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 5: When To Tell Your Boss You're Pregnant
You’re excited! You’ve told your spouse, your doctor and maybe your mom or best friend. Maybe you’ve told even more people. But when do you start telling people at work?
Obviously there’s no “right” answer but you’d be surprised at how strongly people feel about this. We asked the women in the Fairygodboss community and below is a representative sample of the answers:
"I had to tell [my boss] at about 10 weeks when the morning sickness kicked in big time. I would have to pull over on the way to work to throw up and spent a majority of the morning in the bathroom.”
“I waited until I was 3 months.”
“I told [my manager] towards the end of the first trimester.”
“I told him once I was 12 weeks.”
“I told her [my boss] early on (7 weeks) because I was having to run out of meetings to be sick and had uncharacteristically missed a few days of work. She was new and I didn’t want her to think I wasn’t dedicated or focused.”
“I waited until the last possible moment.”
“I was about 5 months pregnant because I didn’t show much and I thought it was beginning to be incredibly difficult to hide any longer.”
“I decided to tell her when I was 15 weeks - I was starting to show and I also wanted to give the team sufficient time to plan projects or publications before I left.”
“I did it at the 12/13 week mark.”
What we noticed is that there’s a pattern around women typically telling their managers around the 12 week mark, except when they felt they had to due to physical issues and morning sickness or could hide it for longer.
12 weeks is considered to be the “traditional” time to tell family and friends (and also the earliest many women plan on breaking their news at work). The most commonly cited reason to wait 12 weeks is the fear of miscarriage, which typically happens in the first trimester. But at least a third of the women who told their managers they were pregnant waited even longer than 12 weeks to share the news.
The most common reason for delaying the news was concern about being treated differently at work, or even being discriminated against. Guilt was also a major reason. Some women worried that telling their bosses they were pregnant would mean a burden to the team and others simply wanted to wait until they got a bonus or raise or annual review. Some women simply felt nervous about it and so delayed what they thought would be an uncomfortable conversation.
Whatever you decide, one thing’s for sure. How your boss reacts to the news is not something you can control. If they respond negatively, nothing about when you decided to tell them (barring some ridiculously bad timing like they finding out they will be demoted / or lost a huge client) will have anything to do with it.
So make a decision that feels right to you. Next week, week 6, we’ll share the story of a woman who decided that waiting until the last possible minute to share the news just made no sense.
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When did you tell your boss?
I'm not sure when to tell my boss I'm pregnant. When did you guys do it? Any suggestions?
Wait as long as possible. I had responsibilities taken away from me "because I will be going on leave." I waited until 16 weeks. Wish I had waited until 20-24 weeks.
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