Dealing with Being Pregnant While Working
Choosing a Daycare Provider
Choosing a daycare provider when you go back to work can be a nightmare. Take time with this decision and decide in advance what type of facility you want. An ideal situation is to have someone come to your home (i.e., a nanny), but good, qualified people are often difficult to find and can be extremely expensive. If you decide to go this route, make sure you use a reputable agency (if you use one) and do extensive cross-checking of the nanny's references. Most nannies are perfectly safe, but there have been enough cases of child abuse in the news lately to know that there are plenty of deviants out there.
The best alternative might be for a family member or friend to care for your child. But this decision also has positive and negative aspects to it. First, it's difficult to tell someone who is close to you how you want your baby handled. Feelings might get pricked or ruffled, particularly if that person thinks they know all there is to know about babysitting. And it could damage a long-standing friendship if you disagree about how the person handles your child or you are too critical of them. So, be sensitive and informed of the pitfalls before you take this route. And remember that your way is not always the right way, but simply your way.
Perhaps the most common daycare provider is a certified daycare provider, either in a home or in a stand-alone facility. These facilities should be monitored by the state, which can mean something or nothing, depending on your state and how proactive or overburdened they are. Here are some questions you might ask a potential sitter for your child:
- What is your philosophy of child rearing?
- Do you punish children? How?
- Do you separate infants from toddler and preschoolers?
- How long have you been in business?
- Could I see a copy of your state license? (It should be displayed in the open.)
- What kind of stimulation do you provide for the children?
- What is your schedule?
- For infants how often are they held?
- Who are the people you hire to take care of the children? How are they selected?
- What safety precautions do you have or plans for evacuation in case of an emergency or fire.
- May I visit anytime or drop in unexpectedly?
- Do you teach the children, for example, the alphabet or songs?
- Do the children go on field trips?
Your Mental Health and Guilt
Every parent who works feels guilty at one time or another. Here's my best advice: You'll just have to deal with it. Leaving a baby who is crying or ill is one of the hardest things in the world to do. Sometimes, you can take off work and use sick-time to stay home, but more often than not, you have to leave your baby and hope for the best.
The only way to get rid of guilt is to just give it up. It's not worth the time you waste on it.
The Absolute Minimum
As a working parent, you face obstacles and challenges galore when making your personal life and your job mesh two areas that are normally at odds with one another. Everyone will seem to want your time, from your boss to your baby to your husband. In the beginning, it's an extremely cumbersome juggling act, but have faith that everything will settle down as you adapt to your new baby, a new way of life, and a new schedule. Impose on your family and friends as much as possible for help and don't be hesitant about taking it. Your baby will be richer for it in the long run.
- Figure out your maternity leave in advance of the birth so that you are not surprised by unexpected glitches in pay or benefits or time off.
- If your husband can get paternity leave, great. If not, ask him to take off as much vacation time or personal time as he feels comfortable with in order to help you adjust to the baby and to give him some bonding time.
- You may be surprised to find that you don't want to return to work in the same way as before, meaning you might prefer part-time work. Investigate your options ahead of time, just in case.
- Shop around for a daycare center or babysitting options as early as possible. Drop in unexpectedly so you get a real sense of how the place is run and how they handle children.
- Take care of yourself mentally and emotionally by scheduling some time off. You are the baby's most important caretaker. Make sure you don't burn out with the pressure of working fulltime and being a new mother.
Reproduced from Absolute Beginner's Guide to Pregnancy, by John Adams and Marta Justak, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing. Please visit Amazon to order your own copy.