- Announcing your pregnancy at work step one: Do nothing
- Spy on your colleagues
- Procrastinate but not too much
- You really don’t have to tell your supervisor first
- Breaking the news to your supervisor
- Back that thang up
- Become a PR pro, make that announcement
- Ideas on how to announce your pregnancy at work:
- Enjoy your new mama status
- Final thoughts
Announcing your pregnancy at work step one: Do nothing
All of us working pregnant moms have been through it…
You finally find a job that you enjoy, maybe even love. Your career is blossoming! You are becoming the go-to person at work.
Then it hits you! You find out you are pregnant.
Suddenly you have all sorts of decisions to make about your pregnancy and baby.
Within the next few months, your belly will start to show. You worry your most observant coworkers may even realize you are pregnant without being told.
There are different scenarios racing through your head. What should I do?
Your immediate concern becomes announcing your pregnancy at work. It is inevitable.
Well, the first thing you should do is nothing. So take a pause for a few seconds or minutes. All right! Good job at doing nothing.
Now take a breath in and out (really do it, you deserve it). Awesome!
Now read the rest of this post and let your sound judgment guide you.
Spy on your colleagues
There are mixed feelings that come about when deciding to share your pregnancy news at work. Here are a few of the concerns:
- Will people think I am going to be less productive while pregnant?
- Will my boss get mad because I will be missing work?
- Will anyone care?
The answer to all the questions is: it depends.
Your workplace and company culture play a large part.
If you work in a male dominant environment that does not understand pregnancy, then expect assumptions. It can swing either way, they may expect you to be less productive (when you won’t) or they may shrug off your pregnancy and expect you to work at the same physical capacity (when you may need to slow down).
If your job is physically demanding, know that you may not be able to maintain the same level of productivity.
It does depend on your job, your health and other factors.
You probably spend more time at work than at home
The good news is you know your colleagues – you spend 40 hours a week with them, so you must know something about them. You should know their demeanor and work habits, use that to your advantage when announcing your pregnancy.
Okay, so maybe not spy on your colleagues, but at least observe them. Most are probably parents and grandparents, which is a good thing. When breaking the news you can ask advice or how it was when their kids were babies. Reference them when sharing your news. People love talking about their kids and themselves.
Some of your colleagues will care and will make sure you are doing okay. Keep those people close to you. Maybe there is a fellow mom at work that you never really talked to because you did not have much in common…well, now you do.
Bottom line, your colleagues are people, they will have opinions and expectations, good and bad. It is up to you to lead the conversation, demonstrate your value and express your expectations.
Procrastinate but not too much
Here is the good news, you can procrastinate on sharing your news! At least for a few weeks.
Typically, getting through the first trimester is best practice before you share the news with people at work. Pregnancy is about 40 weeks overall, announcing it at about 14 weeks allows your work to prepare for your departure for a good 26 weeks or about 6 months.
Remember, they have to prepare for your gap in work. They may have to bring in a temp or you may have to train people to do your job. Your employer has to get a grasp on what you do exactly so there is no lapse in productivity. That is why giving plenty of lead-time is important.
It is easy to delay your announcement, but once it is out you will feel relief. You will know what people are thinking, you will be able to start figuring out your maternity benefits and people will support you as your belly grows.
Here is a simple breakdown of what you should be doing at work each trimester in regards to your pregnancy:
- First trimester
- Survive nausea and all the other bodily changes
- Decide when and how to share the news
- Research company policies
- Second trimester
- Share the news with people
- Get company policies from HR
- Prepare your maternity leave plan
- Third Trimester
- Train people to take over your job
- Ensure all maternity leave tasks have been completed
- Decrease your workload
There are a few factors in telling people earlier, consider these:
- High-risk pregnancy calls for more prenatal appointments than usual
- You need accommodations to be made at work due to your pregnancy
- Your pregnancy symptoms are affecting your work
You really don’t have to tell your supervisor first
So every article on this topic says ‘tell your supervisor first,’ that is great advice – do not get me wrong. But who actually does that?
You can share the news with a trusted coworker. Someone you know who can keep a secret. That is vital. If it is someone you do not trust, do not confide.
This person can also provide some advice on how to go about sharing the news with your supervisor and everyone else. It is nice to have a confidant to help you make important decisions.
When I first got pregnant, I told my office mate a few weeks into my pregnancy because I was frustrated with morning sickness and feeling ill nonstop. He kept an eye on me to make sure I was doing okay.
Being constantly sick, I just could not keep it to myself. Eventually, I let a few other people in on the secret, again they were people I trusted and they would help me find something decent to eat when I could not keep anything down.
A few weeks into my second trimester, I emailed my company’s HR department to let them know my news (they are offsite and I did not know them). Shortly after, I called my supervisor to let him know, I also let my onsite supervisor know about the same time.
Human resources will share with
If you need any advice on how to break the news to your supervisor or what the company’s best practices are on announcing a pregnancy, your HR department may be the department to help.
Breaking the news to your supervisor
Before I went to talk to my onsite supervisor in person, I prepared myself for the conversation.
We blocked off some time and I made a checklist of the topics I wanted to discuss:
- Let him know I was pregnant
- Give him the time frame of my due date (it landed in the most inconvenient time of the year)
- Work coverage after birth
- Topics discussed with HR
- Reassurance that it will not affect my workload
- Gave him an idea of the frequency of my prenatal visits
- Transparency about my health and how if I have any issues I will let him know
- Acknowledged that I want to keep my job and 100% expect to come back after maternity leave
Also, my due date was in the middle of my busiest month of the year, so I immediately addressed that concern. I had a plan of action ready.
You should do the same. Think about the pressing concerns your supervisor may have about your position and address them head-on. Provide suggestions and ways that you can make your transition to maternity leave seamless.
***Working while pregnant is hard, I am here to get you through it***
Back that thang up
Not your booty, back up your pregnancy discussion with a follow-up email on the points you discussed. Have a draft before you even talk to your supervisor. Writing this email will help you remember the points to discuss and help visualize how you want the conversation to go.
Take notes during your meeting so you can add your due outs to your email afterward.
If anything important was mentioned during your conversation, address it in this email. Especially if any promises or potential accommodations were mentioned. If needed, you may have to refer to this email during your pregnancy to remind your leadership about your discussion. Six to nine months is a long time – some people conveniently forget things over time.
If your employer has any doubts about your ability to manage
Become a PR pro, make that announcement
After formally breaking the news to your leadership, you will be ready to tell everyone else.
Here comes the fun part!
There are several ways you can announce your pregnancy to the workforce. Depending on your workforce culture – you can decide how you go about it.
One of my workers put up a printed announcement on her desk for everyone to see. It was more of a conversation starter because she did not want to shout it from the rooftops.
By the time I announced it at work, I already knew I was having a girl. So I made candy bags with an “it’s a girl” announcement inside of it and the ultrasound. The candy bags were filled with pink candies and I put in a scratch-off that also announced the gender.
I personally passed the candy bags around to everyone and let them know. I work in a great organization with supportive people around me, so it worked out well. If the organization was blander, I probably would have done it a different way.
Ideas on how to announce your pregnancy at work:
- Bring in the big guns when you share the news, snacks! Donuts, cookies, cupcakes, breakfast burritos, bagels etc. work best
- Print out a little keepsake that has the due date, so people can refer to it
- If you have a tightknit team you can announce it in a small meeting
- Post a picture of your ultrasound image on your desk
- If you have a whiteboard by your desk you can put up a message there
- If it is around a holiday when the office is a little more festive you can do something themed like green cupcakes on St. Patrick’s day with your baby announcement frosted on them or a Halloween belly focused costume
- If you have a work-related social engagement you can ask if you can announce it there
- If your colleagues are spread out, a cute email announcement may work with a digital attachment
- Go in early and put envelopes on everyone’s desk – in the envelope have the announcement; one side has the ultrasounds and says GUESS WHO IS EXPECTING? And you can reveal accordingly, have the answer on the back, in an email, in another envelope etc.,
- If you have a bulletin board, you can put your announcement there
- If you want everyone to find out quickly and effortlessly, bring some baby themed balloons to work and put them at your desk, they will scream I am pregnant and will be noticeable from far away
Enjoy your new mama status
Once the cat is out of the bag, I guarantee you will feel better. No more secrets.
What happens after? People will ask how you are doing. Inquire about how prepared you are for the baby. If it’s a fellow mom, she will tell you ALL about her pregnancy (we just have to).
It will be great, people will look at you different – but play your cards right and it will be a good kind of different.
If you have clients, people you work with outside your organization and other people you see often – you can start letting them know.
As your belly starts to grow, people will really start to notice – do not be surprised if someone did not pay attention to your announcement and realizes you are pregnant when your belly is already huge. It happens.
Do not dread your announcement, it is the start of a new amazing phase in your life. It is one thing for your partner and your immediate family to know, but once the rest of the world starts finding out, it solidifies your pregnancy. Having a baby becomes a reality.
You are not just pregnant. You are going to be a mommy! You are going to have a baby! Whoa!
Embrace your new status!
When it comes to your pregnancy announcement at work, make it special. It is a huge moment so celebrate it.
As mentioned above, do what makes sense at your workplace. If you work with festive people knock yourself out, have a party. If your workplace is more traditional, then opt for something more conservative.
Regardless, start working on your announcement and your maternity leave plan. Once you get those two things going, the rest will follow. You can do it, prepare for a mix of reactions and interesting questions.