Giving a pregnancy notification to your workplace can be a very personal and important step. Depending on the workplace culture, telling your boss you’re pregnant can range from exciting to nerve-wracking. More female-friendly companies tend to respond more positively, while male-dominated businesses can be less understanding. You should never be afraid to tell your workplace you’re expecting, but you should be prepared for the process and know the appropriate steps. Here are a few tips for telling your boss that you’re pregnant.
Second Trimester Milestone
No matter how nervous you are, you really do have to provide notification of your new arrival. Most new moms like to wait until after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is highest, to pass before sharing even with family. Many women also choose to wait until the second trimester to announce their pregnancy at work. That way, you’re past the highest risk time in pregnancy, and your boss doesn’t figure it out on their own by your growing baby bump.
However, it’s important to note that no matter how soon it is, there are exceptions to waiting for the 14-week mark. If you work in an environment that requires you to be in close proximity to chemicals or any other substances that could be harmful to your pregnancy (called “teratogens”), it’s a good idea to tell your boss sooner, rather than later. This allows both of you to figure out how to alter your responsibilities to protect both you and your baby's health.
You should also consider how pregnancy is impacting your general ability to work. If you’re experiencing severe morning sickness, fatigue, or other symptoms that make it difficult to work, you might need to talk to your boss sooner. This’ll prevent misunderstandings about job performance and allow supervisors to have an explanation for any changes. If you can, show your boss doctors notes to explain absences, it’ll both provide documentation for records and make more sense to your superiors.
Your Right to Privacy
While you have to tell your boss, you can choose to keep your pregnancy private from the rest of your coworkers. Anyone around you is obviously going to figure it out eventually, but you do maintain the right to control the situation. This might mean picking your own way of sharing with other employees, or simply choosing not to answer questions about your personal life -- including your pregnancy. This is a common choice for women who prefer to keep their career and home lives very separate.
Check-in With Human Resources
If you work for a company with a human resources department, it’s likely you’ll need to keep them informed, too. While you might want to tell your direct supervisor first, it’s a good idea to learn about your workplace policies concerning general pregnancy notification. Whichever order you choose, tell both parties in quick succession. Human resource departments can also be a great source for any questions you have about maternity leave, health benefits, and changes to your benefits after your child is born.
Both federal and state laws protect pregnant women in the workplace. Being informed about pregnancy laws and rights can help you articulate your needs and ensure a positive work environment throughout your pregnancy.