Women as breadwinners: What happens during pregnancy?

March 07, 2014 12:00 AM by

Back in the 1950s, the typical family was made up of a mom, dad and their children. The dad would head out to work each morning and come home later that night, while the mom would stay at home taking care of the kids, cleaning the house and cooking meals. For years, this was society's norm – but it isn't anymore. Nowadays, families can be a lot more complicated than just the mom, dad and kids. It could be the mom, her boyfriend, her kids, his kids and a grandmother. It could be a single mother and her kids, or a single dad and his kids. Since the family dynamic is changing, so is the expectation of the man being the sole breadwinner.

Women as breadwinners
It's no secret that women are seeing more success in the workplace. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 40 percent of American families' primary breadwinners are mothers. A whopping 37 percent of those breadwinners are wives who make more money than their husbands. It's also becoming much more normal to see stay-at-home dads rather than stay-at-home moms. U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in families where one parent stays at home and one works full time, it's the moms who are going to work in 23 percent of those families. Back in 1976, that number was only 6 percent.

The effect on relationships
Every couple's relationship is different, so whether the fact that the woman is the breadwinner has a positive or negative impact varies. Some men feel embarrassed or self-conscious when their wives are earning more than them. Others are proud of their women and more than happy to take over responsibilities at home and with the kids while their partners lead fulfilling careers. Some women love having a busy life with lots of work-related tasks and then relaxing with their families, while others wish they could do a little less work overall and have a more equal relationship. No matter the situation, it's worth having a talk with your partner if it looks like you are or will be the breadwinner.

The impact on pregnancy
Getting ready for pregnancy as the breadwinner of the family shouldn't have a huge impact on your overall career if you've fully prepared. Talk to your employer about maternity leave as soon as possible and try to negotiate something that works for your family. Consider keeping in touch with your work network while you're away and maybe brushing up your business skills with classes or seminars soon after you return to work. That way, you'll be ready to jump back into the workforce once you're ready.

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