What Goes On In A Working Woman’s Mind When She Finds Out She Is Pregnant?

What goes on in a working woman’s mind when she finds out she is pregnant?

She’s happy? Yes. Excited and probably a little nervous too. She wonders if she is ready. Maybe even panics for a bit. Overall, I think she looks forward to what lies ahead. But there is one other thing that goes on in her mind. Do you know what that is? Well, I’ll tell you. She wonders what’s going to happen to her at work once they find out she is pregnant.

You might say what in the world I’m talking about. But, having been working for about 11 years now, let me assure you that if there are very few seats at the table for a working woman who is not pregnant and not married, holding on to a seat or even a part of a seat at that table becomes difficult when a woman becomes pregnant. And no that’s not because of the physiological changes that come with pregnancy. It is due to the rot that suddenly surfaces in the minds of many bosses when they learn of their employee’s pregnancy. Don’t even get me started on what happens when she joins back after her maternity leave if she is allowed to join back at all. For today, let’s just focus on what happens when the office learns, specifically the managers learn of a woman’s pregnancy.

From the moment a woman discloses her pregnancy, she is on a clock and fast approaches her expiry date at work. Calculations start happening in the mind of her bosses so as to replace her as soon as possible even before her maternity leave begins. Now, I’m no fool. I know that a woman who is pregnant would be going for a few months break at least (sanctioned by law), so she has to be replaced because work won’t stop for her. But what happens in offices is that she is seen as a liability, as someone who won’t be delivering anything anymore apart from the baby. I don’t need to tell you how wrong that is. So, things start happening to bump her off the team, sometimes without any pretence and most times furtively so as to avoid any HR nightmare.

I was one of the lucky ones to have worked till the day my water burst thought what I got in return of that is still something I’m not quite sure about. But I have heard stories from many of my fellow women colleagues which go to show that despite the policies, the treatment meted out to pregnant women is not what you’d expect in an educated environment.

Now on any ordinary day, a woman with an opinion or a voice (traits imperative at work, you should note) is dubbed unstable, volatile or even a ball of nerves. Now imagine she becomes pregnant. That status then is elevated and she is called a ticking timebomb of nerves. Everything she does, every opinion she lays out, especially if contrary to what the corporate Gods want to hear or her team want to hear, is termed as an emotional outburst. She is treated as if her pregnancy has made her misfit to work or take reasonable decisions.

She is assured multiple times that she has nothing to worry about with respect to her position but more often than not she is pressurised more than usual. Unreasonable demands with respect to timelines are made on her, timelines which make no sense to the work at hand irrespective of whether there is a human in the making inside of her. Do you know the reason why? Often it is so that she comes forward to ask for a release herself or when worst comes to worst, resign. See the thing is they do it passively to avoid a PR nightmare but it’s there. If you talk to working mothers and listen to their stories from the time of their pregnancies you’ll get to know how most of them have suffered from this misplaced belief that being pregnant suddenly affects a woman’s faculties to perform her responsibilities at work.

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So, yes, a lot of questions fill a woman’s mind when she reveals at work that she is pregnant because she knows what might happen to her. She wonders if she will be released from the project she is working on. She wonders if that will affect her coming back to work later on. She wonders if they will retain her at all. And all this because she is pregnant. The thing is, women would gladly let men do the reproduction but someone up there stuck females with this process. Now, I would love to contest this but can’t fight biology, can I? So, for humankind to propagate women will have to get pregnant which means they will carry one human or more within them for at least 9 months and they will need some time off after pushing these human or humans out of them. But that doesn’t mean, they are incapable of continuing with work. However, women are punished for this just the same.

I know some people who haven’t the faintest idea of giving birth or taking care of a child while holding on to a career, will give arguments of business profit and all that. To them, I just want to say that get a life. Pregnancy is no privilege and most of us don’t ask for special treatment during that time but don’t mistreat us as well just because we are. Being biased against a woman employee if she is pregnant is wrong. If she is doing her work all through her pregnancy, you have no right to remove her or employ tactics which eventually force her to quit before her maternity leave. Believe me, a woman who can grow a human being inside of her can handle work at the same time as well.

So, the next time you see a pregnant working woman, think about all that I have said above. And if you have a story of being a pregnant working woman yourself, do share your story with me.

Until next time. Keep fighting! Keep being a Feminist!
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This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.

Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.

24 thoughts on “What Goes On In A Working Woman’s Mind When She Finds Out She Is Pregnant?”

  1. This is really amazing and it is really true how pregnant women has to manage all things and what goes on her mind is also on point . Good work

  2. I can’t say I understand but I know that you are right. The opportunities women get, get dwindled by the fact that she is pregnant. I wonder if this is a common practice or depends on culture, bosses, peers etc.
    You laid it out well and reading this I wondered why should women go through this trauma. Those words about having an expiry date made me sad.
    Parul recently posted…International Blog Delurking Week – 2019My Profile

  3. That is very sad of what it woman faces in the workplace during her pregnancy and after she joins back. But Maternity Law has been introduced in India but apparently many of the bosses and employees themselves are unaware about it

  4. I cannot say I have experienced this, because I was on a hiatus from work a little before and after I had my baby. But I know what you mean. It’s an unfair system, where women are consciously and subconsciously marginalized and stereotyped, all the time! I see hope now though, with more and more people speaking up. But unfortunately it’s still going to take a long time to combat decades, no, centuries of conditioning.

  5. I remember when I was pregnant with my first 28 years ago. I started a new job when I was 3 months along and did not tell anyone that I was pregnant in fear of not being hired.

  6. I’m at that crossroads in my life where most of my friends are mother’s AND career driven as well. The experience is definitely different for everyone it is naive to think that nothing will change after motherhood or that you have to totally give up everything in life once you have a kid. Very thoughtful

  7. The journey to becoming a parent is full of challenging transitions and you highlight some real truths here. Great post!

  8. A pregnant woman is definitely treated differently at workplace. Some sort of mindset people have that now her time is up. I was lucky to have got work from home when I was expecting. Now if i want to join back after a break I am sure there is going to be no hike and all unreasonable demands coming through, so i am quite unsure of it.

  9. That’s really sad. Such biases are unfair and even illegal I think. That said, no matter how many laws are made it will take a long long time to change the attitudes of people.

  10. As it is it’s difficult to put your point across didn’t know it got so much more difficult once you become pregnant.
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  11. There must be so many things to go through your head when you’re pregnant indeed. I’d be terrified job wise, as study indeed show that opportunities in the workplace decrease for women when they have a baby

  12. I guess it will be really difficult on the part of the mother who is bearing the child to do countless work, Not only it is difficult physicially, but also the emotional part and all the hormones interplaying can really affect the pregnant woman! That’s why I salute all the women out there who have gone through this part of their lives.
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  13. Women are always experiencing dramatic mood swings of pregnancy. All those soaring hormone levels and the enormous physical and emotional changes!

  14. I am sure that much of that can happen in the workforce. And I am so sorry it does happen. Most of the places I have worked with didn’t have that problem though. They were fields where women held most of the positions. So mostly they were accommodated. I can imagine though how a working woman would stress about many things once finding out she was pregnant.

  15. I know a few friends that can relate to this article and then a few others that would say the total opposite. I think it totally depends on the environment you’re working in! But, you talked about some valid points – unfortunately, it is something some woman have to go through in the corporate world.

  16. This is so sad that woman has to stressed for this reason. Becoming a mother is such a beautiful thing in every woman’s life and it need to be enjoyed. Many of the bosses and employees are unaware about the maternity laws.

  17. I think I am going to open the Pandora’s box with my comment Naba – apologies if it causes any offense.

    I am all for career women but I have seen many being challenged by the dual role and often one gets neglected. Mostly its the children who suffer as they are either in day care or with maids at home. I know of women who went anal because they were all the time (due to guilt and fear) checking the CCTV covergae on their phones, calling the maids at home and generally being paranoid about it. These women are a nightmare to work with! They are short on temper, agitated and so worried. This stress hampers work efficiency.

    Recently a friend spoke of her child being “molested” by another at school. They were both 6-7 years old. The one who did it, was a little girl seeking attention as she was left on the maids and grandparents while the parents pursued a high flying career. This is what they themselves said that they dont have time for her. Imagine the plight of that poor girl who for attention is running after other kids, kissing them, hugging them and generally being a nuisance to them.

    I am all for women being empowered but when you take on the responsibility of having a child (yes I know there are two parents) you both have to decide how this works.

    So I dont really blame the companies for sidelining women who opt to have kids/marriage as the dual role (without proper support at home) just doesnt work out. The companies exist to work – its not fair when women keep asking for leave /allowances as they have issues at home that need to be managed. I have worked in such teams and it brings additional work load on others.

    More power to the women who can manage both; they certainly have it tough at the career front as they have to constantly prove more, work more and step up more!

  18. Yes, as long as the pregnant mother is able to do her work fine, companies shouldn’t have doubts about her working capacity. In my case, I suffered severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Every now and then, I had to get up from my seat and run to the restroom. There were days when I had to take offs at a stretch. Though my boss was kind enough to grant long offs, it was my decision to quit the job. The company empathizing with my situation felt secondary to me; what was more important was my ability to work uninterruptedly. I was a writer with deadline-oriented deliverables and pregnancy was doing no good to my job. And I foresaw all that can happen thereafter, not only with pregnancy but also with the coming of the baby. However, pregnancy wasn’t a barrier to my career. There were other companies willing to offer work from home jobs. In fact, I didn’t had to take off for my delivery at all. The flexibility that comes with working from home is a gift to women. Well, every woman’s tale is different. Good Nabanita that you brought this up; pre-pregnancy is a critical phase where women need to make important decisions. At the end of the day, what matters to pregnant women is that one individual under who we work rather than the policies of the company.
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