Patrick Ball @PatrickBall

recovering journalist. content and strategy at writing about policies, problems and benefits affecting working families.

Coping With Work Stress During Pregnancy

There’s nothing more exciting than finding out you’re pregnant. But for working moms-to-be, the news can very quickly lead to uncertainty around what to expect when you’re expecting at work.

From hiding morning sickness while you figure out how to tell your boss you’re pregnant to balancing deadlines with doctor’s appointments and planning your maternity leave, there are plenty of challenges to navigate.  

Going from workaholic to working mom can be stressful. So here are a few tips on coping with work stress during pregnancy.

  1. Rally Your Team
    You, as a mom, will become a de-facto expert on all things baby. So the more you can build your team now, during your pregnancy, the more you can let go – at work and at home – the stronger your support systems will be in the long run.

    At home, involve your spouse during pregnancy and begin to build a rhythm and rapport that will carry through parenting challenges, such as calming a crying child.
  2. Make a Plan
    Develop a roadmap for your transition to parenthood. At work and at home, you should list out routine duties, roles and responsibilities then create a central file location where your teams can find and update relevant information. At home, this could be everything from preparing meals to packing your hospital bag. At work, your plan should include communicating your plans to your supervisor, leaving detailed instructions for team members who’ll cover for you while you’re out on maternity leave.

    Tip for Employers: Establish an easily replicable transition plan, including a checklist and timeline for turning over projects. This will help to establish a baseline maternity leave transition plan that you can personalize for individual employees depending on role and responsibility. Collect documentation of open projects, cross-functional and client contacts and other relevant materials and save it all on a shared drive.
  3. And Then Make a Contingency Plan
    Even the best laid plans go awry sometimes. So you should have a contingency plan in place in case you need to be on bed rest or go into labor early. Knowing you have all your bases covered will give you peace of mind and take away an added layer of stress.
  4. Keep Doing Your Job
    One of the biggest sources of work stress for pregnant employees is maintaining job performance and ensuring that their pregnancy doesn’t signal that they’re any less committed to their careers. As long as you’re doing little things – like staying hydrated, getting up from your desk to walk around every so often – experts say there’s no reason you can’t continue performing your job at a high level during pregnancy.  Take your maternity leave transition planning seriously and demonstrate through that process that you intend to return to work and contribute at a high level. 

    Tip for Employers: Don’t be afraid to put people over processes and show a little enthusiasm around this important life-change for your employee. Demonstrate that you value your employees as people. Support a culture of flexibility to help all of your employees – not just the new and expectant parents – achieve work-life balance or integration. 

For more on how expectant parents and their employers can work together to achieve a successful transition to parenthood, download the free guide below.