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Should I tell My Boss I'm Pregnant?

When Should I Tell My Boss I’m Pregnant?

By Amalah

Oh, how I love getting updates from past question-asker people!  Today, let’s check in with “anonymous” who was agonizing over when to tell a brand-new boss about a brand-new pregnancy. This is a Big Topic amongst the hordes of Googlers out there, and a big source of stress for most working women: What if they’re awful about it? What if my career suffers because of it, or all my coworkers hate me for it? What if they just up and find an “unrelated” reason to fire me? What about my benefits, rights to maternity leave, the decision to return or not?

Most of us know, in our hearts, that it’s best to be honest and disclose a pregnancy early on, or at least once you’ve passed the 12-week mark. Give your boss and co-workers plenty of notice and time to prepare for your absence, keep communication channels open and flexible as you discuss your post-baby plans. Stay professional and be met with professionalism in return. But most of us also know, in our heads, that people and bosses and workplaces can be discriminatory, heartless or just plan jerky. So we worry and second-guess how much we’re really valued at work and what our boss *really* thinks of us and then start with the late-night searches of the Web for horror stories about the awful stuff other companies tried to pull on pregnant employees.

Anonymous wanted to have her story out there on the record, for the next wave of pregnant and worried workers to find, so here it is:

When you last heard from me, I had a big week – I turned 29, got a new job after being laid off for four months, and “passed” a pregnancy test. I was writing to update you about what happened. About a week after you published my question, the guy who hired me (my boss’s boss), sent out an email to our entire department saying we had won a huge contract on a new project and if we could possibly think of anything that was going to affect our schedule in the next 18 months, we had to let him know as soon as possible. It felt like this was absolutely the time to tell him, even though I was not out of the first trimester.

So, after lunch one day, I followed him to his office, took a deep breath and asked to speak with him. I closed the door to his office which made him raise an eyebrow. My heart was pounding so hard I could barely hear myself talk. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I got your email and I need to talk with you. I know I have only been here a few weeks, but I just found out I am pregnant. I want to assure you I didn’t know before I was hired because I would have disclosed it. I also wanted to make sure to give you the most notice I could because of the email you sent out. I am feeling great and I don’t expect this to affect my performance at all.”

He was totally stoic. Like, just-had-my-face-botoxed stoic. I couldn’t read him at all. Very somberly, he asked, “Will you return to this job after you have the baby?” I said that I believed I would. Then, he cracked a huge smile, came around the desk, and pumped my hand with congratulations. He told me he has twins and having children is such a great experience. I told him that I didn’t want to tell anyone else until after I was out of the first trimester. He agreed. I had a great pregnancy. I did my work very well. And, I only gained 12 pounds the entire pregnancy. The coworkers never got that friendly (which is fine), but most of them didn’t realize I was pregnant until two months before I was due (when I “blossomed”). I had the baby by emergency c-section a month early, but had basically passed along most of my tasks. She was healthy and beautiful and perfect.

My company was amazing. Not only did they absolutely grant me the 12 weeks of FMLA (which was their legal right to deny me), they paid my short-term disability (which according to the company manual wasn’t supposed to kick in until I had worked so many hours, which I hadn’t), sent me flowers and cards, and emailed me when I sent pictures to our office manager. They couldn’t have been nicer. Really. I am so grateful.

Because I left a month early, I didn’t really have a chance to discuss going part-time with my boss, but I knew I couldn’t go back full time. With the commute, that put me away from the house 12.5 hours a day. I just couldn’t do it. I went back and forth. The day she was 7 weeks old, I called my boss to tell him I’d love to come back but couldn’t come back full time. I said I really appreciated all my company had done for me, but she was too young to leave for 60+ hours a week.

He said, “Ok.”

I said, “Ok. Well, I’ll let you talk to everyone and think about it and get back to me. I loved the work I was doing, but I know you expected me full time and I understand if you need someone else.”

He said, “No, you don’t understand. Ok. You can come back part time. I make these decisions and we want you back. Email me the date you are coming back and let me know your hours and the days you are working.”

Then, it turned out that if I worked 17.5 hours (two days), I got full benefits – retirement, health, FSA, vision and dental. So, I have been doing that 2 days a week. My mom watches the baby one day and my husband the other. I get (some) adult interaction and to be a valued member of a team. I can’t believe my luck, but I just wanted to update you. I thought the company would be kind of uncaring because they are a huge corporation and I had no ties, but instead they have been better than I ever would have thought.

I hope it works out for anyone else who might be Googling, looking for answers like I was. I’d say to them “Don’t be afraid! You can do it! Have courage to be honest with your employer! Do good work while you are there and they will see the value in you. It will all work out for the best.”


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About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Philip @ RAOP

    May 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for posting this update. It is great to know that there are still companies that really care for their employees. This is a wonderful example!

  • Olivia

    May 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Wow, she really lucked out with that company! I wish my company had been half as supportive.

  • Steph

    May 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Man! I am not pregnant or qualified and I want to work for that company. Congrats to you!

  • Lydia

    May 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I’m not gonna lie…this kinda made me tear up…I love happy endings! No, I’m not pregnant.

  • Valerie

    May 26, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    That is so wonderful! It’s refreshing to hear about companyies that value and appreciate all aspects of their employees’ lives.

  • Valerie

    May 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    And by “companyies” I meant “companies.” I was just REALLY excited about how great they were.

  • Kevin (The Girl)

    May 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Wow, that is fantastic! You really did luck out! I have been at my company for about 7 years now and announced my pregnancy a few months back. Everyone was happy for me but I have been feeling the pressure already about taking the time off for maternity leave. After knowing me for 7 years you would think they would know I am NOT going to feel guilty at all about taking the full 12 weeks FMLA provides. 🙂 I will be loving every second of it!!

  • Karen

    May 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I think a lot comes down to your direct supervisor’s attitude an not necessarily the company. I too have a very supportive boss who is a great family man so he has been very accomodating about granting me an extended personal leave in addition to my FMLA leave. I’m glad to hear things worked out so well for the mom in the story above!

  • Tasterspoon

    May 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Wow, this is a PERFECT outcome. Congratulations, Anonymous. Your company and your boss both sound great – but what *I* read between the lines is that you must be awesome at what you do.

  • Cassie

    May 26, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I agree with Karen. While the company itself is important, a lot is probably due to the direct supervisor. I asked for and was granted adjusted hours the first three months back from my own maternity leave. The company I worked for would probably have approved it anyways, but the adjustment was done quickly and smoothly mostly due to my boss, who saw a lot of herself in me (older first-time mother, etc.) It’s great to hear that everything worked so well and that you have the time you need with your daughter. 🙂

  • Wallydraigle

    May 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Wow, I teared up a little, too. And I probably would have burst into tears if I were you because pregnancy and postpartum hormones make me hyperemotional (and since I’m normally an emotional robot, the only way I know to handle these emotions is to cry like a baby).

    Now I want to know what company this was.

  • christina

    May 26, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Wow…so cool to hear the follow-up, and such an amazingly “best case scenario” one at that! I admit to turning slightly green with envy though…women who have tried to go 4 very long days a week with my company (at 80% pay) are referred to as part-time workers constantly and really looked down upon. It’s blamed on not working for clients, but really I think it’s just our management and company culture. Now I’m left sad that there is no way my career would progress at two days a week…ugh

  • From Belgium

    May 27, 2010 at 5:20 am

    As one who has lived (and survived) the ‘boss turns into even bigger jerk when found out her secretary was pregnant’ thing with my previous pregnancy I can only applaud.

  • Washingtonian

    May 27, 2010 at 9:14 am

    OMG, where do you work? Take me with you! I worked for a small company that did not need to follow FMLA. I was laid-off my last week of leave. While it sucks big time to feel totally betrayed by the company you’ve invested so much time into, I never in a million years would have quite my job to stay home with my baby, which has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

  • Kim

    May 27, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Lucky lady. The board of trustees at my job refused to take me back at part time after my maternity leave was up. So I had to resign. I too did a long commute and I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving my son so soon. According to my British friend, employers are obligated to offer moms flex time after maternity leave. Shame because they lost a great employee who loved her job.

  • Kathleen

    May 28, 2010 at 12:35 am

    That’s awesome. Good to hear that good companies exist!

  • JenVegas

    May 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Oh Man. I am planning to tell my bosses next week that I am expecting (will be 14 weeks.) I am so scared. Not because they aren’t nice people but mostly because my company is scattered in offices around the country and my immediate supervisor and my bigger bosses are all incredibly remote and also men. We’re a small company (like 25 employees, I think) and there are maybe only 4 of us who are women of child-bearing age so I feel like some sort of canary in a coal mine right now. This story is very heartening and I really, really hope that this company, which has treated me so well so far continues to be supportive because I really have no idea what I’ll do if they aren’t.