Many things are going through your mind when you find out you have a little one on the way. You may be asking yourself a lot of questions about how you should take care of yourself, how you should manage your symptoms, whether your home is safe enough for a baby, and so many more.
But, of course, one of the biggest questions on a new mom’s mind is, “how do I break the news at work?”
There’s no perfect time or way to tell your boss and coworkers that you’re pregnant. Some of them will probably figure it out before you say anything, especially if your body changes fast or you’re having obvious symptoms (hello, morning sickness). However, no matter what you look like or what kind of pregnancy signs you’re showing, there are a few questions you should be asking yourself before you break the news to the boss.
How are you feeling?
Some women are burdened by terrible fatigue and round-the-clock nausea, which can impact work performance. If this is the case for you, telling your boss that you’re pregnant might make sense. You’re probably not the first pregnant woman the company has ever seen. Speaking up may allow your coworkers to help when you’re not feeling well or make your workspace more comfortable.
Is your job safe for pregnant women?
Your body will change fast on the inside, which can make some jobs difficult. For example, if you have equilibrium difficulties and your job requires you to be on a ladder, a discussion around a change of duties might be appropriate. This is also true if your job involves exposure to chemicals or strenuous activities. Be mindful of your work’s effects on your body and pregnancy, and let your boss know that changes must be made.
What is the company’s policy for maternity leave?
Some companies have guidelines or employee documentation about maternity leave and parenting time in their handbooks. Familiarize yourself with these before you announce to anyone at work. Some workplaces even have a documented protocol for making your announcement. These protocols may help your colleagues prepare for your absence. Your workplace might also have options for extended maternity leave. Do your homework before you say anything.
Who should you tell first? And how?
The person most affected by your pregnancy is you. But the first work associate to discuss your pregnancy with should be your immediate supervisor. This person is usually responsible for preparing for your absence, whether short or long-term. It’s natural to want to tell your coworker friends first, but that may result in the news getting back to your superiors before you’ve discussed it with them.
What does my boss need to know?
Communication is essential in every workplace. Be prepared to discuss your due date and your current plans for maternity leave. Be honest about your intentions. Some women decide to leave their job and stay home with their babies long-term, and some women go back to work within a week or two of giving birth. Be honest with your boss about your plans for returning to work and document your anticipated leave dates.
What if I change my mind about going back to work?
Some women are thrilled to go back to work after having a baby. And some women decide not to go back at all. Whatever you choose to do after the baby arrives will be the right choice for you. If you decide that you don’t want to go back to your job or back to any job at all, be sure to follow your company’s procedure for an exit. Give a written notice and have a discussion with your boss. Down the line, you may decide to go back to the workforce, and if you follow proper etiquette, you won’t burn any bridges.