This is an article in our Pregnancy Week by Week series, a resource to help you manage your job and life, through and after your pregnancy.

Week 11: How To Hide Your Pregnancy At Work

How good are you good at keeping secrets? Assuming that you’re waiting a while to break the news at work, there’s nothing like the early weeks of pregnancy on the job to make you realize you’re going to become quite good at hiding big secrets.

If you’re keeping quiet about your pregnancy at work, here are a few issues that you may have to get creative in explaining:

  1. Going to doctor’s appointments (again).

  2. Hiding your “morning” sickness (well beyond the morning).

  3. Explaining why you’ve kicked your 4-coffees-before-noon habit.

  4. Wearing bigger / different clothes. Blazers, anyone?

  5. Skipping happy hours (especially if you’re usually the organizer).

If you’re feeling guilty about lying to people, we’re pretty sure this falls squarely into the category of understandable white lies. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before all is forgiven. Not only is it perfectly socially acceptable to hide your news at work, but there is also good reason for it. First, unfortunately miscarriages are still a possibility in the early weeks. Many OBGYN physicians still advise patients not to share the news until after the pregnancy is at least 12 weeks along.

Speaking of doctors, there will be inconveniently timed doctor’s appointments in the early weeks and months. If you’re really paranoid about attracting unnecessary attention at work, you can schedule a morning appointment or weekend visit. If this isn’t possible or you’re not worried about colleagues guessing your news, you can usually get away with talking about going to the doctor for a regular checkup (and then to the dentist…and then, perhaps, a trip to the dermatologist)!

Morning sickness, on the other hand, can be much more difficult to hide. Running to the bathroom is something that may be impossible to really keep a secret for very long, particularly if you have a severe case of pregnancy-induced nausea. Some workplace environments are more private than others. If you should be so lucky as to have an office or a conference room to duck into, you can keep a vomit bag nearby to avoid constant trips to the bathroom. Otherwise, you can feign food poisoning or illness (which may explain those frequent visits to the doctor as well).

Laura Peterson, a consultant with Accenture was used to logging a lot of close encounters while travelling on the road with her team. While she was feeling nauseated, she thought that drinking ginger ale would be a dead give-away for her morning sickness. Therefore she found herself popping spicy Jolly Ranchers that did the trick of making her feel a bit better whenever a wave of queasiness washed over her.

Weight gain is another dead giveaway if you’re trying to keep your pregnancy a secret, but fortunately in most workplaces, people are too polite to stare headlong at your abdomen area or comment on your clothing. Blazers and loose fitting tops and professional-looking maternity pants can hide a pregnancy well into the 3rd or 4th month for some women, depending on their body type and weight gain. Black, professional-looking maternity pants with elastic waistbands can be a true blessing during this time!

Finally, you will probably have to change your beverage habits, and your colleagues may take note. Hopefully they are busier with their work than they are with examining the cups in your hands. If you have to go to a work event where someone makes a comment about your not drinking, a headache or antibiotics are always a good standby response. If you entertain a lot of clients over drinks, sidle over to the bar discreetly and ask for club soda with a lime so that people may just assume you’re having a vodka tonic.

Another way of dealing with questions about your (now former) caffeine habit is to say you have decided to go with tea to be healthier. It’s hard to object to wanting to be healthier or save yourself a bit of money in exchange for your afternoon latte habit.

While these white lies may feel tortured at times, the small moments of awkwardness are something that will soon thankfully be a distant memory!

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What are some ways to keep your pregnancy a secret?

I am so paranoid about people finding out I'm pregnant before I want to say anything so I've been wearing baggy clothes and avoided any mention of this even on FB in case I'm connected to someone at work who sees...any other advice about how to avoid...

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