Kate Middleton’s baby joy brings maternity leave into focus

Kate Middleton's baby joy brings maternity leave into focus

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced they are expecting their second child.

Officials from Kensington Palace confirmed the happy news and once born, the baby will be fourth in line to the throne. It comes only two months after their first child George celebrated his first birthday and so Harry now looks like he has no chance of becoming King.

As with George, Kate is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum – also known as acute morning sickness – and this means she has had to cancel several royal engagements in order to rest up and recover. It looks like William will have to go solo for a while!

However, thanks to her position at the centre of the royal family, Kate can look forward to the best possible care for the duration of her pregnancy, as private doctors are currently treating her at Kensington Palace. 

The two-year baby gap

The two children will be around 20 months apart and several studies point to the fact parents should seek to have kids within a two-year window of each other. This is because brothers and sisters of a similar age will be able to play together and are more likely to become close and develop shared interests.

However, prohibitive childcare costs and issues pertaining to maternity leave put many women off the idea of having children that are so closely linked by age. Luckily for Kate, she will not have to worry about either of these problems. In fact, she has got to have one of the few jobs in the world where bosses will actually be overjoyed by the news of another pregnancy.

But it is a serious problem for women in the working world, as many are worried about how pregnancies will be received by management. The research justifies their concerns too, as a recent study by Slater & Gordon found that a third of managers would prefer to hire a man in his 20s or 30s over a woman in order to avoid maternity leave costs. 

Moreover, only 40 per cent of women felt their bosses were completely supportive of them during their pregnancy and when they went on maternity leave. The fact remains that many women feel their career opportunities will be limited should they choose to start a family, and this in part explains while the average age of mothers has reached 30 for the first time.

Is conference calling the answer?

While welcoming women back into the working place undoubtedly poses challenges, the best companies will find a way to do it. For example, conference call technology means that flexible working can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. 

Gone are the days when mothers who choose to work from home for at least part of the week fell like they were being left out of the loop. Now they can take part in important meetings, attend training sessions and speak to international clients remotely. 

And there is a big payoff for companies here, as women will appreciate the understanding shown by bosses as they get to grips with working again after being on maternity leave. Hopefully this will also create long-lasting loyalty and lead to a more productive working environment for everyone. 

So we wish Kate and William – and all expectant mothers for that matter – a happy pregnancy and look forward to seeing what their next child will be called. The bookies have already installed James as the favourite.