The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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After nine months of carefully tending to your growing belly, then perhaps hours of life-altering labor, you get a big prize to take home: a baby to nurture and cherish. But the benefits don’t stop there. Here are 10 ways pregnancy and motherhood can reward you physically, mentally and emotionally for years to come.
While the thought of formulating a coherent sentence, much less assuming your previous job responsibilities, may seem overwhelming at first, it is possible to be a happy (if a bit harried!) working mom. You can accomplish this by overcoming potential hurdles such as finding reliable child care and creating a feasible schedule early on and learning to ask for help, says Laraine Zappert, Ph.D., author of Getting It Right: How Working Mothers Successfully Take Up the Challenge of Life, Family and Career (Atria, 2002). Giving yourself the occasional reality check is essential, too.
As difficult as it may be at times, you must learn to switch roles at the end of the day. Women who stay in work mode at home are doomed to frustration. The following tips can help make that shift back to your mommy role as smooth as possible:
Take time to rejuvenate. Putting some space between work and home, even if only for 10 minutes or so, often helps bridge the transition, says Debra Waterhouse, M.P.H., R.D., author of Outsmarting Female Fatigue (Hyperion, 2001). Some ideas: Write in a journal or buy yourself some flowers.
When my friend Ingrid gave birth to her daughter in Sweden, she and her partner were given 15 months of paid leave to share or take individually. That gave Ingrid time to recover from the delivery, bond with her baby, and see her daughter through to the toddling stages before she even needed to think about going back to work.
Are you searching for a rewarding career, one that's working-mother friendly? Look no further than your growing belly, and let pregnancy and childbirth inspire you.
That's what Jennifer Powers did when she became pregnant in 2004. "I knew my job as a financial analyst wouldn't be a good fit for me once my baby was born," says the 34-year-old mom from Cambridge, Mass., citing such drawbacks as high-priced child care and a company culture in which 10-hour workdays were the norm.
If you're getting paid while on maternity leave, consider yourself lucky: Out of 173 countries worldwide, the United States is one of only five that don't guarantee paid leave to give birth and care for a newborn, according to a recent study by researchers at Harvard and McGill universities.
1) Negotiating maternity leave “I have three cardinal rules: Take the most time your employer will grant, ask for more than you’re offered, and take time off before the baby arrives, if you can. Once you have your baby, you can return to work early, in the unlikely event that you want to. But it’s hard to extend your maternity leave once it’s written in stone.” — Betty Holcomb, author of The Best Friend’s Guide to Maternity Leave (Perseus, 2001)