Someone asked me the other day to talk to their group about the Pregnant Professional. There is so much happening here, all the support that I can provide to women who are working while pregnant! Of course, I was excited to share my story, but I had to gather my thoughts to express it succinctly.
The Pregnant Professional—what does that mean?
Really, the first question is to define “professional.” If a person is a pregnant professional, they are first a professional. Pregnant is a describing word, a characteristic of professional.
So, what does it mean to be a professional?
I googled it, and there is (of course) way too much information. There are a ton of listicles telling us Five or Seven or Ten Ways to be Professional.
Mph. Thanks for nothing.
So, I had to use my own brain. I pondered and came up with 3 aspects of Professionalism.
Here they are:
A professional is a trusted, valued expert.
Here is what I mean. When an employer hires someone to do a job for them, they try to find someone who has expertise and skill in the area they are hiring someone to be responsible for. They hope that the person they hire has all the experience and more to handle the job. But even if the employee has very little expertise, just by the fact that they hold they job, they are the expert.
Back when I was an intern at NASA, utterly conscious of my ignorance and intimidated to tears by what felt to me like a job that was way over my head, one of the sweet scientists told me “All it takes to be an expert is to know more than anybody else in the room.”
So just by having the job, you are granted and tasked with being the expert in your area of responsibility.
Now we come to trusted. Your employer entrusts you with your position. Your position is an area of responsibility you are the designated expert in, and you are trusted to do the work and be the expert. Even if anyone doubts your expertise—even and especially yourself!—you are definitely trusted with your position.
You are trusted until the position is taken away. Up till that time, you have the trust.
And now I will talk about being valued.
One of the easy answers for defining a professional is one who is paid. So, an amateur is not paid but a professional makes money. Money is an easy definition of value. In about a thousand different ways, money is the boiled down right-side-of-the-equation answer to how valued you are.
All that is cold and clinical. Since I’m talking about pregnant professionals, I’m talking about people and I’m talking about women.
Three dimensional women with emotions.
When I asked woman if she is trusted, most likely she will put this in a feeling context. How does she think about how other people feel about her?
And at her favorite time of day, when she’s well-fed rested and happy, that answer will be one way.
And when she’s tired, achy, and hormonal, that answer will be different.
Tired, achy and hormonal is the base state of pregnancy.
A 360-degree approach to the world is valuable. Turning all the way around and getting the whole picture is a great idea. And often you come right back to where you started.
So how do we define a pregnant professional?
A trusted, valued expert who is pregnant.
In this case, your employer is exactly where you left him or her. It is YOU who have changed. Your area of responsibility, that area of expertise that you have been trusted with, the one your employer valued and needs you to do is still there.
What has changed is that you now need to manage the circumstance of your pregnancy as a factor in your job.
I’m a project manager at construction sites. I make sure the work teams have they supplies they need, that they know what they need to do and can get it done. A big part of what I do is make sure that all the people we are paying to do work have work to do while we are paying them.
If an unusual circumstance came up, I’d have to manage it. Say a crew of 4 came to a site to do work and there wasn’t electricity in the building. I’d have to think about it and see if there was work we could do. A change in what was planned or what had been expected is super common, and we all must be nimble and make changes and move things forward.
Your pregnancy is a change in your job. Just a little. And it’s your area of responsibility, so it’s your job to keep your employer informed about what is happening and how it might affect your job.
When it comes to a new area of responsibility at work, it’s your job to study up and get informed about it. Your pregnancy is the same way. What will you need to know? What can you reasonably expect for how this will affect your job? Gather the data, get your facts and be ready to present to your boss what is going on.
A trusted expert is especially valued if she keeps surprises to a minimum. Also, when surprises happen, she has a plan and takes care of it.
All these things require advance preparation. And that is where this program can help. You may not have thought it all the way through, what this pregnancy will mean at you job.
It’s a lot to grapple with. Especially when you are tired, achy and hormonal.
That’s why I have made a handbook, a roadmap, and a whole bunch of cute little videos (I even put makeup on) to tell you what you need to know. Good god, it’s too much for you to have to try to google it on your own.
You do not have that kind of time. Give yourself a break and get some help.
You can do this. You already are the best person for the job.