I just placed my belly, aka “Baby Phillips,” on a waiting list for the day-care center near my work. I can’t imagine having my baby in the outside world yet, let alone in day care, but for me—like the 59 percent of working mothers with children younger than 1 year—finding the right child care is crucial. Indeed, with about 6 million U.S. infants and toddlers being looked after by people other than their parents, quality care is in high demand. As a result, parents are wise to start the selection process early, even before the baby is born.
Being a mom is largely a self-confidence game. I know this firsthand; my new baby tested my wits constantly, just when I needed them most. But the more confident I became, the less stressed I felt, the calmer my daughter was, the better the nursing flowed … and the smoother things went at home, the park, the store.
Here, working women describe the choices they made when they became moms and how they made them. Let their stories—and their creative solutions—guide you as you chart your own course.
You’re pregnant, at work and trying to focus on the tasks at hand, but little thoughts keep creeping in. Is my job dangerous to my baby? Should I keep working or stay at home?
While facing possibly the most exciting event of your life, you’re also contending with new limitations, major decisions and issues that concern your identity, job and home life.
Here, leading work/family experts offer advice to help guide you through such issues as deciding whether to return to work, negotiating your maternity leave, staying fit and healthy and simply surviving the workday.
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 study by researchers at Harvard and McGill universities.
"It's dramatically striking that the U.S. is so far behind the rest of the world," says lead researcher Jody Heymann, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill in Montreal, Quebec. "Every industrialized country offers paid leave. So can the United States."
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)