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“Fortunately, you can't see that you are pregnant on such a screen.”

Some feelings are so subtle that you don't even notice them. And there are a lot of them surrounding pregnancy and motherhood. For example, during both my pregnancies I remember feeling a huge barrier to sharing this at work. I felt that becoming a mother did not suit my work self at all.

Mother shame

Looking back, I was actually very ashamed. I didn't have a permanent contract, I wasn't yet where I wanted to be, and I had just taken on a new job as a self-employed person. Not really the time to throw in the towel as an ambitious woman. To show that my ambitions lay elsewhere. And then about something as silly as motherhood.

I told myself these things. This all happened in my head. I wasn't aware that this apparently happens in multiple minds. The mother shame.

Now this week I read a post from an acquaintance who described this phenomenon in detail for herself. She writes: “I was so happy that people hardly saw me pregnant because I was working from home. I was convinced that colleagues would appreciate me less as a mother”. But she also writes: “Looking back on it, this is really lame. Parenting is absolutely not a weakness.”

Parenting: betrayal or growth

This post made me realize again that this feeling of mother shame at work is very present among many women. Of the hundreds of women who participated in our masterclass, 60 percent indicated that they felt reluctant to share that they were pregnant at work.

The reasons vary enormously:

  • because they don't want to let their team down,
  • because, like me, they feel that motherhood does not fit with a career,
  • because they fear discrimination,
  • because they want a permanent contract,
  • because they themselves have quite a few judgments about what motherhood is and how mothers behave.

All these thoughts are often unconscious and rarely shared. And that is so harmful. Because if you already feel bad before you give birth, there is a good chance that when you return to work, you will mainly try to pretend that nothing has really changed at all. While parenthood by definition involves change. And that causes stress and hinders the growth that parenthood can bring.

We still associate that change with humiliation, with a burden on your team, with reduced ambition, with endless conversations at the coffee machine about 'the kids'. While parenthood has proven to bring something different. Namely leadership qualities, efficiency, better empathy and clear priorities. Just to name a few.

From tired to leadership

I became stressed out by these beliefs within a few months of my first birth. Something that would not have been necessary if I had had different ideas and more knowledge about motherhood.

That's why we work with Mom Inc. to a world in which parenthood and motherhood in particular are associated with personal growth and increased value, including at work. A world in which you proudly mention pregnancy and parenthood, so that you really make use of the qualities you bring with you.

In our program Pride in work and parenthood! we make the switch from tired to leadership. We take motherhood seriously and ensure that you see it as a superpower. You discover that you can apply these qualities in all areas: in your work, in your role as a mother and as just yourself.

Do you want to be proud of work and parenthood? Check when the next round starts.

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