Just as your body adjusts to pregnancy, you should expect a few career adjustments, as well. Some of these adjustments are mere annoyances, and some are profound transformations, but as a pregnant professional, you should be aware of several changes you will experience over the next few months. Here are 5 major changes you may experience:
1. Your Priorities Will Shift
The focus of your life will no longer remain anchored solely to your career. You will have to split your focus between your career and your family, and you may face agonizing choices between the two. On the plus side, however, your new priorities may lead you in a new career direction, or help you define your career more clearly. Having a baby will definitely give you a broader outlook on the world.
2. You Must Learn to Say No
You may not have the time or the energy to commit to everything that comes your way. During your pregnancy, you may have to learn to say no to endless overtime, long working hours or extra obligations. Learning to say no now will help you for years after the baby is born and you are besieged with pleas to volunteer or never-ending after school commitments.
3. Some Life Skills May Improve
Out of necessity, moms are generally better at multitasking. You may find that as you juggle the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, you can handle other things at work more easily. Motherhood may actually increase your efficiency as well--most mothers are amazed at how much time they had on their hands before having a baby, and marvel at how much they can pack into a day spent caring for children.
4. You May Face Discrimination
You may experience some form of discrimination for the first time in your career. It's not a pretty part of career life, but some pregnant women may find it impossible to get raises or promotions--especially if your boss feels you have one foot out the door, anyway. You may find that your job is taken over by others during your pregnancy leave, and that you have to fight to get everything back. It's worthwhile to learn your rights as a pregnant career woman, and then demand those rights, getting your EAP provider or human resource representative involved as backup.
5. You May Worry about Losing Time
You may worry that your pregnancy and time spent at home will hold you back, or that you will lose your career momentum. If that's the case, make a point of learning a new skill during your pregnancy. If you are taking time away from the workplace after the baby is born, try to keep up with your industry's trends and directions. Women all over the world choose to have a baby and a career; there's no reason for these choices to be mutually exclusive. Find a way to stay in touch with your job that feels right for you, and don't apologize for taking some time off to be with your baby.
Pregnancy is a transformative experience, changing you as a person as well as causing adjustments in your life and career. Embrace these changes! You may find your whole perspective on life has changed, too.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.