You're comfortable with the idea of becoming a mom. But will your boss be? Before announcing pregnancy at work or with your co-workers, there are a few things to consider.
Choose the right time to break the pregnancy news.
Most pregnant women wait until they're through their first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage has lessened. If you wait until you're showing to bring it up, it's probably too late. As a rule, it's good form to give your employer time to react and plan for your absence.
Research your company's maternity leave policy first.
Find out what your company's family leave policy is, how other pregnancies have been handled and if any pregnancy benefits are available. Also look into the precedent for working part-time, flex-time, telecommuting or job-sharing once you return.
Know that under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a company with 50 or more employees must grant any employee who has been at the company for a year up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period.
Have a maternity leave plan.
Your employer is going to have a lot of questions, so you'll want to be prepared.
- Choose an exit date.
- Decide how much time you can afford to take off, if some of your leave will be unpaid.
- Determine if you want to take all of your leave at once, or spread it throughout the year.
- Find out if your partner gets family leave, and factor that into your planning.
- If you would like to work part-time, or a few days a week from home, say so. But offer your boss a plan for how things might work, say doing paperwork or making phone calls on the days you're out of the office.
- Reassure your employer that you are committed to doing a good job and making things work.
- Get the terms of your family leave in writing.
Be honest and realistic with your boss.
Many employers have been burned by working mothers who say they are coming back after their family leave and don't. Of course, you never really know what it feels like to be a mother until you become one, and feelings often change. But coming clean will help you feel better about things, and reduce stress during your pregnancy. Also, some employers may be more generous with their family leave if they know you are committed to staying with the company.
Expect the worst, and hope for the best.
Every working mother hopes that the news of her pregnancy will be received at work with the same ecstatic reaction that friends and family showed. Unfortunately, that is sometimes not the case. Some work environments are more family-oriented than others, and some supervisors may have a difficult time accepting the change.
If you think you may get a less than positive reaction, be sure to point out in your meeting recent successes and projects you've handled. Your postnatal work plan will be especially important here, to demonstrate that you've got things under control.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and your pregnancy.
Remember, your health and the health of your baby are top priority. Don't try to overdo it before you go on leave by burning the midnight oil and taking on stressful projects. Be sure to allow plenty of time during your pregnancy for rest, healthy eating, exercise and doctor's appointments. If you need to scale back a little before or after your pregnancy, tell your boss about it so you can plan for it together.