Okay, if I’m being honest, I’m the last person who should be writing about telling your boss you’re pregnant. Why? Because it was ridiculously easy for me. So consider this post officially retitled: “How to tell your boss you’re pregnant, the way it should be.”
In my post about being a millennial manager and redefining professional I talk about treating the people you work with like actual humans with actual lives and interests outside of work. This means I get personal with some of the people I work with. (There’s a little bit of this going on, I won’t lie.) I ask them about anything and everything going on in their lives, including my current boss. He’s just someone I have a lot of respect and professional love for. I have very little filter with him, which probably isn’t helpful for me, but oh well.
It was actually difficult to not tell my boss I was pregnant until week fourteen. The three years I’ve worked with him have been riddled with changes in our lives, some of them pretty big, and I always have told him. Why? I have no fucking clue. We spend a lot of time traveling together and you just can’t talk about work for eight hours straight. I mean, I suppose you could, but after about thirty minutes of me talking about work my cover is blown and it becomes abundantly clear I have no idea what I’m doing. (Jokes.)
My main concern with telling my boss I was pregnant was telling him, having a miscarriage, and then it becoming a thing that I had to talk about and explain with yet another person. It’s not that I didn’t trust him to not harass me about it, but I just wanted to keep the list of people I’d have to loop back around with as small as possible. (This is why I waited until week fourteen.) My other concern was him assuming I wouldn’t be interested in continuing to work for him. I ended up being kind of foolish being worried about either of those things, but researching how to tell your boss you’re pregnant is full of darkness.
Full disclosure: Before telling my boss-boss, I told another one of my bosses. I told him because I was having doctor appointments every two weeks in the beginning, and there were a few weeks that I had like one appointment a week. I didn’t want him to think I was dying or had anything seriously wrong with me. When I told him, I just went into his office, shut the door and said “Sooooooooo….. I just wanted to let you know that I’m twelve weeks pregnant…. And that’s why I’ve been having so many appointments and by the way I have another one tomorrow.” It was very chill. (My appointments were usually in the morning so I didn’t miss much of any work, but may have been late to a few early AM meetings.)
Telling my boss I was pregnant was a breeze. Basically one day after a rather big event, I walked in to his office and asked if he could chat. I was exhausted and had planned on telling him the next day but the exhaustion was just beating it out of me. So, standing there I just bursted out “Soooooooo, I just wanted to tell you that as of tomorrow…. I’m fourteen weeks pregnant.” (You can tell there’s a habit of “soooooooo” when giving people news.) Like any boss should be, he was happy for me. That wasn’t the conversation we got into the nitty gritty details about how it would effect my work. Instead, he let me be happy and he congratulated me.
This is how any boss should treat you when you tell them you’re pregnant. It shouldn’t be this huge thing, but unfortunately it seems to be for many. Googling “how to tell your boss you’re pregnant” is kind of terrifying because it’s filled with websites about your rights as a pregnant woman and how to file claims against your workplace for discrimination. That is scary.
So here’s what I have for you:
How to tell your boss you’re pregnant, Tip #1: You know your relationship with your boss better than anyone. Whatever that relationship is, stay true to it.
Research how to tell your boss you’re pregnant, and everything is kind of a one size fits all description of what you should do. It would have been so bizarre if I walked into my boss’s office with a folder and packet of paper outlining my intentions, my rights, and my expectations. That came later (actually, last week) with another one of my bosses regarding my maternity leave. But that initial meeting would have been very weird had I done this. The same way that if you have a strictly professional, sir/ma’am kind of relationship with your boss, it would be weird if you just awkwardly walked into his or her office and spouted out “sooo…… just wanted to let you know I’m pregnant” like I did.
Tip #2: Show that you’re happy about it.
It’ll be hard for your boss to show any sort of disappointment if you go in there wildly enthusiastic about the pregnancy. If you go in with anything other than wild enthusiasm for the pregnancy, you leave room for your boss to do the same. You’re already going to be over analyzing their reaction. If you sense that they aren’t super jazzed or happy for you, you might get insecure or start to resent them.
Tip #3: Know your general plans and your office’s maternity leave policy before you tell your boss.
The keyword is general. You don’t need to know or tell them specifics, but you should have a general idea of what you might be doing in case they ask. If they do, make it clear that you’re just thinking about it now and haven’t made any final decisions. It’s likely way too early to make any sort of commitment around your maternity leave anyways. Make it clear you are familiar with the office policies and that you’ve done your research. Unfortunately my work does not have any maternity leave policy – or rather, their policy is you get no paid maternity leave. There wasn’t much I needed to research when it came to that.
At 24 weeks I literally just had the conversation about how long I will be out. Again, it was kind of easy because we don’t have paid maternity leave. I knew that by the time mid-June comes around I will have 28 sick/vacation days, and I knew that I have to use all those days for my maternity leave. That’s about five and a half weeks. Because our daycare (like most) don’t take babies until they are six weeks, I knew I’d need to take another week off, unpaid. That’s that. That’s all we can afford, so that’s what we’re going with. No promises of when I’m leaving and when I’m returning, just that it’ll be about six and a half weeks.
Tip #4: Tell your boss who else knows, if anyone.
Maybe no one else in the office knows yet and you want to wait until your 20-week anatomy scan to start telling other coworkers. Or, maybe everyone else knows. Let your boss know either way. I’m not saying your boss is going to go gossiping to the others who know, but its helpful information for him or her. One of my bosses mentioned it at an office gathering in front of people (read: just about everyone) that I hadn’t yet told. It wasn’t a big deal because honestly I probably just never would have said anything and was obviously holding my belly the entire time anyways, but I was caught off guard nonetheless.
That’s it! Now you know how to tell your boss you’re pregnant! The first conversation should be one of many conversations about your pregnancy and plans for leave. Chances are you’re in the first trimester, so don’t put pressure on yourself to know how long you’re going to be taking off and when you’ll be leaving/returning. You never know what will happen. You could end up having a c-section and needing more time off, you could find a daycare that doesn’t take infants until they are 10 or 12 weeks old, you just don’t know yet. But you need to start the conversation. You need to let your boss know what’s going on with you, what you’re considering, and if there’s anything you need. Bonus tip: Don’t let this conversation be had after the whole office realizes you’re pregnant because of your giant baby bump.
What do you think? Am I missing anything?