Are you searching for a rewarding career, one that's working-mother friendly? Look no further than your growing belly, and let pregnancy and childbirth inspire you. That's what Jennifer Powers did when she became pregnant in 2004.
"I knew my job as a financial analyst wouldn't be a good fit for me once my baby was born," says the 34-year-old mom from Cambridge, Mass., citing such drawbacks as high-priced child care and a company culture in which 10-hour workdays were the norm.
It was when she attended childbirth-preparation classes that Powers discovered her dream job. "As the instructor explained the intricacies of labor and delivery, I kept thinking, 'I want to be a childbirth educator,'" she recalls.
Powers enrolled in a home-study program and earned her childbirth-educator certification before her son reached his first birthday.
"I love my new career," she reports. "Working with expectant parents, I get to share their joy and anticipation. And because classes meet in the evenings, my husband is home to care for our son while I teach."
Many maternity-related professions offer flexible hours, fulfilling responsibilities and the opportunity to help other women make the transition to motherhood. As you plan your own future as a working mom, consider whether one of these careers might be your perfect fit. (Organizations listed here offer further training and certification information.)
Childbirth educators teach moms- and dads-to-be general what-to-expect classes or specialize in such topics as natural pain relief. Those who offer private classes charge between $200 and $650 per couple for a six-week course. CBEs who teach in a hospital setting typically make $30 to $50 per class. Certification requirements include completing home-study course work, observing experienced childbirth educators and teaching a practice class.
For more information: Visit International Childbirth Educators Association
RELATED: Finding a Good Childbirth Class
"I mother the mother-to-be," says Julie Six, 26, a certified doula from Swayzee, Ind. "I stay by a woman's side throughout labor, offering encouragement, informational support and comfort." But the nature of doula work means the hours are often unpredictable. "Dependable child care is a must when you are on call," Six says. Most doulas attend one or two births a month, with fees ranging from $500 to $1,200.
To earn certified-doula status, a woman must complete a basic childbirth course and provide labor assistance to a minimum of three clients. If you prefer a more conventional work schedule, postpartum doulas provide such services as light housecleaning, meal preparation and daytime or overnight newborn care. They generally charge $15 to $25 per hour.
For more information: Visit Doulas of North America
RELATED: Doulas 101: What Is a Doula?
"I care for women during all stages of labor, delivery and the immediate postpartum period—essentially anything related to pregnancy that requires a trip to the maternity ward," says Jeanne Faulkner, 46, a labor and delivery nurse in Portland, Ore., and a mom of five. "If you can, work part time or on call so you have more control over your hours," Faulkner adds. Nurses typically make $25 to $40 per hour. Education prerequisites include a B.S. or A.S. degree in nursing.
For more information: Visit Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses
You might find yourself teaching a breastfeeding class to expectant mothers, helping a newborn latch on properly to the breast or answering questions from a nursing mother who just returned to work. For Kelly Emery, I.B.C.L.C., 38, a lactation consultant in Grand Rapids, Mich., the job's most rewarding aspect is reassuring a mother that her breastfed baby is thriving. "When I hear the baby swallowing and can teach the mother how to recognize this sound, she is usually incredibly relieved and amazed," Emery says. "You can just see her shoulders relax."
Lactation consultants typically complete a combination of college-level courses and hands-on work before receiving certification. Most work is in a hospital or clinic setting, with pay ranging from $25 to $40 an hour.
For more information: Visit International Lactation Consultant Association
If you love working out, put your fitness skills to good use by leading prenatal aerobics, yoga or Pilates classes.
"Yoga helped me get in touch with my body—and my baby—during pregnancy," says Michelle Hill, 38, a prenatal-yoga instructor in New York. "Now I teach it to other pregnant women," adds the mother of two, whose daily work schedule permits her to be home by noon. Pay generally ranges between $50 and $100 per class.
To obtain basic prenatal-fitness certification, you must complete independent course work and attend a training workshop. For certification in yoga or Pilates, you will need to attend specialty seminars in those areas.
For more information: Visit Aerobics & Fitness Association of America