Before my first pregnancy, I lived in a bubble where I believed my gender had very little impact on my professional pursuits. I believed that if I worked hard enough and proved I was smart enough, nothing would stand in my way.
There was proof at my every turn, too. I had the pleasure to work with many smart, competent and successful women. They filled roles at every level of the corporate food chain. Adding to this, I worked for successful companies whose walls were adorned with posters and screens with smiling faces, assuring me their policies and inclusive groups would support me wherever I steered my life.
Take this all together and it’s no wonder I had a firm belief that the struggle for women in the workplace was over.
Then, I got pregnant.
And, immediately, my bubble burst. While nothing changed at work, my pregnancy set in a new realization that, perhaps things weren’t as rosy as I had made them to be.
I became panicked that my pregnancy was going to derail the train I had so meticulously and painstakingly laid track for. That I was no longer going to get to the career destination I had set for myself.
Worse than all that, I was sure that the people I had worked with and for would see me differently. That they would think I was no longer serious about my career and would start to question my efforts and the work I produced. As naïve as I may have been, I knew my career hinged on what others thought of me and how they perceived me.
So, I decided to treat my pregnancy announcement as I would any other career discussion.
As if I was angling for a promotion or wanted a salary increase, I considered three key questions:
1. When should I tell?
What is the right time—for me and those I work with—to share my news? This may depend on a variety of factors including your health, your responsibilities at work and the unique trajectory of your career.
2. Who should I tell?
Who are the people I must tell and who should I take the time to share my pregnancy news with personally? Think: Boss, friends, coworkers.
3. What should I say?
For each person I was going to speak with, what could their concerns be about my pregnancy and pending maternity leave and what do they need to hear from me? I wanted to make sure I anticipated and addressed their specific questions.
I also took time to think through other key factors, which I share in the video below.
By taking the time to plan and strategize, I felt a sense of empowerment as I met with my managers, mentors and clients, sharing my pregnancy news without apology and without embarrassment.
Was I nervous? Heck yea!
But I was also confident that my pregnancy wouldn’t derail my career and it wasn’t something they needed to worry about. I shared this with each of my influencers, adding in any messages that would address any of their specific concerns. I also promised to keep the lines of communication open as my pregnancy progressed, and if at any point I needed to make a change, I’d be sure to let them know.
To help you plan your pregnancy announcement at work, check out my free worksheet.
You’ve got this.
Lisa Durante helps career-conscious women prepare their careers and homes for life as a working mama.