In 2009, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg contributed an interesting essay to Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women” issue. Her view: Too many women in business throttle back their careers when they decide they want to have children, well before they actually take a leave to have a child. Sandberg cautions, “Don’t leave before you leave.”

She writes: “Here is what happens.  An ambitious and successful woman starts considering having children, typically once she finds a domestic partner. She thinks hard about how busy she is and realizes that finding time for a child means something will have to give. As soon as that thinking process starts, she is already looking for ways to scale back. She no longer searches for new opportunities; if any are presented to her, she is likely to decline or offer the kind of hesitant ‘yes’ that gets the project assigned to someone else.”

Slowing down too early is a mistake, Sandberg says. That can have a negative impact on the level of work women do before they leave, and when they return from maternity leave “they are in jobs that no longer challenge or reward them enough to hold their attention.”

Read Sandberg’s essay here and then join the conversation. Share your views on the difficult decisions and adjustments women face about working and having children.

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