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“Did I say you could rub my belly?” If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ve likely experienced the evaporation of your personal space as everyone from your male boss to complete strangers plant their big paws on your baby bump–apparently forgetting that said bump is also your belly.

So, let’s make it clear. Please ask permission before mauling a mom-to-be’s mid-section. Bosses, supervisors, shift managers, and whoever else is in charge, this means you too. In fact, when it comes to dealing with your pregnant employees, there are several things you should keep in mind.

Top Tips For Managing Pregnancies In The Workplace

1. Have a Policy

A maternity policy takes the guesswork–and puzzled expressions–out of managing pregnant employees. If your company does not have a maternity policy in place, it should. This will not only ensure that everyone is treated equitably, but it will also help managers better understand and adhere to the rules outlined in the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Family Medical Leave Act, plus your state and municipal laws. “Top 5 Tips for Employers when Managing Pregnant Employees” recommends that these policies should “explicitly state that the employer prohibits pregnancy discrimination in any form, and should provide the name of employer representatives for pregnant employees to contact should they have any questions or concerns regarding the employer’s policies or the treatment they are receiving at work.”

2. Make Accommodations

Even the most “super-heroic” of employees may require accommodations on the job due to pregnancy. Growing and carrying a new human is physically draining. Sometimes, pregnancies can lead to complications or a temporary inability to carry out certain physical aspects of the job. It is important that your company offers the same accommodations to pregnant employees as it would to any other worker that develops a short-term medical problem.

If an expectant mother presents a doctor’s certificate confirming that she requires an accommodation, it is generally expected that the employer will make the necessary modifications to her duties. According to CNN’s “8 Rights of Pregnant Women at Work,” in order to avoid accommodating a pregnant employee, an employer must prove that doing so would cause undue hardship to the company.

It is also important to bear in mind that pregnancy comes with a multitude of medical appointments, so said employee will require some flexibility in her schedule. Other accommodations include telecommuting, light duty, or modified tasks. “How to Become a Surrogate Mother: The Complete Guide” offers insight into some of the concerns that someone undergoing an IVF pregnancy must contend with on top of those associated with a traditional pregnancy.

3. Treat Her Normally

“I may be pregnant, but I can leap and frolic and take a business call as well as anyone else.”  Other than offering any requested accommodations, it is important that you don’t treat your pregnant employee any differently than you would normally treat her. She is not a fragile china doll that needs your protection. If she has not asked for modifications, carry on with business as usual. According to the Huffington Post‘s “5 Ways to Deal with a Pregnant Employee Without Getting Sued,” you will not wind up in federal court over throwing her a surprise baby shower or helping her carry a heavy computer bag up the stairs, but you cannot make changes in her job based on your own assumptions about what she needs.

By following these steps, you will be better able to ensure that your employee can successfully mesh her roles as expectant mother and productive team member–creating a win-win situation for all parties involved. Including the baby–the newest member of your company’s extended family.

Pregnant moms, how do you feel about people touching your baby bump?

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