pregnancy and work: all your questions answered

Here’s a round-up of posts about pregnancy and work.

interviewing while pregnant

is it dishonest not to disclose you’re pregnant when you’re interviewing?

interviewer said they would hire me if I weren’t pregnant

interviewing while pregnant — but I’m not the mother

when should I tell my interviewer I’m pregnant?

working while pregnant

how do I announce my pregnancy at work?

how do you handle being pregnant at work?

is it bad faith to try to get pregnant when you’re in a new job?

I want to get pregnant … but I love my new job

I just started a new job — and just found out I’m pregnant

talking about my pregnancy at work when I’m placing the baby for adoption

your coworkers

my employee asked if I’m pregnant

my coworker keeps pressuring me to get pregnant

my coworker is upset that I’m pregnant

my coworkers are asking if my pregnancy was planned

male coworkers think I won’t return to work after my pregnancy — and won’t shut up about it

how can I head off pregnancy talk at work?

your boss

my boss says no one is allowed to get pregnant

I don’t want to tell my boundary-violating boss I’m pregnant

my boss is pressuring me to get pregnant

my boss complained that he was “the last to know” I’m pregnant

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

my boss disclosed my pregnancy

my managers joke about not hiring women who might get pregnant

being the boss of a pregnant person

should I have told my employee I figured out she’s pregnant so I could offer her flexibility?

my boss is discriminating against my pregnant employee

my employee didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant until she was about to give birth

my employee is pregnant but hasn’t said anything

managing an employee with “pregnancy brain”

my new hire didn’t tell me she’s pregnant — can I fire her?

maternity leave

everything you need to know about maternity leave in the U.S.

my department will fall apart if I get pregnant and take maternity leave

should I take more maternity leave than I want to “set a good example” for other women in my organization?

I keep getting work questions while I’m on maternity leave

I don’t think I want to come back from maternity leave

{ 53 comments… read them below }

  1. Lindy B.*

    Many, many years ago, I was newly pregnant for the first time, still in college and interviewed for a waitressing job. I was honest and told the guy I was pregnant and he just started laughing! He was hiring to replace a pregnant waitress. He ended up hiring me and the bigger I got, the more tips I got! Yay!!

    1. Chocoholic*

      My friend’s mom was a legal secretary during her working life. She had her 3 kids kind of late in life, for the time anyway (late 60’s-early 70’s). She was probably in her early 40’s.

      She was assigned to an attorney at her law firm and he made a comment about him being glad she was past the age of having kids because his last 2 secretaries had both left because they had babies. Well guess what she did lol? She always thought that was a hilarious story.

  2. cabbagepants*

    Are there any columns that could help dads/non-gestational parents? I’m a woman who was the gestational parent, so it doesn’t apply to me directly, but multiple male friends have shared with me that they got a lot of flack at work about taking their entire legally-protected paternity leave (in a US state with such a thing). Paternity leave is a fairly new/unusual thing across the US and I think people treat it differently than maternity leave; you haven’t just made a baby and the idea of Dad *wanting* to spend time with new baby is shockingly shocking to many otherwise liberal-minded-seeming people.

    Sorry, not trying to do a “but what about the men!” thing, but it seems relevant enough to be included. And it would also apply to anyone who is not the gestational parent.

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      promoting parental leave for both parents supports the whole family. my husband is taking his with our second this fall just like he did with our first. his employer (by giving paid leave) and his colleagues are supportive (other non gestation parents have taken leave).

      granted both parents need access to *paid* leave to make this doable for most families.

    2. HR Friend*

      I don’t know what resources you’re asking for. If guys are getting grief for taking parental leave, that’s a company culture thing. But FYI “legally protected paternity leave” isn’t exactly true.

      Taking state Paid Family Leave doesn’t mean your job is protected, it’s just claiming money from the benefit program you’re obligated to pay into as a taxpayer in [state], when you take unpaid leave from work.

      That’s true for people who gave birth in most states too – PFL doesn’t protect your job like FMLA or disability leave does. It’s purely to supplement your income.

      Also pregnany is a protected class. Parenthood is not.

      1. Fed Employee*

        The largest employer in the United States, the federal government, has paternity leave and it is protected by law.

      2. Caroline*

        FMLA specifically covers parental bonding leave that is available for non-gestational parents, including dads, parents with children born to a surrogate, adoptive parents, and new foster parents. It’s not paid leave… any paid leave comes from state or company specifics plans… but it is legally mandated job protected leave.

    3. Dandylions*

      I’d have your friend check out the Daddit sub on reddit or similar.

      IME there are now a lot of communities around this since Millennials started “pioneering” Dads actually being involved or being SAHDs around 2010.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      If it helps to see how it’s normalized in other countries:
      In Canada, we have maternity leave which is exclusively for the birthing parent, and parental leave that is for either or both parents (adoptive or birth) to split up however they like.

      It’s an acknowledgement that time for recovery and time for bonding are two different things.

      1. Mio*

        I don’t know about the rest of Canada but in Quebec, in addition to these two leaves, there’s also a leave/benefits for the non-gestational parent and a leave/benefits for adoptive parents.

        There’s also a bonus leave to encourage parents to share the shareable parental leave, and an additional leave for isolated parents.

        France has a somewhat similar set-up I believe.

        > It’s an acknowledgement that time for recovery and time for bonding are two different things.

        Yes! And this is also shown by the fact that unlike the time for bonding, the time for recovery is still given when there is a pregnancy/birth but no baby to raise (miscarriages after a certain date, surrogacy, infant death).

      2. Longtallsally*

        In Australia we used two have 2 weeks for the partner and (i think) 16 weeks for the birth parent. It has been changed to one big chunk which the couple can decide how it is devided.
        this is paid by the federal govt and is in addition to what the individual workplace might offer (which varies).
        my husband took a month off (2 weeks parental leave, 2 holiday leave)

        1. WS*

          It was 2 weeks for the partner and 18 weeks for the birth parent, which was fantastic after decades of absolutely nothing. I have a co-worker who had her first two kids with no paid leave and her second two with it, which was hugely beneficial for her and her family.

          Now it’s all in a big chunk and the birthing parent (if there is one, it applies to adoption and surrogacy *and* to surrogates and their partners) can choose how to share it.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Resources for people who aren’t pregnant seem so relevant to you that they should have been included in a round up about *being pregnant*?

      Try looking up “family leave,” “parental leave” or “fmla.” There are a lot of columns about leave for people who are not/have not been pregnant but need to be home for caretaking. That was not the main point of this column.

    6. coastalconsultant*

      I’m glad you asked about this! I am currently pregnant with our first, and my husband is planning to take his full paternity leave which will extend the time we have a parent home with our baby once she’s born. We are fortunate that his workplace offers robust parental leave for both parents, and it does benefit the whole family, including the gestational partner!

      I think men being able to take and/or advocate for parental leave also helps combat the idea that women are the primary caretaker and men are just “watching their kids” as opposed to actively parenting!

  3. Nonanon*

    I’d also like to boost the LW who’s boss was effectively discriminating against them by linking maternity clothing to dress code; it MAY already be in this list and I can’t remember what was titled, but I do think it’s an example of “legal” discrimination (ie “you were not fired for being pregnant, you were fired for not adhering to dress code”) that pregnant people may unfortunately need to deal with and it’s always helpful to have the resource.

  4. IVF Abroad Seeker*

    Do you have any articles about how to address leave needed for fertility treatments? I’ve been following your advice thus far, saying something like: “I’m having a medical procedure, nothing serious but something I need to address.” But our next step would be to seek treatment in a neighboring country and ideally I would work remotely for a week+. For this, it seems harder to explain as a medical procedure because seeking treatment abroad for any reason is not generally covered by local health insurance.

    1. Betty*

      “I’m having a medical procedure, and it turns out that the best specialist for this isn’t local, so I’ll be away for 3 weeks at the start of Month for the procedure and recovery. I should be able to work remotely the 1st-7th and again starting around the 15th-21st.” (In the US, I think you could say something like “out of state” that would make the idea that you’re far from the office during that whole time make sense without getting into the specifics)

    2. I should really pick a name*

      Would whether or not it’s covered by local health insurance be a factor under consideration?

      1. IVF Abroad Seeker*

        No, we are out of covered attempts (3) for our national coverage and costs are lower while success rates are higher over the border from us (5hr drive). I just need to be nearby for a week+ at a time and would prefer not to burn through vacation. Remote work policies allow for me to spend up to 30 days a year working from abroad- I just don’t know how to justify/explain it to my team/boss. The typical medical procedure doesn’t make sense.

        1. Hendry*

          Could you say you need to be near a family member going through a medical issue, or something along those lines?

        2. Rekha3.14*

          Are there qualifications for getting the 30 days remote approved? otherwise I would just say something like “I’m using x days of my out of country remote work allowance from July 1-14” or “I’ll be working remotely from Date to date, thanks”.

          And I think you can still use the medical treatment angle. if they push, thanks for their concern, but it’s going to be taken care of, don’t talk health at work, etc.

          otherwise I like the family member medical treatment option. you just happen to be that family member.

  5. Gyne*

    Obligatory plug for pregnantatwork dot org! Really helpful information and tools to assist with requesting accommodations for pregnancy and breastfeeding-related issues as well as information about your rights under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

  6. LRDD*

    What about planning out maternity leave when you’re freelance/consulting? Any tips? I am in a FT job I absolutely hate (that offers no leave anyway) and planning to make the leap to my many freelance clients full-time. But my husband and I might start trying this year… And I guess I just… save a lot?

    1. Alisaurus*

      Regarding the “save a lot” comment, I don’t have personal experience here, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you can look into personally-funded short-term disability insurance? I know my coworker mentioned she used a short-term disability plan pre-ThisJob to supplement their income when she was on maternity leave, and I know you can buy them on the open market. (But again, not close to an expert on this, so take that info how you will.)

      1. LRDD*


        I am NY State which is pretty good but if you are a freelancer you have to have been paying into the state-run STD insurance for at least 2 years I think before you can use it, which maybe for baby 2! But I’ll look at the other market options.

  7. AnonAnon*

    Any advice for those of us trying to work with an external partner who was already understaffed but then seemingly promoted the least competent of the two people who could step into a position because the more competent one is on maternity leave?

  8. Safely Retired*

    I wonder how many times a link to this will be forwarded to someone who considers it an intrusion and inappropriate. 8-)

    One part of me wants to forward this to one of my granddaughters. I am pretty sure that she and her husband have no plans for a pregnancy in the next couple of years, but (a) I think they do hope to have children, and (b) she has ambitious career plans that so far are going quite well. If she becomes pregnant – or when they plan to – she absolutely should read these. BUT, we have never discussed this, and I fear it can come across as intrusive and coercive. That I am her grandFATHER doesn’t make it easier.

    1. IVF Abroad Seeker*

      Please only send this to someone you know to be pregnant.

      Someone whose family keeps providing well meaning advice but who is about to lose it the next time it happens

      1. coastalconsultant*

        THIS, THIS, THIS. Please, please do not send unsolicited pregnancy-related advice to ANYONE unless they ask for it. After two years of infertility, surgery, treatments, and seemingly unending exposure to pregnant people at work, I would be both very hurt and very angry to receive information like this unsolicited.

    2. constant_craving*

      Save the link, send it if/when she announces she’s pregnant. Then you don’t have to worry about whether it might come across as pressure.

    3. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Unless she asks you in so many words for advice on this specific topic, don’t. In fact, don’t offer her or anyone else ANY unsolicited pregnancy advice, ever. It doesn’t matter if or how you’re related, it’s none of your business.

    4. HannahS*

      I’d be pretty annoyed if an older male relative forwarded me articles about pregnancy that I hadn’t asked for. As an employed woman of child-bearing age, I know a lot more about pregnancy and parental leave in my own field and industry compared to my older male relatives–they did not work in my field, their experience is two generations out of date, and they have no experience of pregnancy, childbearing, or motherhood. And she’s not even pregnant? IF she becomes pregnant, sure, send her this page. You think she MIGHT want kids in a few YEARS? Hold it in; you won’t burst!

    5. bamcheeks*

      I think this is a lovely sentiment, but part of the problem is that you see this as a resource for “a woman who might become pregnant”, and not a resource for your grandchildren who might become dads, non-gestational parents or the bosses of pregnant people! What if you sent it to to all your kids and grandkids?

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep, this is the correct answer. There is too much good information here not to share, and wording your email in a general way so that you are just wanting to disseminate this information to whoever may need it, rather than pointing it at specific people, is the way to go. The recipients can decide what to do with it at this point.

    6. Safely Retired*

      You can all relax. I won’t be sending it unless she becomes pregnant. However, there is a lot here that would be worth reading for anyone BEFORE they are pregnant. Especially someone, like my granddaughter, who is working on a fast-track career.

      Perhaps Allison should update this with such a warning at the very top?

      1. Mio*

        When chatting with her, you could just mention in passing that you follow a work advice column and that you read an interesting article about pregnancy and career. Just don’t make it about her or expect a discussion on it. She might ask for a link or tell you that she’s already read it or want to discuss other things related to this advice column or it could lead to an interesting conversation about this subject in general (as opposed to it being of interest to her specifically) or she could be totally uninterested in which case just keep the conversation moving, etc. In fact, you could bring up this article among others that interested you. Or you could share that this article taught you a lot about the obstacles women face in the workplace, that you never experienced as a man (if that’s true; if you are purely looking at it from a “you might get pregnant yourself” perspective, then don’t fake interest in the topic of how workplaces treat mothers in general).

        If these aren’t discussions you’d have with her or you don’t really chat or you don’t think she’d feel comfortable asking for a link, then you don’t have the type of relationship where you should send her the link unsolicited either.

      2. Nancy*

        A warning for what? There is no need to send this to anyone who isn’t pregnant. You don’t even know if they want kids.

      3. coastalconsultant*

        A warning for what?

        I’ll also note that I don’t think anyone is not relaxed about this; you shared that you were unsure if sending this resource would translate as invasive or coercive, and people shared their experiences with you.

    7. Betty*

      Send your family group chat the link to the burning bridges post, with a “some of these are pretty funny!” kind of remark. If they want to poke around and see other stuff Alison has written that might be of interest– for whatever reason!– you’ve now made them aware of this wonderful site.

  9. Jules the First*

    What about being the boss and pregnant?

    My team is bigger, my job is bigger, and I think there will be more panic this time around if baby number two comes off according to plan…

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Bosses are allowed to have babies. If your company/organization has an issue with that…that’s a different letter.

      I think you, as the boss, should do what you can. Delegate roles and responsibilities, set up a temporary chain of command, let people know what to do if x happens, and let them know what to do if y happens.

      You say that your team is bigger and job is bigger…but you don’t say bigger than what. So I’m not sure how to respond to that. But it doesn’t really matter. Human beings should be allowed to do human being things. If your company has an issue with “baby number two” then that’s a them issue and not a you issue.

      1. Jules the First*

        Thanks – this is helpful. My team and my job are both bigger and more mission-critical than when I had my first baby three years ago. Back then I got promoted the same week my pregnancy was confirmed as viable and when I disclosed my pregnancy, there was panic about how they would cover my role while I was out for six months (ended up being seven, because the baby caught covid). In the end, a bunch of people stepped up and they coped. This time I’m onboarding three newly created roles less than a year before baby’s potential arrival (it’s a science baby, so the timing is very fixed – I can’t wait any longer than this, but also it may not happen at all) and taking on some fairly senior strategic initiatives that have come my way because the business couldn’t think of anyone else with the skill set to do them. I guess part of me is scared they’ll take these opportunities away and part of me is scared they won’t, but that it will all fall apart while I’m out because I haven’t got time to get it properly settled and bedded in before I have to go out.

          1. Jules the First*

            I’m so grateful science is there to help with this but the months of planning required to have one does make it difficult to convince one’s boss that the timing of your pregnancy is out of your control!

  10. Overthinking it*

    I’d like to abolish the notion that pregnancy should be “announced” at work. Announce to your family and friends, if you like, but at work it should be “disclosed” be cause your. OSS and co-workers need to know that you will be out (and approximately when) and if you need any accommodations, like time off for appointments, or not lifting heavy things.

    “Announcing” is for when you think people are going to be overjoyed about the addition to the family, (a big ask for co-workers: some don’t care. Some do, but not like someone who’s going to be called Uncle, or get a playmate for their child, or not be tge you gest anymore or whatever). . .or when it affects the succession to the throne!

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I like this distinction and I find it useful. You are definitely not overthinking it.

      It might help to cut down on the impulse that some fellow employees might suddenly feel to plan an at-work baby shower when you don’t want one. (Because not all new children are babies; please see next paragraph.)

      It also takes into account that not all children are biological, and that you are “disclosing” that you will be away from work for a while to bond with an adopted/foster child. Your coworkers can plan their work appropriately to cover your absence, but should also understand that they don’t need to be involved in your personal life without an invitation.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        But I don’t mean you can’t have a party at work for a new child; just please don’t frame it as a “baby” shower. A party to celebrate a new member of the family, whether by birth, marriage, adoption, foster is okay if that’s what you want.

    2. coastalconsultant*

      I also appreciate this distinction, also from the perspective of varying experiences around pregnancy and growing a family. I was tasked with helping plan a work baby shower for a coworker while I was in the depths of infertility treatment. It was awful (beyond the already awful trope of tasking women with unpaid work like party planning at work). I’ve become far more sensitive to the fact that pulling entire offices into potentially painful and fraught life events (or putting people in the positive of having to opt out) really sucks.

  11. Stained Glass Cannon*

    This is so timely for my team, especially the “pregnancy brain” post. A direct report of mine seems to be affected by “pregnancy brain” and probably some related stress. Now all that’s recently blown up in an uncharacteristic amount of drama. Managing that while not inadvertently discriminating against her is…becoming interesting.

  12. coastalconsultant*

    I’m grateful that you shared this post. I am currently pregnant after several years of infertility and trying to conceive, and was offered a new role right after I found out my embryo transfer was successful. I wound up choosing to share earlier than I planned to because I needed to confirm that parental leave was a day-1 benefit before I accepted the position. (Thankfully, it is!)

    I know you’ve answered a few questions about navigating fertility/infertility and doctor’s appointments in the past, and if you post a redux of this roundup in the future, I think those questions would be important and useful to also include here!

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