From start to finish, it takes nine months to make a new human. That translates into 40 weeks or just 280 days. There’s a lot to juggle during pregnancy, from morning sickness and tiredness to doctor appointments to preparing for the new baby at home. All while you are still managing the demands of your job. So many decisions! You can do this. Here is a guide to navigating your changing world.
How many doctor appointments will I have during pregnancy?
According to the pregnancy bible, What to Expect, you will have between 10 to 15 doctor appointments over a full-term, nine-month pregnancy. If all goes well (and there are no complications), the appointment schedule will look like this:
Weeks 4 to 28: appointments once a month
Weeks 28 to 36: appointments every other week
Week 36 until birth: appointments every week
How do I plan my job around all those appointments?
Let your boss and work team know what to expect well in advance. Schedule appointments as far ahead of time as possible—and get them on your calendar. It's essential to be realistic about how much time you need for these appointments. So include the time to travel to and from the doctor's office and typical wait time in the reception area. If you typically cool your heels for 45 minutes or more to see your doctor, it won't magically be different now. Also, set a tickler on your personal calendar to prompt a reminder to your boss and coworkers a week in advance to minimize any disruptions in planning work projects.
Although you're focused on the new bundle of joy, pregnancy is a stressor for employers who wonder whether they may lose an employee to stay-at-home motherhood. So keep the boss and coworkers informed and reassured.
Should I use personal leave or vacation to cover my appointments?
That depends. You want to create the best safety net for yourself by using sick leave and vacation time carefully. First, learn about maternity leave benefits at your company. If your company has 50 or more employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires the company to allow up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. You can typically use a combination of sick leave and vacation time to provide an income during maternity leave.
If your company is smaller than 50 employees, FMLA maternity leave may not be available to you. Talk with HR to find out what is possible. Approach the conversation as a negotiation, and let your employers know you want to create a win-win for everyone.
Once you have decided on a plan to finance a maternity leave, you can make more informed decisions about covering your doctor appointments. Some companies may allow you to use sick leave for doctor appointments. You may also be able to negotiate a flexible workweek to accommodate time away from the office. Or, you can use vacation time.
Which doctor appointments will take the longest?
The first prenatal visit will be one of the most prolonged doctor appointments. Your doctor will do a full medical workup and examination to ensure both you and the baby are healthy. This is the time to ask all your questions about pregnancy, future appointments, and what is to come.
Between weeks 6 and 9, your doctor will likely perform an ultrasound to make sure everything is progressing well. These don’t take very long, but your appointment will take a little longer this time. You’ll get a blotchy picture to take home, but it's exciting.
With some moms-to-be, the doctor may recommend genetic testing between weeks 9 and 13. If your doctor has a lab in the office, this may take just a few minutes more on top of your regular appointment. If you need to go to a separate lab, you’ll need to plan for more time on your calendar.
Between weeks 18 and 22, your doctor will order another more extensive ultrasound. This is the fun one where you can learn the sex of your baby if you want. Depending on the equipment available at your doctor’s office, you may need to go to the hospital or a specialized lab for this appointment.
When do I tour maternity centers or hospitals?
If you live in an area where you have multiple options for delivering, you will want to tour the different facilities and choose the best fit. Expectant moms begin scheduling tours of maternity centers of hospitals around week 30 of the pregnancy. These visits take around 30 to 40 minutes and allow you to ask questions and familiarize yourself with the facility and staff.
How do I plan for childbirth classes?
You will be able to sign up for childbirth, Lamaze, and infant CPR classes at your birthing facility. There are usually a range of time options available that include both evening and weekend classes as well as courses during the workday. This helps allow working parents-to-be schedule what works best. Note: Many birthing centers and hospitals will not let you take your newborn home until you have received infant CPR training.
When do I start interviewing daycare facilities?
During your second trimester is a good time to start interviewing and visiting daycare facilities. You will need to make appointments, which typically last for around 30 minutes or so. The appointments will be during the workday—and usually can't be covered with sick leave. (But ask anyway!) Don't be surprised if there are waiting lists for infant child care services. Check out these 15 must-haves for childcare centers to help you ask all the right questions.
Read more: 8 Ways to Make Child Care More Affordable
What if I want to work with a doula?
If you’ve decided you want the support of a birth coach—called a doula—you can start that search as soon as you know you're pregnant. You and the prospective doulas can schedule appointments after work hours or on weekends. Be sure to tell your doctor you are hiring a doula and get feedback on how to blend the expertise and services of the doctor and doula. Also, find out if your health insurance will pay for some or all of the doula services.