Three ideas for telling your buyers (or bosses) you are pregnant

In 2017, the term “working mother” took on a whole new meaning for me when my water broke with my first daughter at my company’s baby shower. As I walked out the door to the hospital, I remember staring at all of the faces that looked a little scared. One of our investors looked at me seriously and said “good luck” with a thumbs up. I think everyone was shocked, including me.

Women are often conditioned to separate their personal life from their professional life. But that line went out the window when I was literally walking to work in one room with my 12 startup teammates.

Look forward to 2021 and we all work in our bedrooms – so the lines are even fuzzier! Many friends who are expecting or recently had a baby can find it difficult to communicate with their supervisors or co-workers about this life transition. While it’s easier to hide your expectations (since many of us work remotely), you don’t want to wait for your waters to break to share the news.

Many women fear sharing their life changing messages because they no longer know if we are both working and being mothers at the same time. I’m not going to pretend parenting isn’t having a seismic impact on your work life – it does. But for most women, the shift is positive. It forces you to be more efficient, prioritize and focus. Working mothers are a tremendous addition to any organization, and you should position your messages as a blessing not only for you personally but also for the team.

Sharing this news is a deeply personal choice. But as an employer of so many women and a co-founder of a company created as a resource for mothers, I want to help normalize this incredible milestone so that it is not only fearful but also celebrated and supported both personally and professionally.

Here are the three lessons I learned from my experience:

1. Share messages when you feel ready.

With my first baby I was so excited and a healthy and happy pregnancy was my number one priority. When I was 20 weeks old I wanted to share the news, but discussed how. In the start-up world, my investors are my bosses. They had just written us a big check to grow my business, and I feared that my leadership performance would be judged. Would I be thought differently now because I was pregnant?

But I (and she) were all very surprised and offered support and congratulations. You were chosen by investors or your bosses because you are smart, capable, and good at what you do. Being pregnant doesn’t change that. It’s okay to say that you have a doctor’s appointment or you are unwell.

2. Plan ahead of your due date.

Make sure you speak to your team well in advance of your due date. Find out about the parental leave guidelines and carefully review the questions about your benefits. Make sure that you share your maternity leave plan (some companies offer options) ahead of time with anyone you work with.

3. Create opportunities for your colleagues.

No matter how you plan, babies arrive on their own schedules – I definitely learned that lesson! Make sure to keep your coworkers up to date on projects you’re working on and get them involved in good time before the big day approaches.

Create opportunities for co-workers while you are on maternity leave and give them opportunities to take on new roles. When you are a manager, work with your direct reports to set them up for the success of a large project so they can achieve their goals. Offer to check in while you are away and be a sounding board so that they can continue to receive your support and guidance without meddling.

Normalizing discussions about pregnancy and maternity leave in the workplace is crucial and will become less of a challenge as more women run businesses.

Marissa Evans Alden is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sawyer. You can find her on Twitter @ mevans1

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