How to Announce Your Pregnancy at Work

Written by Erin Feher
9:00 am
04/02/19

Photograph by Heather Moore

One of the very best parts of being pregnant is spreading the good news. But while you may spill it to your bestie using an off-color GIF and three dozen emojis, telling the people you work with requires some dramatically different messaging. Whether you are the boss and need to assure your employees that the train will keep speeding along while you’re in L&D, or you’re just starting out at a new company and don’t want to spook your boss, we have rounded up the best advice for broadcasting your bump in the workplace, as well as some key facts on your rights.

Try To Keep It To Yourself For 12 Weeks
The reality is 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. By the 12th week that risk drops significantly. Hence the 12-week-wait to share the sonogram on social. Are you connected to your boss or coworkers on social media? Then wait 13 weeks, and make sure to tell them face-to-face at the office first. Sometimes, letting a close superior or co-worker in on the news early is a necessity, especially if you are suffering from serious morning sickness or other health conditions that are effecting your attendance or performance. But if hiding it is no problem, there is also no need to spill the beans right at 12 weeks. If you are waiting to hear about a promotion or are suspicious that your company may be less than supportive, take a beat, spend some time getting to know your rights, and wait until you feel comfortable—or the oversized tops aren’t hiding it anymore. Just don’t wait so long that your company feels blindsided by the news.

Tell Your Go-To Person First
This could be your immediate manager or boss, or, if you are at the top of the food chain yourself, your direct subordinate or right-hand employee. Tell them face-to-face if possible, and schedule a meeting versus surprising them desk-side. And despite how tight your relationship is, keep the news brief and professional. Professional (and personal) reactions are hard to predict, so simply deliver the news in a positive way, and promise that more details on your maternity leave plans will be forthcoming.

Meet With The HR Expert To Get The Facts
Sure, they probably breezed over the family-leave policies when you were hired, but we are betting the info didn’t stick. So dig up your employee manual if you have it and set up a meeting with your company’s HR representative to get the down low on exactly what the company provides and what it doesn’t. But don’t show up to the meeting without doing your homework. If you live in the United States, you are most likely covered by the FMLA, so read up on what your rights are on a federal level (typically 12 weeks of time off, unpaid). Many cities and states have additional policies, so simply Google “YOUR CITY Family Medical Leave Act” and “YOUR STATE Family Medical Leave Act.” Plus, be sure to check out what qualifies as pregnancy discrimination here. Because let’s not kid ourselves, the motherhood penalty is real.

Don’t Wait To Make The News Official For Everyone Else
Once you have announced to your boss and HR, don’t wait more than a few days to let everyone else know. No need to call a special meeting just to announce the news—simply tack it on to the agenda at the next all team meeting. If many people work remotely, an email isn’t a terrible faux-pas, but face-to-face is always ideal with this kind of news. Again, remember this isn’t your gender-reveal party—no confetti or champagne pops—keep it super professional and only divulge the necessary info.

Don’t Stress About Having Your Maternity Leave Plan All Planned Out
You’ll learn a lot about what your body and your baby need over the next couple months, so don’t commit to a leave plan too early. Just communicate things like regular appointments and your due date and any immediate needs you may have (like you can no longer be on piano-moving detail if your job description happens to include it). That said, you should have a plan in place and communicated by the end of your second trimester. Babies aren’t always the best as reading calendars, and 11.4 percent of pregnancies end in early deliveries. Feeling ready for baby and like your office won’t fall to pieces while your away is a major stress reliever, so figure out what kind of time you need, and don’t be afraid (or feel guilty) to take it.

For more on preparing for baby, check out How to Have a Feminist Pregnancy, Minimalist Essentials for the Mama-to-Be, and 20+ things your friends and family can do to support you as a new mother.

Leave a Comment

2 comments

Morgan

I see the advice to wait to announce a pregnant frequently, but I’m disappointed to see it worded here in a way, as I often do, that stigmatizes miscarriage. Is the implication that people wouldn’t be comfortable sharing grief (or, just the news- not everyone will grieve a miscarriage depending on many personal factors, and some will). We don’t routinely advise people not to tell their coworkers about a family death, or a tonsillectomy, amputation, the totaling of their new car, or a house fire. All of these things, LIKE MISCARRIAGE, are personal. Some are more comfortable than others sharing personal things. The advice given here implies that it is embarrassing to share the news of a miscarriage, or else that all people are equally private about what may be an event to grieve. Yes, many women might not want to emotionally welcome others’ joyous reactions to pregnancy prior to 12 weeks because emotionally they want the reassurance of passing the twelve week mark before opening themselves to joy, but not everyone is like this. We need to be careful not to generalize this and not to shame women who do share their news prior to experiencing a miscarriage, or shame others from doing so. As you said, miscarriage is common. Not embarrassing. If my Aunt Susan died I won’t jeep it secret because I don’t want to make others uncomfortable in their uncertainty about how to react. This is a personal decision without any rule.

    Erin Feher

    This is a great point, and it’s true that the “12-week” rule is definitely influenced by our society’s discomfort with grief. I agree we would probably all be better off if it was customary to announce a pregnancy right at the start, making the reality of miscarriages a more accepted part of reproduction. But this advice had less to do with avoiding uncomfortable emotions at work than making practical, professional plans and avoiding or lessing pregnancy discrimination, which is also, unfortunately, very much a reality. Announcing a pregnancy at work and setting in motion the professional changes and plans that come with it is rarely a simple task, so for many it’s better to do so at a time when the pregnancy is statistically more likely to progress. But of course, like everything in parenthood, it’s a totally personal choice and there are no wrong answers! I appreciate your comment!

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