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Building confidence to overcome anxiety in pregnant professionals

Anxiety in pregnant professionals can be high for many female leaders in STEM, but rarely is as high as the first time they are expecting. Usually a minority in their field, witnessing other women in STEM take maternity leave can be a relative rarity for them.

When they return from mat leave, they are competing with men whose female partners often leave the workforce after the arrival of children. However, with the type of women in STEM overachievers I coach, there should be space for reflection even in their ‘down-time’ in the last few weeks before they deliver. Not surprisingly, this a key time in which we see anxiety in pregnant professionals.

Here’s how to make the most of it. 

I was recently working with Josie, a mathematician who was eight weeks away from the due date of her first child. She spoke of how much there was to do, particularly as she was going to leave work a full month before her due date – to ensure no problems.

Josie was in a muddle about how to use these weeks. Overachiever she was, the nursery was painted, the cot assembled, and her overnight bag for the hospital was already packed, all to reduce anxiety. She’d even visited the pregnantthenscrewed site to see what issues other mothers were facing, and were creating anxiety in pregnant professionals.

However, as her executive coach, I noticed Josie used the words ‘dead time’ several times and rolled her eyes more than once as she spoke. This is a classic time to reduce anxiety in pregnant professionals.

1. What would a ‘re-frame’ give your anxiety?

I noted her choice of ‘dead time’, and she then spoke about how much was going on at work that she’d be missing. So I asked: ‘What would re-framing that ‘dead time’ differently give you?’

Josie slowed down and noted: ‘Well, most of the jobs we wanted to do are done so that I could think of it as ‘peaceful time.’ When we explored what that would look like, Josie’s pace slowed. 

Recognising anxiety in pregnant professionals might be common, Josie joked that as this was her first child, so these last few weeks were a moment of peace she’d be unlikely to get again.  She then spoke of how she’d like to ‘be’, in these precious few weeks, not so much on what she wanted to ‘do’, which again slowed her earlier frantic pace.

Lessening her anxiety, in that moment, it ceased to feel like such a race and rather became more of a re-centering.

2. How do you want to look back at this moment?

Josie said she and her husband Jonathan likely wanted several children and that there was precious little she’d be able to control after the arrival of their newborn!

Josie said: ‘I probably should use it as a ‘reflection time on all that got me to this place where I have the ability to take some time off and come back to a job I love’.

So I asked Josie that after all her future children had been born and then ultimately left home, how did she want to look back at this moment – before they’d even arrived in her life?

3. How would focusing on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ change things for you?

With that frame of reference, Josie said she wanted to spend plenty of time with Jonathan, as they likely would have precious little ‘alone time’ for years to come – another source of her anxiety!

Josie also said she’d wanted to reach out to friends who had had their children and ask what they wished they’d done in those last few weeks. Just these ‘small acts’ meant she relaxed and are key for addressing anxiety in pregnant professionals.

With the ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ mindset Josie adopted, she was able to both build her confidence in her impending mother and reduce her anxiety.

She felt more clarity and felt less like the ‘do-er’ that had built her career and more like the mother and wife she wanted to ‘be.’

Essentially, how would parenting (or impending parenting!) change for you if you could focus on who you want to ‘be’ rather than all you need to ‘do’?

Share these tips to help reduce anxiety in any pregnant professionals whom you know. After all, we all need a bit of re-centering from time to time! 

Building confidence to overcome anxiety in pregnant professionals
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Building confidence to overcome anxiety in pregnant professionals
Anxiety in pregnant professionals can be debilitating, but building confidence can help you overcome it. This post provides practical advice on how to build confidence and manage anxiety so that you can have a happier, more fulfilling pregnancy.
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InclusIQ Ltd.
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