At first you weren't quite sure, but now the results of every test have been confirmed and it's official: You're having a baby! As you clear the path ahead for your baby's entrance into the world, you'll need the support of your employer. And in order to gain that support, you're going to need to share your deeply personal news.
Of course, your individual relationship with your boss will shape the way you do this, but here are some general considerations that may help guide the conversation.
1. Know your rights.
Before you share your situation, find out whether you're eligible for rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Know how much unpaid, job-protected leave you're entitled to, get to grips with the kind of health benefits you're guaranteed, and be sure you understand your options when you're ready to come back. Check your company's policy; you may be able to find it online if you're not ready for a face-to-face conversation with HR, but if you can't access it, it's okay to talk to HR before you talk to your boss.
2. Keep your expectations reasonable.
You may be the healthiest, strongest person you know, and you may never have missed a day of work (even for a cold). But if you plan to bounce out of bed the day after you give birth and skip into the office, you might be overestimating even your own awesome abilities. Don't make promises that you can't keep—not to your boss and not to yourself. Rather, simply indicate that you'll be back as soon as you can.
3. Don't apologize.
Don't act as if you've done something wrong, and don't wait to be judged as if you're on trial. Simply share your news and expect your boss to be supportive and happy for you.
4. Get ready to hand off your projects.
You'll need to prepare the people who will be handling your responsibilities while you're gone. If you'll be allocating your work, start doing so as soon as possible. If your boss will need to take this on, you may have to follow up and apply some pressure until they make this decision and you can move forward. As you give instructions to your replacement (or replacements), keep your guidance and tips clear, simple, documented, and accessible.
5. Limit the details.
Know what to share and what not to share. You can talk to your boss about your maternity plans, your feelings about motherhood, or your physical state, but recognize when it's time to close the door on further disclosures. Remember that even though your relationship with your boss may seem warm and familial, the office is a place of business, and you have a right to keep some of your personal information to yourself. As in a court of law, any information you share may be used to reduce your responsibilities, alter the way people view you, and even threaten your long-term prospects with the company. Stay positive, but do what you need to do in order to protect yourself and your family.
—For more on how to balance the needs of your growing career and your growing family, turn to the Career Advice section of MyPerfectResume.