First, relax. You're not the first working woman to have a baby, and it's definitely not as complicated as it seems. Second, use this guide to put together a plan.
- Know your rights
Read up on your company’s policies regarding pregnancy rights and maternity leave, as well as your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Ask an expert
If possible, confer with a (trustworthy) colleague who’s been in the same situation. Ask about how her news was received, how was she treated during her pregnancy and any other info that may be helpful to you.
- Devise a plan
Determine how much time you want to take off, approximately when you want your leave to start, how accessible you plan to be once you’re out, how much you plan to work during your first weeks back on the job, whether you plan on working a part-time or flexible schedule or telecommute, and who will handle your responsibilities in your absence.
- Set up a meeting
Don’t break your big news as you pass your boss in the hall. Instead, make an appointment to sit down together so you’ll have plenty of time and privacy to discuss the situation and your plans. Then, formalize the arrangements you agree upon in writing (and send a copy to your human resources department) so there are no misunderstandings later on.
- Be ready for surprises
Even if you think you’ve got everything planned perfectly, stuff happens. Baby could come early or late, or you could have unexpected complications. Keep this in mind as you consider when your leave will start and end.
- Train your replacement
Don’t assume anyone can do your job as well as you can. Make sure to go over how to handle your clients, reports, subordinates, and any other responsibilities. Leave detailed step-by-step instructions as well as your contact info.
- Set boundaries
If you don’t want to be completely out of the loop while you’re on leave, request a daily or weekly email that outlines what’s happening at work. But if you want to be contacted only in case of emergency, say so (nicely).