A Working Mom’s Guide to Pregnancy at Work


ImageLet’s be honest, work isn’t exactly the first thing that goes through your mind when you find yourself staring at a positive pregnancy test.

But maybe it’s the fifteenth? Or the eighty-third?

It doesn’t matter when it crosses your mind, it just matters that it will. And oh, it will!  And when it does, it will come with a FLOOD of questions.

“Do I get paid on maternity leave?”

“How do I tell my boss I’m pregnant?”

“I’m throwing up everyday, how do I do THAT at work?”

I learned a lot when I was pregnant and working full time. I wish that I had been handed a guide book to help me prepare to become a working mother.  And so, here it is, your trimester by trimester guide to pregnancy at work:

First Trimester

Congrats! You’re pregnant. And there’s a good chance this is a secret between you and your partner right now.  Treasure this time of just the two of you knowing.  And also, do these things:

  • Dust off your employee handbook.  Figure out your company’s policy on maternity leave and start thinking about how long you will take off after the baby is born.  FMLA  requires *most* companies to hold your job for you for 12 weeks, but those 12 weeks may be unpaid.
  • Start a savings account to help cover your (possibly) lost salary while you are on maternity leave
  • Look into daycare facilities and get on waiting lists.  Lists. Plural. And yes, do this now. It took a full year to get my daughter into the facility she is in now – my #1 regret was not getting her on a list earlier in my pregnancy. So now your baby secret is between you, your husband, and the daycare director.  It’ll be okay, they won’t tell.
  • Keep a toothbrush in your desk drawer.  This is the best advice I have for morning sickness at work.  Also tell yourself, “this too shall pass”.  I pinky promise you won’t be pregnant forever.

Second Trimester

Ahhh, the glorious second trimester.  The morning sickness is (hopefully) gone and you may have started telling family & friends your good news!  Now it’s time to do the same at work:

  • Tell your boss. Just rip off the band-aid.  Telling him/her now gives gives them adequate time to prepare for your time away from the office.
  • Talk to HR.  Ask any questions you may have about your company’s maternity leave policies and FMLA.
  • Start asking family, friends & coworkers for daycare or nanny recommendations.  The best way to find a great child care situation is through referrals.
  • Talk to other mommy coworkersThis is key.  Get their insight on what worked for them.  Did your company allow them to come back part time after maternity leave for a period? Did they work from home? Seek sound advice and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  You’ll learn more from “been there, done that” moms at your office than you will from your company handbook.

Third Trimester

Tick. Tock. Time is dwindling down and the baby will be here before you know it!  Time to wrap it up:

  • Start passing off projects to coworkers and training your backfill(s) on your job function
  • Let clients/daily contacts outside of your company know you are pregnant (if you haven’t already) and who their point of contact will be while you are out.
  • Finalize your maternity leave plans.  Chances are you don’t know when the baby will arrive. But you can work out about how long you plan to take off after the baby is born…and a general idea of what your plan to return will be. (And know that when you return, you’re still a good momma.)

Last note: Take a deep breath.  Motherhood is the most beautiful, challenging, and life-changing journey you will go on.  Things are about to get crazy and also awesome.

What about you? What did you do to prepare for maternity leave & working motherhood when you were pregnant?


  1. I remember taking naps in the car on my lunch break and wishing my desk could be moved in the bathroom… ahh, the joys of pregnancy at work.

    • Nothing more humbling than morning sickness at work! And napping in the car is pretty brilliant – pregnancy exhaustion is no joke.


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