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June 26, 2014
Dealing With Pregnancy in the Work Place

Having a baby is one of the most remarkable experiences of your life.


That being said, it doesn't come without a price. Pregnancy and babies are expensive, and having the right health insurance in place matters, especially in the workplace.

The U.S. Census Bureau found that 23 percent of married couples with kids under age 15 have a stay-at-home mom.

These numbers have risen over the past decade and will continue to rise, according to studies from the Pew Research Center. Child Health USA 2013 found that of working women, 70 percent reported taking a maternity leave with their last pregnancy.

Whether you're planning on transitioning from being in the workforce to staying home with your new baby or taking a maternity leave of absence, you need to be prepared.

Are you under your company's health insurance plan? And if so, will they cover a maternity leave? Health insurance and pregnancy go hand-in-hand, and insurance is extremely necessary with today's rising costs of medical procedures.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will provide 12 weeks of unpaid time off for employees who have been working for the company for at least 12 months.

At my previous employer, if you hadn't been there an entire year, you got two weeks off plus any vacation time.

Having two babies of my own, two weeks is just not enough time to recover from the birth and bond with your baby. However, things do happen, and not every pregnancy isn't going to be planned.

If you find yourself in that situation, look at getting health insurance through your partner's employer or through an individual plan, and possibly consider quitting your job or asking for an extended leave of absence.

What the employer can do

Dealing with a pregnancy in the office may seem challenging, but it doesn't have to be.

Do your best, as the employer, to make the pregnant woman feel comfortable. If she needs to walk around or take a few extra restroom breaks, allow for it. Be accommodating to doctor's appointments or calling in sick. You could consider allowing her to work from home one day per week or work a flexible schedule to allow room for appointments without missing too much work.

Women are also protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). This forbids employers to discriminate against a pregnant woman — including hiring, firing, pay, and more.

If you find yourself interviewing a woman who is pregnant, you cannot take that into consideration when considering her for the position. If she's qualified for the job and meets the requirements, hiring her is only fair.

What pregnant women can do

Preparing for your baby, getting your health insurance in order, and figuring out how much time off you can afford is enough to put you in labor.

Take it slow and one step at a time. Write out your expenses and see how much money you'll need to have saved up by the time the baby comes.

Consider working overtime at your current job or picking up a part-time freelance job from home. Save as much as you can to allow for more time off with your baby.

A final thing you can consider is simply asking your employer if some of your time off can be paid.

Most employers allow you to use your vacation and sick time at the beginning of your leave. Don't be afraid to ask if you can have a few extra weeks of paid time off, too.

For smaller companies, this seems to work in the pregnant woman's favor. If you don't ask, you definitely will not be receiving extra paid time off, so you may as well try.

Luckily, pregnancy is relatively long (for the pregnant woman, at least), giving ample amount of time to figure out health insurance and maternity leave, save up extra money, and prepare the nursery and home for the new little arrival.

Either as an employer or employee, what have your experiences been like in the workplace when it comes to pregnancies?

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Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ with her husband and two daughters. She's passionate about writing, traveling, cooking and spending time with her family. Her writing topics include food and nutrition, travel, personal finance and small business. Sites she writes for include ripoffreport.com and those discussing college degrees.
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