When should you tell your clients you’re pregnant or otherwise announce your pregnancy to your clients? Reader C announced her pregnancy at work — but she’s now wondering as a lawyer when she should tell her clients. Here’s the question:
I’m currently pregnant and an attorney , and am looking for some advice on when to notify my clients. I found lots of advice, on this site and others, about when to notify my office, and that went fine, but I haven’t seen much advice on how to notify clients. My gut tells me I should wait until pretty close to my due date, but how close is close? 2 weeks? 2 months? Thanks!
Congrats, Reader C! Over at CorporetteMoms we recently discussed how to prepare at work for maternity leave, and we’ve also talked about what to say in your maternity leave email here on Corporette. For my $.02, I think the answer to when to announce your pregnancy depends heavily on how many clients you have, and how closely you work with them. (This may vary among lawyers, doctors, hairdressers, and other professions with clients — for ease of discussion we’ll talk about it as if we’re talking about lawyers’ clients.) For example, one of my friends works in a field of law where she has a zillion clients who she speaks to whenever an issue arises — so it may be once a month, it may be once every few years. Other friends work in fields of law where they have a small number of big clients who they work closely with for intense periods of time, either in person or via email and phone. Given that kind of spectrum, I would say:
- if you work with a client in person, often, tell them when it comes up naturally in the conversation
- if it’s a huge client you work with who you haven’t heard from in a while, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to check in with them ahead of time by setting up a lunch around Month 6 or 7. Look at it as face time and networking — something you should be trying to do as much as possible now because networking is going to be much harder once the baby arrives. In addition to announcing your pregnancy to your clients, this is also customer service — you can brainstorm at lunch about what possible issues they may face for the month or two before your due date, as well as during the time you expect to be on leave — and decide together what can be done ahead of time, whether by outsourcing, rescheduling, bringing another person at your company up to speed, or more. Setting up such a lunch in Month 6 or 7 gives you a lot of advantages — a) second trimester is golden! you should be past the first trimester exhaustion but not yet at the “I’m-waddling-and-exhausted-just-get-this-thing-out-of-me” stage of pregnancy you’re going to be in by Month 8 or 9, and b) it gives you time to actually be proactive and get stuff done, make introductions, get people up to speed in a leisurely, professional way. If this is your first pregnancy it is difficult to overstate how hugely uncomfortable you are likely to be by month 9, and how reactive/crazy rushed you’re going to be to get everything handed off before the kiddo decides to grace you with his or her presence. Don’t save anything for that time that you don’t have to!
- if it’s a client you work with occasionally and you’re expecting something might come up close to your due date or while you’re on maternity leave, make sure you mention your pregnancy then — “Ah, I see the filing will be due in November, when I’ll likely be out on maternity leave — let’s work together to make sure we’ve got our ducks in a row before then.”
- if you only talk to a client rarely / when something comes up, my default would probably be not to say anything and just let them find out via your maternity leave email. There are two important caveats to that: the first is that you know your clients the best, as well as their personalities — if someone needs more handholding you may want to tell them ahead of time, perhaps by setting up a lunch or call similar to our above suggestion for the “huge client.” The second caveat is that if I were to take this tactic of not announcing to some clients, I would make absolutely sure that my client was taken care of even if I was on maternity leave. This might look like checking your emails often during maternity leave so you can respond in person and forward to the correct person to handle it, or it might look like appointing one person to handle your clients and then checking in with that person on a weekly or biweekly basis to see if anything has come up.
Readers, what’s your advice on when to tell your clients you’re pregnant? For those of you who are clients — when would you want to be told? For those of you who are moms with clients, when did you tell?
Psst: Curious for more advice on how to have a great pregnancy at the office? Check out our archives here. For more on working motherhood in general, including postpartum issues, work/life balance, and more, please check out our blog for working moms, CorporetteMoms!
Picture via Stencil.