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When Should You Tell Your Boss You Are Pregnant?

by Ryan Guina

My wife and I are expecting our first child, and one of the first dilemmas we faced was when we should tell people she was pregnant. Many women prefer not to tell people they are pregnant right away – especially when it is her first child. Her body is going through changes, she may not know what to expect, and the last thing she wants or needs is to have every family member, coworker, or random acquaintance inundate her with unsolicited advice.

Many women prefer to wait until their second trimester to announce their pregnancy, which is usually when they begin feeling better and there are fewer pregnancy risks. When my wife and I found out we were expecting, we decided we would wait a couple months before telling our family members. Delaying the announcement let us share the moment privately and it gave us time to process the changes that were occurring in our lives. And waiting to share the news made for a nice Christmas morning announcement!

When should you tell your boss you are pregnant?

Unfortunately, the first two months of pregnancy were difficult for my wife. She was chronically fatigued and had 24 hour morning sickness. It got to the point that it was affecting her performance at work. She was frequently ill and had to call in sick from work a few times. We still hadn’t told our family or friends that she was pregnant, but when her co-workers began to pull her aside and ask her if she was doing well, she knew it was time to tell her boss and coworkers.

Other considerations regarding when to tell your boss you are pregnant

If your situation doesn’t force you to tell earlier than you planned, there are other considerations to keep in mind:

How do you feel? Are you experiencing morning sickness or having other health issues? Are you missing work or is your pregnancy affecting your performance?

Is your job potentially hazardous? If your job is dangerous, you will want to protect yourself and your child as soon as possible. This can change your plans for making an announcement. When you tell your boss, try to bring an alternate set of job responsibilities to your meeting.

Do you know what your plans are? Will you continue working when the baby comes, or will you be a stay at home mom? Be prepared to answer questions regarding your future employment when you announce your pregnancy. If you plan on quitting, be sure to tell your boss first, have a transition plan in the works, and a time line of when you plan on leaving. It’s also OK to leave the door open and say you are evaluating your options.

Is it obvious or are there rumors swirling around? If you are obviously showing, or if there are rumors, then it is probably best to have a meeting with your boss to clear up the situation. Your boss doesn’t need to be privy to your private life, but if your pregnancy affects your performance or is a distraction, it is best to clear the air.

How to tell your boss you are pregnant

Just as important as when to tell your boss you are pregnant is how to tell your boss. Some bosses are compassionate, while others are less than understanding. It helps to have a feel for the company environment and for your boss’s style. These tips should also help:

Know your rights. Visit your HR department and know what rights you have for maternity leave and other considerations, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Have a plan. As with anything you do in your career, you want to handle your pregnancy professionally, and with thought and planning. Prepare a list of answers to potential questions your boss may have – including whether or not you plan on returning, how much maternity leave you will request, a transition plan (either temporary or permanent), and anything else specific to your personal or professional situation. You should also prepare a written transition plan and time line so your boss has a written record of your plan.

Meet in a private setting. Telling your boss you are pregnant is a big step and not something you want to handle in a public hallway or break room. Try to schedule some time in his or her office where you can meet in private.

Be patient. You have already had months to process the fact that you are pregnant; your boss just found out. It may take some time for your boss to fully grasp the situation, so be prepared to answer questions multiple times and reassure your boss that everything will be fine.

Get it in writing. After the meeting, draft a memo for your boss so you both have a clear understanding of the meeting and what the expectations are for all parties. If there were any verbal promises made to you, you should request it in writing so you have a record.

The decision of when and how to tell your boss you are pregnant is different for everyone

For my wife, the decision was easy: when her pregnancy was affecting her performance, and her co-workers expressed their concern for her, she knew it was time to share the news. Her boss and coworkers were supportive and relieved there was nothing wrong with her. This made it much easier for my wife to continue going to work every day because she didn’t feel like she had to hide anything.


Published or updated March 30, 2009.
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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

Thankfully, as a male, I have never had that situation come up– all kidding aside, this is a delicate topic. My feeling is not all employers handle this in a fair and legal fashion as they should.

Your points are well laid out and SHOULD be the way to approach things . . . I would caution that the individual be prepared for some negative vibes– sorry, just being realistic. What do they say, “Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.”

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2 Ryan

DDFD: I’m writing this as a male, but based on my wife’s experiences and what I have seen in the workplace. I agree, there can be some negative vibes, so it is always best to plan ahead and try to have a good idea of how your boss will react.

Kristen: Congratulations! I wish you and your husband the best! Good to hear you are planning for your leave of absence. That should make it easier on your boss and coworkers while you are gone.

Miranda: I don’t think prospective employers are legally allowed to ask if you are pregnant, but it happens anyway. That’s a tough position to be put in. Glad to hear it worked out well – getting jobs in small towns can be difficult sometimes.

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3 Kristen

My husband and I are also expecting our first child. We told immediate family right away, but just started telling friends and extended family last week. I let my boss know around week 10 because I needed to leave early one day for a doctor’s appointment. The good thing is that my boss is a very family-oriented guy, so I wasn’t worried about a negative reaction.

We still have to meet to officially discuss my maternity leave plans. I’m already putting together my own plan to work ahead on things and keep everything running smoothly while I’m off.

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4 Laura shortell

I am so glad i found this information. I am in my fourth month of pregnancy and for the past two months i have been applying for many jobs. A few weeks ago i had applied at a loan place that my friend currently works at, it was a great job and i really wanted it. When i had my interview (not knowing all the facts about the pregnancy discrimination act) one of the questions was “tell me about yourself” well i had mentioned i was pregnant as a courtesy to her, “honesty is the best policy” was my thought process. Immediately she asked me when i was due, september. the interview was good, she had told me around the time she would get ahold of me. well it had been a while and i was concerned. I called my friend and asked her why she thought her boss had not gotten ahold of me yet. (keep in mind this work place is small and full of women, so word gets around and everyone knows everything, if you’ve worked with all women you know what im talking about) my friend says ” well, my boss and i talked and she said she doesnt know if she wants to hire you because two other employess asked for time off in september and she wouldnt have anyone to watch the store when you go on your maternity leave , also their is currently an employee who is on maternity leave and she wont tell my boss if she is coming back or not and shes getting frustrated with her, my boss isnt so sure she wants to deal with that again” This job was a perfect match for me and i feel like i was completely unfairly treated and i wish i would have known then what i know now. fortunately, i have another job interview tomorrow that could also be a perfect match. I am so glad i researched this topic so that way I am treated fairly. thank you to whoever thought of the pregnancy discrimination act! – Sincerely “Very Frustrated”

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5 Miranda

Good points. I never had to do this, since, during my only pregnancy, I was job hunting. The guy that hired me (I knew his boss) knew I was pregnant. What was annoying was that I was actually asked whether I was pregnant during interviews. THAT is not supposed to be a basis of hiring. In the end the only way I could get a job in the small Utah town I was in at the time was to name drop.

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6 Neal Frankle

Congrats again and I hope your wife is feeling well by now.

Even though times are tough and jobs are hard to find, your wife can find other work. Her health is #1. Miranda is right, if I’m reading the law correctly. The employer has to treat your wife as he/she would any other employee who is temporarily unable to work.

I suggest telling the employer as soon as possible so the employer can make plans. I believe that if the employer is reasonable, this step will actually be most beneficial for your wife – or any other pregnant woman – in the long run.

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7 Ryan

Neal: Yes, my wife is feeling well now, thanks. Her boss was understanding of the situation, and there were no problems with how she was treated or how the situation was handled. She is still working now, and we have discussed how we will go forward when the baby arrives. I’ll save that part for another article, though. :)

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8 Curious Cat Investing Blog

I don’t think I should ever tell my boss I am pregnant.

– John :-)

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9 plonkee

I know quite a few people don’t like to tell anyone except extremely close family/friends until they are 13 weeks, it’s not wanting to make it common knowledge until the main risk of miscarriage has passed. Obviously if it becomes an issue (as in your wife’s case) then you will have to anyway. In the UK we have reasonable maternity benefits (a fair amount of paid/semi-paid leave) which only kick in after you’ve been in a job for a certain length of time – that might affect when you formally announce your pregnancy.

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10 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

I know several people who told friends and family the instant they found out and later miscarried. It was traumatic, especially for big brothers and sisters (who were less than 6 years old). Waiting, like plonkee said, is probably a good idea.

Also, the advice. Oh the advice. It comes in waves and never seems to end. One thing that drove me crazy was the number of people who, after the baby was born, wondered when we were having another one! My standard reply was, “After we get back from Europe.” Then, all they wanted to talk about was my non-existent trip. It changed the subject though! lol

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11 MoneyNing

I can’t remember (even if my life depended on it) whether I congratulated you or not :) Anyway, congratulations Ryan!!!

When the time comes, I’m sure my wife will instantly tell everyone, including everyone at work. I’m sure it all depends on how the work atmosphere is like, but if you don’t think it’s a big deal, your boss won’t either. Of course, letting him know that you will be fine and just plan to take a few weeks off ahead of time is reassuring but the bigger deal you make it to be, the bigger impact others will feel.

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12 nun

I’ve seen this situation before. We hired a young woman from overseas who failed to inform us she’s pregnant. I basically wasted 6+ months training her and then she disappeared on maternity leave. Coming back she could barely do anything, having forgotten a lot of the training, and also frequently out of the office for her baby. I’ve never seen someone so blatantly take advantage like this.

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13 Ryan

nun: What an awful situation. It’s too bad when people take advantage of their pregnancy, whether they intend to or not.

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14 Laura shortell

I fail to see how this is an awful situation. When would you have liked her to tell you that she was pregnant? In the interview? so that you could use that against your decision upon hire? i dont think so, first of all, you DID NOT waist 6 months training her, she simply had to take time off which she is legally allowed to do. And i am not suprised she came back and couldnt remember anything, what do you expect she is not superwoman! not only that but 1. she started a new job, this can be stressfull 2. shes pregant and thinking about her growing baby on top of learning a job that takes 6 months to train. 3. she leaves for however long her maternity leave and heaven forbid she forgets what she had learned on her time off while she was waking up 1o times a night to a screaming baby, what did you expect her to study the job while she was gone? of couse not, because their is a reason women have maternity leave, labor is a huge strain on your body and she has to bring an infant into this world, the number one thing on her mind at this point is how to be a great mom, because in the end after a long work day that is all that matters. And one more thing, you said she “disappeared” on maternity leave. I’m sorry, are you just learning about maternity leave? or are we expected to be in labor for 20 hours and the next day pop outa bed like a pop tart and go on about our day like nothing happened. Again, i fail to see the waisted time, if anything you should be happy you’ve had the chance to hire a women with a child, you have the chance to give her an opportunity to properly provide for her new born baby. Also, frequently taking time out of the office for her baby is COMPLETELY NECESSARY. I have worked at a daycare before and have seen this first hand. unfortunately their is only so much a daycare can do about having a sick child their. first of all, the day a daycare says ” yes i will keep your sick throwing up baby here at daycare to expose his/ her sickness with all other babies while you go to work because corporate america is so much more important” is the day a cow jumps over the moon! Also, dont mind if correct you, but she was not blatantly taking advantage, she was simply doing what a mother should do. and props to her for her courage in starting a new job and being pregnant. – Outspoken

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15 MITBeta @ Don't Feed the Alligators

Congrats! On the other hand, my boss was thrilled when I told him that my wife was expecting our first. His motives were purely selfish. Statistically men are not likely to leave a good job or move for that matter when they have young children…

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