Dealing with the “Pregnancy Reveal” Problem at Work
Although working women are hesitant to tell their employers about their pregnancies, employers want to ensure that the pregnant employees they insure receive quality preconception and early prenatal care. What can a responsible business do to encourage a healthy start to pregnancy if they are unable to target particular individuals with information and resources?
1. Encourage overall health. Both women and men can have healthy children because healthy parents are more likely to do so. All employees of childbearing age will benefit from participation in corporate wellness programs that promote a healthy diet (with good food options in the cafeteria as well), exercise, quitting smoking, managing chronic illnesses, and getting regular medical and dental checkups.
2. Include details on the advantages of preconception wellness and early prenatal care in regular healthcare correspondence to all of your employees. Encourage women of childbearing age to understand that good basic healthcare includes taking certain precautions to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Simple actions that can be encouraged as part of general healthcare screening include maintaining good overall health, learning about family genetics and health history, and recommending folic acid supplements to women of childbearing age. Since 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, including these three recommendations in routine healthcare for all women of childbearing age can prevent a lot of issues before they even arise. The information should be widely disseminated because two out of the three issues affect both men and women.
3. Support community-wide and internal prenatal education initiatives. Prior to discovering a positive pregnancy test, many future parents are incredibly ignorant about healthy pregnancy. Providing lunch-and-learns or other learning opportunities within the company can be a low-pressure way to spread the word. BirthNetwork National or other independent birth networks with chapters in numerous communities offer details on healthy pregnancies and deliveries. Women may be less reluctant to disclose their pregnancies at a workplace event if you support those nonprofits and encourage your staff to attend meetings and events.
4. Be a family-friendly employer. Women are reluctant to disclose their pregnancy primarily out of concern that it will have a negative impact on their career. Creating family friendly supports, including extended maternity leave, on-site childcare, supportive breastfeeding policies, emergency home care options, flex-time, telecommuting, off-ramps and on-ramps and other such policies help all workers to adequately balance the demands of life and work. These kinds of regulations take away the need for women to conceal their pregnancies from their employers in the first place.
Even if they are unable to provide specific employees with specialized prenatal information, employers can still assist their employees in having a healthy start to pregnancy. Naturally, healthy pregnancies result in healthier mothers and children, which lowers the employer’s medical expenses. There’s no need to wait for the “reveal” when there are so many opportunities for health promotion that benefits all workers, pregnant or not.