Congratulations, you’re pregnant! This is such an exciting time in your life, and announcing your pregnancy at work shouldn’t have to add any undue stress or anxiety.
You might not want to—and definitely don’t have to—communicate the news to your workplace the moment you find out you're expecting. But eventually, your boss and team will need to know in order to make any necessary preparations or workload changes.
The first step is to review your company’s policy regarding pregnancy and maternity leave, if they have one. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) are laws that give you rights as a pregnant person in the workplace. Then it’s time to share the news.
Here’s how to decide when you should announce your pregnancy at work and who you should tell the news to first, once you’re ready.
Read more: How We All Can Help Improve Paid Parental Leave Policy Now
Factors that impact when someone shares their pregnancy
There are many factors that might affect when a person chooses to share their pregnancy. The worry of discrimination during interviews or on the job, as well as the risk of pregnancy complications, can impact someone’s decision of when to announce the news. Before we get into some factors, know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to announcing your pregnancy, and only you know what’s best for you.
You don’t have to tell your workplace about your pregnancy as soon as you find out from a doctor—in fact, most people wait until the end of the first trimester or even early in the second trimester, about 12 weeks in, because of the risk of miscarriage during the first trimester.
If you start to experience physical symptoms early on in your pregnancy, like extreme fatigue or morning sickness, you might choose to disclose the news earlier than you expected. Letting your boss know why you might miss a call unexpectedly or why you’re running to the bathroom more in the office can help alleviate any confusion or concern.
Besides physical reasons, you might choose to wait to tell your employer due to career-related reasons. For example, if you’re expecting a raise or a promotion, you might opt to wait for that to be finalized before you make your announcement. It’s illegal for employers to factor pregnancy into considerations of raises and promotions under the PDA, but it still happens.
Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is, unfortunately, very common, and it can take many forms. For example, interview questions about your marital status, pregnancy, or family plans are illegal, but they’re still sometimes asked today.
Examples of illegal interview questions might include:
What’s your marital status?
How many children do you have?
Do you plan to have children in the future?
Are you pregnant?
Is your pregnancy going to affect your ability to do this job?
If you’re asked questions like these, you don’t have to answer. You can say “I don’t believe this will impact my ability to excel in this position,” ask for clarification on how the question is related to your experience, simply shift the conversation back to your qualifications or the role itself, or even report the question.
Discrimination can occur if you become pregnant while you’re already employed as well. This could look like your boss modifying your job duties now that you’re pregnant or your manager assigning you less intensive projects than you’re used to. Your coworkers could even start to treat you differently. Writer Deborah Hill recalls male colleagues who treated her as an equal before she was pregnant suddenly started asking her why she planned to return to work since she had a husband.
The thought of these possibilities can all affect when you decide to tell your employer, coworkers, direct reports, and friends.
Read more: 10 Benefits Questions to Ask HR When You’re Expecting
Who should you announce your pregnancy to first?
When you first find out you’re pregnant, it might be tempting to immediately message your work BFF and tell them the news. But it’s best practice to let your boss know about your pregnancy first before telling others in the office. You don’t want them to hear it from someone else or have to awkwardly bring up the subject if they suspect it.
Ask for a private meeting to share the news and prepare some discussion points in advance—your due date, your current bandwidth, your tentative plans for your maternity leave, etc. It helps to have an idea about starting to delegate any work while you're going through changes or preparing to leave, but you don’t need to have anything set in stone. Simply bringing it up will show your manager you’ve been proactive in thinking about the transition.
Telling your boss is often the hardest, most anxiety-provoking part of announcing your pregnancy at work. Take a few deep breaths beforehand and plan out what you’ll say. Afterwards comes the fun part of announcing your pregnancy to the rest of your team or company.
Announcing your pregnancy to the rest of the company
Your broader team, direct reports, coworkers, and potentially even clients will eventually need to know the news so they can prepare for your absence and time away from work.
It’s up to you how you want to share the news—you might want to tell some people privately or might prefer to tell a larger group all at once. Try to tell your direct reports in a 1:1 setting since they’ll likely have questions about who will take on certain responsibilities. If you don’t have a concrete maternity leave plan yet, set up a meeting to discuss the transition anyway. You can say, "I haven’t nailed down the details yet, but let’s go ahead and get a date on the calendar to walk through it."
When announcing the news to your work BFF and team, you can get a little more creative if you’d like. When you decide to share with your team, you can start dropping fun hints in weekly calls or tell everyone to bring something to the office to celebrate some exciting news.
If you’d rather keep the announcement more serious, you can be as straightforward in a meeting as, “I have some personal news to share. I’m pregnant, and due at the end of December. In the coming weeks, I’ll have more info to share about my maternity leave and the plan for coverage, but for now I just wanted to share the news.”
Be prepared for any questions your coworkers may ask, like your due date, if you know the gender, if you’ve picked out a name yet, etc. If you’re not ready to answer a ton of questions yet, that’s okay, and you can change the subject back to work matters with something like, “I’m very excited and hope to share more later, but I want to keep my journey more private for now. Did anyone have anything else to share about the project progress this week?”
At the end of the day, you have to prioritize your own physical and mental health when it comes to navigating a pregnancy in the workplace. Make sure you have a support system who can check in on you, and take the time to understand your rights.