The other day, you almost threw up when your coworker ate an egg sandwich in a meeting and literally had to run out of the conference room. You wear the same blousy shirts week after week and have made up excuses why you can’t take part in the weekly office happy hours. You have a secret. And while you think everyone knows it — they don’t — at some point you will have to reveal to your boss and co-workers that you are pregnant.
In case you are at all thinking that pregnancy is a disadvantage and you are worried about your boss’s response, here are three things to remember:
- In order for the human race to exist, women have to have babies.
- Working women have babies and integrate family and work all the time.
- Being pregnant and giving 4-6 months’ notice is an advantage over any other co-worker who might fall tomorrow and be out of work for 3-6 months on disability.
OK, so now that you are reminded that pregnancy is an essential part of life, you are the only gender that can do it and women rule the world, you still need to share the news with your boss in a way that shows you are considerate of what this means for your team and will handle your leave professionally, while still aiming to get what you want. Here are some things you should not say, with suggestions on what you should.
1. “Did you get my email?”
Face-to-face is the professional way to share your news. If you’re a remote employee and can’t time your news with an in-person meeting, schedule a video chat. Please don’t let anyone see it on social media before you’ve told your supervisor!
2. “Family leave in America sucks.”
It does, but being angry to your boss about it typically won’t help. Instead, talk about what he or she knows about your corporate policy and that you are looking to come up with a compromise on how much time you can take off. You might also say that you are on daycare waitlists or looking to hire a nanny, so she knows you’ve thought about your return plan.
3. “I have bad news.”
Don’t start the conversation off on a negative note. Instead, say you want to share something exciting. After all, this isn’t bad news. Working women have babies every day. If you’re really worried, take some time before the meeting to do some prenatal yoga exercises and calm your nerves.
4. “One more thing before you go on vacation.”
Find a time when you can really discuss the news with your boss, probably not before a tight deadline or on her way out the door. Take along a notebook with a few points you want to get across. A good start would be the amount of leave you want to take, how you’re planning to prepare your team and what next steps your boss would like you to follow up on.
5. “I’m not quite sure I’ll be back.”
Even if you think this, don’t say it. You never know how you’ll feel or what your budget might allow after time away from work.
6. “I can’t do that project.”
Unless it requires heavy lifting, don’t opt out of work before you become a parent just because you fear it will make life as a parent harder. It’s possible that you can take charge of a project for 4-5 months, get the experience with this type of leadership and pick it up in a way that works smoothly for you once you transition back to work.
The main goal for this meeting with your boss is to let her in on this secret so you can both properly plan for your leave of absence. Come prepared with a plan. Your boss might brush it off and spend the time being super excited for you, and that’s great. But know three (or so) things you want to accomplish from this meeting (inform on news, discuss return time frame, talk strategy). You will also want to discuss how you want word to spread around the office — are you telling people or is she? Be professional and considerate (because after all, she might feel this is more about how it affects her).
Katie Bugbee is the Senior Managing Editor of Care.com