Studies into gender pay inequality show us that most women only earn around $0.80 for every dollar that a male makes for doing the same job. However, a new study by the Kauffman Foundation shows that a woman loses by about 4% in her income with every new child she has, while a man earns by about 6% in an average for every new child he has. This is another example of women being punished for something beyond their control. However, there are a few things new moms can do to prepare before break, and upon return.

How It Happens

Although more companies are beginning to offer “paternity leave” so that fathers can assist with the new child, mothers are primarily responsible for daytime childcare immediately after birth. During this time off, employers reassign tasks to other employees so that normal activity may resume. However, when the mother returns, new projects must be assigned to her, and the workload may be different from how it was before she left. This change in workload may cause her to be penalized in the form of a lower-profile job or a lower earning, even while performing the same job.

Rethink Money Management

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) make it easier to pay for childcare and medical expenses. There are two kinds of FSAs, healthcare and dependent care. Under the healthcare category, you can allocate about $2,650 per year in order to meet the expenses like doctor visits, hospital copays, and medications. Childcare falls under the dependent catagory, which allocates around $5,000 per year that can meet out your child’s daycare or preschool expenses. This arrangement can help minimize debt before returning to work.

Save, Save, Save

While a woman’s salary is likely to drop after childbirth, the expenses are going to increase. Hence to avoid the financial struggle during the early parenthood, you must strive to build a safety net. It is advisable to have three months’ earnings set aside for living expenses before the baby is born. Beginning to save early on will help minimize some of the stress felt like a new parent.

Stay Connected

Whether you take a leave for a few months or a few years after having a child, the most important thing to do is to stay in touch with associates you are close with, as well as networking with other working mothers. Use them as a support system in your personal life, and allow them to keep you updated on company life (to a certain extent). Staying in touch with what’s going on at the office may help limit the transition time when you return.

Being A Mother Is Not A Setback

Try to avoid apologizing for spending time at home caring for your child. Childcare is a heavy and time-consuming responsibility which many may not understand. The skills that you gain during this time are not only beneficial to your child, but some may also be transferable to the workplace. Empathy, patience, and problem-solving are all characteristics of a caring mother, and they are also required when dealing with coworkers. Take the necessary time to celebrate your new role as a mother, and know that your hard work is valued and irreplaceable.