FOR all of our advances in the treatment of pregnant women in the workforce, statistics and individual experience show that we have not, in fact, come a long way, baby.
Organisations may tick all the tokenistic Fair Work Australia boxes, they may enshrine supposedly family-friendly policies and pay lip service to a culture of inclusion and flexibility, but practice continues to contradict theory when it comes to the crunch.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission figures reveal there were 165 pregnancy discrimination complaints in 2010-2011, and 19% of all sex discrimination complaints included pregnancy discrimination.
In 2006, there were 170 pregnancy discrimination complaints lodged with HREOC.
Two Sydney women with expertise in HR, consulting and organisational development have launched an online coaching program designed to help women transition to maternity leave and then back again to work.
The is to stamp out the potential for discrimination, anxiety or heartache.
"I am actually pregnant at the moment, so I am researching this on the go," laughed Susanne Lagis, one half of the Family Matters partnership that includes Liane McGrath.
"I've been in the corporate world and been responsible for rolling out these types of programs and we found that while there was a lot of support for women in the workplace, that typically dropped out around the time they had children.
"A lot have the right policies in place, but the actual implementation is failing.
"This program is not so much about finding balance - does that even exist? - but more about fulfilment, in your work and family life and acknowledging that may change over time."
Ms McGrath said the aim was to produce happier and more fulfilled mums, for their own benefit and their employer's.
"We challenge them to think and plan for their own success and create their own measures and individual goals," she said.
"Organisations should have policies around parental leave, however our research shows that women need individual strategies around their transition, that focus on themselves and the organisation, for both to benefit. Taking personal responsibility for their transition combined with workplace policies creates far better results for the individual and the business."
The Manager and Mother program contains 10 sessions broken into two, five-session blocks. Each block costs $395.
The first five sessions, self-directed and online, are done during the pregnancy, with the remaining five carried out in the lead-up to and in the first 90 days after returning to work.
"It is designed to get you thinking about what's important," Ms Lagis said.
"What does happiness mean, your sense of self, what you like to do in your downtime, the transition from work, managing expectations at work and home, what are the conversations you need to have and who with.
"Consider your boss, your partner as well as your in-laws and other family. It also reminds you to keep in touch with work while you are on parental leave.
"The second stage focuses on relishing your retreat and enjoying that time away from the work world, and to think about what's changed and if your goals have changed.
"It also helps the return to work, what new skills you will bring and how you will share them."
Ms Lagis said some Australian workplaces needed a radical shift in culture to end the discrimination many pregnant women still felt.
"Employers also need to remember that mums returning to work are often more efficient, have better organisation, time management, empathy and an ability to relate to others by putting themselves in someone else's shoes.
"A whole new set of skills opens up to them as a result of becoming a multiskilling parent."
She said the benefits were limitless.
"It's empowering for the women," she said.
"The ultimate goal for the organisation is retention, so if a woman is feeling empowered, sure and supported in that organisation, she is much more likely to remain with it and be engaged and perform. If you are supported and you can find some fulfilment at work and at home, that is a much better scenario for you personally rather than trying to juggle everything and not doing any role particularly well."