An Unplanned Pregnancy: Planning Your Next Steps (Phase 1)
Some things in our lives happen unexpectedly and catch us off guard. This may either bring us happiness; or it may be so challenging that we hit a breaking point. If you are experiencing the latter, you are definitely not the only one!
There is a famous Japanese proverb “fall seven times, stand up eight”. The message is simple yet powerful. When life knocks you down many times, all you need to win is to stand up one more time. In short, when life gets harder, we need to get stronger.
Pregnancy is an exciting time for many women. Carrying a life inside of you for 9 months is a natural, biological part of being a woman. For some women, such as foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, this may not be the case. When becoming pregnant, many are torn between the joy of motherhood and the fear of losing their livelihood. These women are being challenged to do the “right” thing. But what is the “right” thing?
The answers will vary, depending on who you ask; be it employers, partners, peers or family members. This is no doubt a challenging situation for all parties. But yet when all involved are focused on securing a fair start and a promising future for the unborn child; this can work – with thoughtful planning and discussion. As such, planning is definitely the key!
So How Shall We Plan?
This sounds like an easy question, but certainly a tough one to answer, especially when one is a pregnant female foreign domestic worker in Hong Kong.
Before you start, make sure you allocate some time to plan. Be at a place where there is minimal distraction, and it is very important that you write things down. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Reach out to those who can and will support you.
Develop your plan in 2 phases. Phase 1 refers to the immediate steps to take once you find out you are pregnant. Phase 2 requires a bit more thought, and it involves planning about the near future.
Your Next Steps (Phase 1)
- Notify Your Employer
Once you have the result of your pregnancy from a doctor, immediately and formally notify your employer. They deserve to be promptly informed so they can plan for their household. For instance, they will need to adjust their family schedule to accommodate your antenatal check-ups, as well as decide how your duties can be covered when you are on maternity leave.
- Discuss with Your Employer
It is probably not going to be easy, but having an open discussion with your employer earlier in your pregnancy will give everyone the much needed time to process the information. It will also create an atmosphere of transparency and honesty which will be appreciated by all. Everyone should come together to find the best way to deal with the situation that is in accordance with the Hong Kong law, and discuss what would and could work for both parties.
- Seek Information
Taking care of your pregnancy is critical no matter what your age and health condition is. As a foreign domestic worker in Hong Kong, you have access to free public prenatal care. Look for a Maternal and Child Health Centre, public hospital and other relevant resources near you.
Write your plan in a format that works for you. Everyone has different ways and methods of doing it. Some like having a book where they can tick or cross, some like to use their phones and others use their computers. There is no right or wrong method, you just need to choose one that works for you.
In the next article, we will dive into Phase 2 of the planning, which will cover the ‘near future' steps such as where to give birth, care provision for your child and managing your employment, and the important things to consider while making plans for the above.
Click here for phase 2.
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