How Not to Tell Your Boss You’re Pregnant

By Lisa Abramson,

Congrats! You’re going to have a baby! Maybe you’re over the moon about your upcoming arrival and already daydreaming about baby names and nursery decor. But if you’re like the many moms-to-be I coach, you’re also a little nervous about the road ahead and what it might mean for your career.

For one thing, you might be wondering how your pregnancy will be perceived by your coworkers. Whether you’re the first pregnant person in your workplace or the 10th, it can be tricky to navigate telling your employer you’re expecting.

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Your first conversation with your boss about your pregnancy and maternity leave is an important opportunity to set the tone for how parenting will have an impact on your career.

Set yourself up for success in this initial conversation by avoiding these six pitfalls.

1. Framing your pregnancy as bad news or a problem

Sometimes we mistakenly think that motherhood will make us appear less focused professionally, but statistically, the opposite is true. A recent study by Matthias Krapf, Heinrich W. Ursprung and Christian Zimmermann even found that “mothers of at least two children are, on average more productive than mothers of only one child, and mothers in general are more productive than childless women.” Becoming a mom can make you even more productive than you ever thought possible — probably because you value your time away from home more than ever before.

So never apologize for being pregnant — and don’t frame your news as an inconvenience for others.

2. Waiting so long, it’s really obvious

That bump is big! Waiting too long to tell work ends up being awkward for everyone involved (especially if they’re bad at acting), so do yourself a favor and tell your boss before your bump is a basketball.

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3. Spilling the news in a group setting

Tell your boss in private. I repeat, tell your boss in private. Don’t casually drop the news in front of everyone at a work party when explaining why you’re not drinking.

4. Telling your boss through a coworker

If you want your boss to respect you, you need to respect your boss. She needs to be the first to know you’re expecting so she can plan and be prepared for your maternity leave. While you might want to tell your office friends you’re expecting, hold off until you’ve talked to your boss.

5. Talking about how you plan to quit after maternity leave

As Sheryl Sandberg says, “don’t leave before you leave.” Even if you think you might want to leave the workforce after your baby is born, it’s impossible to know how you’ll feel until your child actually arrives. Give yourself space and permission to make this big decision after your baby is born and you’ve had a chance to adjust to the demands of motherhood. You never know; you might welcome the “break” of going back to work. At least there, you’ll be able to drink your coffee in peace.

6. Sharing during a stressful time or a negative performance review

Of course, you can’t completely orchestrate the perfect time to tell your boss you’re pregnant. But you can try to schedule the conversation for an unfraught moment. So, if the quarter is about to close and everyone is rushing to meet their numbers, maybe wait until after that final push.

Originally published on Fairygodboss.


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