New mums? We've got your bump and baby covered...On the best time to break the good news
Heather Cracknell, Head of People Development implemented the Mums’ Network including a number of policies and procedures to ensure mums to be and new mums are supported in the best way possible both before and after the birth of their child.
This is the fifth blog in the series where we feature new mums returning to work and mums to be going off on maternity leave (and everything in between). We ask them to comment on the provisions currently in place for new mums and whether or not these could be improved. Our third interview is with Deb who works for Optamor and is due to go on maternity leave for the third time any day now!
How did you feel about telling the business you were pregnant?
It’s a nerve-wracking time to tell your employer that you are expecting a baby, because it inevitably means a degree of upheaval and change. And it’s not only for you as a person, but also for the business and your team and that’s something that you’re always conscious of. This was my third pregnancy announcement in almost as many years and so I was naturally full of trepidations as I wasn’t sure what the response would be! However, the support that I have received from the point of announcing my pregnancy has been great. I haven’t felt criticised or unworthy, which is something I have worried about in the past. My manager and team have worked together over the past few months to ensure a smooth transition out of the business, whilst keeping one eye on what will happen again on my return.
Did you let them know early on in your pregnancy?
I did let my manager and HR know after around three months with each pregnancy but with hindsight I wish I had informed them before. It can be really tricky to gauge when to let your employer know, because there’s a fine line between sharing the news before you’re really ready to - or even before you’ve told your family and friends - but if you are struggling with the less glamorous sides of early stage pregnancy like morning sickness, tiredness etc. it’s best to let HR and/or your Line Manager know (in confidence) so that they understand your sometimes erratic behaviour! Also if, in the sad circumstance that things don’t go according to plan, you’ve made your employer aware and they are more likely to be prepared to offer you appropriate support.
How supportive were they in the early part of your pregnancy (during morning sickness etc.)?
The first thing that happens when you announce your pregnancy is that HR conduct a health and safety review to ensure that any immediate needs are met. This is then re-visited throughout the pregnancy to ensure your safety and comfort. Best practice is then outlined to you so that you know who to turn to for support, and you are informed of your rights with regards to antenatal appointments etc. It’s a comfort to know that the support is there, and reassuring to know that your pregnancy is being taken seriously. Again, I think the important thing is to make sure that the business is aware of your pregnancy so that they can take the necessary steps to provide the right support. If they don’t know, they can’t help!
What were your reactions and thoughts to their response?
I didn’t really have to think too much more about it, from a work perspective it’s been business as usual. My colleagues have been supportive when I’ve needed it, but not treated me any differently or made a fuss, which suits me really well.
How did the company support you returning to work in your previous pregnancies?
If I’m really honest my first experience wasn’t as I had hoped. There was no real communication from the business during my maternity leave, I wasn’t paid for Keeping in Touch days, I had to really push my way back in and it was a pretty uncomfortable experience coming back to work. But….I’m so glad I persevered and when I returned to work after my second baby it was a completely different experience, like working for a different company. I was communicated with much better during my time out of the business and I had a good welcome back. I even had a desk and a computer – which was an improvement from the previous return! Let’s hope that my third return will be even better.
Any other thoughts or views you want to add about the policies and processes in place?
A lot of time and effort has been invested in improving the policies and processes, and it’s made it such a positive experience to be an expectant mother, and a parent returning to work. The option to request flexible working, the New Mum’s Network and the support from HR all go such a long way to making Optamor a supportive and inclusive employer.
Heather Cracknell, Head of People Development for Serocor Solutions picks up on Deb’s point regarding her previous experiences:
I am so pleased that Deb’s experience for her second and upcoming third baby have been massively different from her first. It is so important for the business to ensure that pregnant mums are supported from the moment they inform us. Having discussed the “when to tell” issue with all the new mums recently in the New Mums’ Network meetings, the general view is to inform your manager and HR in confidence as soon as possible. Those early days of knowing you're pregnant while sometimes feeling dreadful and being unsupported can be a lonely and challenging place to be. If we are informed we are then aware if there are days when someone is feeling under par and can support them through the process.
We wish Debs all the best with this new baby and looking forward to seeing her back at work.