nanny or an au pair, but my husband is not comfortable with someone living in our home and I haven’t been impressed by the nanny listings I’ve seen on Most of the listings are college students who don’t want to work a full 40 hours/week and we really need someone for 40 hours. The people who do offer 40 hours of care seem to be women who don’t have a lot of education and who run unlicensed daycares out of their own homes, which is not really what I’m looking for in a nanny.

      Family is not an option – all prospective grandparents, aunts and uncles live far away and are not interested in moving.

      Any suggestions? I’m not even pregnant yet and I’m really stressing about this…

      • Try to get on local mom groups on FB and see if there is a babysitting/nanny group. The FB groups are great for advice in general, buying/selling used baby gear and childcare recommendations.

      • That’s tough. I wouldn’t completely rule out a Christian daycare, however. The demographics of my area are similar to yours and many of the best centers in town are affiliated with churches. The good news is there is a huge range in how religious these centers are. The daycare affiliated with my personal church is one of the top-rated ones in the city — but the curriculum has zero religion in it. The church considers it an outreach mission but does not specifically teach religious concepts or shove religion down anyone’s throats. My daughter currently attends a different church daycare (couldn’t get into my church’s, due to the waiting list). Religion is part of the daily curriculum, which is fine for us but would be a dealbreaker for other families. My point is, just ask and don’t rule out a church-based center. I have several atheist friends who send their kids to church-based centers and are completely comfortable with the level of religiosity.

      • I went to one of those ‘studied’ pre-schools. This may be something you’ve already considered, but have you asked what types of experiments they’re doing? With babies it’s often “which of these images/ events will baby stare at longer” type things to understand how babies’ brains work (e.g., when does object permanence develop?). Much less damaging than, say, which McDonald’s ad makes baby more susceptible to fries.

        • Yeah, I would want to know more about this and not be too quick to dismiss it. My college had one of these on campus and from everything I heard (prof’s kids, etc.), it was great.

      • If you have the funds and want to keep it simple, get a nanny or au pair.

        I investigated daycares as soon as I got pregnant with my first child. I chose the best possible daycare (incidentally a university daycare), got on the waiting list, was offered a slot before he was born, thought I was so clever and smart and prepared.
        Except when daycare started calling for us to pick him up for EVERYTHING. Possible pink eye. Fever. Loose stool (yeah, that’s what happens when you give them the pear + prune stage 2 food!!), etc. I blew through all my vacation time with a “sick kid” who wasn’t sick. And, to boot, I’m a doctor – but trust me, they don’t care. And the snow days. And the in-service days. And the “you’re 10 minutes late in picking him up, so you owe us $25” etc etc etc. Started to feel like a raw deal.

        So we got a nanny, and sanity returned. It is my preferred option, but we find it to be the most expensive.

        For the sake of the family budget, we ended up getting an au pair and have had one for the past two years. At first, we couldn’t wrap our minds around the idea of an au pair prior since we are both private people and fairly introverted. I can’t pinpoint exactly how or why we changed (probably some combination of sleep deprivation, stress, and the general shift in what one considers “modest” and “private” after childbirth and the daily life with two kids ;) ), but an au pair has been a wonderful solution for us *after the birth of our second child*. We have full time care, flexible scheduling, and the au pair is a part of our family – kinda like the cool, perpetually college-aged sister I never had. And it’s more economical than daycare or a nanny. It comes with its own sets of rewards and challenges, appropriate for a separate thread.

        Good luck, stay flexible, and be open to switching up your idea of “ideal” child care as your family needs flux. It requires a bit of experimenting, but you will find the solution that works best for you – and it just might be the one that you swore off before (just like we did! :) )

    • Plan all this out and then find out you’re having twins…YIKES! Daycare X 2 is crazy. We have a nanny and pay $32,000 a year. It’s worth it.

  17. You may need to switch jobs or move to a state that mandates IVF coverage if you run into problems. I am a Federal employee with no available health insurance plans that cover IVF. Getting pregnant cost me 35k total. I was under 35 and hadn’t thought to plan for this.

  18. Anonymous :

    Know yourself. I never did temperatures/tracking ovulation etc because I can’t handle that kind of stuff without completely stressing out. We gardened every second day consistently throughout my cycle and were pregnant within 3 months both times. I may have gotten pregnant anyway but I’m glad I skipped all the temping/testing stress when it wasn’t necessary in my case. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant after 6 months, I might have looked into it.

  19. Recognize the risk that sexism plays and how it could affect you. I’m getting forced out of biglaw as a senior associate and the only concrete thing they can cite as an issue were my below-target hours the year I had maternity leave and related disability from medical complications. Speaking with firm alumnae, this is not a unique experience. So save up as much money as you can, and then save more, lest you also find yourself about to lose your job as a consequence of being a mother.

    • Thanks for saying this. Similar experience in a very different field, and it’s so helpful to hear about it from other people so I don’t start convincing myself that it’s just a personal problem or I’m not good enough.

    • Senior Attorney update from junior high :

      This happened to a good friend of mine 30 or so years ago. So sad to hear it’s still happening.

      Bright side: She landed on her feet and is now dean of a highly-regarded law school!

    • I have seen this happening where I work as well (not law). It is really really sad.

    • Anonymous for this :

      Had lunch with a senior associate today. He told me that at least I offer the firm something for “reporting” purposes so I have a better chance of making partner than he does. I had to ask him to repeat himself before I realized he genuinely meant that he’s disadvantaged as a white male.

      Sexism, alive and well, in case I needed a reminder today.

  20. Senior Attorney update from junior high :

    Get all the sleep you can, see all the movies you can in theatres because those two things are going to go off your radar for a good long time!

    Threadjack: Thanks so much for all the compassionate advice about my stupid work personality drama over the weekend. I managed to shake it off by early Saturday and not worry about it too much.

    Update: Today I went to lunch at the usual Monday place, and all the usual suspects were there, including the partner who cut me dead in the parking lot last week, who I ended up sitting next to (next to whom I ended up sitting…). Everybody was generally friendly and normal, although two of the corporate partners who usually sit together were not sitting together, making me suspect they’ve replaced their beef against the litigation partners with a beef between themselves. So I’m calling it done and getting on with my life.

    B!tches be crazy, man…

  21. Related topic– I’m clerking and will return to my original big law firm this fall, right around the time we plan to TTC. I will be 30 in September and don’t want to delay TTC unnecessarily to make things more convenient for my employer, as CPA Lady mentioned above. I will be eligible for full paid mat leave. Is this a strategic mistake, though? To come back and then (hopefully) announce a pregnancy within four or five months? I know objectively I was a standout performer during my first few years and plan to continue doing great work, but I also know that means my team is probably going to be disappointed that I’m temporarily leaving again so soon.

    • Anonymous :

      Honestly, yes I think it may hurt you to return and potentially immediately announce a pregnancy. Whether or how long you wait depends on how you weigh biological kids vs. being seen as a star performer at work. I’d personally wait six months before trying, so even if you get pregnant immediately, you’ll have been back the better part of a year before people know you’re pregnant, and a year and a half before you go out on leave.

    • Anonymous :

      I did this. I was a first year and got pregnant in April, so about 6 months after starting. Folks were probably disappointed, but hey, it’s your life, they are just running a business. Plenty of people leave after a year for less “legitimate” reasons. What matters is if you do a good job when you come back, and that you make your intention to come back and work hard as clear as possible.

      • I’m the biglaw senior associate getting forced out. I billed more than 2200 hours last year, flawless reviews. No one can question my commitment. Still getting forced out. Life isn’t fair.

        • Anon, do you mean “life isn’t fair” in that it’s advisable to wait? Or “life isn’t fair” as in, you could face sexism anyway so do what is best for your family?

          Anonymous, something similar happened to a good work friend. She found out she was unexpectedly pregnant shortly before starting. The firm was gracious about it, let her take full mat leave, she’s now a superstar in her group and expecting her second. I’m hopeful that the situation will be similar for me but recognize that it’s so dependent on the specific group dynamics and our different practice areas.

          • anon in sv :

            I think I mean you could face sexism anyway, so f it. I’m in a pretty bitter place right now. I mean, I do think that you should consider things you could do to mitigate your professional risk. I was utterly clearly in my intention to come back and work hard, and I actually did those things, and I still got canned. And I really, really don’t think the experience of a first year associate is remotely applicable to a mid or a senior.

            I guess this thread is frustrating me because it’s not really seeming to me to own the fact that having a baby can unfairly but actually destroy your career as you know it.

            I didn’t realize how much of a bomb pregnancy/motherhood would be on my career, and this is after a relatively easy conception, relatively easy pregnancy (no HG), working including literally the day I gave birth, and a challenging recovery but coming back on time post-maternity leave + medical disability. I believed that coming roaring back with a crazy billable year and stellar reviews would protect me, that the firm was invested in me, as I was in it and in my career. I was wrong. I would encourage you to go into your planning with eyes as open as you can, making as many fiscally prudent decisions as you can, and then don’t put your life on hold for a firm that may prove it actually doesn’t care about you at all.

          • anon today :

            +1 to living your life on your schedule.

            anon in sv, I think we might work at the same place. That’s awful.

          • Thanks. I am afraid of all of this which is why a big part of me says, F it and do it anyway.

            I really, really wish you the best. I am the same anonymous who posted about a senior associate making a backhanded remark that I might be more likely to make partner because I can add to the firm’s diversity quota, so… yeah.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I say this gently, you are only 30. Why not wait a year to avoid the issues that you are worried about and lessen the impact on your career prospects?

      • Sigh, yeah, I know. My husband and I have wanted to start a family for a few years now and have put it off because of career stuff– big trial at work, about to start a clerkship so don’t want to take mat leave and then go clerk, during the clerkship and I don’t want to disappoint my judge/ take unpaid leave, etc. So I feel like I’ve been already putting it off for two to three years and I just want a kid already.

        One day I will look back on this comment with a screaming baby and laugh at myself, I am fully aware. :)

    • I would wait at least six months before TTC, because the first few months of pregnancy can be very very rough (and you have no way of predicting this beforehand). That gives you six months under your belt to remind people of how awesome you are. I have had friends who have been totally slammed with morning sickness (all-day sickness) during their first trimester (and beyond).

  22. Kat, we should do a p’ost on what we should be wearing to the Blizzard. I heard that they named this Blizzard STELLA (like the Streetcar Named Desire), with Marlen Brando. I have a great NEW down coat from NorthFACE, and I recomend it along with NEW Leather Frye Boots. The manageing partner says I do NOT have to come into work tomorrow, as long as I have CONNECTIVEITY and bill my time from home. YAY!!! I do NOT like to go out in the snow, and FOOEY on Stella!!!!! I hope the rest of the HIVE stay’s warm as I will. I will also be watcheing Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show. She just came back from Maternity Leave and look’s great! I hope I look that good after haveing a baby. YAY!!!!

  23. Anonymous :

    Talk to your husband/partner about what you would do if you received the prenatal diagnosis of a chromosomal (or other significant) issue. Being young does not mean this won’t happen to you. As someone who received that news prenatally, I was very thankful that my husband and I were on the same page about keeping the baby v. terminating the pregnancy. I have read accounts from women whose husbands have left them when they refused to terminate a baby with a chromosomal issue.

  24. I’m on month 15 of TTC – IUI coming shortly – and we had 7 births in my 32 person office last year. Not all women – in fact just one… but like. come on, universe.

  25. I’m on month 15 of TTC – IUI coming shortly – and we had 7 births in my 32 person office last year. Not all women – in fact just one… but like. come on, universe.

  26. BigLawSenior :

    I was at my firm 7 months before trying, 8 months before conceiving. That was 6 years ago. Stellar reviews ever since. Might I get pushed out in a year or two? Of course. But, among the well-performing associates with decent hours, senior associates are always at highest risk to get pushed out — so there is that risk for all of us in my class, even if my risk is a little higher because of mat leave, etc. So, if you have a baby during what is effectively your 2nd or 3rd year at your firm, they want you to stick around and get more profitable. They might still kick you to the curb after year 8, but you’re less likely to be in the position of the anon above who has a baby, comes back guns blazing, and then immediately gets pushed out — they don’t need to make an up/out decision about you yet as a junior / mid-level.

    In short, if I were you, I’d go ahead pull the goalie.

  27. Start researching daycares/child care options. In some areas – mine is one of them – you really need to get on the waiting list for good daycares when you are about 6 weeks pregnant, to have any hope that a slot will be open when you go back to work after maternity leave. I signed up at our daycare when I was 5 months pregnant. We couldn’t put my son in the daycare till he was 4 months old and had to have a nanny for two months after I went back to work. It’s worse some other places. Be prepared to pay a deposit to get on a list; some places make you do that. Ask friends for recommendations and read online reviews also; set up tours when you get pregnant and when you find one that you like and that checks out, be ready to do what you need to to get on the list.

  28. Second everything that’s been said! But as I sit here on completely unexpected bed rest at almost 36 weeks pregnant, I’d like to caution all trying to get pregnant that you definitely cannot plan for everything. I didn’t face pre-term labor concerns in my first pregnancy, and this pregnancy has been very much like my first. Luckily I have an understanding employer (I literally found out Monday afternoon that I needed to immediately go on bed rest) and I’m able to work from home. As someone with a toddler, as someone who is high energy, and who has a tendency to put work first, this has been a huge wake up call for me that things are going to have to change a bit with 2 kids. The biggest thing is that having a healthy baby is the number one priority — even if we all need to take a different way to get there.

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