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.