Thursday, December 27, 2007

When and How to Announce Your Pregnancy at Work

I was recently at a staff meeting when one of my co-workers was called into the center of the room to receive a gift. As she slowly unwrapped a very large package, I realized just how few of my coworkers were in on the fun. Beneath layers of paper and boxes, she revealed a large jar of pickles and a tub of vanilla ice cream announcing her pregnancy. With her boss among those surprised by the news, the brazenness of the charade shocked me. Were the pickles a sign of a changing time and a corporate culture that accepts working motherhood? Unfortunately no. The pickles were in poor taste. When announcing a pregnancy at work, an ounce of tact is necessary to prevent discrimination and preserve professional standing with your boss.

When to announce your pregnancy

Traditionally, a woman would have waited until after a successful first trimester to begin making announcements about her pregnancy to anyone. It is after the first trimester that miscarriage rates drop dramatically. It may be necessary to make an announcement sooner if you begin to show early or your condition has physical bearings on your ability to complete your job responsibilities. Regardless of the timing, it may be prudent to time your announcement to coincide with successes on the job. After completing an important project or successfully delivering a presentation, your announcement will be accompanied by proof that you can still perform on the job and meet great successes with a pregnant belly.

How to announce your pregnancy

In my coworkers case, it was not when she announced her pregnancy, but how she went about doing it. It is very important to approach your boss in a professional manner and with a positive attitude to avoid discirimination and resentment of you or your condition.
  1. Make an appointment with your boss to share your news and to discuss your ability to work during pregnancy, your plans for maternity leave, and your plans to return to work.

  2. After your meeting, put your plans in writing and email the summary to your boss. This step confirms any plans you discussed with your boss on paper that can be tracked and saved via email.

  3. Be flexible throughout your pregnancy. If your pregnancy prevents you from completing certain responsibilities, offer to take on a new, temporary role. As your due date approaches, train others to carry on the tasks you are currently working on. And as you prepare to return to work, keep in close communication with your boss and coworkers to time your return appropriately.
As with motherhood, pregnancy does not need to impede your ability to work or your ability to relate to your boss and coworkers. Your initial announcement should be handled positively and professionally so that you can continue to work safely throughout your pregnancy and share the excitement of impending parenthood.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What Happened to Working Mother's Day?

On August 31, 1980, then President Jimmy Carter proclaimed a day of recognition for American mothers taking on important responsibilities outside the home. This was the first official Working Mother's Day.

His successor, President Ronald Reagan, again recognized the Working Mothers of America by proclaiming September 5, 1982 Working Mother's Day. Both Sundays, as the nation prepared to enjoy a Monday off of work for Labor Day, these two presidents asked us to remember the uniquely challenging and important work of mothers working outside the home.

However, subsequent presidents failed to follow suit. Despite the growing number of women reentering the workforce after having children, Working Mother's Day has not been celebrated nationally since 1982. Why are working mothers no longer within the purview of our federal administration? What happened to Working Mother's Day?

In Jimmy Carter's words:
"On the job and in the home, working mothers are making a vital contribution to the national economy and to the strength of the American family. Working mothers do not shed homemaking and parental responsibilities; they merely add the demands of a job to those of wife and mother. As we recognize the hard work and dedication of these women, we also acknowledge the many special problems they confront in meeting their dual responsibilities. We have an obligation to reinforce and support them in their endeavors."

August 31, 2008: Don't forget to recognize the working mothers who make a difference in your life.
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State College, PA