Dealing with Being Pregnant While Working
Pregnancy; maternity leave
The difficulty of being pregnant while holding down a fulltime job is that your life as a working person trudges on, but your body (and mind) may have a hard time keeping up. For example, in the first trimester, you may have to deal with morning sickness. It's not really politic to go rushing out of a meeting or an important phone call to up-chuck. Instead, if you can identify times when you're likely to be sick, then you can try to reschedule meetings or phone calls for a different time of day when you will feel likely better. Also, take preventive measures as much as possible – that is, keep crackers on hand or soda or whatever works to get you through it.
As the pregnancy proceeds, you'll notice that you're more tired, and your feet will start to swell. You can handle these issues by taking short naps during the middle of the day (perhaps the restroom has a couch) or getting outside to take 10-minute walks at break time or whenever possible. Drinking lots of water will increase your profusion of blood to the brain, which will make you feel less tired. . Above all, be kind to yourself and give yourself time off at night when you are at home. Plenty of rest in the evening will go a long way toward making you feel better the next day, and you'll think more clearly.
Put simply – most people will not cut you much slack just because you're pregnant. They will expect you to keep up with your job and pretty much do everything you did before. Your challenge is to figure out how to be kind to yourself but keep up with your responsibilities.
Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), most federal employees are entitled to take a total of up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave off from their job following the birth of a baby. The good news is that most other major employers have followed suit and apply similar guidelines. (Some large corporations even offer up to a year off – unpaid, of course.) However, be aware that if you are working for a small business of fewer than 50 employees, this act does not apply to you, as it isn't enforced on smaller businesses.
During this time off, you are entitled to receive your benefits, although you may have to pay your share of the costs. Also, your job must be held for you while you are away on leave, or if your job is no longer available when you return, then you must be offered comparable employment.
There are some guidelines, however, that you must follow. You must have worked at least 1,250 hours during a 12-month period prior to taking your leave. And you have to provide a 30-day advance notice for a foreseeable event (which obviously applies to your pregnancy). You also might be asked to provide certification from a medical provider that you are indeed pregnant. You could also be contacted while you are away on maternity leave and asked to verify your status and that you do intend to return to your job.
If you find that you need additional time off due to an emergency with your baby or unexpected circumstances, call your company and ask first before making any assumptions that they can't help you. Often, a company will have an emergency plan in place for just such occurrences.
Receiving Pay While You Are on Maternity Leave
The first thing to do before you get pregnant (preferably) or as soon as you know you are pregnant is to meet with the human resources person in your company to find out what your specific company's policies are for maternity leave and how they apply to you. Each company is different and much will depend on your own circumstances – for example, how long you've been with the company, how much leave you've accrued, and what your position is.
Some companies (usually major corporations) offer full pay and benefits while you are on maternity leave; most do not. In lieu of this, many workers decide to use their sick time or vacation time to be paid while they are on maternity leave, if their employer does not offer compensation during this period. Obviously, if you can build up some cash reserves to use while you're on maternity leave, so much the better.
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