Managing Pregnancy While Working

Managing Pregnancy While Working

Managing Pregnancy While Working

Finding out we were pregnant was so far the most exhilarating news for my husband and me.

But, for a working woman, this news also brings with it the stress of managing her job and health alongside pregnancy. Unlike how it is believed in many cultures across the world, I preferred to share this news with my friends, family, and colleagues as soon as we found out -for several reasons. One, I wanted them to share in our happiness. Two, I wanted to take advantage of their experience - how they managed their health, job, and other personal commitments. Three, I wanted to prepare my team for the days I might go on unplanned leave. Conversations with some close friends, who have crossed this phase successfully, really helped me plan my following months better.

First, I set up a meeting with my reporting manager the following week to let her know about this news. I told her that so far my health has been good, but in case I feel unwell, I might take half-day breaks in between in the weeks following. (I got her approval immediately.)

Then, I set up another meeting with my team to share this news and told them the same thing about my impromptu future absences, if any. This time, I wanted to give them a heads up as well as encourage them that this could be a chance for them to take lead on the accounts. I saw this as an opportunity for some team members to independently lead the accounts in a few months.

Initially, I was apprehensive if I should share this news with my clients so early. As I started having frequent episodes of nausea, weakness, and morning sickness, which made me skip some meetings at the last minute, I decided to be honest with my clients. Within a month, I ended up sharing this news with all my clients.

What was the consequence of sharing the ews?

There were days in my first and second trimesters when I felt like vomiting till the evening, and many times I would vomit 3 times a day at least. There were even more horrific episodes of nausea on a few special days. I am so glad to share that I received immense support from all my colleagues and clients alike during the journey. Of course, I didn't share this news because I wanted a free pass for not attending meetings or doing my work. If I would feel unwell during work hours and would take rest, I would compensate by giving extra hours during the night or on weekends. I ensured that whatever was my set of duties, I am doing it without any compromise. But, what sharing the news did to me, was to keep me free of emotional and physical stress. I could drop out of a meeting if I felt like vomiting without being apologetic about it. In hindsight, I can say confidently that my productivity didn't get hampered at all, and it has reflected on my year-end rating. I am grateful to my employer for being fair about my efforts.

By sharing this news way in advance with the leadership team, I gave them enough time to plan for my departure. I planned my transition with my manager and it went well.

Being honest with my clients gave me and my team enough time to complete our deliverables in the newly set timelines. I was especially amazed to receive support from my clients. They kept asking about my health in every meeting and were extremely accommodating about my comfort timings for meetings later on. At times, our clients extended the delivery timelines without even us asking. For instance, when they got to know that their board meeting was postponed by a month, they gave us extensions on our deliverables.

Now, I am about three months into my maternity break, and I am so glad that I delivered a healthy baby, even when I faced several health issues during my eighth month. I am even more glad that all my professional commitments were met before I handed over my accounts. I am grateful to all people in my life - family, friends, colleagues, clients and my husband, for being my support throughout.

I also want to draw attention to another important aspect. A would-be mother still gets enough attention and support, but a would-be father doesn't often get enough mental or physical support. Pregnancy is a challenging and overwhelming journey not only for women but also for their partners. They have to pitch in extra at home and be there for their spouses too throughout. This definitely makes their life hectic for those whole 9 months and they don't even get any credits.

Let us try to become more sensitive and compassionate to both men and women who are going through this beautiful journey of creating another human being.

Thank you.

A mother.

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Swati Agarwal

Social Development Expert

Swati is the General Manager of Social Venture Partners (SVP) Hyderaad, where she builds powerful partnerships with non-profit organisations to tackle India's most pressing social challenges. SVP is the world's largest network of engaged philanthropists, with over 3,200+ investor-donors across more than 40 cities worldwide. Swati is a Teach For India Fellow - she has taught 100 girls for two years in a slum community in New Delhi. She has previously worked with Hedge Funds for four years as a consultant in New Delhi and New York. Swati holds a bachelor degree in Computer Science from the Institute of Engineering and Rural Technology.


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