How to Announce Your Pregnancy At Work

Model SEverine Pregnant Photo 3, originally uploaded to Flickr by MestreechCity.How (and when) do you tell your boss you’re pregnant?  What should you factor into consideration?  I’ve had three different readers write to me with a question along these lines, so now seems like a great time to discuss this.  Reader K is one of those readers:

Wondering what the readers think about the timing of telling your firm you are pregnant.  I have made it through the 1st trimester without anyone noticing my being drag-ass tired and have somehow kept up respectable billable hours in the meantime.  I planned on telling people next week, but confidentially shared the news over lunch with a female partner (I am beginning my fourth year as an associate on partner track) and her concern was my timing in terms of telling the guys/powers that be about the pregnancy. She doesn’t think I should tell them right away so that I have more time where they are continuing to give me good assignments.  Besides my desire to remain on good cases, other “concerns” discussed are: 1) the fact that bonuses happen at end of the year (and that I not draw the short stick in an otherwise profitable year); and 2) review/raise time in early spring (while I am on maternity leave).  Next year is the year I expected a big jump based on profitability, etc, and I hope this timing doesn’t derail all of that hard work.  Is it better for me to rip the band-aid off and express these concerns with the managing partner (who I think I can have an honest discussion with) or wait until I have to tell so that there is more time for me to continue to get assigned the good work (ie, before the guys subconsciously take me off the fast track).  I was planning on providing my fact-based plan of action (6 weeks short term disability, begin part time work during that time as I am able, child care taken care of, etc) at the same time.  Any suggestions on the timing of all of this and how the conversation should go down?

Congratulations!  (Pictured.) Here are some thoughts, both for K and other first-time moms:

– Wait as long as possible.  K is happily past her first trimester, which can be exhausting and always carries with it the risk of miscarriage.  But she’s still got six months to go before she’ll need maternity leave, so why would she tell the powers that be?  Here are my thoughts:  she won’t need special accommodations.  (She should be in the “sweet spot” for pregnancy — most women experience much less nausea, fatigue, and other pregnancy aches and pains in their second trimester.)  She may not start to show for another two months.  (Every woman is different, but many first-time mothers don’t start showing until week 20 or so (that was when I had to make the jump to proper maternity pants; a girlfriend who is very petite and tiny just told me she didn’t announce it until she was five months along as well).)  If she were quitting her job entirely a month would be generous notice.  So I don’t see any reason to start telling people until she starts to show — especially when a female supervisor is suggesting she wait.  I suppose there’s an argument that she could wait even longer — after all, there’s that old joke that you should never guess a woman is pregnant unless you actually see a baby coming out of her.  But I think, in general, that when you move to maternity pants is the right time to say something official to your boss.

– Know your rights ahead of time.  This is a separate post all on its own, but figure out what your office policy is on maternity leave.  The Family Medical Leave Act allows people to keep their job for up to twelve weeks, but it only applies to businesses with more than 50 employees.  If it’s at all possible, I do recommend taking at least twelve weeks off if you can because newborns’ crying peaks from weeks six to eight — in addition to being a sleepless zombie during that time period you may be uncomfortable leaving your screaming child with a new caregiver. That said, women do what you have to do, and if you have to return to work in six weeks, you’ll figure it out.  (I’m not sure if that sounds odd or not — but that kind of summarizes my happy but stoic view of parenthood in general:  you do what you must for your family and you figure it out.)

– Be clear that you plan to return, but if you can leave yourself some flexibility in the details.  I’ve heard others suggest that you should just have a pithy, succinct message: “I’ll be ending maternity leave on X date.” — but you shouldn’t try to work out flextime/part-time/working-from-home arrangements until a month before you come back.  This is smart — you’ll have a better sense of your baby, your own postpartum health, what kind of parents you and your partner are going to be, and what accommodations (if any) you might need or want based on the projects you have in your lap when it’s time to come back. On the other hand, you have to know yourself and your office — if this conversation can turn into a dealbreaker for you or your boss, it can be stressful to have it hanging over your head.

– Be upbeat and proactive about your plan for leave.  Show that you’ve thought about what will happen to your workload when you’re on leave.  Who will be able to take X project?  Will you be able to commit to virtually checking in at the office a certain number of times per week, or at a set time every day (say from 7-8 AM when your partner takes the baby), just to check voicemail and email and do whatever triage is necessary?

– Don’t forget your clients.  I would suggest being extra available to them before you leave, and letting them in on your plan of attack as well — it helps manage expectations they may have of you, while letting them know that they’re still important to you.

– Finally: maintain a professional image to every extent you can.  Don’t share TMI details about your pregnancy.  Don’t knit at the office if you normally wouldn’t or do other stereotypical “new mom” things.  Much like women planning a wedding, you need to remember that planning for the baby can’t be an all-consuming project during your day — not everyone wants to hear about the Great Stroller Dilemma of 2012, or how you’re totally overloaded planning your baby shower. (If there’s an office baby shower, I would argue against any games, but that’s me.)  Don’t encourage people to grab your belly if you normally wouldn’t let them touch you so personally.  Sadly, maternity clothes are generally neither pretty nor professional, but do try to dress as professionally as possible during this time period.

Readers, when did you announce your pregnancy at work?  For those of you who’ve had to negotiate your own maternity leave, what resources did you use and how did the conversation go?


  1. The logic of waiting as long as possible, offered by Kat and by the partner, makes sense. Be careful though, that you don’t start showing so much that the managing partners feel they’ve somehow gotten short shrift and you’re telling them “too late” (even though you will still have tons of time before your leave). If you’re planning to wait, I’d say to start wearing empire tops and dresses, less fitted, longer jackets, and other looser things now, so there isn’t a sudden, sharp transition in your wardrobe.

    For most go-getter women, the “you’ll figure it out” advice might sound odd or like you’re throwing your hands up, but honestly, you don’t know WHAT will happen with the baby or how you’ll respond to it. Best to present your general “love my job” approach, but be open to change. With any luck the partners will have seen this before, either with their own children or other employees’ and won’t try to hold you strictly to a plan laid out in advance, as long as you’re following agreed-upon philosophy of how to respond to whatever suprize presents itself.

    On maternity clothes–buy a couple things ahead of time. I had just worn my maternity clothes a couple of weeks earlier, but the evening before I went to give a professional lecture in the middle of the second trimester, the pants were “suddenly” way, way too small. Be prepared!

    • I agree that waiting too long could cause more negative speculation than just going ahead and putting it out there. I announced at work right at the beginning of the 2nd trimester and that worked well for me.

    • ooops–sorry! In that last paragraph I meant to say I’d worn my NON-maternity, good suit a couple of weeks earlier, then found out I’d busted out of the entirely and had to get maternity clothes fast!

    • One possible disadvantage to waiting too long is if you do have some unforeseen pregnancy complication that requires hospitalization, time off, etc. Then your law firm may feel sort of left in the dark, and wonder why you didn’t tell them sooner. Telling your colleagues (in my experience) sooner rather than later, especially if they have children of their own, most often makes them much more understanding of the various side effects of pregnancy and of any circumstances that might make you have to take more time off of work than originally anticipated. Something to think about – how would you handle it if you were put on bed rest towards the end of your pregnancy? I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom here, but as you’ll find out, having children is not always simple or predictable.

      • I had to tell at six weeks for this very reason (I was hospitalized for hyperemesis, and I didn’t want folks to freak out).

        I think the question asker had it exactly right in asking a trusted female colleague, because this is very much a know-your-office thing. I can see a good case for as early as possible, as late as possible, and at some milestone in between (beginning of the second trimester, or sometime around 20 weeks), depending on the environment.

    • Sharing with one trusted colleague or mentor makes sense, but I wouldn’t go beyond that – you want the higher-ups to hear it from you, not through the rumor mill as more and more people find out. And this may sound like a “duh” but share with management before sharing on facebook etc – even if you don’t have work colleagues on facebook, you may have mutual friends of co-workers.

  2. just Karen :

    Ugh – I am so sorry to threadjack right at the beginning of a very relevant good thread…but I just laughed a LOT at this, and am hoping it can make some other people’s afternoons brighter as well (link to follow).

  3. My lovely new Kate Spade purse in peacock blue was just delivered to my office. Hooray! I think I just swooned.

    That is all.

  4. I’ll be watching this one with interest. My situation is unique in some ways, so what I did probably wouldn’t work for everyone. But, personally, I felt like it was best to just do it right away. In fact, I announced the Monday after the positive test, or pretty much right after I visited the doc to confirm. (I was 6 weeks along; I’m 22 weeks now.)

    Now, like I said, my firm is unique. It’s very small; I’m the only associate and there are only really 2 partners that I work with (there’s a 3rd, but he pretty much does his own thing). The firm is very laid back and mostly has been together for decades. I knew that it was risky to say something that soon, but, for me, I had a few reasons: 1) I felt comfortable that the laid back attitude of the firm would mean that it would be OK and that the partners would consider it happy news (correctly, so far); 2) One of the secretaries guessed as soon as I left to go to an unplanned doctor’s visit (seriously – she was waiting outside my meeting with the partners to give me a big hug); 3) I figured that, if I did miscarry, I would not want to have to hide that from everyone; and 4) it appeared that I would be the first attorney that they’d ever had in this situation, so I figured the more warning and planning, the easier it would be.

    We’re still working out exactly how things will work (They basically just said “Let us know what you want to do; we’ll work with you.”). I’ve said that I want to take 8 weeks off and probably will start back fairly slowly (I feel like this makes a lot of sense because my firm is generally pretty low-key and it will take a little while to build back my workload, anyway), and that I will be available to answer occasional phone and email questions and that sort of thing for all but the first couple of weeks (again, since my firm is really low-key, I don’t think that this is something that will be abused). My assistant has said that she will drop by and bring stuff if needed (I think that she is really just angling to get to see the baby, though.) We haven’t really discussed how pay will work out, though, so I’m not sure what to do/ask for there (I have Short Term Disability, which I assume that I will have to use.) I still don’t know exactly how things will all work out, but I’m happy that I told when I did and with how things are going so far.

    Good luck and congrats to Reader K and all other similarly situated ‘rettes!

    • Lyssa I responded to your post about Target earlier on the jacket thread but I’ll repost here in case you didn’t see it. Mind sharing your reviews of what you got from Target maternity?

      • Sure! I’ve not gotten everything yet, but I’ll post on what I have in the Coffee Break thread.

      • I LOVE LOVE LOVE Target maternity!! Liz Lange stuff is really nice and very affordable. I have purchased a few dresses and tons of tops (I do the tops for yoga, basic with a skirt on weekends). Can’t say enough good things about them!

        • I’ve found that you really have to try things on with Target maternity, but the dresses I have from Target have been invaluable. I got a Liz Lange maxi dress that I have worn every weekend for the past 6 months. Whew. But I would recommend just ordering a bunch from the website and the returning once you find things you like.

  5. karenpadi :

    Not a mom but I have “taken over” for new moms on leave.

    My best suggestion: a month before the scheduled due date, make all projects “transition ready”. I was back-up for a woman who was ordered on immediate and total bed rest one month before her due date. Her doctor gave her 30 minutes on the phone to transition a full-time docket to me and another attorney. We managed but not without me working nights and weekends for the next few months and turning another person’s week-long vacation into a “working vacation”, and writing off boatloads of our time. I can’t help but think that a lot of that could have been mitigated had we–all three of us–thought to plan ahead a little more in advance.

    Mom had a wonderful birth in view of her complications, her twins were beautiful and healthy, and we were all very happy to see her again when she came back to work 6 months later.

    • karenpadi :

      I would add: please announce at least 3-4 months before to everyone who will be affected–not just the partner. The person above announced to me two months before (first pregnancy, worked from home 3 days/week, stayed in her office behind a desk for most of her office days) during the Holidays. She and the partner had planned her transition 2 months earlier but neglected to tell me (her main back-up). I had no time to move work or travel to accommodate the transition. Given her schedule and my travel, I think we had 3 days together in the office before she had to leave.

      If I know that a partner will make me back-up for someone on extended leave ahead of time, I can start quietly moving my own work around and pushing up dates to prepare for the transition period (and not schedule trips or vacations at that time).

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Forgive my baby-less ignorance here but if someone was on bed rest, why were they limited to 30 minutes on the phone? I thought bed rest was a physical thing and you were still allowed to use your brain and talk . . .

      • There must be some sort of liability on the employer, I think. When I was put on bedrest, I was NOT.ALLOWED.TO.WORK even though I felt capable of taking calls and at least finishing up outstanding issues. But the minute my doc said “bed rest” my employer, very nicely, stated that I was to follow doctor’s orders and not contact them with regards to work.

      • health care anon :

        I agree and can see you point. It could have been to try and eliminate stress. That could have been one reason the physician requested limited contact.

        • Bed rest is often ordered because of blood pressure issues, so you’re supposed to avoid anything that could cause stress or raise blood pressure, so often people can’t work, or can’t work much.

      • Maple League Admin :

        Yes, I think that bed rest is not just about physically resting but also limiting your exposure to stress, and so if you shouldn’t be working then you really shouldn’t be working regardless of whether it’s physical or not.

    • I also agree with trying to keep things “transition ready.” Perhaps even earlier than a month from due date, just because you never know whether you might have some kind of complication. Keep everyone in the loop, make sure they know what, where, how, etc. on all your projects, just in case.

      • +1000
        Also, if you have any kind of complications (or need to take days off due to puking all night, etc) spend your last hour of every day setting up your desk and files in such a way that if you couldn’t come in the next day someone else could pick up your projects and see where they stand with minimal handholding. Nothing makes a person look more competent than organization.

    • Yes, please think of your colleagues and remember that most of us don’t work in a vacuum. I’ve seen far too many people have to cancel long-planned vacations or do other last-minute shifting around because of a late notice and a poorly planned maternity leave. In the end, I think the good will you will engender by creating a smooth transition for all your work will do you much better than an extra month of being staffed on cases you can’t cover down the road when you are on leave.

    • Seventh Sister :

      I made my projects “transition ready,” tried to make as many notes about files as possible, and also (the time I had a temp), had him take over managing the long-term projects in my workload towards the end, while I cleared up the short-term tasks.

      Also, and I don’t mean to criticize doctors, but I’m actually glad I pushed back about bedrest recommendations both times. Especially when I had a toddler, a husband working out of our house, and a boatload of other crap going on while pregnant. It was not more relaxing for me to be at home, it was more relaxing to be in my nice clean office where everyone was potty-trained and no one wanted to know where the coffee filters were. My doctors were great, but when I pressed them, both admitted that bedrest was not especially necessary in my case (YMMV, obviously).

    • Totally agree with karenpadi. Leave a list of all your cases and what’s going on, and make sure client/co-counsel/opposing counsel contact info is updated, etc. I’m filling in for someone on maternity leave and had to field a call on a case the other day. I had no idea what the case was about or even who the person calling me was. Not good.

  6. I think how long to wait depends a little on the size of firm you are at, and whether you are in a specialized practice area or a more interchangeable generalist (in a firm with many other generalists).

    If its a smaller firm or a niche area where you have expertise and the firm/group will have to really sit down and figure out how to divy your workload up, and/or consider hiring a temp while you are out, then the more notice the better. If this is biglaw with high turnover and most likely more associates than work, I think its OK to give them less notice.

    If you have good relations and feel comfortable with your managing partner, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t sit down and discuss things with him – but make sure you frame it in a larger and more positive converation about your commitment to the job and your contributions to the firm.

    And definitely give yourself a little flexibility – no matter how much you think you can predict exactly what motherhood will be like and your reactions to it, you just can’t.

  7. Sugar Magnolia :

    I announced around 17 weeks or so. I felt like my direct supervisor suspected I was pregnant after I unprofessionally threw up in my office garbage can during week 15 of my pregnancy. (Don’t cha love pregnancy?)

    I agree about the work assignments. I am in a very liberal workplace, and we are very busy so my work assignments are still great, but there was a discussion of cutting me off from taking new cases. That started about 10 weeks in advance of my due date. Until I have my baby, I am just working the cases I have, and helping out with other (shorter) projects.

    I presented a very detailed plan for handling my work flow now, and what would happen when I go on leave. I have been extra careful to document the current status of every client matter I am handling, and have already discussed plans for handling each type of case I have while I am out. (Different co-workers will be taking over different aspects of my caseload. I do litigation and advocacy work as a legal aid lawyer.)

    I thought it was very important to also keep discussing plans for resuming my caseload after my leave is done, to remind them that I am 100% sure I will be coming back. (Becoming a SAHM is not an option for me at all.)

    I feel blessed that my office is handling things well, but was a little worried when they didn’t really seem interested in discussing maternity leave details until I was further along. (We didn’t start discussing my absence until I was at the beginning of my third trimester!)

  8. Anonforthis :

    Well this is timely… just had my first prenantal appt today.

    I’m interested in hearing the hive’s thoughts on what to do about frequent doctor appointments.
    Due to some previous lady-part issues, the Dr. said I likely will need to come in weekly starting in the second trimester. My doctor’s office is near my home, which is far from my office, so I can’t “take a long lunch;” I will have to either come to work late or leave early.

    As I see it, my only option announce as soon as my schedule has to dramatically change, mitigate and plan around work the best I can, and hope it doesn’t adversely affect my career. To make matters worse, I just started in a new office (although my boss is still the same), so I don’t even have much of a bank of credibility to draw from with my current coworkers. Does anyone have a better course of action or any advice?

    Unfortunately, I am in a field where it’s not possible for me to do any work outside the office, so no possibility of me taking files to review in the waiting room or anything.

    • PharmaGirl :

      How early can you schedule appointments? I managed to schedule the majority of my appointments at 7:30 am which didn’t interfere with my work schedule at all. At the earliest hours of the day, most offices aren’t behind schule yet so you are usually seen on time. Is your OB part of a practice group? I scheduled appointments with other members of the group if my OB wasn’t available (eg, it was his on-call day but I needed that day of the week due to my own meeting conflicts). In the end, you never know who will actually deliver your baby anyway.

      • Sugar Magnolia :

        I am in a similar situation, and scheduled all of my appointments for the latest time offered by the office as soon as the doc told me how often she wanted to see me. I just come into the office an hour early.

    • Anne Shirley :

      Can you set up a standing apt with the doc? Book now for the first apt Monday am for example?

      • This! Depending on your office, you might be able to “have personal business” to attend to or something similarly vague. Even if you do tell them, having a regular, predictable absence would be much easier for other people to schedule around. I certainly hope you have a good pregnancy and happy start to your child’s life, but the early start to weekly visits makes me think you might have other issues pop up, requiring bed rest or something. Best to have work know you’re preggers before that comes up (not that it will).

    • You said you can’t do any work outside the office – would that mean you couldn’t telework also? I have been teleworking on my appointment days and it works out great. I hope you can also – good luck!

    • Thanks, everyone! Good point that a standing adjustment to my schedule to work slightly different hours one day a week would probably be the most predictable and least intrusive… and therefore least attention-grabbing for the rest of the office.

      My Dr. is part of a group, and even though she’s great, I’m not the type of person who has to have MY doctor every time, so that idea might actually work really well. *fingers crossed*

  9. I am in a similar situation (but different industry). I’m 21 weeks pregnant and just told my work colleagues a few weeks ago. I told a female supervisor/mentor early on because I wanted to seek her advice, but the rest of the staff I waited as long as possible to tell. I had a similar suspicion that I wouldn’t be given serious projects or that my male colleagues would make special considerations for me. Since I had a pretty easy first trimester and I wasn’t showing until recently, I think this was absolutely the right decision.

  10. I had not planned to tell my office at Week 13 but we were required to propose a joint schedule for a trial. My draft schedule cleverly had time for maternity leave built in, but opposing counsel wanted a fast track to trial. Luckily my draft schedule was very reasonable for this kind of case, even incorporating 12 weeks off for maternity leave. My supervisor was very supportive of me filing our proposed schedule as is, without concurrence of opposing counsel, once I told him I was pregnant.

    Sometimes you have to tell earlier than you want to – but it is much easier if you have a good boss who is excited for you, not dreading you being out of the office!

  11. LadyEnginerd :

    Hah! Y’all are so lucky that you could have a pregnancy not affect your work for months on end. I work with Very dangerous chemicals and other things like radiation. I believe the best practice for pregnancy is to quietly meet with the safety people preemptively before you start trying and/or as soon as you know, and then start restricting what you can and can’t do (or wear more protective gear) as soon as there’s even the possibility that you’d be endangering an innocent child and not just yourself. The talks with the boss about leave might be able to wait, but if you have to significantly restrict your work in the lab, you’re not going to be able to keep a pregnancy quiet at work for more than a few weeks.

  12. Anonforthis :

    Awkward office politics and pregnancy question — I work in a small firm with 10 attorneys, and I am the only female. We used to have another female associate who recently left, and when she was pregnant the office manager (female) threw her a “Ladies Lunch” baby shower where the guests were basically all the women in the office, meaning all the assistants and me. There’s already a gross gender imbalance at the firm and I feel weird enough being the only female attorney, and the last thing I want is a baby shower where I’m grouped with all the assistants while the men-folk stay in the office and do the lawyering. I also really don’t want any kind of shower *at all.* It would be just as awkward to have the men there, as the only female attorney. Any advice on how to handle this? How can I politely and graciously tell the office manager that I don’t want any kind of office baby shower?

    • Anonforthis2 :

      This is my EXACT situation. Anonforthis, how did you announce your pregnancy, if you don’t mind me asking? How are they going to handle your absence?

      • Anonforthis :

        Yeahhhhh I’m still in the closet, because I have no idea how to handle any of this. I’m really not looking forward to being visibly pregnant around the office. I’d love to hear what others have to say on how to handle the more general issue of being pregnant in a heavily male-dominated environment as well!

        • I’m 22 weeks into my second pregnancy with my same office, and honestly, I feel so awkward being pregnant in the workplace. I think this is my personal hangup more than anything else. I just feel like my belly is a huge signpost that announces to all my colleagues “look! I HAD SEX!” Sooo awkward. I also work in an area where I do have to sometimes don hard hats, steel toed boots, etc. and make site visits to heavily industrial areas. In a very heavily male-dominated industry. I did one last week, which was fine, as I still look like I could just be fat and not pregnant. I actually did bow out of another site visit which would have happened in several more weeks, both because I felt self conscious, and because I was a little worried about safety, since I’d be larger, more awkward, looser ligaments, etc. I have to say, though, overall, all of my male colleagues, customers, and contacts have been great about it. They’re all husbands and fathers and grandfathers, and they’ve been supportive. I know that may not be the case for all workplaces, so maybe I am just lucky. But you may be surprised about how some people will open up to you once they find out you are about to be or are a parent.

    • Could you maybe do a happy hour instead (after work)? That might be more fun, too.

      • or an early morning breakfast? In any case, I hate stopping what I’m doing in the middle of the work day to do these types of things — maybe you can use the “too busy” excuse to keep it as low-key as possible?

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I was one of few female attorneys in my last job and got invited to all the shower w/ the assistants and staff. I went and had fun and many of the male attys popped their heads in to say congrats. I don’t think they saw me as less of an atty b/c I was missing for one hour one day. Some things really are divided among gender lines and pregnancy is one of them. I say have the shower, enjoy the gifts and don’t stress about it. I doubt the men are sitting around annoyed that you “got out of” an hour of lawyering.

      For point of reference, those showers at my old firm were often for MALE attorneys having their first kid. Their wife was invited and all the females of the office attended. I bet it was even more awkward for those male attorneys!

      • karenpadi :

        Blonde Lawyer is 1000% correct. I wouldn’t try to refuse a shower.

        Put yourself in the Office Manager’s shoes. She’s trying to plan a nice shower to celebrate your pregnancy with the women of the office. It’s not her fault that there isn’t a critical mass of female attorneys or that men don’t get pregnant. Turning her down is just going to come off as being snobby. So turn it around and think of the shower as a way for you to also show that you appreciate everything the women of the office do. With the right attitude, you can make the partners grateful that the baby shower made the staff’s day and helped maintain good relations between the lawyers and the staff.

        BTW, if they do gifts (or a group gift), make sure to have plenty of appropriate items in your registry in their price range.

      • I’m confused as to why only the women are invited to these baby showers. Other people have said this is their experience as well, and it doesn’t make sense to me (other than it being “tradition,” which isn’t really a good excuse). If it’s an office baby shower, shouldn’t everyone in the office be invited? It just seems like one more thing to create distance between women and men in the workplace.

    • Honestly, I’d just let them throw a shower, and suffer through it. People really, really like having baby showers, and it seems kind of ungrateful if you say no. It’s only an hour or two, and it’s kind of them to want to spend their time & money on it. Plus, you’ll get stuff! ;-)

  13. Waiting longer to tell is ok as long as you don’t create some false expectations. For instance, if you’re working on a case going to trial in the spring and your due date is right around the time we’re going to trial, well, then you really need to tell me that as soon as you are comfortable (from a risk of miscarriage perspective) doing so. I’d be pretty ticked if I was building my plan for trial around an assumption that an associate was going to be available to be immersed in trial and she didn’t tell me as soon as possible that I needed to come up with a new plan.

    • This. I told my very small firm when I was less than three months along because I had a case set for a jury trial right around my due date and it required some planning for another attorney to take it over. (The case settled on the third day of trial, while I was in labor. I got the report on the settlement amounts in between contractions.)

      I didn’t plan to tell clients and others until much later but it was kind of forced out of me in a very public way. I was second chair in a jury trial with a female judge who had very few rules, but the ones she had were hard and fast, including that NO ONE was to come and go from counsel table while the jury was seated. On the first day, she did not take the promised morning break between the three parties’ opening statements and by late morning I had to pee so badly I honestly thought I would pass out. I couldn’t even hold a pen. I knew our co-defendant planned to use big flip charts in his opening and thought I could slip out around the easel, but he changed his mind. I finally had to just get up and make the long walk out of the courtroom.

      When the jury was released at lunch, the judge pointedly asked if there was anything to be discussed and looked over her glasses at me. I had to stand and explain — on the record, with the court reporter typing away — that I was three months pregnant and found I could no go as long as usual without a restroom break. My client, with whom I was pretty close, was gawping, as were co-counsel from the other firm. The judge was understanding — and never missed a scheduled break after that — but it was insanely awkward. And I might be the only person who’s ever announced her pregnancy in a federal court trial transcript.

      • I’m both laughing and horrified about the fact that you announced your pregnancy on a federal court transcript. Congratulations to you for keeping your cool.

      • Oh my! That must have been mortifying! I cannot imagine being in your shoes…

      • Oh how mortifying! But thank goodness everyone was supportive.

      • Oh, the best is when you don’t know your judge in advance, and don’t get to pre-talk to judge staff, and get to ask during pretrials for PUMPING breaks mid-morning and mid-afternoon during your jury trial. I think I said “Due to my quasi-medical condition, I am going to need to request 20 minute breaks every morning and afternoon. And please, your honor, not ones where the jury gets a break and counsel discusses a legal point and does not actually get a break.”

  14. Maple League Admin :

    I ended up telling my supervisor when I was about 7 weeks. I was super sick and I felt bad for missing so much work between being sick and doctor’s appointments, many of my colleagues new shortly after that for the same reasons.

    I work in University Administration so the work environment is much different then law. As well it’s majority female. In fact in my office of 12 staff we have no males, and in our sister office, again with 12 staff, there are only 5 males.

    I don’t have to worry about getting “mommy tracked” or losing out of my assignments. My work flow is steady, I have about 1000 students that I am in charge of assisting should they need me. What I have to worry about is whether they’ll have my replacement here before I leave so that I can transition my incoming work load to the new person and ensure I don’t have outstanding student requests and inquiries up until my last day.

  15. I disagree with Kat only in respect to her very last comment. I have found some great maternity clothes that are pretty and professional. I actually get complimented on them quite frequently. Although my office is business casual, I have found some great slacks, skirts, and dresses that work well for my office. I am fortunate that I rarely have to wear a suit, but I also know they sell maternity suits.

    • Charlotte :

      Agreed. Isabella Oliver was my go-to during my pregnancy, and I got tons of compliments on how nice her stuff looked.

  16. I did a lot of research to find nice professional maternity attire. I bought a pair of black Theory maternity trousers at and a black pencil maternity skirt from Japanese Weekend and wore these with my existing non-maternity suit jackets (a black Theory suit jacket plus a couple of non-Theory grey ones) for depositions. The Theory trousers were expensive (around $150) but they were very flattering, comfortable and I wore them several times every week for the second and third trimesters (and probably will for #2 as well) so it was money well spent. I never could find a button up shirt that looked very good so I usually wore fitted jersey/cotton or light sweater material shirts (mostly from Japanese Weekend, Isabella Oliver or Mom’s The Word) under the suit jackets. I found that the shirts that aren’t fitted (i.e., drape and hang over the bump) didn’t look good on me with a suit jacket. For business casual, I wore the same thing but with a non-maternity long wrap sweater instead of a suit jacket. I also found a couple of really cute and professional looking maternity dresses at I did check out some two piece maternity suits but I found the jackets to be very unflattering and the trousers to be way too short (I’m 5’11”). I didn’t really find anything good at Pea In The Pod, except for the tights (I highly recommend these – they don’t look like maternity tights but they fit comfortably throughout the pregnancy and they are relatively inexpensive). One final tip – don’t wear tights in your third trimester when on flights…I thought I was going to die and thereafter stopped in the ladies room before departing to change into something more comfortable. Good luck!

  17. With my two pregnancies, I’ve done things a little bit differently.

    My first pregnancy was a surprise. I found out and had it confirmed right around the time the yearly schedule was being finalized for all the surgery residents in the department. That schedule is essentially set in stone and can’t be changed unless God calls and asks for it. So I told my program director at around 7 weeks, so that she and I could make sure I was in a rotation in the schedule that was minimally disruptive to everyone else. She kept it quiet until I announced near the beginning of my first trimester. We waited to finalize a schedule for call coverage until the evening I went in to labor (probably too late, but there was a loose plan and it all worked out). I did not officially announce my pregnancy at all, just let word of mouth spread. In that job, while I was worked like a dog, there were about 15 other residents who functioned in essentially the same role, so slotting people in and out wasn’t that big of a deal.

    This time, I’m now one of two surgeons in a rural area. I was going to tell the other surgeon (who while not really my boss, is senior to me and is someone I really have no interest in p*ssing off) around 14 weeks, but then his dog had a health crisis (I know, I know, but he was literally going to take an 8 week leave of absence while she recovered) so I waited a few more weeks. Covering call here is much trickier, and because of external issues our call situation is very unstable. So starting early on a solution is important. I told my office manager when I told him so that I could start planning clinic coverage, and let everyone else in the hospital know a few days after that.

  18. WHERE??? Please, share with us! I went on a shopping spree at Target and in family members’ closets, but where have you found great clothes?

    • Get one at least one good suit if you will have meetings, court, whatever–mine was Olian, from Figure 8 (best mat clothes website if money is no object). Skirt suit worked better for me than pants suit. For shirts & dresses for non-court, non-important meeting days, a lot of Old Navy & Target, some of which got stuck under suit even on nicer-dressed days. Some nicer dresses/shirts from Gap. One ho-hum 3rd trimester top from Motherhood Maternity, but didn’t love it, but then again didn’t love myself in much 3rd trim. Check out Destination Maternity (includes MM & PitP) for cute dresses. I got some half-decent work pants from Target, but the way they were cut tended to be better late second trimester and third, kind of baggy in the thigh. My Gap maternity pants (preferred demi-panel) grew with me a lot better, worked first, second, and well into third. Pre-buy some cheap but decent stuff from Target, ON, Gap in medium-big and much bigger (think tent) sizes so you have some things on hand as you grow; this helped me avoid buying too much of the really expensive stuff. Late third trimester I felt like a whale. But threw that good suit jacket on some big dresses and that helped. Also: ASK AROUND, especially if you know anyone with kids 2-6. Someone will have decided she doesn’t want any more kids and not have bothered to clean our her storage area of her just-in-case maternity wear yet. (Thanks again, Judge M—-!) Got a bunch from friends. If something from a friend is a bit (but not too much) on small side, may want to save it for post-partum (the fourth trimester).

      • Destination Maternity online has some good clearance selection, and reasonable shipping. I picked up some really nice pants half off. Still expensive for what they were, but considering I wear them about 3x/week, probably worth it. If (like me) you live far from a retail heaven, the clothes can be returned to your nearest Motherhood (much more likely to be found in small-town malls).

        I’ve been living in dresses this summer, both maternity and non. Target is my friend.

        • Sugar Magnolia :

          Ditto on the dresses. My workplace is a little more casual than Biglaw, so wearing a poly blend dress every day hasn’t been an issue, especially when I pair it with nice jewelry and and footwear.

          However, during these last few weeks, I can’t wear any heels and even my flats are way too small due to edema. I am having a hard time the last 6 weeks of pregnancy looking remotely professional. I have an important court proceeding 11 days before my due date. I plan to appear at court wearing a sheet with a head hole cut through the middle. :)

          • Sugar, try Naturalizer ballet flats. And compression socks or tights.

          • Lol. I operate under the theory that you get a free pass in the last 6 weeks. I’m entering that territory now. With DS#1 I argued a motion in state court the day I went into labor, and wore flats, one step above sweat pants, a long tank top from Target, and a contrasting suit jacket. The week before I was in federal court wearing a jersey dress, maternity tights, and ballet flats. I’m pretty sure I got props just for being up and walking around.

            Rock the jewelry. A string of pearls can go a long way to making people look past the fact that you’re practically in pajamas.

  19. Funny that this thread was today! My paralegal announced her pregnancy to the entire office by having her husband come in and passing out a flower to all the ladies and a cigar to all the guys. Small office though – 40 people total. I thought it was cute. I am not sure how far along she is but she said she is obviously showing and that people are commenting.

  20. svassociate :

    I definitely agree with starting to transition 4-6 weeks before your due date. Also, keep even better notes/records in the weeks/months leading up to the transition (I kept a spreadsheet with status updates and issues that I updated daily in the weeks before my leave). I’ve been on both sides, and no one wants to bother the sleep-deprived new parent (or be the bothered sleep-deprived new parent) because you can’t find a file or an email.

  21. I told around 13-14 weeks each time. The nature of my work tends to be longer-term assignments so I kept up what I had and didn’t take on anything new. And quite frankly, I was happy not to be given “extra” work!

  22. Pregnancy-related ted talk; y’all should all listen to this if you have not, I loved it. Don’t leave before you leave!

  23. Here’s a tangential question: We all like to think of ourselves as go-getter, professional, even non-girly women who can handle anything with poise and grace, and can conquer anything with hard work. But for some of us (a lot of us, if we’re honest?), we just can’t keep up the pace while pregnant. We’re exhausted, emotional, and fuzzy-headed. We swing between feeling guilty that we can’t make the hours, and wanting to curl up under the desk and sleep it all away. We lie awake at night worried that we’ll be fired, hate ourselves for possibly deserving it, and sometimes fantasize that we will so then we won’t have to drag ourselves to work another day.

    What about that? Is it better to tell earlier and preempt the performance review, or wait and pull it out as an excuse when you get the “So I notice your work has suffered lately” talk? Also: is there such a thing as career recovery afterward? What do we non-superwomen do?

    • I think Fake-It-Till-You-Make-It. Everyone has bad days and fakes it in a professional environment. Don’t preempt. Listen to that tedtalk I posted.

      So you have a bad month or three where you’re a little less killer-esque. If you come back, and sort your work-life issues, and want to stay, you’ll get it back.

      • Anon for This :

        Midori, I think you responded on a post I did a week or two about this (but forgive me if not, and apologies to those who did)–the long-term effects of baby-growing and then baby-having, and the associated guilt about not being the SuperMomWorker. I’ve got a toddler and a preschooler and I feel like the last five years have been a fog, and that I’ve hardly been on my A-game…perhaps to my (hopefully short-term) professional detriment.

        I actually found that my first pregnancy was easiest and that I was able to keep up a crazy pace until the very end, but since then I feel like I haven’t been back to 100%. Mostly this is due to sleep deprivation/exhaustion, although I’m sure partly it’s residual hormones and just the daily stress of handling two kids with two FT working parents. I have taken a lower stress track for now, although still FT, and while I am professionally frustrated much of the time, I know it’s not forever and that it’s the only way I could keep everything together. But trying to do the work thing, handle the kids, commute, NYC living, etc., is just brutal at times, even when there’s nothing crazy or extreme going on.

        And as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t help that so often at work-life discussions/panels (or whatever they’re called at the moment; I’ve been to busy with work and life to do any of that kind of thing for a while) there’s some BigLaw partner talking about how she’s so much more productive and focused with kids, etc., etc. I think back on that now that I’m in the thick of it and think, really? After years of chronic sleep deprivation, midday ear infection calls, etc., you’re more productive and focused, blah blah? And I’m certainly faking it as best I can, but irritated at myself for being less than I can be. And more than a little bitter/angry at this myth of the totally focused and uber-productive heroic worker mom.

        • Yeah, I sometimes get miffed at women who promote this (I assume) myth that we can Do It All. Sure, those who haven’t had children are going to have a hard time understanding how pregnancy and motherhood can profoundly affect your mental capacity (even if it’s only temporary), but when it comes from other moms? Either they are lying and perpetuating the guilt for the rest of us, or they are just better at it than I am.

          Or I’m just jealous. :-)

          • Anon for This :


            Because I can be petty, I secretly hope that some day I’ll be able to say to at least some of my co-workers and friends who are currently childless “Do you get it now?!” or “Now do you have a sense of what I was going through?”

  24. I’m going to buck the trend and say if you can, it’s a good idea to say something early. Without really any warning (I’m in great shape, no medical issues, etc.), I had some complications that had me on bed rest for weeks 19 and 20 of my pregnancy. Luckily, it wasn’t any longer than that. But we were in the middle of planning some huge projects, so if I hadn’t already told my co-workers, it would have really thrown them for a loop. Plus, when I did get back to work, I ended up with drs appts almost every week for the next 14 weeks.

    for the record, I work at a very family friendly nonprofit, so I told my boss after I went to my first drs appts at about 8 weeks.

  25. Expecting Anon :

    Wow, I am so glad this topic came up. I am just at 12 weeks with my first, and going on vacation for a week soon. I haven’t taken vacation in 2 yrs but am worried about announcing when I return…any thought about how long I should wait after coming back? Also, the people that had kids in my office only took 2 mos leave….I don’t know what to expect but I don’t think that will be enough. I’m not worried about the lack of pay – we get 4 weeks paid. My firm is largely male-dominated. Just curious how long you all took for maternity leave?

  26. I love all the comments that have been posted here because they completely reflect the things that I hear from my readers as well. It’s good to have a clear understanding of the ins and outs of working while pregnant and after the baby arrives. I appreciate your honesty in sharing your stories and hopefully it will help out other women struggling with this situation.
    P.S. I love this site and will be sending my readers here for all the great advice!

  27. Great and nice post thank you.

  28. Not preggers and I don’t have kids – just been around a lot of it! To the shower question ^ way up there. I’m a quasi office mgr and financial advisor with only one female upper level advisor. I’m the other and younger than everyone. There are a lot of male dominated activities that the females have not previously been invited to. I go to those and have established some great working relationships with the other males in the office. ( i do let them have a hh or two to let them do whatever it is they do when we arent around). Then I go to the all female events and bond with them. I look at it as an opportunity to build a support network and healthy friendships in a cutthroat and super stressful business.

    Remember those ladies can cover your ass big-time when you are out! Cherish them-

    2ns- my friends liked – baby and maternity stuff.

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  31. Just my 2 cents… told my boss as soon as possible just because I knew a bunch of absence requests for Dr. appts were going to pass his desk from me, and wanted him to know it wasn’t a horrible health problem.

  32. Anonymous :

    While your first inclination may be to shout your news from the rooftops, I would be discreet through the first trimester. My career tends to be a female dominated profession with male administrators. My partners accurately guessed my condition just by my change in habits and remained completely professional until I was ready to announce my pregnancy. Surprisingly my boss felt a little left out that I did not share my news earlier. I am sure it gets lonely at the top. After my announcement, my colleagues were extremely thoughtful. I never used my pregnancy to gain special treatment and I made sure my work was complete. In the end my closest colleagues called me on a Sunday evening and suggested I rest for the remaining 4 days until my due date. (I think I was making them nervous). I gave birth 2 days later! So glad I listened! I have been on maternity leave for 7 months and will be returning to work after the new year. Depending on the working environment, I would share sooner rather than later.

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