Pregnant? When to let your boss know

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Disclosing a pregnancy can be daunting for some women, particularly if they're not working in a maternity-friendly office. There's no official rule on when to announce it, but there are some factors that might play into the timing. I recently spoke to Jennifer Owens, editorial director at Working Mother magazine, about her thoughts and tips for when to share this relatively private news in a professional setting. Here's what she said:

Q: When do you suggest a working mom-to-be tell her boss that she is pregnant?

A: For an uncomplicated pregnancy, most women wait until after the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage drops significantly. But after that point, consider telling your boss before you start showing. This will help keep your news under wraps until you're ready to tell it -- and will give you enough time to start taking advantage of any services provided by your employer (like prenatal education). It will also give your boss time to start planning for your maternity leave.

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Q: What are other factors, besides physically showing, should you take into account?

A: One factor to consider is what you're working on. Are you about to complete a long-term project? You might want to wait to announce your pregnancy upon the project's completion or at least an important stage of it. That's a great opportunity to drive home the message that you are getting the job done even while pregnant. Another factor to consider, especially late in your pregnancy, is your job's stress level or travel requirements. Every woman's work, home and health situation is different, so take into consideration what's right for you and schedule a comfortable time to chat privately with your boss when the time is right for you.

Q: You mentioned the risk of miscarriage when announcing too early. What are the issues with announcing too late?

A: One issue in announcing your pregnancy too late is that you will catch your workplace unprepared to cover your work during your maternity leave, which may force your boss and your coworkers to scramble. A smooth transition is always better. You want to be missed, not resented.

Q: What are the most common mistakes you see women make prior to maternity leave?

A: A big mistake is to go into your pregnancy and maternity leave uninformed. Just like you would with any major project, think ahead and get the information you need to make the decisions that are right for you. Know how your company deals with maternity leave -- and what it pays for. Scout out how other new working mothers have crafted their maternity leave: Did they keep in touch with the office while they were out? Did they come in for a meeting or two? How long did they stay out? Also important, analyze your own finances to know if you can afford any unpaid leave, if that's of interest to you. With all of this information in hand, you'll be much better able to craft a maternity leave plan that works for you, your boss and your career.

Working moms: When did you disclose your pregnancy? Do you agree with these tips? Please sign in and share in the comments section below.

  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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