At eight months pregnant, I was told, We’re sorry to inform you your position has been eliminated, and your last day with the company will be April 15. As an HR professional, I told the same thing to countless employees in the past. I never thought that one day I would be on the receiving end. The words were life-changing, hurtful and perhaps even devastating. I was carrying my first child, and instead of looking for a dress for my baby shower, I had to look for a job. During this experience, I learned three things about how to find a job while pregnant.

I waddled into interviews with a confident smile and a large briefcase positioned to hide my baby bump. Of course, I couldn’t cover up the fact that I was about to go into labor. I prayed I didn’t have contractions in the middle of my meeting. Tips for finding a job while pregnant

How To Find A Job When You’re Pregnant

Decide If You’ll Disclose Your Pregnancy

I struggled with what to tell recruiters over the telephone about my current condition. While I knew it was illegal to discriminate against pregnant applicants, I still worried about what interviewers would think when I walked in. But worrying won’t help you get a job! In fact, it could put your baby at risk. I eventually let my experience and education speak on my behalf. It was outside of my control if a company didn’t hire me because I was pregnant. Besides, that may not be the best environment for a new mom adjusting to a new sleep schedule, pumping breast milk on her lunch break or finding backup babysitters if the childcare center closed.

How to Find A Job while pregnantIf you’re far along in your pregnancy, it’s probably best to reveal your condition. It’s not like interviewers can’t see that you may be a new mom before you’re their new employee! The company can also plan accordingly, finding coverage while you’re on maternity leave. If you are in your first trimester, the decision to disclose is a personal one. It’s OK to wait, especially if you have yet to share the news with your friends and family. You can always bring it up if you advance as a finalist for the job.

Manage Your Time & Expectations

My energy level dipped when I was pregnant, so I had to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t get as much done in a day as I did in the past. But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t successfully conduct a search.

I set aside specific times to look for jobs. I created a quiet environment–with no TV, radio, social media or other distractions. I also created a task list i.e., Update my LinkedIn profile, network with professionals in my field and reach out to references. If the list is overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Is there a mom in your circle who can revise your résumé? Or can friends inquire about job openings at their workplaces?

On top of managing time, you’ll want to manage expectations. No one wants to take a pay cut, but that might happen. Remember, your salary and title are temporary. A decrease in one area may mean an increase in another. The new job may come with less stress, more flexibility and an improved environment.

Inquire About Your Benefits Package

Although it may not be the first question you ask an interviewer, you’ll want to eventually inquire about the company’s benefits package. What health insurance options are available? Is there a maternity leave policy? Do you have to work for a certain time to be eligible? Many companies don’t have maternity leave policies in place, so you might have to use personal days or short-term disability for paid time off.  If the company doesn’t meet the requirements for Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA) coverage, which typically applies to companies with more than 50 employees, you may not be able to take unpaid, job-protected leave.

You’ll need to know the details of time off, not only for maternity leave but also for absences connected to a sick child or a childcare cancellation.

You will need to know what benefits are available when interviewing for jobs while pregnant. So what if you don’t land a job right away?

Look at the extended time off as a blessing in disguise. Most women, on average, take about three months of maternity leave. Some return to work within weeks! I stayed home for five months. Had I been working, I doubt I would have gotten so much quality time with my baby. During that time, I scheduled phone interviews around my daughter’s sleep schedule, praying she wouldn’t wake up and cry in the middle of my call. Looking back, I wish I relaxed more and stressed less about being unemployed.

Your Plan While Trying To Find A Job When You’re Pregnant

Work on a pregnancy plan. For instance, can you move in with a parent, loved one or friend to cut costs on rent and utilities? Can you find a work-from-home job to extend your time searching for a job outside the home? Do you have a business idea that you can quickly launch? Whatever you decided, remember finding a job while pregnant isn’t impossible. There are lots of resources to help single mothers search for employment. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, be sure to check out Single Mom Defined’s Resource Directory. 

By: Ayanna Jackson

Ayanna Jackson is a human resource professional and career coach who writes about how moms can successfully navigate the corporate world while raising children. She loves being a mom because no matter what type of day she has, her daughter makes her smile and laugh as soon as she gets home.