A version of this article originally appeared on Well Rounded NY.
Finding out that you’re pregnant is exciting, but figuring out how to tell your boss is not. For working women who will soon be come moms, this inevitable discussion can become equally as anxiety inducing as the baby itself. But talking about your pregnancy at work can set the stage for your life as a working mom -- so it’s wise to figure out how to approach the conversation.
Allyson Downey, founder of Weespring and author of “HERE’S THE PLAN: Your Practical, Tactical Guide to Advancing Your Career During Pregnancy and Parenthood,” has some keen insight to help frame your discussion. With more than 50 interviews with working moms to draw from, Allyson’s created the ultimate tomb to help career gals navigate the world of office politics during pregnancy and postpartum.
Here are Allyson’s tips on how to ace the discussion:
1. Share with only the most trusted confidants before your boss. If your direct manager isn’t the first person you tell, be crystal clear that you don’t want this information repeated. If you talk to HR, let them know you want to be the one to break it to your boss.
2. Make it a relative non-event with your boss. When you’re ready to share, include the conversation as an agenda item on a regular check in, rather than requesting a separate meeting. This will signal that you’re still focused on business as usual rather than making it seem like your pregnancy is a bigger deal than you’d like it to be.
3. Reassure your colleagues who are most likely to cover your work in your absence, and be sensitive (and gracious) about your maternity leave placing a burden on them. Be proactive and put together an extensive document that explains what you have going on.
4. Acknowledge the things left unsaid. Remember that everyone makes assumptions about what mothers (and soon-to-be mothers) want and need. They’re often incorrect. During this time, you’ll have to be especially proactive about speaking up for what you want.
5. Once the news settles in, work out the fine details with your boss. For this second, more in-depth discussion of your maternity leave, err on the side of over-preparedness. Even if you don’t have all the answers, make sure you have all the questions. Come up with a comprehensive list of what needs to be handled while you’re out, a timeline and considerations that could arise. When it comes to your own maternity leave and return benefits, consider what’s negotiable — and then advocate for what you care about.
Are you planning to go back to work after maternity leave? Here’s how to talk to your baby about it.
Jessica Pallay is Co-Founder and Editor of Well Rounded NY. She is a Brooklyn mama to Libby and Elsie, and writes about all things pregnancy and new motherhood.
Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.
Join us by reviewing your employer!