So you’re pregnant. Expecting.
You’ve got a bun in the oven, a pea in the pod, and no matter how excited you may be, the thought of telling your boss fills you with pure, unadulterated terror.
You know how you’re going to tell your friends, your family, your neighbors, your coworkers… but you have no idea how to approach the person in charge of your paycheck.
While you’re thrilled to be expanding your family, there’s a good chance your boss may not be, because your maternity leave and other child-related happenings are going to impact the company’s bottom line. That being said, it doesn’t have to be a disaster.
Fortunately for you, we’re experts in boss wrangling. We’ve got plenty of tips you can read before you approach the beast, so you don’t have to go in blind.
Here’s how to tell your boss you are pregnant:
1) Don’t do it too early or too late
Early pregnancy is still pretty shaky on whether or not you will miscarry, so it’s advisable to wait until around the end of the first trimester. But, at the same time, you don’t want to wait until you’re already showing, because that’s just insulting to your boss’s intelligence.
However, if your job is strenuous, or you’re having complications that cause you to call in sick or visit the bathroom frequently (pregnancy is not glamorous!), you may be better off telling your boss as soon as possible.
Providing an explanation for your frequent illness will make those around you more likely to be sympathetic, and if your job is strenuous, you don’t want to hurt yourself or your baby.
2) Resist the urge to tell your work buddy first
Maybe you buy each other Snickers bars out of the vending machine during your coffee break, but in any office, exciting news travels faster than you can think. You don’t want your boss to find out about your pregnancy through the office gossip monger, or worse, the college intern.
3) Relax and plan
Take a look in your employee handbook to see if they have any procedures listed for breaking the news, and if they do, follow it perfectly.
Telling your boss you’re going to need maternity leave is stressful, but it’s important not to get too worked up before the conversation.
You don’t want to burst into your boss’s office in the middle of a panic attack and scream that you’re about to have a baby.
Make an appointment with your boss (calmly!), and do something to relax immediately beforehand. This can be stretches, breathing exercises, or even chewing gum for a few minutes.
4) Avoid scheduling your appointment on notoriously stressful days
This should go without saying. If you know your boss is going to be stressed, you don’t want to throw a monkey wrench in their plans.
Avoid deadline dates and Mondays as a rule. Pick a day when your boss is going to be in a great mood, and pick a time when they’re likely to have had their coffee.
5) Know what you want
This is an extension on planning out the conversation. Your boss is going to have questions, and the conversation will run a lot more smoothly if you have answers.
Are you going to come back to work after you have your baby? How will you manage your projects? And, perhaps most importantly: how much maternity leave are you going to need?
6) Talk to your boss about post-pregnancy plans
By telling your boss exactly how you’re going to handle having a baby in the home, you let them know you’re serious about returning to work, and that you will continue to be productive.
If you plan to hire a babysitter, tell your boss about it. Doing your research might also help you discover what childcare benefits your company has to offer.
7) Be ready for the fact that your boss may not be supportive
As we mentioned earlier, your pregnancy is going to make your boss’s life harder, and some people might not be able to muster a positive (or even polite) response.
Tell your employer that you’re going to make sure that your transition is going to be smooth for everyone in the office, but no matter how perfectly you handle the situation, you can’t control your boss.
If you’re fired, demoted or laid off, know your rights. Study the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, contact HR, and think about hiring a lawyer.
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