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The Patter of Tiny Feet – Again!

What with the birth of a future king and now the possible birth of some very important little black and white bears, I don’t know which has caused the most interest, excitement and uncertainty. Even without a 24 hour pregnancy cam (which I’m sure Kate was glad about!),we knew that she was pregnant, but what of Edinburgh’s panda, Tian Tian?

The urine tests and the general demeanour of Tian Tian are showing positive signs that she is pregnant, but apparently she won’t let anyone check her over, so does the world need to get ready for the birth of these beautiful creatures or could it be a false pregnancy?

This got me thinking about how we would deal with this sort of issue within the workplace. Being pregnant is a very exciting and sensitive time for women and pandas alike; both hope for a bouncing baby. But if that wasn’t to happen whether because of a false pregnancy (clinical term ‘pseudocyesis’),a miscarriage or still-birth, it will be very distressing for all concerned, especially for the mother at the centre of it all. So how are we as employers to cope with and support the employee at this most distressing time? Clearly, understanding, empathy, compassion and sensitivity are the key.

Women with pseudocyesis display many of the same symptoms of actual pregnancy for weeks or even months, including morning sickness. Queen Mary Tudor had this unpleasant and upsetting condition. You can imagine the emotional damage it does, especially to a woman who is desperate for a child. Of course these days we’re likely to discover the condition much earlier because of scans. It’s still a pretty devastating discovery for many. You could consider supporting her with psychological help, such as counselling (if provided through a company life insurance scheme),or time off for her to go to therapy sessions arranged by her GP. Of course as a business you may only be able to accommodate this for a limited time so guidance by her GP would be important and it would be sensible to get a medical report.

With regards to a miscarriage, or still-birth these are real. With a miscarriage, one minute you’re pregnant the next you’re not. The distress and feeling of guilt felt by the individual can be immense. This is a bereavement and should be dealt with as such so the company’s bereavement policy should be used. In both cases managers should use their discretion regarding timescale.

But let’s not forget the fathers. They’ve lost their child too but still want to remain strong for their partners. Remember to treat them with sensitivity, compassion and understanding too!

If you want any advice of maternity, paternity or other family friendly matters, get in touch.

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