my boss is pressuring me to tell my coworkers about my pregnancy sooner than I want to

A reader writes:

I am working in a large international organization based overseas in a developing country. I am also about 3.5 months pregnant and it is a higher risk pregnancy, given my age and some other medical circumstances. I had to tell my immediate supervisor of the situation in order to get approval to travel to a western country to visit a doctor. So my boss already knows, although I would have preferred to keep it under wraps for a few more months.

I don’t look obviously pregnant at this time. My boss keeps hinting about when we should tell the rest of the staff – about 10 people who are on my team. I like most of my teammates, but we don’t hang out as friends or share our personal lives, although we get along fine. There are a couple of staff who I don’t really like and find some of their commentary rather misogynistic, but I usually ignore it, for my own sanity really, and because I need to get along with them. So, the team is okay but kind of a mixed bag.

My boss keep hinting about when we are going to tell everybody my news, and insinuating that we should do it soon. I do agree that they will need to eventually know, because I will be on maternity leave and some of them will have to take over some of my work. But, I really feel somewhat personally irritated by the pressure to announce – partly because the pregnancy is relatively high risk, and partly because I am just not obsessed with my coworkers as friends. Last year, another woman on our team brought in a cake and called a meeting to announce her pregnancy. She had already been obviously pregnant for a while. I couldn’t help feeling like she was sort of pressured into it, but I don’t know if that is true. One person made an off-color comment after her announcement. Our team does not have regular meetings, and I have no interested in launching one, and getting a cake and then discussing it with everyone. I dread that.

So, my question is: There are a lot of articles out there on how to tell your boss that you are pregnant, but, how do you tell your coworkers you are pregnant? Or, do you have to? (You can see I am dreading it!) How can this be done discreetly, where I feel like my privacy is still being respected? What are the norms in informing coworkers? How and when (or does!!) this need to happen?

It’s really up to you.

You can make a big to-do with a cake if you want to (you clearly don’t), or you can mention it matter-of-factly (“I want to let you know that I’m pregnant and will be out on leave from June to September, and I’ll update you on plans for my leave when we’re closer to that time”) and let people see from your manner that you’re not seeking a bunch of hoopla. If people miss those cues and make moves toward hoopla, you can politely let them know that you’d prefer to keep it low-key.

But first! Before any of that, talk to your boss. You’re feeling pressured to announce your pregnancy before you’re ready to, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve told your boss directly that you prefer to wait. If I’m right about that, go let her know what you’re thinking and get that out of the way. Say something like this: “I’m getting the sense that you’d like me to announce my pregnancy to the team soon. My preference is to wait until ___, particularly since it’s high risk, so I wanted to let you know that that’s my plan.”

It’s possible that your boss will respond with some reason to announce earlier (for example, so that someone can be cross-trained on your responsibilities sooner or so she can explain to the team why someone other than you needs to attend an event in August), and if that happens, you can take that into consideration. But barring some compelling reason, it’s reasonable to hold firm about not announcing until you’re comfortable (assuming you’re not waiting until your eighth month of pregnancy or something like that).

And then when the time does come to tell your coworkers, it’s fine to keep it simple. You can send out a simple email, or mention it at a staff meeting, or whatever feels the most comfortable to you.

If people start talking about showers or cake or anything else that you don’t want, you can simply say, “Thank you so much for the thought, but I’d rather keep it low-key. Thanks for understanding.” If they continue pushing, get more firm: “No, I really don’t want that.”

And if you run into people who want to talk BABIES PREGNANCY BABIES, it’s fine to say “Oh, I’m all pregnancy-talked out,” or “I’d rather not talk much about it right now,” or “I’m trying to keep work a time when I’m not focused on it.”

And if someone makes an off-color remark, you ignore it or say “That’s really inappropriate” or “Please don’t say things like that around me” or whatever shut-down strategy you feel most comfortable with this group.

You really do have a lot of control here, and it’s fine to exercise it. Good luck (and congratulations)!

{ 143 comments… read them below }

  1. Ineloquent*

    But how do you suggest handling the offensive commentary – both the out-and-out hostile exhibited by the OP’s coworkers, and the generally clueless ‘wow, I thought you looked fat!’?

    1. fposte*

      I’d say by waiting until it happens. And then if it doesn’t you’ve saved yourself some time.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depending on what you’re most comfortable with, you ignore it or say “That’s really inappropriate” or “Please don’t say things like that around me” or raise your eyebrows and silently walk away, or whatever shut-down strategy you’re happiest with. You’re not required to tolerate it. (I’ve added this to the post.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just saw fposte’s response. Yes, that! If I’m interpreting the letter correctly, it was one coworker and one remark last time, so may not be worth worrying too much about.

        1. OP*

          Yes, it was only one remark one time. Thanks for all your comments so far. I am enjoying reading them and this is some good advice! I concur with everything and it puts my mind at ease to know that others feel like i don’t have to have some huge party in, like, month four or something. very helpful to me, so thank you.

  2. F.*

    Cross-training is always appropriate. It doesn’t have to wait for a pregnancy. Something could happen to any employee at any time.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      This is a great approach.

      One of my dearest friends worked in a place that was baby/baby shower crazy and due to her religious beliefs she did not want a shower. She had also had a miscarriage previously and really did not want to tell people any sooner than she absolutely had to.

      When she told her boss and outlaid her concerns he decided the best way to handle getting everyone prepped to do her duties was to take up a “cross-training initiative” for the entire department.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In some contexts that makes sense, but in many others it’s not workable. A lot of jobs (particularly as they become more senior) can’t be cross-trained for (my last few couldn’t), and that’s even more true when you factor in the cost of creating time for people to stay up to date on a job they’re not actually doing the vast majority of the time.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I’m glad you said this. The idea of cross-training has always mystified me. Sure, my colleagues could get trained on how to maintain the CSM database I use (and they are). But they can’t be “cross-trained” on the hundreds of conversations I’ve had to cultivate future participants in our programming. The more relational a job is, the less “trainable” it is.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    It doesn’t get any better even when you’re NOT pregnant either.  I’m in my late 30s, and I got married two years ago so everyone is waiting for me to announce.  Seriously, I can’t even call my parents these days and say, “I have something to tell you” without it being a Big Deal.  For the past year, I’ve been saying, “I have something to tell you, but I’m NOT pregnant.”  

    When I first got married, I made the critical mistake of sharing that I wanted kids with a few friends and coworkers.  Now it feels like everyone is constantly asking for an update…as if I’d get pregnant and “forget” to tell people or something.

    I’m like you, OP.  I seriously wish I’d never shared any hopes and dreams for children because at least once a month, a woman at work asks me about it to remind me of this fertility doctor or that fertility doctor.  I want to be left alone on this issue.

    1. Jinx*

      Blarg, this too. I’m in my early 20’s and I’ve been married for three years. My husband and I are from a small town where getting married before 25 means either a) you got pregnant accidentally or b) you plan to get pregnant immediately. His family has internalized that more than mine, to the point where it’s really unusual in his family to reach your first anniversary without a kid. They have super fertility or something.

      It’s been long enough for us that I think our folks are finally getting the hint. We’ve tabled baby discussions for the present, and we aren’t sure whether we’ll eventually have kids or not. Fortunately my sister-in-law is pregnant and one of my sisters just had a baby, so both sides are venting their grandparental urges on someone else. :P

      1. Cautionary tail*

        You got a year? You lucky dawg. We got the “so when are you going to have a baby question” in the receiving line at our wedding at the church. At 114 pounds it was pretty obvious that there was not going to be a baby in the next nine months.

        Baby happened nine years later.

    2. Kat*

      I am married, 30, and without children. Nor do I ever want children. Nor does my husband.

      And yet I regularly get people who stare at my middle, or who blatantly ask, if I’m pregnant or trying to get pregnant. I had one person do the “tick tock” thing (like in Bridget Jones).

      I find it so odd that people are obsessed with my husband and I baby-making (or not)–it’s just so intrusive into a very personal area of life.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I have always found it weird that I’ve received almost none of this, despite being 42 and married and having no children. I know it’s really, really common, but no one ever does it to me. It’s led me to conclude that I must send out some kind of Not Maternal vibes, or that people are so horrified by the idea of me reproducing that they hope that by not mentioning it, it won’t occur to me. Or something.

        1. Boop*

          Slightly off topic, but I had a new boss who started his first meeting in an attempt to get to know us by asking “how many kids do you have?” He started with me: 1) one of the youngest people in the office, 2) not married, 3) not dating or even interested in dating, and 4) NO KIDS.

          I told him I had three children, and gave him the names of the my parent’s dogs.

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            He probably just wanted to get to know his team better, and didn’t want to make any assumptions about people so he asked everyone the same thing.

            1. Kat*

              But that’s a really odd conversation starter that can be a loaded question–if for some reason someone is childless due to infertility, the death of a child, etc. Or just eye-roll inducing for someone like me who loves my husband and my dog but doesn’t have a family according to many others.

              1. Boop*

                Exactly – asking everyone the same thing wasn’t the problem, it was asking everyone that particular question. Looking back it just gets more funny to me, and reminds me to listen to my instincts when they make me do Puckish things like that. It’s a sign that I’ve subconsciously noted a problem.

          2. Ife*

            The weirdly specific and personal nature of that question reminds me of my foreign language classes. We were all 18-year-old college students, so no questions about kids, but we had to tell the names and ages of all our siblings. Um, I have none? I still have that phrase memorized… “N ko ni aburo eti egbon kankan rara.” Presentation done.

        2. KTM*

          I’m on the opposite side of that! I am almost 30 and have been married a couple years and I regularly get the comment ‘but you would make such a good mom!’ when I mention not wanting children. I always feel like I somehow I give out Maternal Vibes but I don’t really understand. I usually quizzically say ‘thanks??’. Maybe I’m wearing whatever today’s version of mom jeans is :/

          1. Gandalf the Nude*

            “There are a lot of things I would be good at if I wanted. But that’s not one of them.”

            That usually shuts it down for me. If someone is rude and asks “why” again after that? “F*** you. That’s why.”

            1. JuniorMinion*

              Someone socially asked my hubs and I if we had kids, when he said “no” she replied “why not??” and he responded “well, we’ve recently gotten a roomba and named him felix, and we’re focusing on training him to correctly vacuum the house right now so we’ve got our hands full”

            2. sylph*

              “There are a lot of things I would be good at if I wanted. But that’s not one of them.”

              I love this. :)

            3. ted mosby*

              I work with kids and I love kids but I have no desire to have my own. I only like them for 8 hours a day, and I am from a family whose dynamics I have 0 desire to recreate for another human.

              People do this to my constantly. It’s an impulse I just cannot even begin to understand. They love to ask weird follow up questions, or “reassure” me that I’ll change my mind. I get that some people change their minds, but everyone says this with this smug authority, as though no women in the universe decide not to have children and follow through with that decision.

              1. TrainerGirl*


                I’m love kids and I’m good with them (especially babies…they seem to love me and I’m not sure why) so people don’t believe I’m not interested in producing any. Plus I’m in my 40’s and marriage is probably a year or two off at the soonest. I love Other People’s Children and my friends have ensured that I’ll have children in my life for years to come. I love the smugness that comes with people telling me that it’s because I haven’t met the right person. Well, I met him and I still don’t want children. I’m attempting to master the matching smugness with a witty retort that might shut some of those people up.

                1. Jessica (tc)*

                  My retort for the “when you meet the right guy, you’ll want his children” was always, “if some guy wants children, he’ll never be the right one for me.” My husband doesn’t want children, so now when people ask, “But what about your husband?” when I tell them that I choose not to have children, I just say, “Oh, he chose me specifically because I didn’t want his children. We’re compatible that way.”

                  Every job I’ve had has been working with children of varying ages, but I just don’t have any desire to work with children all day and then come home and have to deal with more children that are always around. I’ve never wanted my own, so it never even occurred to me that some people find that odd until someone said something about it to me. I just said, “Yeah, but those kids go home to their own parents at night, not with me!”

          2. Laura*

            Once someone asked me “do you want any children?” and I said “no thank you, I’m full.”

            It took them a few seconds and then the look was priceless.

        3. Turanga Leela*

          My hypothesis is that getting married later can reset people’s expectations. If you get married at, say, 25, people assume that you want kids because they think that’s the natural progression. They know lots of people who got married at 25, and they all had kids by 30, so they assume that that will be your situation too.

          If you get married at 40, though, you’re no longer in people’s mental category of “married 25-year-old who is about to get pregnant.” Either they don’t know people who got married at 40, or the people they know who got married at 40 were less likely to have kids. So you don’t get the same kinds of questions.

          1. JC*

            +1. I was about to comment on Alison’s post to say the same thing. I am 34 and don’t have or want kids and got married at 28. Plenty of people asked me about my childbearing plans when I first got married, but hardly anyone does anymore. I think some people assume that if I was chomping at the bit to get pregnant I’d have done it already. Not exactly the same thing as getting married later than average, but similar in defying people’s expectations about the natural progression of marriage then babies.

            1. Chalupa*

              I still get it from my parents (I’m an only child–their only shot at being grandparents), but not so much from anyone else. I got married seven years ago, so I think people are starting to put it together. But I have friends who got married at 25, and had a kid 10 years later, so even a long stretch of marriage with no kids isn’t a free pass from getting questioned!

          2. TrainerGirl*

            I’m in my mid-40’s, and my boyfriend and I STILL get asked if we’re having kids or folks tell us we’d better get married soon so we can get started. Until you go through menopause, I think hope springs eternal for some.

        4. Kat*

          That boggles my brain. I am so NOT MATERNAL yet I get this all the time, or when I say children aren’t in the cards for me, they tell me I’ll change my mind or demand I adopt. It’s very odd. I envy all of you who give off more anti-maternal vibes than me, I guess :)

              1. ted mosby*

                Or the insinuation that no woman has ever decided not to have children and followed through with that choice. As though changing your mind is INEVITABLE. It’s almost always from the people who don’t know me very well.

            1. Grapey*

              Same here. If I’m feeling extra snarky I’ll reply “Well at least I *can*.” with a pointed look at their kid.

        5. Andrea*

          Same here. It has happened to me about twice, ever, and it was more of an assumption from a family member that we would have kids, because of course that’s just what everyone does. I said something to my best friend about it and she said it was because most people are intimidated by me and afraid to say the wrong thing because they know I won’t tolerate it. Better to be feared than loved–in this instance, anyway.

        6. Rebecca in Dallas*

          I used to get questions about this a lot. My husband and I got married when I was 23 and for the first several years, it was non-stop, “When are you having kids? What about kids? You’re next! [at baby showers and such]” I think I must have just gotten good at deflecting the question.

          My mom and I go to the same hairdresser (who I love, I’ve gone to her most of my adult life). Once she asked me if DH and I were going to have kids and I don’t even remember how I answered her. I think it was just, “Nope, not having them.” But she told my mom later, “I’ll never ask her *that* again!”

          One response that I found was helpful (particularly with intrusive coworkers) was, “You’ll be the first to know!” They usually picked up on the sarcasm.

          1. Jessica (tc)*

            I hate the “You’re next!” comments. I will never be next. Never. Never ever. It’s not a game of tag where I’m suddenly “it” because I’m the only woman of child-bearing age in the room that doesn’t have children.

        7. Stranger than fiction*

          But you do have children – fuzzy four legged children. Funny though I must give off the same vibe, only I have two grown children. I have two small pictures at my desk but not all my coworkers come by this side of the building and not long ago one of them said “oh I had no idea you had children” and we’ve been working together for almost five years.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Given how obsessive I am about the cats, it’s probably good that no human child will have to bear the weight of that neurotic level of attention.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Right, cats are going to be spoiled, selfish furballs no matter how much you do or don’t dote on them, unlike human children. :)

          2. Rater Z*

            When my son was 45 days old, my wife decided she wanted to be single again. Three months later, the divorce was final and I saw my son a couple weeks later for the last time in a long time. When he was 8, I let her second husband adopt him. Eventually, I started looking for him and he for me but no luck. (I didn’t know they had changed his first name when the adoption went thru.) I had all the information on him, me , my wife and the step-father, so I left a note for him on the internet. He found it and sent me an e-mail. The response at work was fascinating.

            Me: “I heard yesterday from someone I haven’t seen or heard from in 42 years”

            Other person: “Who was that?”

            Me: “My son”

            Out of about 30 people there, only one knew I had a child and we had talked about him just a week before. She was just as surprised as everyone else. Some of the women looked like they were going to faint.

            By the way, that was in August, 2011. We are still in contact and have made plans (over the past couple of years) for me to move to where he lives — 200 miles from here — when I retire after my wife passes on. I have heard all the horror stories about parents and children not wanting anything to do with the other, but our story went the other way. For those wondering, I think a lot has to do with my accepting that his stepfather is really his dad in his eyes and am comfortable with it, even talking about him as though I knew him well. I signed the first birthday card to him as “father, dad, Pops, hey you or anything else you call me, if anything”.

        8. BL*

          I must give off these vibes too except that I just had a baby this year. I was resigning from my previous company while I was a few months pregnant. My supervisor knew and a couple of coworkers I was close with but not the whole team. When I was announcing my resignation my supervisor called a huddle and said BL has something to tell everyone. A coworker who had only been there a few months looked at me and said “Are you pregnant?”. I said, “Actually I am but that’s not what I needed to tell everyone. I was going to tell you all that I accepted a position at NewJob and my last day will be….” As if that weren’t awkward enough, another co-worker said, “I didn’t really see you as the mothering type.” What do you say to that.

          1. TL -*

            “I’m not. I’m really just having this child to compete the science experiments I started when I used to babysit.”

            Ugh, though – what a horrible thing to say.

          2. Jessica (tc)*

            I didn’t realize there was a specific type of person who was qualified to be a mother. Huh. I mean, I’m not the mothering type because I’m a nonparent by choice, but I thought that generally parents came in all types.

        9. JuniorMinion*

          I am 28 and married and have not gotten any of this (at work at least, socially is a different story). I think part of this could be if you work with a lot of guys, it would never occur to them to ask and if it did it would be WAY down the list after they had covered your car, professional sports proclivities, where you went to college (thus covering college sports proclivities), the weather, the crazy diet they are on for new years, whats new in the Wall Street Journal, etc etc. See conversation below:

          Me: “So how old is your niece?”
          Boss: “Oh, I dunno, I mean shes walking and all that so like 5? 7? maybe?”(Dude sees her EVERY WEEKEND)
          Me: “Umm, kids are usually walking by 1.5-2”

          1. MaryMary*

            Ha. I once worked on a team with several young men, and they learned A LOT when one of our teammates got pregnant. My favorite was when she brought the baby in shortly before coming back to work after her leave, and one of they guys asked if the baby was talking yet.

            1. Sparky*

              I saw a college age guy inquire of a sleeping baby,”When will it’s eyes open?”.

              You know, like a kitten or puppy.

        10. StudentPilot*

          I’m 38 and sort-of married (common law married) and I never get asked, or get any comments or anything else – not about babies, not about actually getting married…..all I get is “What country are you going to next? You’re really lucky Mr. StudentPilot likes to travel too!”

        11. Creag an Tuire*

          It might have to do with common stereotypes around “cat ladies” not having kids.

          Either that, or you’ve just subconsciously trained everyone around you to Stop Asking Intrusive Personal Questions.

            1. MaryMary*

              You live in the DC area, though, right? I feel like living in a big city (especially a very career focused big city) really cuts down on the marriage and baby comments. There are way more singletons and DINKs around, compared to other parts of the country where the norm is to be married with kids by your mid 20s.

              1. Regina 2*

                I’m in agreement with this. I’ve gotten this from family (immigrant with a culture strongly tied to getting married and having kids), but it just has never come up in the workplace or even socially like everyone here talks about. I attribute it to city living; I was in San Francisco for most of my career, so either delayed marriage or “non-traditional” family structures were the norm. I have almost the opposite issue, since I’m not career-focused like all the people around me. I almost wish I had the other voices so I could feel I have people too.

                Oddly enough, I don’t really think I want kids either. I have yet to meet someone who is not ambitious work-wise AND doesn’t really want a family. Maybe I need to start my own blog…

                1. International relations*

                  Me, my housemate and my 60-something year old aunts: none of us are particularly ambitious career wise or think we want (ever wanted) a family.

                  My aunts are nurses and illustrators- they like travel and have a trillion God children who love them. I love other people’s kids and am working to follow my aunts’ footsteps- lots of friends kids! But have never felt the desire for my own, except when I occasionally feel guilty that I should have them if I’m not going to be focused on hitting the top rung in my career – like choosing neither is somehow lazy.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes! I definitely do think a big part of it is where you live … although I also don’t think other women in the D.C. area have been as exempt from it as I seem to have been.

                1. TL -*

                  You might have the Look.
                  I have a similar thing – most people just don’t ask intrusive questions of me because I apparently look like I am not amused…

                2. TrainerGirl*

                  I’m in the DC area, and I find that folks here are more accepting of singletons and marrieds with no kids. I find that the only people who are obsessed with the married/kids questions are people who are already married with kids or having them. Otherwise, I don’t hear it much.

            2. OP*

              Hi, yes, I am actually almost 42 as well, and have never gotten any comments either in the office or in my personal life about having kids, even though I got married two years ago. I think that people just assume that one’s womb is non-functional. Now that I am pregnant, I have told a few friends, and one did respond with surprise, which in turn surprised me. I think people just assume after a certain age that it ain’t happenin’.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Although I just remembered that one time, on Facebook, I shared a lengthy rant about having to school the pharmacy tech about ACA coverage for birth control, to which a friend (who got married a month before me and has two kids) now replied: “I know a solution – stop taking it!”

            1. ted mosby*

              Yes, always change your life to accommodate someone work screw-ups. Waitress brings me chicken? No longer a vegetarian!!!!!!

        12. ted mosby*

          I bet deep down they know those comments aren’t actually acceptable, and that you aren’t the type to awkwardly smile and nod.

        13. Gene*

          My first wife and I got almost none of that either. As one of 6 kids, and the only one without kids, there were plenty of grandkids to go around, and she had a heart problem and was under medical orders to not get pregnant. The families put NO pressure on us.

          And it shuts the busybodies right up when the answer to “Why don’t you have children?” is “Because I don’t want to die!” Sadly, the problem finally did her in when she was 45, though the doctors said she wouldn’t make it past 30.

        14. Chassity*

          Ha! Same here. I’m 37, have been married 10 years, and have always known I’d never want kids. Not one person, stranger or family member, has ever asked me about children. So at least you’re not alone in the “please do not reproduce crowd!” :)

        15. Chocolate lover*

          I’m in a similar situation. 40, got married in my late 30s, but very few people make those kind of comments to me. Granted, I’ve always been staunchly on the side of I don’t want kids, but when I was a little younger, some people definitely expected me to change my mind. Why, I don’t know. For the longest time, I didn’t want to get married either, but then changed my mind, and I think some people thought that was an omen about changing my mind a bout kids, too. So many people assume they go in hand in hand, but the fact is, day after we got married, absolutely nothing in our lives changed but the legality. The day after you have a kid, EVERYTHING changes. They don’t automatically equate to me.

        16. Tonia.*

          First of all Alison, wow, you look way younger than 42. Also, you proably sound so professional all the time, that people can’t envision that you could/would be a mother.

            1. CM*

              Sorry, I should have been more specific – :( was my reaction to “you’re so professional you couldn’t possibly be a mother.”

      2. Nelly*

        I had that for a while, and I used to go a bit over the top with ‘stop thinking about my vagina’ or ‘I wish you’d stop obsessive over my vagina’, which just made them all so horribly uncomfortable. I’d give them the death stare while saying it, but once you drop the ‘v’ word 99% of them back right off.

        1. CM*

          Haha I love that. I would never be brave enough to say it though. But I DID get a few off-color remarks (all from men) when I mentioned to people that I was pregnant, which I found so weird and immature, not to mention creepy. Yes, I, like 99.99% of adults, have had sexual intercourse. It’s very strange that your mind jumps straight to that when I talk about having a baby.

        2. OP*

          Heh heh. Yes, i have thought about doing this. Sending out a Outlook meeting request to colleagues with the title: Team Meeting regarding my vagina. See how many people show up! I could at least own the off-color comments! kidding, of course.

      3. JoAnna*

        On the flip side, I’m married with 5 kids, but I’ve had 9 pregnancies total (4 were miscarriages). I constantly get asked when I’m going to STOP having children. My response is generally, “When that becomes your business, I’ll let you know.” (Said good-naturedly or coolly depending which one the circumstances warrant).

    3. MsChandandlerBong*

      I recently saw a Christmas card on my MIL’s table that said “When is [Chanandler Bong] going to give you some grandchildren? I wanted to write back and say, “I have medical problems that prevent me from safely carrying a pregnancy to term, but thanks for asking!” The truth is, even if I didn’t have medical problems, my husband and I wouldn’t have children anyway. At least I have an “acceptable” (to other people) excuse.

      1. Lillian McGee*

        Ugh, that phrase… “give you some grandchildren” makes me grind my teeth. Like that’s any reason to have children… so your parents can be in the presence of a baby for a few hours each week (maybe)! Of all the selfish, entitled……

        1. MsChandandlerBong*

          Exactly! I lucked out with finding my husband; I’ve known since I was about 25 that I couldn’t safely get pregnant (I am not infertile, but I have a complex batch of health problems that would make pregnancy life-threatening; the doctor told me if I decided to try anyway, I’d likely have to spend six months in the hospital for constant monitoring–no thanks!), and it did cost me some relationships (guys who knew they wanted kids and didn’t want to continue dating because it would never happen). His family has some mental health issues that he does not want to perpetuate, so he’s fine with not having kids.

        2. Marcela*

          Well, once my mother asked me again when I was going to give her a grandchildren, I told her that since she wanted one so much, but I don’t like children, I’d be very happy to get pregnant and then give the baby to her in adoption. She was so horrified she never said another word about it, not even when I was diagnosed with a super advanced endometriosis that made a pregnancy almost impossible.

          1. Jessica (tc)*

            Marcela, I absolutely love your answer! I’m lucky that I told my mom when I was just seven that I didn’t want children (which she probably didn’t believe until I continued to state the same thing without wavering for my entire life), so she calls my cat her grandkitty and asks for pictures of her instead. ;) Hey, whatever makes her happy with only having a fuzzy grand-creature to dote on.

    4. MsNarwhal*

      My favorite response to the “When are you having babies??!?” question (which I read on Lifehacker, I think) is “Oh, we’re still using condoms for the time being. But how’s YOUR sex life?” It’s such a bizarre, intrusive question when you think about it.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I’ll add that to my list!

        Also good for one-off questions about “thinking of having a kid soon?”:
        “I’d rather have a boat”
        “Nah, the cats would eat it”

        Good for “but who’ll take care of you when you’re old?! Won’t you be lonely?”
        “I plan to continue having lots of meaningful relationships in my life as I age, and not only with people who are biologically obligated to do so. If that fails, I’ll drop hints to my nieces and nephews about wills”

        Good for people who refuse to let it drop and who pester you with “but whyyyyyy don’t you want to have kids? Aren’t you worried you’ll regret it if you don’t!” and similar sentiments every time you see them:
        “If I asked you why on earth you did want to have kids, and aren’t you worried you might regret having them one day, that would sound pretty rude, eh?” (with a smile, of course)

        I only had to pull out the last option once. It worked!

        1. TrainerGirl*

          I usually say that the return policy is awful on kids…that’s usually good for a blank stare.

      2. Creag an Tuire*

        I’m reminded of the SMBC Comic: “Marriage: The point at which your parents stop telling you not to have unprotected sex and start -insisting- you have it.”

      3. Lillian McGee*

        Ha. “Here, I’ll give you my CVS login so you can see when I stop filling my birth control prescription!”

      4. Liane*

        I still like Miss Manners’ take on the politeness (lack thereof) of this question: “One can hardly exaggerate the rudeness of inquiring into the contents of someone else’s womb…Miss Manners considers…a cold, ‘I have no idea,’ civil enough under the circumstances.” (from the original “Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior”

      5. simonthegrey*

        I have a few students I tutor who have no concepts of boundaries and they often ask if I have had “any luck” getting pregnant, since I have mentioned before under pressure that my husband and I would like kids. I’m at the point where I want to ask if they would like to help us track my fertility, though I never would.

    5. Allison*

      I was thinking about this the other day; I used to tell coworkers about my personal life (not all of them, just ones I’m close to) but now I make a point not to. I realized that no matter where you are with a relationship, some people HAVE to know when you plan on taking the next step, and when I start dating a guy I don’t want people asking “soooooo is he your boooooyfriend yet???” If I got into a relationship, I wouldn’t want people asking me when we’re gonna move in or get married, and if I were to get engaged I wouldn’t want people wanting status updates on the wedding planning. Post-wedding, I would dread the inevitable “when are you gonna have BAAAAAABIEEEEEES??”

      Look at all the reality shows we have on TV about marriage and families, people love knowing other people’s private stuff; it’s considered entertainment. Which is fine for people who like sharing it, but I wish people would stop expecting everyone to be open with their personal lives.

      Obviously, I can’t hide some information, when it happens people are gonna know, but I’m definitely gonna try to keep it on the DL, and tell people I’m trying to keep it quiet and that I’d rather not discuss personal matters.

  4. K*

    I told my coworkers at 14 weeks after the first trimester screen results were back. I sent out an email on a Friday afternoon. It was just a couple of sentences sharing the news and thanking the team in advance for their assistance while I was on leave. People who wanted to talk came by my office to congratulate me in person, and by Monday things were mostly back to normal.

    1. Boop*

      This is a good way to do it – very low key, doesn’t require anyone to respond (visually or verbally). I had a co-worker do that, and those who wanted to say nice things could reply or go talk to her, and those who didn’t care were free to ignore it. My office is mostly female, and trending younger, so most people were at least happy for her.

      I’d be tempted to never announce it, and claim that I’m not pregnant when asked. I like to mess with people when I think they’re being nosy.

    2. Winter is Coming*

      I worked in HR for a factory when I was pregnant. With the first pregnancy, I hadn’t told a soul at work I was pregnant, I think I was about 8 weeks along, so was not showing at all. One morning I was making the rounds on the shop floor, and the woman I stopped to talk to said, “Wow, you are glowing! Are you pregnant?” It through me off so much, that my mouth just dropped open, and I couldn’t recover after that! I told her I was, but that I wasn’t sharing it with co-workers quite yet, and I would be most appreciative if she kept it to herself. She was one of the biggest gossips in the place, but she kept her word!

  5. Anne*

    When I was pregnant I told people after the first trimester was over, at about 13 weeks. I didn’t make a big deal of it – I told my boss in a private meeting (she had a young daughter and I knew she’d be excited) and asked her to mention it to her bosses. Then with other people I just let it come up in conversation, or mentioned it discretely. There’s no reason to order a cake and throw a party for it – that’s weird to me. Nor did I feel pressured to announce earlier than I wanted to. It took about 3-4 months to train people on my reports that would need to be ran when I was gone (I had them run the reports a couple of times when I was still there so I would be available for questions). Good luck OP!

    1. Judy*

      A former workplace was very donut oriented. You brought donuts in when it was your birthday. You brought donuts in when you got a promotion. You brought donuts in on your first day back from your wedding. So, both times, when I was ready for everyone to know, I just brought donuts in. My manager had known for a while, and we had made some transition plans.

      It gave people a chance to gather and ask “So, what are we celebrating?”

  6. Turanga Leela*

    This doesn’t solve the timing issue, but if you want to be discreet, tell one person matter-of-factly and ask the person if he or she could casually let other people know. Specifically tell person #1 that you don’t want a shower, cake, gift, or any fuss (assuming that that’s all true). Normally, a boss is a good person to do this, because it’s easy to drop into conversation—“I need you to cover the XYZ conference in March because Leela’s going to be on maternity leave”—but it sounds like your boss might not be the best choice.

    1. npnyc*

      Well, you have to be really explicit in asking that person to tell people–and even then, be aware that they might not feel comfortable sharing your news (though I guess your boss doesn’t have this problem!) Both times I got pregnant, I told a few people and just assumed that word would get out, because I was talking about it openly. I was surprised at how many people DIDN’T know even weeks later, and I think it’s because my colleagues were hesitant to share what they saw as my own good news. It gets tiring to tell the same news over and over, so I was kinda wishing people would gossip about it more! The same thing happened when I was diagnosed with a serious illness earlier this year and had to go on medical leave. Sharing that news was even more tiring, so I just gave up and figured people would notice I was out and talk about it then. I guess I should be grateful for mostly non-gossipy colleagues but sometimes you do want people to spread the word!

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Right, a lot of people are discreet! If you want someone to spread your news, it helps to tell the person that you’re just not up for telling everyone and ask her explicitly to let everyone know.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I was just going to come and say “just tell the biggest gossip, everyone will know in about 5 minutes”

          That’s what I did at one of the companies I worked for – kept it quiet for as long as possible due to politics and issues that came up when the last person announced she was pregnant, and then when I couldn’t keep it a secret anymore I told the biggest gossip and that was that.

      2. ted mosby*

        Yup, I did this to my close friend and she was like “oh g-d I’m so sick of having to react I was hoping you guys would have told everyone” Sorry Bee, I didn’t know!

        I thought it was so weird at first, and then I realized every time someone finds out, they want/expect you to act like you just found out too, and think it’s odd if you don’t. Like yes, I’m very happy, but I’ve known for three months so I’m not freaking out at 10 am on a Tuesday in my grungy break room.

  7. Millie*

    I am 44 and have been married for 3 years. People (co-workers and family members) are constantly asking me when we are going to have children. This surprises me considering my age. And it hurts because we have tried and I’ve had several miscarriages. I honestly don’t understand why people care so much about everyone else’s procreation or lack of it.

    1. OP*

      yeah, i have had 2 misscarriages…hence part of my sensitivity about this issue. sorry for all that! It is amazing how many people don’t understand how risky pregnancy is, or how fraught with problems getting pregnant could be. I feel that if people were a little more educated on the topic, they might not say such insensitive things. sorry.

  8. INTP*

    The boss might not be thinking about the full implications of the high-risk nature of the pregnancy. Depending on the relationship, you might be able to ease the pressure by bluntly pointing out, “This is a high-risk pregnancy, and in the event that anything should happen, I would find it so much easier to grieve and resume work if I didn’t have to explain it at work. I understand the need to prepare to hand off my work, but I hope you can respect that reason to wait until X months.” (Sorry if I’m being too morbid here – I didn’t even know about my own little sister until 4 months in for the same reason, so it’s a consideration I always think about.)

    Of course, this doesn’t sound like the most woman-friendly environment, so being so blunt about a pregnancy might not fly. But if you think your manager would be empathetic, it’s worth a try.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Exactly. When I was pretty new here I was thinking to myself some not so nice things about a coworker that was gone a lot. Low and behold I eventually found out she had just gone through her second miscarriage. I felt terrible and thank god I kept my thoughts to myself, but was also surprised how discreet the whole thing had been.

    2. AnotherHRPro*

      I think just telling him that “Due to the pregnancy being high risk, it isn’t advisable to share the news until I’m further along.” And then you just be quiet. Let the gravity of what you said sink in.

      I’m wondering if the manager is just excited about the news? Or is it more about being worried for work coverage? If it is the latter, explain what you are doing to prepare for being out (documenting projects, keeping things organized, developing contingency plans, etc.).

    3. Ineloquent*

      I remember driving with my mother somewhere as a four year old. I knew she had just had a miscarriage, and I knew it was Something Big, but I really didn’t understand what it actually was. We were stopped by a long time family friend, and while she was asking us how our day was going I said, with a big smile on my face, ‘Mommy just had a miscarriage!’ I remember the friend’s clear and obvious look of shock and dismay, and my mother bursting into tears. I learned a lot about tact that day, and I still feel like a jerk when I think of it.

      1. BSharp*

        Oh you poor kid. I have so much empathy for 4yo Ineloquent. There is no way for you to have known that as a 4yo, and you were not a jerk, and that was a brutal way to learn that lesson. We all have to learn it, but that must have been so traumatic.

      2. Another Job Seeker*

        I’m so sorry to hear that you had to experience this. You were not (and are not) a jerk. Children that young do not typically understand the realities and implications of a miscarriage. And the fact that you are concerned about it even now is even more evidence that you are able to empathize with others.

      3. Rin*

        I had a miscarriage, and my four year old would ask, on my off days, if I was sad because the baby died. Part of me was like, “Kid, you’re killing me,” but I wasn’t mad. If she had said it like you did to someone else, I still wouldn’t be mad, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

    4. OP*

      Yeah, this is how I have staved off my boss so far…and he is a really nice guy actually and I can be honest with him. He is just kind of ignorant about any issue related to pregnancy, as well as the risks. He told me to have a better attitude (re: thinking positively about the pregnancy) which was annoying, but did understand the risks I was describing to him.

  9. Bend & Snap*

    I had a high risk pregnancy and had to stave off shower and gift offers at work because I didn’t know if my baby would live and didn’t want to disclose that. Once I made my pregnancy public, my lovely boss ran point for me on letting people know I preferred not to celebrate or receive gifts. I didn’t buy a single thing for her until she was born (6 weeks early) and doing okay in the NICU.

    I think the best move is to get your boss on your side her. Explain your fears in as much or as little detail as needed, ask if she’ll help you manage the information WHEN YOU’RE READY to reveal it and generally make sure she’s bought in to protecting your mental well being from well meaning coworkers.

    In other news, I had a very obviously pregnant coworker who didn’t disclose her pregnancy until like 3 weeks before she gave birth which was SUPER weird and caused a lot more gossip than if she’d just come out with it. She also logged in and started working a couple of hours after having her baby.

  10. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

    I would recommend making sure you and you boss are on the same page. With my first, I told my boss, who then told her boss (the CEO), who then announced my pregnancy at the company-wide staff meeting.

    It was horrifying. I’m a very private person, and only had told my boss for logistically reasons, not because I wanted to widely share the news.

    I wish I would have made it explicitly clear to my boss that I didn’t want to share the news widely.

  11. Meg Murry*

    Given that OP is 3.5 months along, I wonder if boss is asking her because co-workers are starting to gossip or guess and she wants to just get it out in the open instead of letting the rumor mill run rampant. After all, if OP had to travel to a western country “for some medical tests” coworkers might be speculating she has cancer or something – I had one coworker who missed a lot of work due to a high risk pregnancy, but before she was “out” with the pregnancy some of the horrible gossips were speculating what kind of dreaded fatal disease she might have.

    Also, given that it’s an international organization, I’m wondering what the maternity leave standard is there. Has OP talked to the boss about what kind of leave she is thinking of taking and how long. The boss could be used to having to plan for 1 year leaves and hiring a temp, etc vs the typical US 6-12 weeks.

    Last, given the high risk nature, does that also mean there is a good chance OP could wind up on bedrest, delivering early or having to go back to a western country a few weeks/months before she is actually due? While I get that OP doesn’t want to talk about her personal business with her coworkers, if some of them might have to take on her responsibilities in the next 3 months for an extended period of time, it’s understandable that the boss wants to have this out in the open so they can plan earlier rather than later.

    I think OP can work with her boss to make this all business and straightforward: “Ok, OP will be out on maternity leave from approximately XX to YY, but it could be a few weeks sooner than that, so here’s our transition plan. Sue, you’ll be taking on A, Bob will be handling B and Jane will be handling C. OP will meet with each of you to bring you up to speed.” It doesn’t have to be all about cake and squealing – if OP handles it in a businesslike way others will follow her lead.

    1. Jennifer*

      Usually three months is the time when people start showing/have to tell because people notice, so I kinda can’t say I’m totally shocked that she’s being pressured to disclose at this point in time.

      1. NK*

        It really, really depends on the person. I’m 3.5 months with my first and juuuuust getting to the point where I feel like it’s becoming harder to hide (I’m telling my boss tomorrow, was waiting on final prenatal screening results). But I feel like I’m showing a bit early compared to others, and I’m struggling with clothes more mostly because I had gained some weight before getting pregnant and so they were a bit snug to begin with. If that hadn’t been the case I think I’d still be able to easily hide it.

      2. ted mosby*

        My SIL is 3 months preggo and a very petite person in general and she’s not showing at all. It’s her first pregnancy, maybe that’s why? Or she’s having a petite little baby? My pizza baby is more noticeable than my future niece/nephew.

      3. Rin*

        I was 4.5 months when I started showing, and then I popped at about 5.5 months, but maybe that’s just my body type and that specific pregnancy (she was born pretty small).

  12. irritable vowel*

    I hope it won’t be too controversial to say that I think this kind of thing happens (pressure to announce before you’re ready, intrusive questions, etc.) because we live in a culture where what goes on inside women’s bodies is considered everyone’s business.

    Your boss already knows that you’re planning to be away on leave, that’s all that needs to happen so far in advance. There’s PLENTY of time to make sure that affected staff members are looped in. It should not take longer than your actual leave to do any training/shifting of job responsibilities. I would just ask directly, “Why do you feel everyone needs to know before I’m ready to share?” and be prepared to push back on excuses about preparation.

  13. Ghost Town*

    I told my Director shortly after the first trimester. Laid out the estimated schedule and the potential conflicts (wouldn’t be able to travel for at least one trip, and would miss the beginning of the academic year), and proposed solutions. I waited a good long while to tell anyone else. And when I finally did, it was mainly because I was really beginning to show and we’d need to start planning the things that I wouldn’t be in the office to do. By that time, most of the women had suspected for a while.

    I went to the relevant people individually, told them I was pregnant, estimated leave, and how I saw that leave impacting them.

    I hope you are able to follow your own timeline on telling your coworkers, and I wish you an uncomplicated pregnancy and labor.

  14. Lillian McGee*

    Couldn’t you call it medical leave and leave it at that? I mean… do coworkers really need to hear the exact reason? Even if it’s obvious??? I guess it might be weird…

  15. Juli G.*

    I know you are focused on the extreme bad outcome (miscarriage) but maybe your boss is thinking more mildly. I know a few high risk pregnancies that went on bedrest at the 5-6 month mark. Because of that, even with my low risk pregnancies I always had two or three maternity contingency plans.

    Obviously you should be the one who chooses when and your boss shouldn’t pressure you but maybe that’s the motivation?

  16. Mando Diao*

    It really depends on how much work will have to be shouldered by the coworkers and what “high-risk” entails in terms of absences leading up to OP’s maternity leave. OP is at the point in her pregnancy when women typically disclose, so I’m not automatically reading anything sinister in the boss’ assumption that OP should announce her pregnancy soon. If OP knows that she will frequently be out for doctor’s appointments, I urge her to at least say something vague about “health issues.” If she knows that it will take a long time to train her coworkers in the tasks they will be covering, OP needs to do the math and figure out if her ideal time frame for announcing her pregnancy leaves enough time for proper training.

    I don’t see that the OP has much more time to play with. She’s going to start showing soon, and once her coworkers start receiving training to cover her workload, they’re going to figure it out.

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