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I just found out that I’m pregnant with my first child (which is great news!). However, I’m already starting to worry about how I’m going to be a great mom and a successful career woman. Is it really possible to be both?

The Expert Answer

In a word – yes! The details are much more complicated than that, and will differ depending on your particular circumstances. However, you don’t worry about all that just yet. For now, concentrate on having a healthy and joyful pregnancy while preparing yourself and your employer for your maternity leave. Here are some tips:

  • Tell your boss personally that you are pregnant. You don't want her hearing the news through the grapevine or guessing when your waistline starts to expand.

  • Be clear about your expectations regarding your maternity leave and your return to work. If you are uncertain about your intentions to return to work, be honest about that as well.

  • Become familiar with your organization's maternity leave policies. How do the policies differ from the realities? In other words, what have other women in your position done with regard to maternity leave? Have they taken 12 weeks leave (as permitted by the Family Medical Leave Act), shorter, or longer time off?

  • Build alliances with your co-workers who will cover your work while you’re on leave. What can you do to help them now so that you’ve developed the goodwill for them to help you later on?

  • Use good discretion in how often you talk about your pregnancy. Not everyone wants to hear about every time the baby kicks.

  • Graciously accept a baby shower if one if offered to you, but don’t drop hints for one.

  • Try to work your normal schedule, if your health allows. It’s not uncommon for healthy women to work up until the day before the baby is born.

  • Try to schedule your doctors appointments (and there will be many of those) early in the morning or during your lunch hour if possible.

  • Be sensitive to fertility issues among your co-workers. You may never know why some women at work do not have children – whether it's by their choice or not.

  • Don’t take advantage of your pregnancy. Ask for special accommodations only if you need them to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

  • Being pregnant need not be a career-limiting move. Show your employer by example during your pregnancy that you take your role as a career woman seriously. If you do, it will help set the right tone for how your employer treats you once you become a working mom.

Congratulations on this exciting time in your life! Enjoy!

For more detailed information on "Managing Your Mommy Guilt" check out Chapter 15 in my book.

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