Pregnant? One thing you shouldn’t tell your boss

You’re sitting at work, thinking about all the work left to do, how much your team relies on you. You’re sure your boss is going to be disappointed, beneath that layer of congratulations. You work up the nerve to have the conversation. In the middle of breaking the news that you’re pregnant, it’s tempting to blurt out your devotion:

“I’ll be back at work as soon as possible.”

Please don’t say that.

Right now, you just can’t know how much time you’ll need to heal–physically or emotionally. You can’t predict how you’re going to feel about work once a baby has rearranged your life. You don’t want to feel the weight of your boss’s expectations on top of everything else that will be going on.

What makes many of us want to insist (to others and ourselves) that having a baby won’t cause too much of a hiccup in our careers? The many reasons culminate in one: a widespread lack of support in our society for new families.

This week, two important parental-leave laws passed. New York will offer 12 weeks paid at 67%. San Francisco will offer 6 weeks paid at 100%.

These are record-breaking in the U.S. And that is shameful. Only four states in the U.S. offer any paid leave at all.

Here is my vision for new families:

12 weeks of leave–at least. Fully paid. In every state. Yes, with an exception for small businesses that couldn’t possibly afford it. In that case, it should be covered by the federal government.

A nurse or doula assigned to come visit you at home when your baby is born. Frequently at first, then tapering off–the prenatal schedule in reverse. We have a model for this with home hospice care. In times of such transition and vulnerability, people need to be looked after, to be shown the ropes, to feel cared for–hell, to shower.

Copyright Betty Udesen / Pear Press
Have you found your postpartum doulas yet? That’s the question I want to become commonplace, after, of course, “When are you due?” “Boy or girl?” I want to see expecting couples lining up family, friends, neighbors, and/or professionals to come over for daily baby / tidying / cleaning duty in the first six weeks.

Baby showers that are about stocking your freezer instead of your baby’s dresser.

Baby boutiques and big-box stores that are stocked not only with strollers and bottles and toys, but with parenting books and local resources and any other hints that parenting requires more than just stuff.

A parenting educator available at well-child visits, along with the pediatrician, to answer your toughest questions.

Parents would save up for a baby, the way we often save for a wedding, house, car, or vacation. The money could extend parental leave, buy help with cleaning and cooking, start a babysitting fund–or at least create options.

All companies would offer the option of part-time hours or job shares, so parents have choices besides working full-time and not at all.

These are the things I want to change. What one piece can you help change?

I know there’s at least one thing you can do for yourself: Tell your boss you’ll schedule a check-in call six weeks out. Don’t promise you’ll be back right away.

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Copyright Betty Udesen / Pear Press
Written by

Tracy Cutchlow

Tracy is the author of the international bestseller Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science, a public speaker, and a creator of places to speak and be heard. Sign up for her newsletter here.

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