But there are steps you can take to help prevent pregnancy discrimination and promote a supportive workplace during your 9-month path to parenthood. Here are some of the most important.
Confusion (and bad feelings) can arise when moms-to-be don't fully understand their workplace rights and responsibilities. Skip this pitfall by doing a bit of homework.
You can also learn more at the EEOC website and from your state's Department of Labor.
It's simple, but it's important: Make sure the quality of your work stays top-notch -- especially in the period just before you reveal your pregnancy. "If your bosses know that your work has been good before you announced your pregnancy," says Martin Levy, president of the human resources consulting firm Human Resources 4U, "it will help reassure them that the level of your performance isn't going to change."
Telling your boss that you're pregnant is something you want to do the right way. Unfortunately, there isn't a single right way.
"You should pay attention to your company's culture," says lawyer Tom Spiggle, author of You're Pregnant? You're Fired! Protecting Mothers, Fathers, and Other Caregivers in the Workplace.
This means informing your boss about your pregnancy in a way that's in sync with how your team operates. For instance, if your office documents everything with a formal email and cc's everyone from HR to the CEO, then that's exactly what you should do for this, too. But if your workplace is more casual, a sudden shift to ultra-formal language and procedure might feel just off enough to make a normal work relationship feel unnecessarily weird.
Another key: Tell your boss first. "There are no real secrets in offices," Galatas says, so if you tell an office pal who slips and spills the beans before you do, your boss may be left asking herself why you wouldn't tell her first, which can create awkwardness.
And while it's not required, when you speak with your boss about your pregnancy, be prepared to answer a few questions about what that means for your role in the organization. "Many bosses will hear the news and their survival instinct kicks in -- they'll think, 'what does that mean for me?'" Galatas notes. A few preliminary answers can help you to set your manager's mind at ease.
If your pregnancy means that you'll need to ask for accommodations, doing so constructively is crucial. Here are some things you can do:
Taking steps to be a positive participant in your workplace while you're pregnant, and to prevent pregnancy discrimination, will be great for you -- and for all the pregnant workers who come after you.
Copyright © 2014 Meredith Corporation.