my employee says she has “pregnancy brain”

A reader writes:

My lead administrative assistant, who is normally fantastic, is pregnant. In the past few weeks, she has made some very significant errors, two of which in particular have ended up causing a good bit of drama, increasing workload for others in my department, and also costing our organization a not-insignificant chunk of money. She has been profusely apologetic about these errors, and blamed them on her “pregnancy brain.”

I know this is a real physiological thing! But I also need her to be more careful about detail work. I’ve talked with her about slowing down and taking time to double-check the projects she’s working on, but things are still slipping through the cracks.

I obviously need to have another talk with her, but I’m concerned about how to frame that conversation. While she’s blaming her issues on “pregnancy brain,” I am deeply uncomfortable doing so myself (and in fact suspect it might be actively discriminatory!). As a woman myself, I have no wish to attribute performance issues to something that is still, unfortunately, used to discriminate against women in the workforce, or to pathologize pregnancy. I feel like it might be important to mentor her around using such language to explain performance issues, but I’m not sure if that’s even appropriate for me to do, especially when there really is a physiological issue here. Do you have any advice for 1) being supportive but firm in talking with her about these things; 2) staying on the right side of discrimination issues when I do?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 253 comments… read them below }

  1. not my first rodeo*

    Something to consider: There are many mental health medications that are not proven to be safe during pregnancy. e.g. I had to stop taking ADHD medication and that’s 80% of how I manage to be detail oriented and not miss things. If the employee is going through anything like this, and doesn’t want to disclose their psychiatric status, pregnancy brain is an excellent phrase to use to cover.

    There are lots of resources out there for how to support people with ADHD that, REGARDLESS of whether this is the case for the employee, can be so helpful for increasing attention to detail. Things like checklists/ tasks lists, calendar entry reminders, second checks by other employees….. it may feel like micromanaging but it’s temporary for now and can be done to the extent necessary (end of pregnancy).

    Of course it is VERY possible that this person is NOT going through this, but it’s something worth considering to add empathy and there are supports for this that can be adopted to help the ‘symptoms’ seen regardless.

    1. Medium Sized Manager*

      I have a direct report who was diagnosed with ADHD late in life (within the last year as a person in their 30s), and the extra checks and balances have been super helpful to their performance. I also found that the extra quality safety nets helped with their confidence – they regularly would second-guess themselves because of the way their brain processed information so it gave them the confidence that we a) see the work and b) agree they are doing it correctly. There was a big fear that they were secretly making a ton of mistakes that had not been caught yet, which isn’t helpful for performance.

      1. Nicole Maria*

        How did you find this out about your report? As what seems like with every other white woman in their 30s I was also recently diagnosed (lol) but I can’t imagine a situation where my supervisor would know about this.

        1. not my first rodeo*

          I told my supervisor as I had years of political capital and good reputation built up, she and I have a good rapport and have previously talked about mental health in a positive balanced way, and wanted her to be aware of the reasoning behind any changes in my work or behaviour when I went through a medication adjustment over a couple months.

        2. Freya*

          I am an HR Manager in my late 20st that reports directly to our (woman) company President. I told her immediately as soon as I was diagnosed with ADHD so she knew that there could be potential changes in my performance as I navigate getting on meds for the first time.

          I’ve also been open with my management team as a whole about my diagnosis.

          1. Rainy*

            Much as when I first joined my current workplace and was open about being queer, which has led to many more queer hires and more people in my office feeling comfortable about being out at work, when I was diagnosed with ADHD last year in my 40s, I applied that same approach to being neurodivergent. When I went on meds, I told my manager (mostly because I was excited to see if it would help–spoiler alert, it did!), and I think it’s helpful for my office to see a competent person with seniority and a lot of capital in the office represent in this way.

            I feel very privileged to work in a sector where I can do this; I know that’s not the case for everyone. I’ve had awkward conversations and the like, but if a few awkward conversations every now and again helps my office see the value of considering candidates based on their ability to do the job and helps the people who come after me feel welcome and appreciated, it’s more than worth it.

        3. Pretty as a Princess*

          My supervisor and my team know that I was recently dx’d with ADHD. I was pretty open about it. (I told my immediate team leads when I started taking meds, so they could BOLO if I seemed off.) I am a director (the CEO is my grand-boss, and my boss only has two technical peers).

          I have plenty of capital and it’s never going to put me behind the 8-ball – there are a lot of neurodivergent people in my workplace, diagnosed or not – and I figured that if I am open and honest about it then maybe it helps destigmatize getting evaluated if people are considering it, and shows that it’s not a career limiter.

        4. Phryne*

          I told my manager about my mental health problems (not ADHD) because the post diagnosis time would be bad enough without the added mental load of having to keep something so major a secret from the people I spend 40 hrs a week with (and it is not like they would not notice and then it would be up to the gossips to fill in the blanks. I opted for controlling the narrative). And I figured that, if this would have a negative impact, that would be useful info about my employer and bosses for my future there.
          But as it went, it was not an issue at all.

        5. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          There are reasons for this! One is the pandemic messing up people’s coping strategies, another is actual hormonal changes worsening ADHD symptoms in women after age 35 or so. (I don’t have ADHD myself, but my son was diagnosed 5 years ago and my wife about 2 years ago, so I do a lot of reading about it.) Apparently it’s super common for women to realize they have ADHD while filling out the diagnostic questionnaire for their kids – a “you mean not everyone is like this?” moment.

          1. Magenta*

            I had this, not my child who is too young for that kind of thing but a friend telling me about her daughter, I found myself saying, “but isn’t that just normal?” and apparently the answer is no. I then read an article about women diagnosed late in life in The Times (UK) and found I had a huge chunk of the issues mentioned.

            The pandemic, then getting pregnant, having a baby, working full time had all made my symptoms a lot worse and I ended up getting diagnosed earlier in the year. I’m still trying to find the right medication and dose that means the benefits outweigh the side effects, but just knowing that a lot of the things I always kinda felt were harder for me than most other people actually are harder for me and I’m not just being lazy/bad/inept/disorganised/etc has been a massive help.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep. I might be one of the few women who at 30 told my doctor I didn’t plan to have children and got an “okay GOOD” in response. The medication I’d have to go off and the strain on my not terribly strong body would be very difficult to manage.

      You’re right that it could be a very run of the mill pregnancy and just normal brain fog, but sometimes people have a hard time imaging what other people could be experiencing (especially if they perhaps had a relatively easy pregnancy themselves) so it’s good to call out the possibilities. Even something like your blood sugar going haywire can seriously impact cognitive abilities.

      1. TeratomasAreWeird*

        The number of times my gyno oncologist assured me he’d do everything possible to preserve my fertility when I’d *just* told him I didn’t want kids… and I was in my mid-thirties at the time.

        (If I’d known how bad post-surgical menstrual cramps would be, I would have argued a lot harder for them to just get rid of the uterus while they were in there, even if I had to pay extra.)

      1. So Tired*

        I think the point may be that LW wouldn’t know if that’s the case. Like Not My First Rodeo pointed out, this may be a case where the employee hasn’t disclosed a different personal health condition which might ordinarily be under control with medication but which can’t be controlled that way while pregnant. Just a reminder for the LW and others here to take into account that there may be more at play in a situation like this than what the LW is aware of.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah, but as with most neurological issues, if she’s making mistakes at work it’s her responsibility to solve them, not LW’s. She’s messing up and not taking responsibility for it, and most people with or without neurological conditions would generally see that as their own problem and deal accordingly.

          This is really frustrating to read all the time here as I’ve had this journey and struggled with it but I’ve got to the point with therapy and medication that I can take responsibility for it myself. It’s tough, no doubt about it, but LW has business needs that have been upended by this woman and she’s effectively blown it off, and that’s not on in any workplace I’ve been in, even the supportive ones.

          It’s great to be compassionate but this sort of thing tips over from compassionate into infantilising, as if the neurodivergent are prisoners in their own mind and everyone else has to carry them. We’re not, and should be as accountable as anyone else in this situation.

          1. ceiswyn*

            …with medication, you say?

            So, if you couldn’t have the medication anymore, what would your strategy be?

            1. GythaOgden*

              I’m not sure but I’m not on meds with any kind of shortage. I may have got used to the ways of avoiding triggers and understanding my neurological situation well enough to develop other methods of coping. I’m certainly not about to come off them just to prove a point or in solidarity with others who can’t get theirs.

              However, even if I did, or if I couldn’t get hold of them or whatever, it would still be up to me to sort myself out, not on my line manager or colleagues. They’ve got issues of their own — my supervisor had to fly out suddenly to South Africa to take care of a family emergency and won’t be back until the beginning of October, my ex-supervisor has an ill husband and stepdaughters going through heck with a neglectful biological mother and my colleague is struggling to sell an apartment because it’s in an over-55s block of flats and demand has crashed since the government started trying to fix what wasn’t broken. My husband ended up with cancer, which is why I went on the meds in the first place — I couldn’t let my trivial anxieties get in the way of his major stress and an illness eating him from inside, and I ended up as his carer. For once in my life I wasn’t the one most in need of being cared for, and while it’s been really tough since he died, I have held things together and got to the point where I can start working in a higher capacity job.

              Everyone has issues, some related to their neurology or ‘protected characteristics’, some stemming from the people they love going through a hard time, some just knotty problems that are tying up money they need to be able to retire or whatever. I’m not selfish enough to think that whether or not I have medication, I can make my drama the centre of their worlds as well as mine and disrupt their working lives. It just doesn’t work like that in the world I live in.

              1. Just me*

                You’ve clearly been through a rough time and risen to the challenges in a very impressive way. I’m glad you’ve found an outlook that works for you.

                I would like to gently say, though, that if you — or anyone — were to need a reasonable accommodation at work because of a family crisis, a neurological difference and/or ‘protected characteristics,’ that wouldn’t be selfish.

                Employers have to account for the fact that their workers are human. If there’s no room to make reasonable accommodations, then that’s a failing of the employer. It’s not the workers’ fault for being human.

              2. Ann*

                That’s not how it usually works. If someone has medical issues, their employer also participates in creating accommodations. You don’t tell a warehouse worker who threw out his back to sort things out on his own, the company should take part in either reassigning him or partnering him with someone who can lift heavy things.

      2. Nobby Nobbs*

        not my first rodeo pointed out twice, correctly IMO, that supports for people with ADHD might help this employee whether ADHD is the problem or not.

    3. Lucia Pacciola*

      I’m not sure that is something to consider, not for the manager. My medical circumstances and medication interactions are really something between me and my physician. I don’t want my manager thinking she’s my life coach or health guru or mental health hand-holder.

      I’m much more comfortable with my manager simply telling me what she expects from me, and how I’m measuring up against that expectation. If I need temporary accommodations for some health reason, that’s for me to bring up, not for her to guess at and try and try to “fix” or “address”.

      And the level of micromanagement you’re suggesting? Might as well go ahead and put them on a PIP. I’m here to solve problems for my manager, not cause problems that they need to invest a lot of extra mental and emotional energy trying to solve.

      If I’m off my game right now? We can talk about that and what to do about it, without my manager having to try to diagnose and treat my mental state. That’s my business.

      1. not my first rodeo*

        Ok so normally I would scroll past comments like this but… this falls into talking negatively about people who require accommodations at work for health reasons and that’s something I’m not ready to tolerate as it becomes ableism quickly.

        Nowhere did I suggest the employee nor their supervisor discuss the employee’s mental health diagnosis. The supervisor is seeing issues with attention to detail; there are ways to support this that also happen to fall into ways to support people with ADHD. Using resources for workplace accomodations for people with ADHD could also help the employee during a time that seems to be creating somewhat similar challenges.

        I would also further argue that having mental health struggles, whether due to the very real physiological and neurological changes due to pregnancy, or to other undisclosed psychiatric disorders, are not “causing problems”. It is a manager’s job to manage, and sometimes having checklists and calendar entries and so forth are part of that management. Often, in fact.

        Nowhere in my message do I suggest the manager discuss psychiatric state. Rather, approaching this scenario with more than “mom brain”, which I agree sounds potentially sexist and damaging in tone despite being a real phenomenon… with, instead, the idea that the manager doesn’t know the full picture (and may never know, due to the exact privacy information you expound on as if I disagreed) and there may be many other parts at play here.

        I wish you empathy and kindness.

        1. GythaOgden*

          No, it’s really not. You’re infantilising us neurodivergent/us women and it gets really frustrating that people here seem so eager to be compassionate towards certain people they forget that a lot of other people — including the outwardly privileged — have their own struggles, some related to things like disability or other marginalisation, and some that cut across social justice paradigms.

          It’s an in/out group all of its own and that’s never what social justice should have become. It’s the equivalent of Maoism in old style socialism — an ideology which elevates the ideology above what ordinary human beings want and need to do in their own lives.

          If SJ is to mean anything, it’s a means to an end — a means to level social disparities between groups that we’ve identified as historically marginalised and give everyone an equal chance at a fulfilling life. It’s not designed either to elevate the problems of a few deserving over the undeserving (no human being is undeserving of basic dignity) or create a new hierarchy of needs to replace the old one. Individuals with outward privilege have needs too and most marginalised people generally want to overcome their marginalisation and live a contented and integrated life.

          Social justice that starts to pigeonhole people and make them out to be perpetual victims who need to be protected from the consequences of their own individual behaviour is not social or just. It shouldn’t work to infantilise people — it shouldn’t dictate what opinions we hold, it shouldn’t mean we’re exempt from the consequences of messing up and it doesn’t mean we’re angels who can do no wrong. Unfortunately, in some circles, SJ has moved from empowerment of individuals to make their own choices in life regardless of their starting point in terms of heritage, neurological or physical make-up, gender identity or whatever to some claustrophobic categorisation into heroes who can do no wrong and must be indulged or villains who can’t do anything right and must be approached with a confrontational mindset.

          For me as a neurodivergent woman whose disability held me back from what I wanted to do, I don’t want to play this eternal victim of circumstances game. I’ve messed up because of my neurological issues and been fired justly and then worked on it and managed to ride it out in future jobs. I’ve got where I am now because I’ve tried hard to not let my neurological issues hold me back, not that there are accommodations which make me suddenly blameless for messing up.

          This happens so often here it’s just exhausting and tiresome. If you feel that way, that’s your lookout, but don’t try and drag me down with you.

          1. Phryne*

            not my first rodeo: ‘Hey, these symptoms sound just like some symptoms I have, here are some neat resources to navigate these, they helped me a lot maybe they can help someone else’
            you: ‘the equivalent of Maoism in old style socialism’ ‘ perpetual victims’ ‘claustrophobic categorisation into heroes who can do no wrong and must be indulged’

            As another neurodivergent person: maybe take a step back allright? You seem to be venting a lot of (probably very justified) frustration in a situation that is really not that deep.

          2. tinyhipsterboy*

            This isn’t about social justice and the way people miswield it, though. This is about an employee who is having a temporary hard time due to a medical concern, whether we know the full details of it or not. When there’s a temporary issue that arises, like in this situation, it’s not at all unreasonable for someone to ask if there’s anything they can do to help, and that’s before we bring in that this is a workplace issue.

            Managers do have a responsibility to manage their staff, which includes helping them with accommodations and finding solutions to problems. Hell, Alison’s answer to this specific letter even includes asking the employee if there’s anything they can do to help and that it might feel hand-holdy but is a good idea for otherwise-strong employees. It’s been discussed multiple times on this site, to boot.

            That doesn’t mean babying staff or micromanaging, but when it comes to a specifically temporary issue (like this is), more checks and balances for a while may help. Given that the employee is having trouble with organization and attention, ADHD tips–whether they have ADHD or not–may help them until they can get back to a more normal state of mind for themselves.

            Nobody here is saying that us neurodivergents should be blameless or that we’re victims of circumstances with no way to succeed. I get what you’re saying, I’ve seen it happen too, but that’s not the circumstance here. And I do think we need to be careful how we discuss the use of social justice as infantilizer considering how often that’s used to decry any sort of equity measure. We’re talking about potential accommodations (temporary ones, at that!) in the workplace, not absolving people of consequences. As I’m sure you know from reading the site (and this specific letter’s answer), accommodations are a completely normal part of the workplace, and bringing in talk about accommodations making people blameless does exactly what not my first rodeo was concerned about in the first place.

            Frankly, I think it’s really unkind to respond to someone who is a)sharing ideas to help and b)concerned about how this language can slide into ableism by accusing them of dragging others down and victimizing people via social justice.

      2. Nonprofit_Aly*

        Lucia, I completely agree! People often have issues in their personal lives — illness, loss of a loved one, breakups, caregiving, etc — and it is up to them and their support network outside of work (family, friends, therapists, doctors) to manage these issues. If someone is pregnant and knows they have reduced focus or attention to detail, they should set up guardrails for themselves (such as approaching a coworker to review high priority tasks). The role of a supervisor is to set clear expectations and provide feedback that helps employees do their jobs, not to micromanage every task. We all make occasional mistakes! But in this case, the OP mentions multiple and significant mistakes. Ask the employee to come up with a game plan and present it to you, instead of just blaming pregnancy brain. More mistakes by the employee would then result in important tasks being shifted to others.

        1. Sweet 'N Low*

          I would argue that someone having reduced focused and attention to detail may likely struggle to set up guardrails for themselves. Is it still their responsibility at the end of the day? Of course. But it would be a kindness if that person’s manager was willing to assist in coming up with and implementing those guardrails.

          Going back to the topic of ADHD, one of the reasons that it’s such a PITA thing to deal with is because it inherently makes it harder to do the things that would alleviate the symptoms. Would setting up a calendar system help my ADHD brain keep track of things? You bet. Is it possible for me, while unmedicated, to do that for myself? Yeah, and that’s how I survived for the first 20+ years of my life. Will it require ALL OF THE EFFORT for me to do so? Holy guacamole, yes, I’m pretty sure you just asked me to run a marathon and do mental calculus and cook a moist chicken breast on the stove all at once.

          (Not saying that LW’s employee has ADHD, just using this as an example of why it’s difficult for someone who can’t focus to create systems to help themselves focus).

          1. GythaOgden*

            The person with the issues is probably the best person to set up their own guardrails tbh. Firstly, accommodations can only be sought if they’re actually asked for and discussed, and they won’t mean that the worker is excused from doing their basic job (like, I can’t ask my boss to help me manage my spoons through letting me WFH because reception is 100% in person, and before anyone leaps in to say that some parts of it could be done from home, that infrastructure is not going to happen any time soon and would probably be an unreasonable hardship for my employer).

            In another circumstance, if a colleague of LW’s report was writing in talking about the report constantly dropping the ball in major ways, people would be suggesting she be fired. I agree it’s right to consider her situation, but as was said to me in a very similar circumstance (after the incident which broke the camel’s back): ‘I’m really sorry about your issues but I need someone here to do the job’.

            I took that as a cue to get sorted and in my current job, there have definitely been times that I’ve been struggling, and things have progressed to a point. But I have been on the brink of being asked to take an unpaid LoA, and that actually made me pull my socks up and focus on managing things a lot better.

            All the compassion and empathy in the world won’t stop this woman making more mistakes and disrupting things at work. Ultimately, it’s not her fault she’s pregnant and/or neurodivergent, but that doesn’t absolve her of having to do the same things I and a lot of other people do and manage ourselves. She’s responsible enough that her mistakes cost the business a lot of time and money, so she’s responsible enough that she can manage things much better than she is given the circumstances.

            Also, and I say this a lot, but maybe OP and some of her colleagues are neurodivergent or have other issues that have held them back at some point. At some point, yes, it’s the individual’s responsibility to rise above circumstances and be accountable for their own issues. Resilience is something that people generally have to develop on their own and can’t be foisted on someone else. Additionally, outside of specific work programmes for the severely disabled, no business has an absolute obligation to carry a particular member of staff. Having been fired once and, as I said, on the brink of a soft firing due to stressful personal circumstances at the other end of the life event spectrum from OP’s report, it was ultimately something I had to do myself. And by doing things to counteract the stress while at work I felt a lot better — more empowered to ask for what I needed rather than just expect others to scramble around me — than walking around making mistakes and leaving my colleagues (in UK public healthcare so definitely not a for-profit business!) scrambling to cover.

    4. Mf*

      As someone who is currently pregnant and experiencing prenatal depression:

      Pretty much any kind of mental health issue can impact your ability to focus at work. Add to that the fact that doctors don’t like prescribing any kind of medication during pregnancy, and you have a recipe for disaster. (My own doctor has strongly discouraged me from taking any sort of antidepressant right now. It’s made my whole life, *especially* work, very hard.)

      It is indeed very possible that this employee is not experiencing any kind of issue related to neurodivergence or mental health. However, women are at their most vulnerable for mental health issues during and after pregnancy. In fact, mental health problems are the most common comorbidity in pregnancy and post-pregnancy—1 in 5 women are impacted! So I would encourage this manager and others to be as empathetic as possible.

      1. Lydia*

        Compassion can only take you so far, especially if it’s already created costly drama at work. There is someplace in between where the employee is taking steps to mitigate as much as she can, and the OP is allowing for occasional mistakes.

        1. Mf*

          Nowhere did I say that the employee shouldn’t make an effort. Ideally, the employee and employer would approach this as a problem they can solve together. I don’t appreciated you making that assumption or putting words in my mouth, btw.

          So many bosses and employers treat pregnant employees like they should be able to perform their job as normal, with no impact in performance, and that is just not realistic in any cases. That’s where the empathy and compassion comes in.

      2. SSRIsaresafe*

        It’s worth getting a second opinion or seeing a psychiatrist regarding this. Most SSRIs are safe in pregnancy, and of course prenatal depression and the likelihood that it will become postpartum depression has a host of adverse effects. Some doctors hate prescribing during pregnancy but there’s really no reason to not explore an anti-depressant. Reproductive/perinatal psychiatrists can be particularly helpful but unfortunately there are not many of them.

        1. Mf*

          Thank you for this! I am looking at talking to a psychiatrist and am looking for a new OB. I don’t really like how my OB handled this issue. Unfortunately, medical care for pregnant women is often not good—yet another reason why it can be hard to address health problems that are impacting work performance.

      3. STAT!*

        Good wishes to you from me Mf! I had utterly appalling untreated pre-natal depression, so I really feel for what you are going through.

  2. Jenn*

    I’d just add to this answer that it’s an opportunity to see if you can support her role with more checks and balances – someone to review things before they go out or cross-training someone on things like reporting.

    1. kiki*

      Yeah, I know it will increase the workload for someone else, but I’m wondering if there’s any way to bring in secondary review for some of these tasks. I’m also thinking this could be helpful to the org in anticipation of the lead admin assistant going on maternity leave. The reviewer would be in a good spot to take over admin’s tasks while they’re on leave if they’ve been reviewing/assisting with them for a few months.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I’d third this suggestion! Or see if it’s possible to transfer over some of the highly tricky time-sensitive tasks on a temporary basis.

      2. Jessi James*

        This is exactly what I suggested to my boss (currently 31 weeks along, and hooo boy YES the baby brain is real). I’d be more than happy to train up the temp who’s gonna take over my share of the team’s workload while I’m on leave, and having someone else there always makes me double check my work.

        Alas, the almighty budget says no – they can’t bring the newbie on until AFTER I’m out. Still, I think the overlap is the best solution for both the individual, who gets a second pair of eyes, and the team, who get a smooth transfer.

    2. Umami*

      This. it’s a short-term issue from a usually high performer. OP can minimize the impact by providing appropriate short-term support and also be seen as a caring, empathetic leader.

      1. Umami*

        To be clear, the goal is to ‘be’ a caring, empathetic boss, not just to ‘seem’ like one, that wording was awkward.

        1. Misty_Meaner*

          MY issue with “transferring over some of the ….work” means someone ELSE has to pick up the slack for that worker, potentially for months, including while on maternity leave and then when back during breast feeding. I for one never experienced “pregnancy brain” during my 3 pregnancies, other than the occasional daydreaming about the baby/mentally designing the nursery, but nothing that affected work. However, I used to SWEAR the baby sucked all the oxygen from my brain while breastfeeding because those months (prolly more likely due to sleep deprivation, but anyway) are when I felt the occasional mental lapse. So, this “temporary” suggestion could have QUITE a long term impact on whoever gets stuck doing her work while she skates at work on the easy stuff. I’m not trying to minimize her feeling less competent during her pregnancy but getting away with just tossing off “Oh pregnancy brain” when she makes a mistake and having other people have to step in … well I’m not sure that’s fair and equitable.

          1. Ann*

            But someone is going to fill in for her while she’s on leave, aren’t they?

            I guess the other option would be to make sure work never needs to be shifted by never hiring young women. Oh, and people with chronic conditions. And older people. And anyone old enough to be a caregiver. And, drat, no one is safe because sometimes people unpredictably get in accidents (we’ve had two people out for months because of really bad car/bike accidents).

      2. Artemesia*

        It is not acceptable. It is costing money. It is messing up other people’s work. She cannot be doing this. Of course given her track record you are sympathetic and supportive. BUT it also needs to be clear that this is a big problem and must be corrected and that she should take the time she needs to be extra careful and double check. If possible can someone proofread or help double check for her during this period?

          1. Firecat*

            Why not? That’s like saying a broken leg is a thing but that’s no excuse to not play in your teams big game.

            Pregnancy brain fog is very serious for some people. I literally could not remember anything that wasn’t written down despite usually have a great memory. I would make mistakes on simple things I was a master at and have no recollection of the mistake. I could swear it was accurate when I did it. I’m not sure what more steps I could taken when I suffered this to ‘do better’ as you suggested but you are seriously minimizing an awful and frankly terrifying side effect some women experience in pregnancy.

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          The problem with brainfog if it also impairs your ability to check your work. It affects your memory, and the brain, trying to fill in those gaps, will ‘helpfully’ check what you planned to do and tell you that you did it. So you can be convinced you were twice as careful and double checked everything, but actually you spent that time staring at an empty coffee pot trying to remember what you need to do to turn it into a full one. Like with the ADHD discussion above, yes, there are tools and processes that can mitigate the issue, but while you are in the depths of it you’re not capable of implementing them. You absolutely need a separate person to perform the checks, and that’s why it’s her manager’s issue.

    3. Mf*

      That’s the first thing that came to mind for me. If a process or task comes with high risk relies on one single person to avoid making mistakes, that’s a huge weakness in the process! People are human—we make mistakes sometimes no matter how hard we try not to. So the safest bet is to rethink this task and ask yourself: how can we do this in a way that doesn’t require the admin to be mistake-free?

  3. Bumblebee*

    It is exhausting being pregnant – at least it was for me, and especially in the first trimester. It is a real medical condition that must be accommodated like any other, and like any other condition it will affect different people differently, and affect the same person differently at different times. Unfortunately our society tends towards the sexist and misogynist and so accommodating this gets seen as “special privileges” and whatnot.

    I think we also tend, across the board, to underestimate and misunderstand the confluence of physical and mental symptoms of most conditions – not only pregnancy but of other conditions as well; we make a strict dichotomy between “mental” and “physical” health, at least in teh US, when really I think they are much more intertwined.

    1. Mim*

      Yes, the exhaustion! I wonder how much of “pregnancy brain” really is just what happens when a person is exhausted. (For whatever reason.)

      As someone who has experienced the exhaustion of pregnancy and the exhaustion of recovering from surgery, the effect on my physically and mentally/cognitively was pretty similar. Both pregnancy and the physical healing process are incredibly energy intensive, and can suck a person dry even if they are not overtly exerting themselves at all. (And on top of that, many pregnant people have food aversions and nausea, and might not be able to fuel their bodies well. That doesn’t help the exhaustion at all.)

      The difference between those two exhausting experiences for me was that because the context was surgery recovery, I thought to cut back to part time for a while after I returned to work. (After a couple of full days where I was just not functional for the last third or so of the day.) I wish I’d thought to do that when I was pregnant, because I think it would have helped a lot. And I wonder if that is something the employee here might consider, if it is feasible for them and their employer. If it helps, then there is a person who is able to better take care of their body and mind, and who is doing better work. Even if it’s fewer hours of work, I think most of us would prefer high quality work in lower quantity than higher quantity work of lower quality.

      1. President Porpoise*

        In my case, in addition to the effects on memory and mental function that I experienced during pregnancy, I also had (really sad) memory and mental function impact related to surgical recovery and milk production/pumping in my eldest daughter’s six months of life. All new parents have to adjust to their kid’s intermittent sleep patterns in early life, and the sleep deprivation was part of it. But the physical strain of healing from a c-section and producing milk on top of that was so hard on my body that I literally cannot remember her first six months at all.

        Imagine seeing pictures of you and your daughter at key points in her early life (holidays, developmental milestones, etc.) and being completely unable to recall anything around those photos, like it was some other person in the picture. It’s fucking heartbreaking.

        Be kind and compassionate to people (of all genders) who are preparing for an imminent child or who are adjusting to a new child in the household, and default to giving grace and help. It is physically so hard for so many.

        1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          I don’t know if you need to hear this, but – you’re not alone in that experience. I’m missing the first six to eight months of my son’s life in my memories for similar reasons (sleep deprivation, financial stress, physical stress, postpartum depression), and I can’t articulate the unnecessary guilt that I felt about that for years later. It happens, but we don’t really talk about it and it’s definitely not in any of the parenting books I read. I definitely took it as a personal failing for a long time. So, since I wish someone would have told me this years ago: the fact that you don’t remember is painful for you, but it’s not going to hurt your kid and it’s not any sort of commentary on your skills as a parent. Do you love your kid? Then you’re a good mom.

          1. Noncompliance Specialist*

            God same here. I never felt like I fit the criteria for PPD but I was definitely NOT okay during the first six months after my twins were born. I felt so bad every time a blogger or even a friend would say how magical the first few weeks with a newborn were. I was actually desperate to go back to work after 3 months because I felt so isolated (pandemic + winter hit me hard) even though my brain felt like mush. Nearly three years later I am finally understanding that I had “enough” trauma to justify how much it affected me. But stuff like trying to finish a baby book is still weirdly painful.

            But on a work front, yes, cut this person a break. A pregnancy and a newborn are a real impact but a temporary one, and it’s worth it to accommodate a good employee who won’t always be like this. Plus legal protections.

          2. Boof*

            I joked that it must be some kind of species survival strategy that I seem to forget how hard and miserable the first couple months/year were (I’ve had 3. Because I wanted 3 and am pretty bullheaded once I set out on a mission. But dang yo in hindsight wow, pregnancy had me operating at 75% capacity or – I had to sleep 12+ hrs a day for fatigue, and all the stressful crazy baby adjustment stuff and anxiety and and and pfffft how did I talk myself into it 3x IDK)

          3. allathian*

            Same here. I’m very glad we took lots of photos of our son when he was a baby, I have very few memories of his first year, only occasional flashes here and there. And he was an easy baby who was very rarely cranky without an immediately obvious reason and who started sleeping through the night as soon as we started giving him solids. I had a lot of support from my husband and MIL who’d retired early and was more available than my mom who had a few years left to go before retirement and needed her weekends to rest.

            Perhaps most crucial of all, I’m in Finland where long maternity leave’s the norm and I returned to work when our son was 2 years old. I severely doubt I would’ve been physically or mentally fit to return to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave. Kudos to all of you who survive that, you’re my heroes.

    2. LCH*

      “misunderstand the confluence of physical and mental symptoms of most conditions”

      Yes, I just went through a very stressful period that was causing me to wake up in the middle of every night having an anxiety attack. I got very, very dumb during this time due to lack of sleep and just stress in general. Both of these things mess with cognitive abilities, including being able to figure out how to do stuff and memory. Once the stressful period passed, I was back to normal.

      1. Sweet 'N Low*

        Commenting to commiserate on the middle-of-the-night panic attacks, because I almost never hear anyone talking about having that issue. I spent many many years with intrusive thoughts & anxiety, and while that’s fortunately mostly behind me now, there are still a few times a year I find myself waking up mid panic attack. There’s never any reason for it, like a nightmare, I just jolt awake with my heart racing & my anxiety levels through the roof. Not fun. It usually happens during periods where I’m otherwise stressed, but sometimes it’s totally out of the blue.

    3. MicroManagered*

      I don’t think the letter writer is disputing that pregnancy is a medical condition that must be accommodated like any other. She is asking for advice about how to approach the topic WITHOUT being discriminatory, sexist, or unaccommodating.

      1. Umami*

        I suggest acknowledging the challenges and brainstorming ways to ensure costly mistakes aren’t made. Addressing it by dating saying ‘do better’ won’t address the very real issue the assistant is experiencing (and sharing). Provide additional support for tasks she is struggling with, or reassign them/take them over temporarily.

      2. OverCaffeinated_UnderAppreciated*

        Yes, I agree. It feels like this conversation quickly got away from her question into a discussion of ADHD and neurodivergence and COVID and…. none of it is helping the OP with HER original question. She needs to focus on the quality of the work, and not the REASON for it. Some of the mistakes cost the company MONEY. That is unacceptable, regardless of the reason. If instead of pregnant, the employee had made the mistake(s) while say… hungover, everyone would be grabbing pitchforks and calling for her to be fired. To be clear I’m not saying she should be fired, but, she can and should be held accountable. “I need you to be able to do YOUR work; if you hit a roadblock, by all means ask for help, but submitting subpar work is unacceptable.” As is, IMHO piling her work or the work of double-checking her work onto someone else, thus increasing their workload by half again or whatever.

    4. Mf*

      75% of women experience insomnia during pregnancy. That’s above and beyond just the fatigue caused by your body working harder than normal.

    5. Quokka*

      Yep, I was exhausted for the entire first trimester and never felt like I fully recovered from that. I was in pain/discomfort for the entire pregnancy and mildly nauseas for at least half with heart burn thrown in. Sleep was difficult, and I couldn’t walk more than a few hundred metres before I needed to sit down and rest. My clothes didn’t fit properly and it was hard to find work suitable ones that did, and this adds a constant distraction. Also, half the foods I could bring to work previously for lunch were off the menu as we had no fridge in our office. I didn’t get this too bad, but some women also need to pee frequently. Some women develop diabetes. Some women need regular injections so their body doesn’t reject their growing child, or for iron transfusions so they don’t pass out. Any one of these things on their own is known to affect focus and concentration (nausea, chronic pain, heart burn, sleep deprivation, fatigue, busting for a pee, blood sugar, low iron, etc.). And they are suck to experience and it’s super frustrating to be living in that reality when you know you are more capable.

      I find it sad the amount of people who are saying that it isn’t ok for a pregnant woman to not have to do her whole job if she isn’t capable, and that it’s on her to still do this thing she currently isn’t able to do. There are many jobs/industries that women work in where it is actively dangerous to them and their unborn child for them to continue doing their full duties (heavy lifting, climbing ladders, working with certain chemicals, etc). They are given different work to do for this period, since the condition is temporary. It’s not about the work being given to others and adding to their workloads, work gets shuffled around or managed differently. The “brain fog” she mentions is not an excuse, it’s a reason. She may as well be saying “yeah, I thought I could still lift some things with my broken arm, but it turns out I was wrong. Sorry about the box of crystal wine glasses I dropped”.

      For those worried about the discriminatory side of things – it would be discriminatory to preemptively take responsibilities away from a woman just because she is pregnant. Some women experience none of this, or get extreme nausea but no brain fog, or any other combination of symptoms. No one knows in advance how pregnancy will hit them (I hated the memory of an extremely pregnant colleague power walking around the school like it was nothing, while I had the pregnancy waddle from when I was barely showing – I wanted to be the Women Can Do Anything, Pregnancy Isn’t An Obstacle example since I teach in a male dominated subject). But it would be discriminatory to treat a pregnant person different from any other employee with a temporary medical condition (that they inform you is impacting on their work) in how you accomodate that in the workplace just because it is pregnancy and not a broken arm/etc.

  4. Melissa*

    I hate when people talk about “pregnancy brain”, “mommy brain,” “menopause brain.” I am not arguing with anyone’s lived experience, and of course physiological changes affect our minds as well. But they skate just a smidge too close to “hysteria” and the wandering uterus for me to be comfortable with.

    But Alison’s answer is perfect– just address the forgetfulness, and don’t get into a discussion about her use of the phrase that makes me and the OP both cringe.

    1. jellied brains*

      But they’re real things that affect real AFAB people. I’m (unfortunately) an AFAB human and period brain is so real, I hate it.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        And I was literally as dumb as a box of rocks when I was pregnant. I was working with people I had gone to grad school with and worked closely with prior to getting pregnant and they were stunned how real “whatever you want to call it” was. It took quite a while to get it back, too.

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            Same here. It was a long time ago, but I don’t recall noticing any changes in my cognitive functioning when I was pregnant. I had a job that required a certain level of intellectual ability to do adequately, so I think I would have noticed if I was having any problems in that area.

            1. Nessness*

              My “pregnancy brain” wasn’t a decrease in cognitive function all the time – it was more like short-term lapses. I’d be going about my day and all of a sudden find myself unable to recall a basic piece of information, like the word “banana” (I once had to ask my husband to add “that long yellow fruit” to the grocery list lol) or how to open my car’s gas tank.

              Like most pregnancy symptoms, I suspect there’s a wide variation in what’s “normal.”

      2. Nicole Maria*

        It is a real thing but it’s not a universal experience, I’ve never heard of “period brain” and I’ve been having my period for about 23 years now. So I think the point is that we wouldn’t want to be lumped in with people who do experience this just because we also have periods.

        1. yvve*

          oh, good summary of why im uncomfortable with it. i totally understand that this is a real condition many people deal with and am sympathetic (along with other physical stuff, severe cramps, pain, etc). But its not one *I* have, or need accommodation for. So when stuff like menstrual leave or period brain starts coming up, its hard for me to balance “Real accommodation, not an issue, take your time!” but also “please dont assume im less competent several days of the month !”

          1. Clare*

            But yet we don’t assume all athletes have athlete’s foot. Anyone who is choosing to interpret the phrase in the way most damaging to women on first hearing is being malicious. Not saying or implying that either of you are, but the people who choose to interpret it that way are going to be finding other opportunities to be sexist no matter what. So let’s continue the adult conversation using normal language conventions together and leave them to it, shall we?

        2. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          Why is calling it “period brain” implying that every single person who has periods has the same experience?

          It can be a symptom of periods without it being one everyone gets.

          1. Clare*

            Exactly. We call “cramps caused by a period”, “period cramps” even though some people don’t get any. “Brain fog, caused by a period, which is only experienced by a proportion of the menstruating population due to genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors” is too much of a mouthful to say every time.

          2. Boof*

            Well, selection bias? I honestly prefer just to call it “fatigue” or “mental fog” [because of ____] because I think that’s a lot more universal and relatable, and I imagine probably one of the major underlying drivers anyway

    2. English Rose*

      Yes that’s exactly what I thought, for a couple of reasons.
      A lot of people: pregnant, nursing, or menopausal have no brain fog at all, and use of these phrases can lump all women together plus alarm those yet to go through these life stages.
      And yes while we don’t want to deny lived experience, as Alison says in her answer unfortunately these phrases can be used to discriminate against women, even if only unconsciously.
      Agree completely with the solution – address the forgetfulness.
      Now just off to try and find my wandering uterus…

      1. Melissa*

        Right– many of us (myself definitely included) have been pregnant; been mommies; and are now menopausal, and have experienced no associated cognitive dysfunction. People vary biologically. I do NOT want to be viewed as less competent because of a belief that “women in menopause have cognitive problems.”

    3. constant_craving*

      It’s not just that there are physiological changes elsewhere in the body affecting the mind though. There are documented changes to the brain matter itself. It’s not a matter of lived experiences; it’s biology. Things like “hysteria” weren’t biologically documented.

      Would you object to something like “chemo brain,” where there are also documented structural and functional brain changes? Or someone citing the impairments caused by a stroke? That would be a more accurate comparison.

      1. Marna Nightingale*

        I’m not that commenter, but

        1) I wouldn’t object to it at all, people get to call what they’re experiencing whatever they like, mostly.

        but also

        2) If I had to put something on paper about an employee or I was talking to to THEM about it, I’d call it “temporary cognitive impairment”, because that would make it easier for everyone to deal with its effects and the employee’s needs without getting hung up on details that matter to them but not to the professional situation.

      2. Observer*

        There are documented changes to the brain matter itself.

        Are there? I went back to look at the original letter, and someone mentioned a similar thing. And then someone else pointed to one study, which was . . . not great, to honest. I haven’t seen anything since that really speaks to this. So, if there are any actual studies on this, I would really be interested in seeing them.

          1. Nonprofit_Aly*

            I may be reading the article wrong, but it looks like this was a study with only 40 pregnant women (and 40 in the CG) which is…not a huge sample size.

            1. Elektra*

              Aly, it’s a mixed-subjects study meaning they scanned the participants 4 times over the course of pregnancy, meaning the sample size is effectively 80 x 4 or 320.

              1. STAT!*

                No it’s not 320, it is 40. Especially if the data is analysed using longitudinal analysis, by which method it probably should be.

            2. constant_craving*

              That’s actually a decent n for an imaging study, but that’s only 1 of the 3 studies I shared. And the 3 are only examples; there are plenty more out there.

      3. Boof*

        A patient can say they have chemo brain if that is the best way they have to describe their symptoms; it’s actually extremely vague and not a medical term at all. So I would never say someone ELSE had chemo brain. Stroke is a medical term so saying someone had a stroke is accurate if that’s what happened. Saying someone had “stroke brain” would… not be.

    4. Butterfly Counter*

      I’m sure those things affect how people process their day and and how they remember to do things, but I agree. I’ve always been forgetful, but it seems to have gotten worse over the past couple of years. I’m not pregnant, not a mom, and not going through menopause. I’m just getting more forgetful. So I’ve been more careful about writing things into my schedule, having people around me feeling free to remind me of things I said I would do, and other fail-safes in place.

      It doesn’t matter why. It matters that I’m doing what I can to accommodate for it.

      1. Spiders Everywhere*

        As an aside, I and lot of other people have also gotten that “more forgetful in the last few years” thing, and some of it’s probably normal aging, but, well, the science on the impact of even mild COVID on the brain isn’t looking good. Really worrying to me that it seems like no one’s taking any precautions any more.

        1. metadata minion*

          Agree. And even if you’ve avoided getting COVID yourself, all the let’s-get-back-to-normal messaging sweeps under the rug that this has been a mass trauma event. A huge percentage of people have lost someone close to them, and going through the stress of lockdowns and fear of infection and generally having our lives upended is going to put a lot of stress on the brain. That can take a long time to recover from, even after the active grief and stress and fear is over.

    5. Extroverted Bean Counter*

      It’s certainly more accurate to say something like “progesterone related memory loss” or “sleep deprivation induced cognitive dysfunction”. “Pregnancy/mommy/menopause brain” cutesifies what can often be significant medical challenges.

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        Yes, it’s the way the terms are infantilizing that really grates on me. I think the alternates you give over-correct in the opposite direction a bit, but surely there’s a middle ground somewhere that conveys a “brain fog” level of detail without being too cutesie or too medical.

        1. TeratomasAreWeird*

          I was on a team that was updating health care processes to use the best practices to reduce maternal mortality. I pushed back hard when they named the group “Saving Mommies”. I can’t think of any other life-threatening health condition affecting adults that would get such a cute name.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            In that same vein, there are quite a few cutesified names for groups doing breast cancer awareness. It feels minimizing, especially the “save the girls!” thing. Talk about diminishing! It’s all cute and fun til you actually find a lump. I had breast cancer and a double mastectomy to save me, not my breasts. Ugh.

            1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

              Don’t get me started. The pinkification of all things breast cancer related is a real barrier for men, nonbinary people, and even many butch cis women.

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              “Save the ta-tas” is one I recall. :-/

              When I saw that, I was like, “No, save the owners of the ta-tas.” Not because I don’t think someone should mind losing a breast, but because that seemed like the wrong priority to me.

      2. ferrina*

        Cognitive impairment is a real medical symptom. It’s also common with certain other health conditions, like cancer.
        One of the big problems with cutesy names is that it diminishes the root medical cause. It’s easy for people who are merely having an off day to co-opt the term (like how some folks say “I’m OCD” instead of “I’m picky about this particular thing”)

        OP, what if you approach this as a medical condition that your employee can get accommodations for? What is there to lose in that situation?

      3. bamcheeks*

        But there are places where it’s OK to use colloquial language, and that doesn’t necessarily need to be corrected. If you talk to your report who is going through chemo about their mistakes and they say, “I’m really sorry, I just feel completely knackered at the moment”, you can translate that to “currently suffering exhaustion and fatigue” in the HR notes system, and you don’t need to give your employee a lecture about using inappropriate language. I would see these examples the same way: it’s usually ok to use colloquial language for a medical condition in a one-to-one conversation, and formalise it for the paperwork. It might bug you because it’s the kind of cutesy expression you wouldn’t use, but that doesn’t mean you have to correct an otherwise professional colleague for using it.

        1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          Completely agree, Bamcheeks.

          It might be different if they were applying it to someone else colloquially.

        2. GythaOgden*

          Yup. This articulates my big problem with language policing online very well. It’s why Alison has it in her rules.

          Not everyone lives at the level of linguistic purity or in an academic frame of mind. Someone at Disneyworld (sorry, Walt Disney World Resort Orlando) bumped into me (sorry, was in a physical collision with me) on one of the paths at Animal Kingdom. She was handling a pushchair (American term: stroller) and a drink (sorry, beverage, and I’ll stop now because it’s getting old, but this is how conversational language nitpicking comes across) and it spilled all over her and me. She said ‘Oops, sorry! Mommy brain’ and I offered her a tissue and we got the mess cleaned up. I didn’t suddenly let rip and tell her not to say Mommy Brain and to use the words Temporary Cognitive Impairment instead — we just laughed about how frustrating it was to juggle all that, I wished her all the best for her day in the park and we parted ways.

          Normal people use words that aren’t always terribly precise but they communicate a thing that is closer to their experience — and often has its roots in emotions and feelings than in academic discourse. We can’t be in the habit of correcting them every time, and change generally comes about by more robust social change in general rather than someone standing there nagging you about everything that comes out of your mouth when you’re in a conversational situation. It’s like the word ‘spastic’ in the UK became a slur over time and was phased out of use in general conversation because the taboo was widely publicised. This happened before the internet became widely accessible, but it didn’t happen because someone was there to fingerwag every time someone said it; it happened through better understanding in general of disability, public information campaigns, media spreading that corrective action and so on. When Weird Al used it in one of his songs, since it isn’t a problematic word for most Americans, he was called out on it and responded really well to it. He changed the words while in the UK and showed us why he’s such a great guy.

          On a day to day level, however, we’re all facing a barrage of things to do, places to go, people to meet etc and language policing at that level is going to come across as irritating and fussy and as if the person doing it has nothing better to do. Engaging in better social awareness campaigns can help, but also understanding colloquial linguistics a lot better might help people nitpicking language to realise how aggressive it comes across and how it might even be counterproductive and develop defensiveness to other better forms of social messaging. Understanding how people absorb social messaging and are able to make linguistic shifts more effectively is one of the key parts of changing language for the better. It can also, ironically, invalidate lived experience and obscure the situation at hand, which might be more important than the social justice messaging being forced on people. Being That Person Who Always Argues with people isn’t (and is probably why Alison frowns on it here).

      4. Dinwar*

        I also find such cutesy phrasing annoying. However, I find language policing morally wrong, for a few reasons.

        I’m a very strict Descriptivist when it comes to language, and consider any vocalization (and many motions) that convey meaning to be valid words; the main issue is whether communication is achieved. Since everyone involved in the discussion knows what “pregnancy brain” or “mommy brain” is, I’m obliged to accept the term as valid.

        Further, the odds of me being pregnant or a mother are slightly higher than the odds of me spontaneously becoming a Therozinosaurus, but not by much. And my knowledge of anatomy is on the other end of the spectrum–trauma and decomposition (it’s an occupational hazard). While I have a right to speak on the cognitive changes caused by fatherhood, and I know enough about medicine to advocate for my wife and daughter at a doctor’s office, I don’t really have a say in what terminology mothers and pregnant women use to discuss their condition. It’s their call, and any attempt I make to police their language would be inherently wrong from a societal standpoint.

        Don’t get me wrong, if someone used “pregnancy brain” in a document being submitted to a client I’d raise concerns! But in casual conversation–or even internal conversation–I don’t see that I have a right to do so, and do see arguments that oblige me to not do so.

        1. Ann*

          Thank you. The language policing is way over the top. The employee has the right to choose how to describe her condition without being told “no-no, you cannot speak this way.” Her boss understands what she means. There is absolutely no way to please everyone no matter what words you choose, and for all anyone knows, today the tone police consensus might be that “brain fog” is an acceptable term, and tomorrow the consensus will be that “brain fog” is also unacceptable. In the meantime the poor employee will realize she better suffer in silence lest someone take offence.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Legit question: is “mommy brain” just exhausted from taking care of babies and toddlers who don’t sleep through the night and thus “parent brain” or there’s an equivalent “daddy brain” which I’ve never heard of?

      1. Hot-Cryptographer*

        It’s a physiological response to changes in hormones and changes in the gray matter in the brain. I’m sure exhaustion and sleep deprivation contribute to this in new parents of all sexes and genders, but there is something “extra” for those who gestate and birth their children.

        1. Ann*

          Yes – the brain actually changes and reshapes its connections. I know I’ve changed cognitively after having kids. The face blindness I had all my life pretty much disappeared, and even my personality is a bit different.

          1. 2 Cents*

            Same here for me. I used to have a stellar memory. After having my child, I feel like my memory was “rewritten,” so instead of being able to remember minute details and facts that would help me win trivia games, I devote it to knowing the clothing size and a zillion other facts about my kid. It’s been interesting (logically) and terrifying (emotionally) as someone who always prided herself on her memory skills.

            1. The Username Lost to Time*

              I wonder if losing/swapping out memory skills is something that often naturally comes with aging into our mid-20s to mid-30s. I lost the audio version of photographic memory when I was in my 20’s and that coincides with when most people become parents. Now I’m wondering if that thing about mathematicians peaking in their late 20’s is true.

              One factor seems to be that people who birth babies are reporting losing certain memory skills more often than people of the same age who do not birth babies.

              1. Ann*

                I’m not sure it’s losing skills, exactly. It’s swapping one set of skills for another, or even gaining new skills. I’m actually experimenting with the flip side of pregnancy brain right now. Trying to learn to play piano, and it’s going better than it did a few years ago when I wasn’t pregnant. Maybe it’s possible to use the brain reshaping to your advantage sometimes…

                1. Trippedamean*

                  I agree with this. For example, I spent my whole life until I got pregnant having terrible reflexes and awareness of my body in space but with an ability to remember directions and locations very precisely. After giving birth ten years, I’m now able to catch things whizzing past my head without looking at them but have to give myself time to remember how to get from one place to another in the town I’ve lived for years.

              2. Goldie*

                The struggling staff person is literally growing another human in her body. The fetus is taking resources from her 24/7. That impacts bodies in lots of different ways. Why is it hard to acknowledge that this is an actual thing.

          1. Firecat*

            You’ve made that abundantly clear throughout the threads.

            Congratulations on doding an awful side effect in all your pregnancies? Not sure what else you are looking for here.

      2. Anna*

        You might be interested in the book Mother Brain: How Neuroscience Is Rewriting the Story of Parenthood which delves into these topics and much more.

      3. MsSolo (UK)*

        It is a separate thing, and if you’ve got the whole suite going on you can sometimes tell the difference! Did someone turn the gravity up today? Am I so tired it’s making me nauseous? Is my short term memory 30 seconds or less? Fatigue, overtiredness, brain fog. Today’s smorgasbord is heavy on the overtired, but light on the brainfog and bare of fatigue.

        (it is worth noting there are physiological changes to the brain of non-birthing parents, including adoptive, that affects how deeply you sleep and which sounds are more likely to wake you up, though I don’t think anyone’s found a connection to fatigue/brainfog beyond sleeplessness there)

      4. Not a butt*

        there’s the hormonal change but there is also an effect of exhaustion and also just having more things on your plate taking up brain space. My husband definately some daddy brain and I have a male coworker who is pretty open about how poorly he was functioning for a while after his kid was born. as a mom trying not to come off as too kid focused at work, I actually find it nice to hear men talk about being an active parent to their young kids and the associated challenges at work.

    7. Kella*

      There is a very important key difference between using terms like “pregnancy brain” vs “hysteria” and that’s who is using the term.

      If someone is assessing a condition’s impact on their own mental and physical ability, it is supportive to listen to their assessment and take it seriously. They are in the best position to make that assessment. And while I can sometimes describe my mental state as “chronic pain brain” that in no way implies that everyone who deals with some amount of chronic pain is mentally inhibited by it.

      If someone *else* is using your sex-based-condition to cast doubt on your mental or physical capabilities, and this assessment is not based in concrete medical information provided by you, then that’s sexist and discriminatory.

      I also feel like it’s important to point out that finding language to discuss medical conditions in public is a highly fraught thing for anyone who deals with an ongoing condition. If you get too technical, you’re framed as being overdramatic and a debbie downer. If you get to casual, you’re undermining the severity of your own condition. Let people choose the language they use to describe their own conditions.

      1. Lauren19*

        Yes! When I was pregnant I felt like I understood how society has treated women. My brain function was considerably diminished, and this continued through nursing. If for centuries women were constantly pregnant, then nursing, the repeat the cycle . . .

        My understanding (I’m not a medical professional or scientist) is that the brain rewires to first and foremost take care of your baby and yourself.

        Since the employee brought this up, I think OP can address it by saying “If you believe your pregnancy is interfering with your work, I want to support your ability to work through that. If you or your doctor has recommendations on how we structure your work, let’s talk about that.”

        1. It's All So Hard*


          This discussion is unfortunately why women were seen as generally unfit to be in the workforce, especially performing high-level, responsible jobs. We cannot have it both ways. We can be fully equal workers to men, getting fully equal pay and promotional responsibilities, or we can claim special treatment for things that only we go through.

          Not all women suffer debilitating cramps, pregnancy brain, or any of the other myriad female conditions affected by our hormones. But this discussion paints us all with the same brush. It’s more accurate to leave out any reference to pregnancy and just address the cognitive impact affecting any given individual, as has been previously pointed out.

          I have been in the workforce many decades, including during my reproductive and childbearing years. I breastfed and pumped in the bathroom during work hours, and I had to work full-time because I was a single parent and supported my elderly mother also.

          I totally support the progress that has been made with respect to making work more comfortable and accessible to mothers. However, care must be taken to avoid making it seem like all women need special accommodations during pregnancy. Mommy wars are still going on after children are born, they don’t need to happen before then too when coworkers start resent extra work because of pregnancy brain or whatever else.

          The answer is to approach each situation individually and do what needs to be done to meet organizational and personal needs, always exercising compassion. Don’t generalize.

          Good luck, OP

          1. Courageous cat*

            Agree with all of this. For example, this makes it difficult to push back on the argument that many people always have about female presidents (too emotional, might do something rash during their period, etc). We have always said, nah, that’s sexist and gross of you all to assume that. But then there’s other times where we maintain with absolute certainty that period/pregnancy brain is totally a thing.

            It’s tough to have it both ways in this scenario.

            1. Boof*

              NO no no no saying one single woman out of the many millions being president is off limits because they might be “too emotional” has nothing to do with other women admitting they are tired and functioning at reduced capacity because of pregnancy and trying to figure out how to work with that!!!

          2. Boof*

            The whole point is to be able to CHOSE YOUR DESTINY and not be prejudged for things that apply to some, but not all of your group.
            I really disagree with the either/or phrasing there. Understanding and accepting and – dare I say it – VALUING the work and changes that go into things like gestating a child – means that those who chose to do so are not “fully equal” to those who don’t. Or I guess maybe we should emphasize being “Fully equitable” over being “fully equal” (to a young adult man, and all others who deviate are lacking and asking for “special treatment” when not being exactly like a young adult healthy/able bodied cis anglo-saxton caucasian middle class male [phew!])
            The reason women were seen as unfit for a long time was a patriarchal construct. There were matriarchal societies that didn’t function like that. I wish I knew if there were any truly egalitarian societies, and I don’t know; humans tend to form patterns and so bias is sort of inherent. But there’s a lot of evidence that women are disproportionately penalized for any childcare and pregnancy accommodations; like lose way more money for the actual decrease in work output. And maybe some of that is because women value other things more than money and that shouldn’t be the only measure of success but if women/fem-presenting are struggling to find whatever measure of value or success they want from life because of that, it needs to be worked on.

          3. Goldie*

            I don’t agree this paints all women with the same brush. I also really worked through pregnancy and motherhood pretty easily. I have managed and grand managed at least 20 staff through pregnancies and coming back to work (men included). They are not all the same. But some people struggle. It is good to be aware that some people struggle. Accommodations might be needed, even from the very beginning. Accommodations might be needed when people come back to work. We have lots of other accommodations for employees, including people who are deployed, people who lose a loved one, people who have temporary or permanent disabilities.
            Pregnancy and parenting in the first year or two is rough on employees and as a manager, if you believe in having a great workplace, you set people up for success and be prepared to handle it. They might not need any extra support and then just carry on. They might need a lot–early pregnancy sickness, issues during pregnancy, post pardom depression and now difficulty finding child care. These are temporary situations. To me they are thrilling because people are expanding their families. And as women leaders, we can make it even better for those coming after us but make room for moms and dads to thrive (at least while they are at work).

          4. Whomst*

            You’re right, of course, but society at large is very bad at nuance; laws and regulations are even worse. So you either deny the fact that most women are going to have some sort of physical or mental limitations that affect their work when pregnant/postpartum/caring for a newborn in an attempt at equality, and all the women who struggle think that there’s something wrong with them personally that they can’t keep up OR you expect that most women are going to have some sort of physical or mental limitations that affect their work so you can try and be equitable, and upset women who didn’t have many limitations and felt it was patronizing and give sexists something to hang their hat on when claiming women aren’t as capable as men.

            I know which side I would rather err on.

    8. SleeplessKJ*

      It’s an actual physical condition that actually happens. It’s not even remotely close to the “hysteria” trope. Your body is working double and triple time to create a new human and it takes a toll on you physically AND mentally. All the wiring goes a little haywire for a short time.

    9. bamcheeks*

      I think this is the case because you’re still comparing to a default male body which is assumed (incorrectly!) to not get ill, not be affected by hormones, not suffer from exhaustion, etc. We have a model that presents male bodies as uncomplicated and consistent, and female bodies as complicated and inconsistent, and the price of our participation in the workforce on equal terms with men is that we too have to present as uncomplicated and consistent bodies.

      The reality is of course that everyone’s body is sometimes complicated and inconsistent, and it makes far more sense to factor that into *everyone’s* working pattern and expectation rather than to stigmatise female, menstruating or gestating bodies particularly. I don’t think there’s a problem with any of those terms being used in situations where colloquial terms are appropriate: if you’re perceiving them as stigmatised, I think it’s better to challenge the stigma rather than the language.

      1. Lydia*

        Except that challenging that stigma very often begins with challenging the language. That’s why marginalized groups so frequently reclaim slurs.

        1. Jessica Clubber Lang*

          I think the OP can challenge their own language, but I wouldn’t think it’s appropriate to tell the employee how to refer to her own condition.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah, I agree. I fully support the OP in referring to the symptoms in language they think avoids stigmas/focuses on the symptoms, but I don’t think they should “correct” their report unless it’s causing a real work problem (e.g. undermining them).

        2. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          Yes exactly, we reclaim slurs to take control of language and decide what words we want to use about ourselves.

          Lecturing people about not using shorthand like “period brain” or “pregnancy brain” is doing the opposite.

          I wonder if people object to “hay-fever brain” or “Covid brain”.

          1. Lydia*

            Except what I was referring to specifically was the call to challenge the stigma, not the language. In most situations, the best way to challenge the stigma is to challenge the language.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I think “in most situations” is a massive overstatement. I can only think of a very few situations where challenging the language that a stigmatised group uses about themselves (as opposed to challenging the language used *about* them by the majoritised group) is a helpful way of challenging stigma. I think if you’re challenging the language a group uses about itself, you’re far more likely to be accepting the framing of the majority group and contributing to stigma and marginalisation.

      2. Boof*

        Although while “pregnancy brain” is a perfectly apt descriptor for a pregnant person to use when trying to articulate what they are going through, it would not be a good term for a supervisor, coworker, physician, etc to describe someone else. So there is a bit of nuance there. That focus needs to be on the actual needs/accommodations/changes not some vague catch all language.

    10. Beth*

      I think the real problem here is that we assume people who don’t experience [pregnancy, menopause, periods, etc] have impeccably consistent brain function. If that’s the baseline assumption, then yeah, acknowledging that AFAB people experience periods of lower function due to biology sure does sound like old-timey “women are prone to hysteria, working/getting educated/etc is just too hard for their delicate systems!” nonsense.

      The reality is, all humans experience hormone cycles of some kind; all humans have periods of medical issues in their lives; all humans go through periods of high stress and exhaustion. AFAB people have monthly estrogen cycles; AMAB people have daily testosterone cycles. Basically all involved parents with young children are exhausted. Getting a diagnosis, scheduling a surgery, and recovering from the surgery to treat a medical issue can take just as long (or longer!) than pregnancy.

      The only weird thing about acknowledging ‘pregnancy brain’ is that misogynists are looking for reasons to discredit women. And in regards to that–I don’t think women should pretend to be superhuman robots in the hope of giving sexist assholes less ammo. Misogynists are going to be sexist no matter what we do. We should just be normal humans, who sometimes are dealing with normal human things, and when someone throws bigoted stuff at us, we remind them that all humans deal with this stuff.

    11. Umami*

      I don’t use the phrases. but I definitely have experienced the first and an experiencing the last you mentioned. A good boss also can avoid using those phrases while recognizing the impact and discussing ways to either have better checks and balances or reassign work that has a costly impact. I absolutely hate my biology and age being even a tiny obstacle to me being the high performer I’ve always been, yet here we are. More people should feel comfortable being honest about why their performance is lacking without feeling embarrassed or ashamed.

    12. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing – like MANY other physical / health situations, being pregnant can cause tiredness, and any other number of physical symptoms.

      I would rather have people say “I’m dealing with physical symptoms due to my health situation” than to say “pregnancy brain”.

      1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        That’s quite a lengthy sentence to recite every time.

        It’s OK to use shorthand with a manager who you know to be supportive.

    13. JAnon*

      I hated this once too. But I am now 6.5 weeks pregnant and it’s so real to me. Sometimes I will be trying to do something and be so tired, or so nauseous that I might as well not have done it at all. I have seen text conversations I totally forgot about because I was so tired while having them. This morning I was so nauseous I could not do my work until I could get it to pass. It’s not hysteria, it’s how these things affect the body fully.

    14. Distracted Librarian*

      Agree. Am postmenopausal and have experienced brain fog and insomnia. But here’s the thing: I also experienced those things occasionally before menopause, and I know men who experience them. There are periods (no pun intended) in a woman’s life when these may be more likely. But having off days, being tired, not thinking clearly, being distracted? These are universal human experiences (medications, grief, illness, injury, worry, heck, even being in love). I’d rather help an employee cope with the actual issue they’re experiencing rather than focus on the reason they’re experiencing it.

      1. Judy Bloom*

        Thank you for articulating it so well! At 44, I have no children (never been pregnant), but I’ve been really stressed this entire year. Unfortunately, I had to have my 16-year old dog put down over the summer and I’ve cried every day since then. She was my baby!

        I recently had a conversation with my boss about taking short breaks throughout the day. While I don’t feel like the quality of my work has been impacted, I’m definitely less motivated and have been lethargic…of course, that’s partly due to a pattern of poor sleep habits.

    15. Dinwar*

      Hormonal changes are fairly obvious and obviously well-documented, and that hormonal changes affect cognitive abilities is also obvious (to anyone who remembers puberty, anyway). Physiological changes are also fairly obvious–you have a human living inside you. This affects nutrition, sleep, and a host of other biological functions, all of which can have measurable impacts on cognitive abilities. Many pregnant women experience a fair amount of stress and worry, which can lower cognitive capacity (by diverting it to the stress/worry).

      To paraphrase your own statement, your argument–and those of several people responding to you–skate just a smidge too close to “I was fine so your complaints can’t be true” for me to be comfortable with. Every mother I’ve spoken with experiences pregnancy differently. For that matter, every pregnancy is different. My wife had a MUCH harder time when she was pregnant with our daughter than with either of the boys. This is a situation where we can and should expect differences in lived experience.

      Maybe the term “pregnancy brain” would be bad if it was used by non-pregnant people to belittle pregnant women. However, in my experience it’s used as by pregnant women as a catch-all term for “This is a major change and my brain sometimes has trouble keeping up”, which is a very different thing. A person going through a major medical event has every right to gripe about it in whatever terms they want (and maternity stuff tends towards the saccharine cutesy side of things). For my part, I’ve never used the term to describe someone; I’ve only ever heard it used by pregnant women and their doctors, with the understanding that they’re using a short-hand for a far more complex suite of issues. Maybe your experience is different.

      1. Silver Robin*

        Thank you – I do not see why we need to be super hyper specific outside a doctor’s office. Humans use shortcut language all the time! Even for things like depression or adhd or any number of conditions, people say “oh, there goes my adhd, running down a rabbit whole” or “there goes my depression, telling everything is terrible”, or even “there goes my brain, assuming the worst”. Depression does not look the same on everyone. ADHD does not look the same on everyone. And, of course pregnancy brain does not look the same on everyone. No condition looks the same on everyone! But that does not mean that using the condition as a shorthand for “the stuff that is coming up for me because of X” is somehow demeaning. *ESPECIALLY* since nothing in this OP’s letter indicates they are using it, but rather that their own employee is describing themselves that way!

    16. Bazzaismydog*

      Menopause brain fog is very real and I’m happy to admit to it. With all of these brain fogs, hormones or lack of are playing a part. With me it’s losing hormones. I write things down for myself more than I ever had previously. It’s not hysteria. Peri menopause and menopause have about 40 symptoms you can experience and brain fog is one and it’s annoying.

    17. E*

      hey its almost as if some people have disabilities they can’t get covered and being pregnant makes it worse?

  5. TooTiredTooThink*

    One concern I had about Alison’s answer was that the person would _know_ she’s not at 100%. I’ve never been pregnant; nor gone through chemo – but I had a co-worker who had what he called chemo-brain. Part of the issue was, though, it took him a while to realize his behavior had changed. He thought he was normal. Sort of like people who’ve been put on steroids not realizing that they are angrier than normal. We all knew differently though as he became difficult to work with several times a month. He finally figured it out (or was told) and would pre-warn people and apologize.

    If someone is being temporarily affected; the affect might be like a frog in a pot scenario – it may be so gradual that they don’t notice.

    I’m sure that the conversation is very much similar though, but I just felt it should be said that the person might not realize (and that is when there is danger of another person calling it pregnancy brain or chemo brain, etc… when it might not be the case)

    1. HonorBox*

      While you’re right, I think in this case the LW does indicate that the employee is calling it pregnancy brain. Drawing attention to it if she hasn’t would be troublesome, but she’s done that. I think the best part of the advice is not also referring to it the same way.

      But again, you’re right. I was on a steroid as part of a medical treatment and it made me MOODY AS HELL. After a bit, I was able to have a better sense of when the rage would strike and plan around it.

  6. Ash*

    I like Allison’s answer. Talk to her and focus on the work, not the pregnancy. If she keeps using it as an excuse every time she makes a mistake, that s a good time to ask why she keeps doing it. I’ve been pregnant and yeah pregnancy brain is a thing for some women but it’s not a excuse to not take responsibility & try to improve.

    1. Fierce Jindo*

      It sounds like the profusely apologetic employee IS trying to take responsibility and improve. I’m uncomfortable with describing a disability (in this case a temporary one, as many are) as an “excuse.”

      1. Ash*

        It still boils down to her job & being capable of doing it. OP is understandably feeling frustrated. The employee is causing serious problems that need to be resolved. Maybe OP can help her out more but maybe not. Is the employee going to spend her entire pregnancy costing the company? It sounds like she hadn’t done much to improve.

        1. umami*

          Is there room for that resolution to not be solely the responsibility of the employee to figure out? I agree that there needs to be some resolution, but an empathetic boss should be a part of the solution, not just someone who says’you have a problem, and you need to fix it.’

    2. Firecat*

      Ew. This is gross.

      I’m guessing you’ve never experienced pregnancy brain.

      I did with my first pregnancy and not my second. I wasn’t making excuses, but my memory just wasn’t working and no attempt at “hacking” it was working.

      Ironically no one’s claimed “excuses” with my 2nd pregnancy SPD. I guess because it’s a physical symptom people just accommodated it but when it’s mental you are supposed to fix it when the only fix is give birth and it will go away?

      1. Ash*

        You’re correct, I never had pregnancy brain. But after my kid was born 3 months early I still had to deal with my job & a preemie over an hour away. I cannot tell you the amount of notes, calendars etc that I used to stay on track. I don’t feel like the employee is putting in any effort to help herself. And she’s costing a company a LOT. It sounds to me like she’s just exclaiming I have pregnancy brain! for every mistake.

        1. umami*

          Having to deal with a situation and doing it well isn’t cause for then saying, well, I did it, so everyone else should too. A better framing would be, ‘I was able to do it, but other people’s circumstances/abilities may be different, and besides, maybe it wasn’t right that I had to do it either’.

          1. Lydia*

            I don’t think anyone is saying it’s solely on the employee to figure out. The OP is even trying to be compassionate and figure out the best path forward. It does become an issue, though, when the employer IS doing what they can, and the employee is still struggling. At some point, somebody has to take on the bulk of the work, or very clearly identify what they need. The OP cannot read her employee’s mind.

        2. Mf*

          “I don’t feel like the employee is putting in any effort to help herself.”

          You’re feelings are not super relevant here. The OP actually knows the employee and believes her (or that’s what it sounds like), so we should take the OP at her/his word.

        3. Firecat*

          And I’m navigating pre-eclampsia, SPD, 2X weekly very long appointments over a 1 hr drive away, ITP, and the fatigue and exhaustion inherent in all of that after a long hospital stay and their treatments and also managing not to struggle with missing deadlines. My baby will be coming weeks early which if course is it’s own stressor.

          Yet when all I was dealing with was pregnancy brain, I was making more mistakes. You are dismissing and minimizing a pregnancy symptom you don’t understand just because you haven’t personally experienced it. You are attributing laziness and motive to the employees inability to navigate a sudden and (in my case at least scary and severe) decrease in brain function.

      2. Lydia*

        Probably best not to make any assumptions on people’s experiences until they say specifically what they have dealt with.

    3. atalanta0jess*

      You think that naming her new cognitive status and her attempts to adjust to it is the same as “making excuses?” Maybe you could reframe your thinking here.

      1. Ash*

        The OP said not much has changed. I don’t think the employee is taking it seriously enough. Her manager may want to help her but she’s not helping herself in the company by not being proactive. Especially after making such costly mistakes. She needs someone to lay it out straight & decide if she’s going to do something about it. Or possibly lose her job.

        1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          Can you see the difference between the tone and assumptions in your comments, and the tone and nature of the advice in Alison’s answer?

          You really have no reason to think the employee isn’t trying hard enough or is making excuses. For a start, she was previously a really good employee. And the OP, who certainly knows better than you do, says nothing of the sort.

        2. umami*

          This is … a less than empathetic way of looking at the situation. Before pregnancy, she was fabulous. Something has changed, and she (and of course, her boss) are dealing with the ramifications. Just because her language of ‘pregnancy brain’ sounds light doesn’t mean she doesn’t take it seriously. I believe there should be a serious conversation about what needs to happen, but one that is solution-driven rather than punitive.

    4. Boof*

      I agree that “taking responsibility is important” but don’t agree with “they have to somehow find a way to be 100% when they are maybe actually 75% for some reason” (and the implication that if they don’t do that they are aren’t taking responsibility). Taking responsibility can look like a lot of things, and one of them can be “hey, I’m struggling right now, I can do X and Y, but I don’t think I can do X Y and Z for the time being”. Folks can hopefully accommodate that, or work on part time options, etc etc, whatever ends up being the right balance.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. And if they’re in the US as it sounds like they are, maybe something like intermittent FMLA could be discussed (I’m not in the US, but if I understand FMLA correctly it grants employees intermittent unpaid leave while protecting their jobs).

  7. guriausa*

    Pregnancy brain is a real thing. I was doing web design while pregnant with my 2nd child and I definitely struggled.

  8. WellRed*

    As someone with perimeno brain, I’m not sure telling someone to slow down and double check their work is always the solution. I, for one, am working slowly through brain fog and not always absorbing information etc. and, I don’t even realize it. I also agree with TooTiredToThinks observations about a variety of temporary conditions with similar issues. It’s hard on employee and the work.

    1. Mf*

      Strong agree. “Slow down and double check” requires a level of focus that is harder to summon when you’re cognitively impaired for medical reasons (including fatigue and stress). It’s a bit like telling a small child to “be more careful”—if their brain doesn’t have the capacity for it, it doesn’t matter how hard they try.

    2. Umami*

      Exactly. the solution depends on the employee overcoming a temporary issue they can’t just will away. That’s not helpful to the employee, the boss or the organization. She knows she’s not performing to standards, so the question is, what do ‘we’, boss and employee do about it in the short term?

    3. Fives*

      I just found out in the last week that I am perimeno. I feel so much better knowing because I couldn’t figure out why I’ve been like this lately. It doesn’t fix it, but just knowing is a relief.

    4. Victoria Everglot*

      I have both ADHD and had awful pregnancy brain. Slow down and double check just meant I made the same mistakes but slower and twice.

    5. Fluffy Fish*


      Perhaps a more helpful solution for OP would be building in extra time to review the persons work (on important tasks – not advocating micromanaging). It’s a temporary issue – a temporary change in operation may be more helpful than stop doing this thing that you can’t control.

  9. No matching socks*

    Many women stop caffeine consumption during pregnancy and have trouble sleeping because they experience an increasing amount of discomfort. If all of us had to operate on little sleep with no society-approved stimulants for months on end, we’d all struggle! I absolutely agree with Alison’s framing.

    1. JustEm*

      Agree, and the hormone changes can cause trouble sleeping even in absence of discomfort. I get extreme insomnia first trimester (along with fatigue – great combo), even though I’m otherwise not prone to it.

    2. Boof*

      yeah I researched it as much as i could, and while small amounts of caffeine (like, a few cups of coffee) as best I can tell is actually reasonably safe in pregnancy, I HATED IT. Normally I love coffee but whenever pregnant I would utterly lose my taste for it. And I was SO TIRED TOO. I just needed to sleep about 50% more and forgive myself a little for not doing ALL THE THINGS so much.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I normally drink 6-8 cups of coffee a day, but one of my first obvious pregnancy symptoms, apart from the fatigue, was that I couldn’t stand the smell of coffee, and normally it’s pretty much my favorite smell.

        I’m in Finland and we’re the world’s champion coffee drinkers. Our health authorities aren’t even trying to ban coffee completely, just strongly recommending a limit of 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is about one cup of percolated coffee or three shots of espresso.

        I’m actually rather glad that I had to go cold turkey on coffee in the first trimester, although I did drink a cup of black tea occasionally. I started drinking a cup a day during the second trimester when my nausea passed, although by then the worst of my pregnancy exhaustion had passed.

  10. Anonymouse*

    I am a university archivist and have several student workers who automatically assume speed is everything. To counteract mistakes made in a hurry, I give them an idea of how long task X should take and emphasize how slow-and-careful is so much better than a mistake. This week, I reminded to one student that processing a collection and the finding aid I’m training him to create will take the entire school year; another one was told that taking labels off of some of our rare books should take a minimum of 15 hours because being appropriately gentle and careful just takes that long. Maybe this would seem infantilizing, but instead of just moving deadlines or something, why not discuss how long you’d like her to work on task Y or Z? A specific report used to take her 2 hours, but now, you’d like her to take 3 or 4 or whatever so she has plenty of time to ensure it is mistake-free. Having other people look at work can be helpful, but in my experience, careful, exacting execution beats that almost every team.

    1. Lisa Simpson*

      This was often helpful at my work when we’d give someone a set task, too. We had a fairly high diversity of prior work experiences and personal judgement among the group, and it helped set expectations that yes, this task should take 2 hours and no, you should not show up 15 minutes before it is due and blast through it, or take 5 hours making it perfect so you can get extra credit because it is not the sort of task that gets extra credit, or get bogged down in an area you struggle with and take 12 hours to complete it poorly without asking for help.

    2. Umami*

      I like this, because I’ve learned that if I tell a staff member something needs to be done, they do everything else to do it. But, no! I need like a week from now, go on with your day! So I make sure to specify a timberline so they don’t move my stuff to the front of the line just because it came from me.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Yes, it should not be “oh, I understand poor dear, you have the vapors are hysterical” but rather “I understand your mind and body are experiencing dramatic changes particular to people carrying children”
      Similar to any medical situation.
      It’s a weird line. You don’t want to compare pregnancy to chemo, dialysis or having a broken bone, but you don’t want to minimize so that women are marginalized for it.

  11. Double A*

    One of the hardest things about pregnancy is that it actually does often affect your job performance. Your brain works different, you are EXHAUSTED. But you’re not allowed to acknowledge that because then you’re letting down all women. Also for many people, the first trimester is when you’re most impacted and that’s when you’re not “supposed” to tell people you’re pregnant!

    And there are a few people for whom this isn’t the case, so they “prove” that pregnancy shouldn’t impact your job performance.

    It’s part of a bigger problem that we failed to deal with throughout the whole pandemic, which is that capitalism basically can’t deal with biology.

    1. 2 Cents*

      Yes, every woman at my last job who had born children had never had morning sickness. I had it They thought I was exaggerating when I would sprint (ok, waddle) to the bathroom after getting a whiff of someone’s lunch because they’d never been through it. I was like, I’d pick a better symptom to fib about than puking, thanks.

      1. Umami*

        Yes, there are days when I’m spending a good chunk of it … vomiting into my trashcan in my office, sorry for the visual. My hormonal changes are causing debilitating migraines, and I’ve gotten better at predicting then and just caning in sick. Which is weird, because I’m never out sick, and I find myself tempted to explain why, but I also don’t want to be seen as old and delicate just because of a normal biological process. I hence a new boss, so I’ve just told him i suffer from migraines so he isn’t surprised when I call out sick every few weeks.

        1. Courageous cat*

          As a severe emetophobe I’d be having to work from home for someone’s entire pregnancy if they did this, haha

          1. umami*

            To be clear, I have a private office! Once I’m in the throes of a migraine, it is very difficult, nearly impossible to drive home, so I just have to get through it if it happens at work.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Oh my god yes. I’m so glad my boss let me take sick time basically uncounted because I had morning sickness so bad. I “worked” from home for almost 2 months straight because I couldn’t go two hours without being sick. I was terrified to let my larger team know I was pregnant, especially because one of them was already a dick about me not being a workaholic. Like, how dare I acknowledge that work isn’t my biggest priority right now?

    3. MF*

      “capitalism basically can’t deal with biology.”

      This x 1000. I have a lot of empathy for people who hold down jobs while dealing with chronic illnesses. Even the healthiest among will experience illness at some point. We’re not robots! We need to be able to be less than 100% sometimes. :(

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        “We need to be able to be less than 100% sometimes” – THIS. And everyone (of any gender) will be less than 100% sometimes. I’m all for more honesty around the impacts of pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, but I do get uneasy when people attribute mistakes to “pregnancy brain” or a similarly-gendered term. I’d rather we talk about the specific issue and ways to adapt around it, because just about everyone is going to experience fatigue, brain fog, moodiness, and insomnia in their lives.

    4. Umami*

      And going into menopause has similar issues! I hate that I can be in a meeting and suddenly become flushed and sweaty (and I’m extremely fair-skinned. so it’s definitely noticeable) but I’m pretending nothing is wrong. I want my daughters to be able to feel comfortable just svaguely saying what’s happening and not feel like it’s a big deal or will impact them in the workplace.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        Am post-menopausal and still getting hot flushes. Sigh. I’m pretty open about it with colleagues, and one person seemed shocked. She was in the same stage of life and said something like, “We can talk about that at work?” Um, yeah. It’s not shameful. It’s just a thing our bodies do.

        IOW, I like your last sentence. Let’s be comfortable naming what’s happening and have it not be a bi g deal.

      2. Double A*

        I had my kids later so I just turned 40 and I feel like my hormones have taken a big shift. So I went right from pregnant/postpartum/nursing to weird maybe perio-menopause so now I’m having really intense PMS for like a week each month. Bodies! They’re a wonderland.

  12. Ann*

    This is such a scary phenomenon. I’m usually very detail-oriented, but pregnancy brain happened to me a couple of times, and it was completely unpredictable where and how it would rear its head. I would act normal 99% of the time, and then 1% of the time mess up something I’ve done for years. Luckily the first time the problem was limited to my home life (although I did nearly burn down the house once), but the second time it affected my work and caused a pretty sizable problem. How do you catch that 1% when your brain slips up? I did have several people check my work, but I guess none of them expected something so brainless from someone who is usually on top of things.

  13. HonorBox*

    This reminds me in a way of a conversation I had to have a long time ago with a team member who was making mistakes. It was not a pregnancy thing, but may have been partially due to medication being changed. In supporting her, I suggested that she “try easier” versus “try harder” and went on to explain that she was taking on a lot and trying to hustle through things to cross them off her list. Instead I wanted her to spend the time she needed in order to get through things correctly, as it was taking more time (hers and mine) to go over everything a second time or redo them when there were mistakes. It seems counterintuitive when you just say “try easier” but providing the context and suggesting that it means that they slow down, it seemed to make sense to the member of my team. And things improved.

    1. Distracted Librarian*

      I love “try easier” so much! I’m trying to do this as I age, because I can’t whip through things for 10 hours/day like I used to.

  14. Fierce Jindo*

    Slowing down and double checking isn’t enough; she needs to implement actual systems for what double-checking looks like and then follow those systems. You may need to help her come up with some of those.

    Don’t make her carry the baggage of how other people might use a real thing happening to her to discredit other pregnant people or other women. Pregnancy affects people differently; so does chemo; so does grief; so does divorce; so does a cold. Something real is happening to her, it’s out of her control and it’s time-limited, so the question is how your workplace is going to accommodate it.

  15. Commenter 505*

    It’s not easy to coach someone out of a physiological issue. She’s likely working harder than she’s ever worked while simultaneously watching her performance go downhill. If she had the ability to spot these errors and fix them at this time, she would’ve done it.

    As others have said, someone will need to review her work before it goes out. This will save on the drama and loss of money chunks. Can you assign her different types of tasks when possible? Something like file review and organizing? Or have her do some online training where she can get a powerpoint and take notes. Even if she doesn’t absorb it all, it’ll come back to her when she returns after maternity leave.

    OP’s first sentence includes “[she] is normally fantastic.” There’s no reason to believe she’ll be any less so after her pregnancy. If a mechanic has a broken arm in a cast — another temporary condition — should their inability to perform some tasks until healed be considered a performance issue?

    Signed — My Invisible Chronic Illness Causes Me Unbelievable Guilt At Work.

    1. Adultier Adult*

      SO helpful and perfectly stated
      Signed a Perfectionist who threw up for nine months and didn’t sleep…with both kids

    2. Foila*

      It’s not easy to coach someone out of a physiological issue.

      Repeating for emphasis! and “try harder” really doesn’t seem like the solution here. Kind of like telling someone “be smarter”, “have more energy”, etc.

  16. BellyButton*

    I have a high level employee who has a traumatic brain injury. Because of the TBI her memory is horrible. She is incredible at her client facing role. She struggles internally with managing her mood, following processes, completing mandatory tasks, remembering to attend meetings. I have done everything I can to support her and to coach her on techniques and tools to utilize to compensate. But she won’t do them or does them some inconsistently she might as well not do it at all.

    She generates enough revenue and is so well known among our clients and in the industry that it was decided we would stop making her do anything but that. We got her an assistant to handle processes, tasks, and attending meetings on her behalf. Basically he babysits her. But again her ability to generate so much revenue and her reputation made all that worth it.

    Now, if I could just figure out how to help her manage her mood and stop flying off the handle because she forgot she was informed or consulted about a decision. That causes a lot of internal issues.

    For OP- have her implement some of the strategies and skills used for people with executive dysfunction. Creating visual aids, calendar reminders, chunking tasks into smaller segments, using apps for time management, Grammarly, AI note takers, etc.

    1. jane's nemesis*

      I’ve had a few concussions in the last few years and I feel for this woman. I’m not impacted as much as it sounds like she is, but the change in my ability to manage my own mood (along with the challenges in mood stability that come with being a middle-aged AFAB person) is FOR REAL. I’m not flying off the handle at coworkers, but I absolutely do at my spouse, and I always feel awful about it afterwards.

      I’m glad you were able to find a way to keep her on despite her condition, and I hope for your sake and hers that she’s able to get some help with managing her mood. (Therapy helped a lot for me.)

    2. Pierrot*

      I had a boss who I believe was experiencing the beginning of dementia (she was older and my colleague who worked there for a while said that the memory issues were a more recent/gradual change). The situation was complicated by the fact that she owned this small business and her baseline personality was extremely difficult, which had always been the case (and she has a reputation for this). She would forget the directives that she gave us and then get upset when we followed them. Unfortunately, she also denied that she had given the directives.

      The biggest concern is that she is flying off the handle at people. If she is doing this to teammates, you might end up losing or alienating other high performing employees who are the targets of these outbursts. Compassion goes a long way, but it’s also highly stressful to be yelled by a colleague at even when you know the context. I would check in with her assistant frequently– potentially the assistant is experiencing these issues more than you’re aware of. You could also encourage your employee to email you directly when she is upset about changes so that her colleagues aren’t on the receiving end (and it’s easier to deal with angry emails because you have time to step back and think about how you react.)

  17. ina*

    Her language is bad (for many reasons covered in the comments), but she has a medical condition and that’s how pregnancy should be addressed. Even periods can be considered minor medical conditions for some people (some people have the worst cramps and hormones going out of whack) every month. Same thing with people going through menopause. These are all things that may affect AFAB women more than those who are not AFAB but it doesn’t mean they are any less medical conditions. Women’s health is taken too much as a joke or treated as “girl issues.”

    People need varying levels of accommodation when experience a health event. Plenty of pregnant people do just fine outside of needing to sit more, more pee breaks, and some things here and there. However, sometimes people get brain fog (this is a better way of putting what she is describing as pregnancy brain), chronic exhaustion, heartburn, constipation, back pain, headaches, abdomen pain, general everywhere pain, UTIs, and just are generally Not Themselves, for good reason. You should ask what accommodations she needs and what you need from her to avoid these mistakes — which is checks and balances or permission to work slower to make sure things are accurate.

    I cannot stress this enough: this employee has a medical condition — treat it as such. The term “pregnancy brain” feels like it’s always said with the same tone as “whoopsie daisy! Silly me!” No, it’s an altered version of your baseline that is really are the adjust to & you deserve to have people take that seriously and be accommodated without prejudice to your condition, whether it’s because you had an accident or because you’re pregnant or you’re going through a personal rough time. Wish we could re-frame the language around pregnancy in the workplace.

    1. ina*

      Just wanted to add: the thing that stood out to be was that the employee was experiencing pregnancy-related brain fog but they didn’t think it was something they could get an accommodation for & had to work through, which shouldn’t be the case.

    2. Melissa*

      I do think that most of my problem is the silly naming of it. A medical condition that lasts 6 or 9 months and affects your performance is one thing, but cutesy names like “mommy brain” or whatever are definitely infantilizing.

      I think another problem I have with it is that I feel like it’s implying that all pregnancies result in this; that is wholly not true. Just like not all women have bad nausea (I had that, but not any mental symptoms). Calling it “pregnancy brain” indicates that it is a universal part of being pregnant– and I absolutely wanted people to assume I could perform at a high level when I was pregnant, rather than assume there was something wrong with my brain.

      1. Distracted Librarian*

        Thank you. I was trying to put some of my objections into words but couldn’t quite get there. You’ve done it perfectly.

      2. Firecat*

        I mean, respectfully, not all women get morning sickness. I think taking umbridge with the name because it’s not universal just makes it harder for those who are suffering and awful side effect.

        I got it with my first pregnancy and not my second one so I have something to compare to but pregnancy brain sucked. The brain fog was intense.

      3. ina*

        Yes, the name is my primary issue, too. Someone mentioned COVID below and you can say COVID-related brain fog without people acting like you’re speaking a foreign language. It’s a real symptom of pregnancy, but can we name it rather than make it nebulous ‘people can’t function when pregnant’? Some folks bounce back from surgery quick; others need permanent accommodation. It is what it is, but it’s a by-person thing that’s an off-shoot of a very real possibility when someone has a condition.

        People treat pregnant women like they have one foot out the door (“she’s gonna be wrapped up in the baby, even when she’s back”) and their head in the clouds already (“she’s probably winding down for her leave and can’t wait to be a mommy”). Why use further stigmatizing language? I wish we lived in a perfect society where we could just say pregnancy brain and everyone got it without any assumptions and biases, but we don’t live in a perfect one, unfortunately.

      4. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        But she’s not saying “mommy brain,” she’s saying “pregnancy brain.”

        “Mommy brain” is infantilising because “mommy” is what a child calls her. “Pregnancy brain” doesn’t sound infantilising to me because pregnancy is the correct term and “pregnancy brain” is just a shorthand way of covering a whole mix of medical things.

        Do you object to “Covid brain”, “hay-fever brain”, “head cold brain fog”, “brain fog”…?

        Not everyone who had Covid got “Covid brain”, “post Covid brain fog”, “Covid fog” but some people do use those terms to describe their own experience in a clear, plain English, quick way.

        1. Boof*

          Someone describing their own experience it makes sense. I think what people are, to varying levels, trying to sense and articulate, is that it is a very vague term that isn’t terribly actionable or specific. So while someone can call their own feelings very nearly whatever they want, and “pregnancy brain” is totally fine, it doesn’t belong on any formal requests, discussion etc. Asking for an accommodation for “pregnancy brain” doesn’t make any sense. Asking for a shorter work day, or a reduced work load, or a certain number of extra breaks for pregnancy related fatigue (or whatever specific thing would help) makes a lot more sense. It articulates what the need is, what can help, and that there’s probably a fairly well defined duration. Similarly, someone should probably not ask someone “do you have pregnancy brain?”, while “are you having trouble focusing” is ok.

          1. The Username Lost to Time*

            Thank you for this comment. I think a lot of people have gotten piled on for not articulating these concepts in this way. There’s an element of what is actionable, quantifiable, repeatable that might be useful, but is getting dismissed as being anti-pregnant people.

      5. J*

        I actually do support calling it brain fog (or something more generic since I believe fog doesn’t encompass the loss of memory and executive functioning, mood swings, and other weird effects like face blindness that can occur) over any of the subtypes. For example, I had chemo brain. But my brain issues did not stop when chemo did (if anything they escalated as I switched to grief and PTSD brain fog). People have Covid brain. People do have grief brain fog, depression brain fog, pregnancy brain fog, etc. In general, they are all treated (or lack thereof) the same, they aren’t always temporary. Brain fog is more encompassing but like I said, I still think it misses the mark in how much of a disability it is.

      1. ina*

        The term “brain fog” works just fine, as I wrote and it’s exactly what is happening, and you can be specific in saying “pregnancy-related brain fog.”

        Also, respectfully, I didn’t assign blame. My comment is primarily directed at LW and how to approach it but I made a call to re-frame out language around pregnancy at the end. We’re in agreement, so I am not sure what you’re getting at.

          1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

            The OP, the person she’s saying it to, understands.

            The distinction between “pregnancy related brain fog” and “pregnancy brain” seems fairly minor.

            Any sexist person who would stigmatise or judge a woman for having “pregnancy brain” would almost certainly have the same response to “pregnancy related brain fog.”

            1. Lydia*

              It’s not just about the obvious misogynist who is clear about where they stand; it is very much about systemic misogyny that happens internally.

          2. The Username Lost to Time*

            I agree that “pregnancy brain” is not a clear term. It’s worth fully examining what the employee might actually need. Pregnancy brain is a great opener for the conversation. LW does not seem to be in a situation where it makes sense for them to repeat that term to anyone else.

  18. Firecat*

    In my first pregnancy I had pregnancy brain BAD. I’m talking I know I did the thing. Turns out I didn’t do the thing. The idea of slowing down sounded nice, but my workload meant it wasn’t happening. I was barely keeping up, let alone adding checks for each step no matter how minor. I never knew what a problem would be. I also just couldn’t remember drive by request in the hall etc. I asked people to email me a reminder but of course not everyone did and then would get mad that I forgot. :/

    1. Victoria Everglot*

      The unpredictability and inconsistency are the real killers. Like, you never know if the thing you screwed up last time will be the thing you screw up this time or if it’ll be a new thing and how will you even know, if you didn’t catch it the first time how will you know you’ll catch it the second time…

  19. Raida*

    I would approach this not as “hey maybe slow down and pay attention” but instead “hey we both know you’re suffering some baby brain, what are you finding is the biggest issue for you?”

    and work from there – not what’s the problem it caused so pay attention, but what are you experiencing which is resulting in the problems. And what does she think would be helpful, is there a time of day she’s firing on all cylinders to focus on important work, would upskilling other staff in her role be helpful both in keeping track of things and planning for when she’s out after the birth, has she had to stop taking things that helped with ADHD, etc etc.

    But you really can’t 100% solve it – she’s dealing with something that, unlike ADHD, she’d’ve been dealing with for a decade or two. She’s dealing with a changing state she’s had no practise with.

    One of my mates worked at KFC as a truly excellent manager – like, put her in the 20th worst store in the state and watch it become the 6th best – during pregnancy a customer asked for extra extra salt on his chips. she said “you know you’re gonna die.” and the regional manager took over the order. She then said “sorry you look healthy, I’m sure you’ll survive the salt”
    WTF Linda? Like, how can anyone plan for *that* and work around it!

    1. Goldie*

      Right!?! She effectively described what is going on for her. This is literally what people call it in real life.

  20. Goldie*

    If someone is normally fantastic has a bad spell, try to cut them some serious slack. In a career, people are going to have a bad spell. People make mistakes some times in increases people’s work loads and costs the company money. I bet this person has saved people time and saved the company money many times before.

    The LW says they want to be firm but supportive. It sounds like the person acknowledged their mistake and apologized. This is an opportunity to focus on compassion and support. Look at this person’s workload and listen. “How can I help? How can I support?”

    I am way past my pregnancy brain days. I just went through parent of a teen brain to the point that I had to give my boss a heads up. I was off and couldn’t focus for several weeks. I got through it. I am back on my game. We are all impacted by life struggles. Pregnancy, child birth, child caring all take a toll and women are disproportionately impacted. Most of us are part of a team and need each other to be successful.

  21. J*

    One of the thoughts around calling things pregnancy brain, chemo brain, Covid brain, depression brain, grief brain is that they have an end date and that they are just temporary. That’s not always the case. For many, the “brain fog” continues at some level long-term. There’s a loss of memory, especially short-term. There’s mood swings. There’s a massive drop in executive functioning that potentially never recovers (and often presents like ADHD). There’s other weird effects, like I developed face blindness and misophonia. My brain had some specific symptoms during the treatment but then lingering symptoms after. I’ve had to rebuild my brain to some extent, find all sorts of accommodations, couldn’t work, had to go to occupational therapy, regular therapy, grief therapy, and 18 years later I know my brain still isn’t what it was but I can fake it (at great cost and exhaustion). No one in my work life knows how much I compensate and working at home helps mask it.

    I stand by that this is a disability. Often the brain fog of it all has more of a daily effect on me than my heart and lung and nerve damage issues from chemo since I don’t often overexert myself by running or something but I do need to remember my action items and how to clean my house or that I need to clean it at all.

    For this letter, I think the pregnancy brain person does themselves a disservice by not taking it seriously but frankly society scoffs at the condition and there’s a lot of internalized ableism in the world that makes it so many of us don’t see ourselves as disabled. If you’ve recently suffered from brain fog with Covid, you may just now only recognize the very real change in your memory and maybe you’ll remember the times you minimized someone else’s brain fog.

  22. Simone*

    Being pregnant has been so weird at work!! So delicate. I’m 38 weeks now and I’m half out the door, we’ve transitioned almost everything off my plate as I could go out any day and I’m doing admin projects that are no biggie if I need to drop or hand off half way through.

    A flexible boss who was understanding and accommodating and me having a pretty easy/textbook pregnancy AND being a high performer has generally made it pretty easy but I see how this could get messy!

    I had nausea and vomiting for 25 weeks. I 100% have pregnancy brain and I try not to discount myself by calling it that, but that’s what it is!! I loose words and can’t speak publicly eloquently, I’m out of breath, I feel like I’m at the end of a flu/hang over most days and just working the whole day is harder than it was when I wasn’t pregnant. It’s a balance of turning up the best I can, AND my boss being subtly accommodating and easy going without saying “I’m going to contact you less after hours, give you a bit more grace and realistically probably not hand as many projects to you.” BUT if she were to say – I’m going to lighten your load you risk that leading to demotion, missed opportunities, but it’s also a reasonable accommodation. A manager who does this gracefully and doesn’t let it hurt the employee long term is where it’s at, but one misstep or comment out of line and this falls apart!

  23. Judy Bloom*

    Well, I’ve spent the past several months picking up the slack for a pregnant co-worker, who has since had the baby. I feel like someone should’ve been hired on a temporary basis in her absence. In addition, there were work just didn’t get submitted or it was late. I’m not the boss, so I’m sure what conversations were had. And I’m not sure what to expect when she returns from maternity leave. Sadly, I anticipate more work to be added to my plate because she’ll be postpartum. As a woman without children, you start to feel like there’s a distinct hierarchy of importance…we have the same title/salary, so why does my workload end up being more? I think this is one of the reasons people do the whole “quiet quitting” thing.

    1. Ann*

      You should definitely be making more. I’m at a company where it’s very hard to hire replacements – just not enough qualified applicants, despite management’s best efforts. I guess higher salaries for those who put in more time and effort are the only way to level the field here.

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