Flickr photo by BrentDPayneI kept my second pregnancy a secret at work up until my sixth month. I was very tiny, and probably could have concealed it a bit longer had it not been one of the hottest Augusts on record and had the A/C been functioning a little better to still justify big baggy sweaters.
My concealment had nothing to do with my incredibly supportive employer or maternity leave. It was because of the joke that I knew would come from the rest of the staff once I broke the news: That my boss got me pregnant.
Long story short: My department consisted of three other women and me reporting to a male boss. Two of those women were also pregnant, recently announced within a month of each other. Two married women in the same department getting pregnant at the same time still falls in the realm of coincidence. But THREE within three months! That makes for absolutely irresistible fodder for joke-making.
My colleagues made the baseless joke anyway, as I knew they would, but I had wanted to put it off as long as possible. Yeah, yeah, my straight-shooting family man boss got three of his four female staffers pregnant, funny ha ha. Jackasses. Those guys were the best, I really miss them.
Goes to show you should not take breaking the news of your pregnancy at work lightly. Jen Klein, author of The Mommy Files: Secrets Every New Mom Should Know and contributor to SheKnows.com, shares these tips from her new book:
- Even though pregnancy based discrimination is illegal, it happens far more often and subtly and overtly than you might realize.
- Think twice about telling coworkers before the boss. Only you can decide if the dynamic in your workplace is comfortable and accommodating enough for you to be open about your pregnancy.
- Review your company's medical and personnel benefits relating to pregnancy before you announce.
- If you still have questions, talk to your human resources rep. They are bound to keep this info confidential.
- Be wary about making a formal commitment about maternity leave, how long you'll take, when you'll come back, too early since you never know how the pregnancy will go.
- Keep up appearances, being visible in your successes and achievements, communicate well, and keep track of everything. Sadly, some people discriminate against pregnant women even though they're not supposed to.
Klein remembers the trepidation from telling her own boss:
I just wasn't sure how I was going to tell people or what their reaction would be. A maternity leave within a year of starting? Was it too much to ask? At about 12 weeks along, I took a deep breath, walked into my boss's and said, "I need to talk to you." I shut the door and blurted it out. "Oh, I'm so relieved! I thought you were going to quit!" she said. "This is wonderful news! Don't worry about a thing."
That boss is no longer my boss, but she remains a friend to this day.
How and when did you break the news at work?