Data from the US Department of Labor indicate the rate of working mothers in the country is just a fraction under 70%. These working moms have at least one child younger than 19 living in the household and the mother is either employed or looking for work. Money and career experts at US News & World Report offer these career tips for making life as a working mother easier to manage.

Before Conception

  • Maternity Benefits: Ask your boss or human resources advisor about your company’s family leave policy and maternity medical benefits. Enroll early for any benefits you’ll need later.
  • Job Hunting: When comparing offers, be sure to include maternity and family leave benefits when you compare offers made by different prospective employers.

Working mother and newborn

During Pregnancy

  • Devise a Plan: Your pregnancy will affect your boss and co-workers. Work together as a team to create a plan that benefits the whole team. Be sure to allow room to tweak the plan as need dictates.
  • Formulate a Return Strategy: Again, keep your boss and co-workers in mind as you formulate a strategy for returning to work after the baby is born. Let them know if you plan to return immediately or if you’d prefer a longer maternity leave. Discuss flex-time and working from home.
  • Confide in a Mentor: Seek out other mothers in your company. Ask them what worked best for them when they juggled a job with pregnancy and a new baby. Even more important, find out what did not work.

Back on the Job

  • Ease Into It: Expect the first day back to be difficult: it’s a new routine, your skills are rusty, and you will experience pretty serious separation anxiety from your new baby. Start slow, if possible, by working shorter days or fewer days a week. If work is physically demanding, arrange for lighter duties while the body recovers after child-bearing.
  • Take Care of Mom: New mothers often overlook themselves. Their focus is on the new baby and the return to work. The baby and the job will both suffer if you allow yourself to get frazzled. Take time for solitude, exercise, nutritious meals, a good night’s sleep, and a little fun now and then.

At every stage of the game, keep the lines of communication open. Let your doctor know how your job is affecting your pregnancy and let your boss know how the pregnancy affects your job. Perhaps most of all, keep your partner informed on all fronts and ask for help when it’s needed. Parenthood works best when it’s done as a team.

Source: Graves, Jada A. “6 Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave.” Money / Careers. US News & World Report LP. May 9, 2014. Web. Jun 7, 2014.

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