When should you first disclose your pregnancy to your supervisor? There is no single right answer but here are some considerations that may affect your decision. Many women hesitate to announce their pregnancy early because of the very real possibility of a miscarriage. On the other hand, the first trimester of your pregnancy may make you physically unable to do some of the things you could do before pregnancy such as stay up all night on call or get through an outpatient visit without vomiting. If early pregnancy is physically debilitating, you may need to tell one of your supervisors earlier than you had planned.
Waiting until the third trimester is also challenging for different reasons. Your clinical duties, call responsibilities, and academic obligations may be scheduled up to one year in advance. If you leave your planning to the last three months of pregnancy, you risk not having enough time to comprehensively plan the coverage you will need. If you are planning on having genetic testing to screen for fetal anomalies, you might wait until you have those results back before you meet with your supervisor. Therefore, for most medical students and physicians, we would recommend beginning your maternity leave negotiations with your immediate supervisor sometime early in the second trimester.
Also consider how you want to share your pregnancy news with work colleagues. It is very natural to want to share the news with your colleagues who are also friends. It may be best if your supervisor hears the news directly from you and not indirectly through the office grapevine. Because a female physician’s maternity leave has the potential to have a direct negative impact on the work load of other doctors in the group, be aware that not everyone may react favorably to your announcement.