Pregnancy and Maternity Leave Can Interfere With Work
They are time-consuming and challenging—and may result in permanent consequences for a woman's career.
Dec 4, 2020
Doctor's appointments during pregnancy can be frequent and time-consuming. With upwards of a dozen appointments, the time lost can have long-term effects on a woman's goals.
In order to ensure proper prenatal development, doctors urge expecting mothers to come in for frequent visits, especially during the second and third trimesters. Toward the end of the pregnancy, the frequency of visits increases to once every two weeks and then once every week in the final months.
Women with high risk pregnancies—such as geriatric pregnancies or pre-existing conditions—may have to attend even more frequent doctors appointments. Women can expect to see their doctor more than a dozen times during their pregnancy.
For working women, this schedule can be extremely disruptive. Factoring in travel from work to the doctor's office and back, plus wait times, and the actual appointment itself, women are forced to lose 2-3 hours of their work day for a doctor's appointment.
This problem is magnified for women who live in rural areas or working-class women—two groups who have less choice over where and when their doctors appointments are. That can also mean longer transportation times which in turn means more life disruptions.
This loss of time, especially at high-pressure jobs, can be hard to catch up on. It may allow other colleagues to advance or to take on additional clients.
Even a short maternity leave can have negative work consequences. The law doesn't always protect pregnant women from losing their jobs.
While an employer is not allowed to legally fire someone simply for taking maternity leave, many employers seem to find loopholes to do just that.
Just this summer a former SoulCycle employee sued the company, claiming she was fired for taking maternity leave. Jordan Kafenbaum, the former senior director of instructor programming and talent management of SoulCycle, says she was fired just 32 days after giving birth. In her lawsuit she described her termination as “blatant pregnancy discrimination and retaliation.”
Her case is just one of many similar ones that happen all the time, at companies both big and small. Another case from this month alone occurred where a woman claims she was fired from her job at Ramsey Solutions in Tennessee simply for getting pregnant out of wedlock.
Even for those women who are not outright fired, many return to an office where colleagues have taken over some of their responsibilities or clients. Research found that some women who take maternity leave may even find it harder to advance or get promoted after they return.
Especially in high-powered jobs where the pace of work moves quickly, even a short few weeks out of the office can put women too far behind their male counterparts.
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