Dealing with Being Pregnant While Working

Paternity leave; returning to work

Paternity Leave
Paternity leave is the time a father takes off after the birth of a child, presumably to help the mother adjust and to bond with his child. Paternity leave is still in its "infancy" stages (pardon the pun). Some companies are quite progressive and offer fathers a paid leave, sometimes as long as six to 12 weeks; however, most companies who offer paternity leave do not necessarily give paid time off. The same stipulations for maternity leave apply to paternity leave in terms of time worked, etc. – the one difference being that if the man is in the highest paid 10 percent bracket of wage earners at his company and the company can show that his absence would cause substantial harm to the organization, then the employer isn't required to keep the job open for the man.

Although more men are beginning to take paternity leave, in some cases, there still might be a stigma attached to it among co-workers or bosses. For this reason, some men are unwilling to take paternity leave, fearing that it could affect their jobs. If your husband is reluctant to take paternity leave, perhaps you can convince him to use some of his vacation time instead.

Creative Options for Going Back to Work
Some women can't wait to go back to work, but most find it difficult to leave their newborns. For this reason, many companies have created job sharing and split schedules. You might want to look into the options available in your particular industry.

If you job share with another person, then you will work part-time, splitting your job with someone else. The benefit is that you get to spend more time at home and are more flexible with your schedule. The downside is that you only make half your normal income, and you might not move up the corporate ladder as quickly. It's also important that you pair up to job share with someone who works in a similar fashion as you do so that you're not stuck doing twice the work in half the time.

Another option might be to telecommute to your job, either all of the time or working from home a specified number of days per week. Many women have opted to do this successfully. If you choose to do this, remember that you are still responsible for actually "being" present in your home office during normal business hours.

Some companies let women work 10-hour days so that they can get more days off in-between – that is, three days off and four days on. If this time is split up over a weekend, there is the potential for your partner to babysit some of those days, thus saving the cost of a sitter.

You also can inquire about flex time (flexible schedules), seeing if you can work odd hours, say a morning schedule from 5 a.m. until 1 in the afternoon or an evening schedule, so that your husband can cover some of the time you would be gone. You never know until you ask what might be possible.

For Single Moms...
No doubt about it – everything is harder for single working mothers. If you're in this situation, try to find some back-up help, whether it is a relative or a family friend. Situations will arise where you simply have to have help. It's best to get it arranged as early as possible before the baby comes.

I've been a single working mother, and I don't know how people do it (or how I did it for that matter). But somehow, you just do what needs to be done. If at all possible (and it usually isn't), try to create some space for yourself, particularly some quiet time. Also, negotiate to get away from the baby for a break now and then. No matter how much you love your child, you'll be a better mother for having been away and coming back refreshed. If there is a father in the picture, make sure he has time with the baby. Kids need both parents, assuming that the father is a good parent.

You'll find that you can't always put your kids first ahead of your job, nor can you put the job ahead of your kids. It's a perpetual dilemma because you need to have money to support the kids, but you want to be a good mother. Cut yourself a break and do the best job you can. It's all you can do.

excerpted from:

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.

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