Looking for and starting a new job while trying to get pregnant
October 19, 2015 1:19 AM   Subscribe

I've been affected by a round of layoffs and am looking for work. The search has been going well and there are some prospects. My major source of anxiety right now is that this is happening while I am trying to get pregnant.

The big question is how and when to talk to a prospective employer about my plans to start a family. I'd feel quite guilty if I went to a new place and then, a few months later, announce that I am pregnant and will have to take maternity leave when I've been at the company for under a year. How do I talk to them? I was thinking to do it after getting an offer, but before accepting it, mentioning my plans and inquiring about their parental leave policy/schedule flexibility. Also, who do I talk to? In some cases, I am dealing with a recruiter. In other cases, I have the contacts of the hiring manager. I'd typically discuss offer conditions with a recruiter, but in this case, is it enough? I’m in Canada, if that makes a difference.

Another question is how to get through the first trimester while at a new job and needing to prove myself. I've read lots of first-hand accounts of how difficult the first trimester would most likely be and am not looking forward to it, but postponing trying to get pregnant is not really an option for me health-wise. I’m in the software industry, so my job does not involve toxic chemicals or heavy lifting. However, some reports make me question if I'm even going to be able to think straight. Any personal experience stories of "I did this, and it worked out!" are very, very welcome - bonus points for details of how you did it.

Thanks, hivemind!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As a manager, I would not expect to know this until the person was actually pregnant and I don't know why you should feel guilty about taking maternity leave as a new hire. Do you expect not to return? Then I might think twice, indeed.

I'm not sure I would tell anyone before then, but more for your own sake-- if it takes longer than you think, will that make you uncomfortable? If you're pregnant while interviewing then of course tell them. But unless there are very special circumstances (project leader for a project where it would be very hard to change team mid stream) I wouldn't do so.

I don't know about Canada, but you might want to check the law/company policy about maternity leave since where I worked in Europe meant you had to have been employed for a set period of time before you were eligible for some kinds of maternity leave.
posted by frumiousb at 2:07 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would absolutely not say anything yet. You don't know how the timing will work out -- hopefully things go according to your plan, but they don't always, and if they don't you don't want to still be jobless.

First trimester can be rough, but it varies from woman to woman. You'll find your way through it and there's not a lot you can do right now to affect it, other than have a few backup plans to take the load off you and let you rest more - things like a house cleaner you can start having come regularly. And if it gets to the point that you feel like you can't hide it, because you're throwing up a lot or you can't possibly go to the group lunch because all food is nausea-inducing, that's fine. Tell a few people. Just don't plan an office baby shower yet. In my experience I stressed more about hiding it from (otherwise close-friend) coworkers than I would have telling them quietly and just dealing with the fallout if something happened.
posted by olinerd at 2:49 AM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

I didn't start a new job, but I spent much of my first trimester doing my job AND covering for a higher-up with a completely different set of responsibilities. It wasn't ever going to be a picnic, but I managed fine and didn't tell anyone until I was 14 weeks (and everyone was back in their regular jobs). YMMV of course, but I really felt mostly okay.

Definitely wait until it actually happens.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:15 AM on October 19, 2015

Right now, there is nothing to tell and your plans to have a family are not your potential employer's business. Once you are pregnant, months down the line, there is something to talk about. But why give them a reason to potentially discriminate when it hasn't even happened yet? I hope it happens as fast as you would like, but it's not at all unusual for it take months, or year/s, to fall pregnant and in the meantime you could be scaring off job opportunities. Keep it under your hat, get a great job, and if and when it happens, then you can tell. In the meantime it's business as usual and as far as any employer is concerned, you'll be turning up to work every day to do your job like everyone else. Best of luck on all fronts.
posted by Jubey at 3:15 AM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]

You don't owe them any information about your family planning nor do you need to feel guilty about taking mat leave even if it does end up being under a year from the time you start. If you want to know more about a company leave policy (e.g. do they provide a full salary top up overy the government mat leave payment) then find this out as part of an overall benifits discussion. I would not recommend specifically drawing attention to this though. If asked - which you shouldn't be - brush it off as something that may be a factor at some indeterminate future date.

As for the first trimester, this varies so much from woman to woman. For me I was in the middle of a couple major projects and had a bunch of travel. Other than more sleep and trying to sneak in a midday rest when possible it was OK. Until you are there you won't know how it will effect you and you should try not to worry too much about it.

Good luck on both fronts!
posted by MandaSayGrr at 4:35 AM on October 19, 2015

as everyone else says, you're being too nice. companies are not your friends. you get maternity leave as a legal right, not in return for behaving in a certain way.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:46 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do not tell them anything about trying to get pregnant. It is none of their business until it actually happens. If you do bring this up, it will just change the way they think of you - and it will make them question your judgement.

(I was in this situation about six years ago, in Canada, and I am very glad I just kept looking for a job and kept quiet about my plans. It ended up taking us two years to actually conceive, so I would've felt like an idiot bringing it up in the first place. And believe me, nobody wants to know this information. You will qualify for EI maternity benefits based on how many hours you've worked prior to your leave starting, so your future employer doesn't need to know anything until the time comes.)
posted by barnoley at 4:57 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

I agree with all those others who say you shouldn't disclose this until it is absolutely necessary. You have no idea how things will go or on which timeframe. What you do need to do is get a good job, with good people who value the talents that you bring to the environment. Remember, you have skills and value in the workforce. You have talents that someone needs right now. You most likely have financial goals that must be tended to and you can't let just the idea of pregnancy derail your focus. It's a tough time, you are making a life-changing choice and it might feel like you are walking around with a big "planning to be pregnant" sign over you. But you aren't. You have worth as an employee and you have big plans for your work results. Nobody wants to know your family planning status in an interview so don't share it. Good luck in all endeavors – it's going to be ok.
posted by amanda at 5:56 AM on October 19, 2015

You can plan all sorts of things but pregnancy isn't one of them. It will happen when it happens. Telling your future boss that you are trying is not necessary, because the dates of the actual pregnancy have not yet been determined. You also cannot plan how your body will respond to pregnancy. Some women breeze through it with nothing more than needed a nap on Sundays. Other women require much more. Each pregnancy is different. I wasn't able to work at all with my first one because of morning sickness but I breezed through the second and third pregnancies. Your best bet is too put the trying out of your mind and focus on finding a job that you will love. The baby will come when it is ready and the job will accommidate. You will be fine.
posted by myselfasme at 6:04 AM on October 19, 2015

My boss got hired here and got pregnant accidentally two months later. She took off time, had the baby, came back and is doing a fine job. You don't even know how long it will take to get pregnant; you don't need to feel guilt if you do so and take time off.
posted by emjaybee at 7:14 AM on October 19, 2015

If he or she is ethical, your future boss does NOT want to know that you are trying to conceive (or even that you are six weeks pregnant when hired or something) both because it might subconsciously color his or her hiring decision but also, for example, if you don't work out as a new hire, there would be no pregnancy discrimination ammunition if it wasn't known.

Also, don't feel bad about taking maternity leave if it is your right, but also don't assume that employers will give you more than legally necessary. I had a friend (in the US) who was pregnant when she started a new job and was all, "oh, worst case scenario, I take it unpaid..." Uh, no, worst case scenario (in this case) would have been six weeks of disability leave and termination if you didn't show up after that...
posted by Pax at 7:16 AM on October 19, 2015

I guess one thing you could avoid during the interviews itself, but eventually engage before taking the job, is figuring out the company's specific maternity policy, preferably following an offer.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:55 AM on October 19, 2015

as someone who hired many trying to get pregnant/already pregnant people (in the united states), i would absolutely not want to know this. it just puts me in a legal and ethical bind. new hires have all sorts of things that crop up but we try to make pregnant women or chronically ill people feel especially bad. fight against any shame you're feeling about this. workers becoming pregnant is part of having women in the workplace. just interview like normal and deal with pregnancy leave when that becomes an issue.
posted by nadawi at 8:12 AM on October 19, 2015

"The big question is how and when to talk to a prospective employer about my plans to start a family."

There is absolutely no reason you should have this conversation, ever, with your employer or potential employer. I understand your feelings of guilt and responsibility. Pregnancy discrimination is VERY real — there is a reason why potential employers are not legally allowed to ask about this.
posted by Brittanie at 8:25 AM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I guess one thing you could avoid during the interviews itself, but eventually engage before taking the job, is figuring out the company's specific maternity policy, preferably following an offer.

This isn't really relevant in Canada, unless you're referring to any top-up provided by an employer. As long as she has worked 600 hours in the year before giving birth (about 16 weeks full time), she will be eligible for a year of combined maternity and paternal leave through EI. It is much easier to qualify for EI maternity benefits in Canada than for FMLA in the United States.
posted by barnoley at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Uh, no, worst case scenario (in this case) would have been six weeks of disability leave and termination if you didn't show up after that...

True, depending on the company/location. But no amount of "warning" the future employer would change this other than not getting the job in the first place.
posted by amanda at 11:18 AM on October 19, 2015

I have gotten pregnant three times in the same week I was hired for another job. So, it happens. I industry is a lot more female-friendly than software, but even I think knowing my employees are "trying" is more information than I need. Unless you are in a completely indispensable role, your position can be adequately covered with minimal notice. Actually sharing the info comes off as unprofessional unless i have a strong personal relationship with the employee - which you wouldn't in an interview. I would be concerned about other unprofessional statements you may make to others. Plus, there is IS still discrimination against women of child-bearing age so I wouldn't give them a chance to discriminate.

Good luck on both the pregnancy and the job.
posted by saucysault at 11:19 AM on October 19, 2015

Don't leave before you leave.

Watch from about 11.40
posted by Dwardles at 12:50 PM on October 19, 2015

> This isn't really relevant in Canada, unless you're referring to any top-up provided by an employer.

I am-- OP may be looking at more than one position, and a top-up could be a factor in that decision.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:43 PM on October 19, 2015

I wouldn't mention it until you're out of the first trimester. I think it's socially and professionally acceptable to assume that until that point, it's private information, in part because you don't know what will happen with the pregnancy.

Also, it can take people a year or more to get pregnant, and then pregnancy itself lasts for nine months (aka, practically forever, at least if you ask someone 38 weeks along). "I might have to take a few months off a year-and-a-half or two years from now" is not really the kind of news an employer needs to know. You're not that different from anyone in that respect, as anyone could be injured or have a family member fall ill, leading them to need some personal or medical leave.

How to get through the first trimester is another story. You'll figure that out when the time comes -- be it a lunch nap, power snacks that perk you up, an early-morning arrival (if that's when you feel best).
posted by salvia at 10:34 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Bad social skills   |   help me pick book & movie gifts for teenage... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.