10 Challenges, 10 Solutions

Experts' best advice for working pregnant women and new moms.

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)

2) Dealing with your supervisor "Most bosses act like babies. They expect you to take care of them and of what they define as a 'problem'—your maternity leave. You have to be the parent who says, 'Calm down; the work is going to get done, and here's how.' Present your boss with a detailed plan: Split up your work among co-workers, hire a temp or whatever." — B.H.

3) Avoiding workplace hazards "Anesthetics, radiation, carbon monoxide, solvents, toxic metals, biological hazards and extreme heat and humidity should be avoided at all costs." — Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books (John Wiley & Sons, 2002)

4) Deciding when to quit working "Take some time off before the baby arrives. You need time to collect yourself, to prepare for your transition and to rest." — B.H.

5) Deciding whether to move "So many expecting couples move out to the suburbs. Then, after their baby is born, they feel isolated and lonely. Don't move away from a community where you have lots of support. Don't buy that dream house yet—keep your expenses low and stay where your support structure is for now." — Linda Mason, co-founder of Bright Horizons child care and author of The Working Mother's Guide to Life (Three Rivers Press, 2002)

6) Coping with exhaustion "Take advantage of any opportunity to squeeze in a nap, and pare your to-do list down to the bare essentials. Either ask your partner to pitch in with the housework and cooking or splurge and treat yourself to a cleaning service or takeout." — A.D.

7) Dealing with resentful co-workers "There are many things in people's lives that interfere with work besides having a baby. Be sensitive to what's going on in your co-workers' lives so there's a give-and-take and not just a take on your part. If someone covers for you while your baby is sick, offer to help him out when he's training for a marathon, taking care of a sick parent, preparing for a night-school exam or moving to a new apartment." — L.M.

8) Keeping dad involved "Encourage your partner's involvement early and in his own way. I strongly advise dads to take a few weeks off work after the birth. And remember that your way isn't the only right way—dads do things differently than moms, and this dual-parent approach actually benefits the child's development." — L.M.

9) Hiring a nanny "Think about safety first and foremost. Many nannies don't know CPR and don't know about shaken-baby syndrome. Some from other countries have never been tested for tuberculosis or immunized against whooping cough." — Frances Anne Hernan, author of The ABCs of hiring a nanny (mcgavick field publishing, 2000)

10) Working at home "Once you're sure you've hired the right sitter, cut her a little slack and don't jump up every time you hear your baby cry in the next room. Give her the opportunity to learn about your baby's needs and wants first-hand without you interfering."