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How Do I Tell My Boss I Am Pregnant?

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time of hope and excitement while awaiting your newest family member. It can also be a time of uncertainty, especially where your employment is concerned. Some employers have positive attitudes and policies regarding maternity leave and parenting, while other employers have a less than welcoming approach. The good news is that there are laws to protect pregnant women and most employers fall somewhere in the middle of the extremes.

Often, telling our boss that we are pregnant can be the biggest stress hurdle. Here are some helpful tips to help you tell your employer that you are pregnant:

1. Know your rights. Read your company’s policy on maternity leave and parental leave and familiarize yourself with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and state laws regarding maternity leave. The U.S. does not have paid maternity leave laws. California is one of only four states that have paid maternity leave laws in addition to FMLA. It might tip your hand to ask HR for the company’s maternity leave policies. You should be able to access company policies in your initial employment paperwork, by requesting a copy of the employee handbook/policy manual from HR, or it may be in an employee online portal.

2. When to tell. Many women wait until they are into the second trimester (four to six months) before telling an employer of their pregnancy. Often, this is when women begin to “show” but it is also considered a “safe” time since most miscarriages occur in the first trimester (three months) of a pregnancy. Some women have such severe morning sickness that they may need to share the news with their employer early in their pregnancy as it could become a medical issue impacting their performance.

Consider timing your announcement until after an upcoming performance review, project deadline or deal. Telling your supervisor before a pending company reorganization could be mutually beneficial if you don’t plan on returning after the baby is born. It could be a good time to part ways and possibly leave with a severance package or unemployment benefits instead of just quitting after the baby is born. Conversely, if you plan to return after the baby is born, you might consider holding off on sharing your pregnancy news. Employers are not legally permitted to fire you for being pregnant but they can let you go under the guise of the reorganization.

3. Who to tell. Often, co-workers are close friends so women are most likely share their pregnancy news with them first – or with social media. However, it would be best to share your pregnancy news with your direct supervisor or human resources first. Which leads us to best practices on how to tell your employer you are pregnant.

4. How to tell. Face-to-face is the best way to tell your employer. This enables you to gauge her reaction and give you an insight into how she and/or the company may feel about pregnant employees, maternity leave, and accommodating working parents. If you are concerned about your direct supervisor’s reaction, consider sharing the news with HR first or requesting a meeting with HR, you and your supervisor.

5. What to say. The initial announcement should be brief to share that you are pregnant and the baby’s due date. Don’t overshare about the details – save those for your personal friends over lunch or dinner. You may want to assure your employer that you have given this much thought but all of the logistics (like this maternity leave plan) can be worked out in the coming months. Don’t lock yourself into any promises or commitments early on (i.e. Do not say: “I plan to work right up until my due date,” or, “I will only need six weeks off.”) because you won’t know details until you and your doctor discuss your medical needs in the coming months.

6. Email Follow Up. It’s always good to have an electronic record of the date and nature of your conversation. The face-to-face should be followed up with a simple email the same day: “Susan, Thanks for your time today so I could share my pregnancy announcement with you. The baby’s due date is… I look forward to working out the logistics for my leave in the coming months.”

With a little advance planning, telling your boss that you are pregnant can be a simple and positive experience. If you are pregnant and unsure of your pregnancy decision, the client advocates at Support Circle can listen and help you make a decision that is in line with your values. We can also help prepare for your conversation with your employer by helping you to talk it through and role play.

To schedule an appointment at one of our three Bay Area clinics, call 888-252-1822 or visit: supportcircle.org/today.

 

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Reference Links
Dept. of Labor. Federal Law on Maternity Leave

California Legislature. California Law on Paid Maternity Leave 

Fairy God Boss. How to Create a Maternity Leave Plan

 

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Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety is common when we experience changes or transitions in our lives. It is often linked to stress, which is one of the many triggers of anxiety. Anxiety can affect us both emotionally and physically. Anxiety symptoms include muscle tension, irritability, feelings of worry, nervousness, or fear, racing thoughts (i.e. your mind going a million miles a minute), and sweating. Anxiety is a normal feeling and response. Although many people believe anxiety is a sign of weakness, those feelings are common for anyone facing an essential transition or crisis.

Anxiety can be managed in several different ways. Practicing deep breathing exercises is one, simple way of managing anxiety symptoms. In times of crisis, our anxiety is triggered and our minds and bodies tend to be on “overload.” Calm breathing is vital because it assists in slowing down your breathing, allowing your body to reach a calm state. It is important to take some time to just sit and breathe. With those living busy lives, it can seem impossible to find the time to relax and breathe. But with the quick exercise described below, you can practice almost anywhere and everywhere!

Before practicing this technique, I recommend you get your mind and body ready. For example, finding a quiet place can be helpful. Sometimes, closing your eyes is helpful as well. The following technique is called “calm breathing” and is taken from http://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/CalmBreathing.pdf

Some simple steps you can practice when you experience anxiety symptoms:

  1. Take a slow breath in through the nose, breathing into your lower belly (for about 4 seconds)
  2. Hold your breath for 1 or 2 seconds
  3. Exhale slowly through the mouth (for about 4 seconds)
  4. Wait a few seconds before taking another breath

Taking 5 minutes to practice this daily can be useful. Once you feel comfortable with this technique, you can increase the time to up to 10 minutes. You can also incorporate mind visuals. For example, while practicing this technique, you can close your eyes and picture something that calms you (e.g. the ocean or a meadow).

While this technique can be helpful, it is advisable to seek professional help should you feel your anxiety symptoms worsen over time or severely affect daily activities such as school and work. Should you feel you are faced with the more pronounced effects of anxiety, I find that having a safe environment to talk about your anxiety and what triggers it is important (e.g. individual psychotherapy). Therapy can provide an environment where you can explore symptoms and how it affects your mind, body, and daily interactions. In therapy, you can discuss further ways to manage your symptoms of anxiety.

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