You know the culture of your workplace better than anyone, so it’s important to be thoughtful about how you’ll announce your pregnancy (or your partner’s pregnancy). In order to initiate the conversation about leave, you may have to provide a maternity leave letter
in which you state your intentions to human resources. However, it’s usually advisable to have a face-to-face conversation with your boss to give him or her a head’s up first. It’s also a good idea to talk with your boss before sharing the news with coworkers.
Timing can be important: the sooner you can work with your boss and coworkers to create a plan, the more time you’ll have to work out the details of how your workload will be covered in your absence.
Before your meeting, spend some time thinking about how long you’d like to take off from work after your baby arrives and research your company’s maternity leave or paternity leave policy. If there’s a policy in place, consider if it feels like a fit. For instance, if your company offers eight weeks of paid leave but you want more time, you may want to consider taking more unpaid time through FMLA. Or, you may be able to use stored vacation time or personal days to add to your paid leave.
During the meeting, be open and honest about what you’ve researched and what your preferences are. Then, listen to what your manager has to say. Be prepared with solutions for how the company’s objectives can be met in your absence. Can you work ahead on some things? Can you create a temporary hybrid role? Work together and get creative. If your manager agrees, it’s a good idea to get the agreement in writing.
If you can’t easily find a workable solution, you may need to negotiate and outline some of your reasons for taking time away from work such as healing from labor, bonding with your child, reducing the likelihood of postpartum depression when given the chance to care for your mental health, etc… You might also be able to work out a more flexible schedule where you work from home for a portion of the weeks after baby’s birth or split the time with your partner.