Whether you’re pregnant or someone on your team is, here are some tips on how to navigate maternity leave:
Create a solid communication plan
Start to think of a plan on how to share the wonderful news. We recommend starting with your manager first to come up with a plan to tell your team. Your manager will have insight on how to help distribute the workload among the team. For example, another teammate may also be pregnant or there might be some departures on the team. Your manager can also help jog your memory on cross-functional teammates you might want to loop in.
One way you can announce the news to your manager could sound like this: “I wanted to share exciting news with you! I am expecting a baby! I’m looking forward to partnering with you on the best transition plan for the team.”
When to announce
This will be entirely up to you. What you might want to consider when you decide to announce is how you are feeling, how early you start showing, and what your work relationships are like. If you start to experience morning sickness it might be wise to let your boss or manager know as it will interfere with work.
However, if you are up for promotion you might want to wait until it has been finalized before announcing. Sadly, there have been horror stories of revealing pregnancy during or leading up to a performance review effecting the promotion. Evaluate the situation based on the culture of your workplace, boss, and talk to past pregnant women from your company.
Make a Coverage Plan
Start making a list of all your responsibilities day to day and week to week. Taking a looking at your calendar and email can help you jog your memory. Start clarifying your role in each item then start prioritizing. Consider which projects you enjoy and which you would like to hand off.
Start to coming up with a list of people who would be best at the responsibility or if it would better to share it among the team. Once you have an outline of the plan, set a meeting with your manager or boss.
Transfer your knowledge
Once the coverage plan is solidified with your manager or boss, start to document all the knowledge required to do each task with links to documents required. Depending on your company's culture, setting up meetings to relay the message along with documentation can be helpful to your team.
Take care of HR and administrative task
To ensure your team isn't held up while you are on maternity leave, make sure all things that need your approval are passed on to the correct people. If you manage people, make sure to set up a meeting with the interim manager with a debriefing of your team and access to performance reviews.
Review all of your maternity leave benefits before you leave & meet with your HR representative with all your questions. You'll also want to make sure you have someone to contact at the company during your maternity leave.
Think about what type of boundaries you want to set with your company during your maternity leave
Some moms still want to be looped in on what is going on and some moms want to completely unplug. Whatever you decide, let your team and boss know how often and when is a good time to communicate.
Start slowing down the closer you get to maternity leave
This will allow for you to test if there are any final changes you need to make to your coverage plan. Express appreciation to your team and have confidence that they will be just fine.
And now it is time to prepare for your new job: becoming a parent!