3 tips for starting a new role when pregnant or expecting

The Parentaly Team
Oct 18, 2023
Pregnant person talks on the phone

Employees are often nervous to tell their employer they’re expecting. This is the case no matter what your work status is, but it can be especially worrisome if you’re looking for or have already secured a new job or role.

And with mass layoffs happening across sectors, including for many expecting parents or even those on parental leave, we’ve received a ton of questions about when and how to disclose pregnancy.

Parentaly’s Head of Marketing Jenna Vassallo knows about this experience—she started a new role when she was six months pregnant. The mom of two sat down with Parentaly’s CEO Allison Whalen to discuss the different factors that go into starting a new role while expecting.

Read more to learn the three key takeaways from their chat.

Tip #1: It’s OK to wait for the offer

If you’re interviewing for a new job, Jenna believes the decision on whether to disclose your pregnancy depends on how far along you are.

If early, she recommends not sharing until an offer is in hand - or even after you start. If further along, sharing sooner might be better for both parties if your parental leave is around the corner.

“If I were eight or nine months pregnant…I would want to disclose it sooner, solely because I would be onboarding for maybe a week, two weeks, and then I would have to go out,” she said.

Allison generally agrees with this thinking, even though she once disclosed in a first round interview.

At the end of the day, this is a really personal decision and will depend on what feels right in your situation.

One factor to keep in mind: Coverage planning should begin roughly 2-3 months before an employee goes on leave, so aim to disclose with enough time to build a plan successfully.

Tip #2: Use parental leave to accelerate business goals

It makes sense that expecting employees or candidates are nervous to share their news, but it’s all about perspective. Employees going on leave are in the unique position to use it as an  acceleration tool.

“We kind of view parental leaves in our business as these important, immovable business milestones,” Allison said.

For instance, someone expecting can be more intentional and prioritize their big-ticket projects to meet deadlines and accomplish goals ahead of time. In fact, Allison recalled a time when she promoted a woman who was seven months pregnant to an enterprise sales role because she was the best person for the job.

The woman ended up closing so much business before she went out—proving that a parental leave start date can help get deliverables out the door faster.

Tip #3: Do the work to set your team up for success

Jenna was promoted from an individual contributor to a managerial leadership role at six months pregnant. This gave her the ability to wind down her work and get acquainted with her new team before she went out on leave, but looking back, she wishes she focused more of her coverage plan on her team’s initiatives:

“I was thinking, ‘I still have to do all these projects for my individual role’...but I wasn’t necessarily thinking about these three people on my team now having to learn how to report to someone new, all the changes they were going through,” she said.

Allison had a similar experience and overlooked including career development in her plan so her team could still grow while she was on parental leave.

“I think about it all the time, of how different it could be if I could go back and actually put together plans for them and think about making this a really positive experience for them,” she said.

Leave planning
Working parenthood
Work discussion

Want to hear more about the pros & cons of starting a new role while expecting?

Listen to the full episode of The False Tradeoff!