By Elizabeth McGrory
Working Moms Expert
When you sit down with your manager to share that you are pregnant they will ask for something in writing.
This is a request for a maternity letter.
The next thing you may do is go and research what is a maternity letter and what should be included (I know that’s what I did!)
Your maternity letter can be much more than your pregnancy announcement, your due date and how much time of you’d like.
It is a formal professional work/life balance plan which is publicly shared. This is work/life integration at its finest! It can be a BIG opportunity that I encourage you to take full advantage of it. Here’s how…
From the beginning of your pregnancy you may feel just fine or you may feel horrible. Depending on how you feel (because each person is different and each pregnancy is different) set the expectation if you plan on using sick time occasionally. No one else knows what’s going on inside of your body except you.
To avoid feeling guilty about taking a few sick days by giving notice that you may do so when the going gets tough.Pregnancy is a time to exercise extreme self-care so you can begin by setting expectations.
Be sure to state that you’ll be needing time off for monthly doctor appointments and that toward the end of the pregnancy (specify the months) these appointments will increase. The more upfront you are about your availability the better because it gives others the chance to plan better around your schedule.
Set personal boundaries
If there has been projects that co-workers believe need your attention now is the time to set firm boundaries. Name a cut off time when new projects won’t be allowed in your schedule. This may be as soon as you announce your pregnancy or perhaps it’ll be when you are half way through your pregnancy. This will be your call to make, remember you always have a choice.
If you do not want your pregnancy to be private, state that. If it’s something you don’t want to discuss, set the boundary in your letter that you prefer to keep conversations on professional topics. If you change your mind down the line, so be it, again, you always have a choice.
Give suggestions and recommendations
You know your job the best so your employer will be extremely interested in your opinion about your daily duties. In your letter you can list out your current projects and who in your department would work best with what project or client. Also, create a handoff plan including when you’d like to start meeting with co-workers, when you’ll tell your clients your happy news, and how you’d like to the transition progress.
Ask for what you want after the baby is born
Would you like to work from home or work out a telecommuting schedule when you return from maternity leave? You can mention this at the end of your letter to start the conversation. Mentioning what you’d like to see happen puts the ball in motion. This way one more thing is covered before you leave and your employer knows where your head is at. It’d be great to know going into your maternity leave what options you have.
Your maternity letter is publicly shared plan which outlines how you are going to balance your pregnancy and your workload. It is a way to tell your company what they can expect from you and it’s a perfect time to start setting boundaries. This is a time for you to be more audacious in your professional abilities. When you have a plan to follow it makes you feel secure, productive, as well as understood.
The baby will come so the sooner you start a plan to get everyone on the same page as you the more confident, secure, and productive (both personally and professionally) you’ll feel when it’s time to head to the delivery room.