1. The one question most managers want to know -- but can't ask -- is if you plan to keep working after you have your baby. If you know your career is important to you, tell your boss you plan to come back. Make sure this message comes through as soon as you announce your pregnancy. Then when you are on maternity leave, check in frequently with your manager and let everyone on your team know that they can call you if they have any questions about your projects or clients.
2. Join the mommy network now. There's no reason you have to wait until after you give birth to ask working moms for advice. As soon as your news is public, you can start questioning colleagues about work and family related challenges they face and how you can prepare yourself for them.
3. One of the biggest challenges working parents face is finding affordable and high quality child care. The sooner you start researching what's available in your area, the more options you'll have to choose from. If you're interested in day care, you should start touring facilities while you're pregnant. Why? In some regions of the country, popular child care centers have long waiting lists. Begin shopping around during maternity leave and you could find very limited availability.
Also, start thinking about what you'll do when your baby gets sick and can't attend day care. Or, when your baby sitter feels under the weather and doesn't show up. Trust me, nothing annoys a manager more than having an employee who is constantly requesting to work from home because a child is ill. If you're lucky, a grandparent or neighbor will lend a helping hand and allow you to go to the office.
4. Everyone knows babies are expensive. So the sooner you get used to budgeting for one, the better off you'll be. If you do nothing else, research how much your child care will cost and start setting aside that money now. Not only will you get a feel for how much less you'll have to live on, you'll also have a nice cushion to draw upon once you have to start writing those caregiver checks.
5. You don't need a brand new minivan just because you're having a baby. It's much smarter to avoid the urge to upgrade your car and home until after you have a better feel for how much you'll spend on child-related expenses. (Diapers are more expensive than you'd think!)
Also, the last thing you want to do is take on, say, a larger mortgage based on two incomes only to later figure out that you or your partner now want to work part-time or stay home with your bundle of joy. Even the most ambitious parents sometimes feel the maternal or paternal urge to spend all of their time with their babies. That's why any big financial decisions should wait until long after your little one is born.
Do you have any other advice for pregnant women?
Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents.
Beyonce image courtesy of Flickr, CC 2.0.
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Working Moms: Yes, You're Paid Less
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