Gone are the days when pregnancy was viewed as something to be disguised, when pregnant women were encouraged to avoid socialising and not exert themselves and when birthing choices simply didn’t exist. Over the past hundred years, pregnancy has evolved from a necessary inconvenience to a process of self-actualisation. From ultrasound DVDs to plaster casts of your growing stomach; from CDs of whale sounds set to classical music to daily emailed updates of your foetus’ likely development, there is now no aspect of pregnancy that is not fully examined.
Nevertheless, there is a time and a place for all this examination and - despite the rise in discussing every aspect of our lives via blogging, tweeting and Facebooking – sharing the finer details of your pregnancy at work is still a definite no-no.
“Although this may be the most exciting thing you've done, particularly first time around, no-one is really very interested in hearing details about your pregnancy, unless they ask,” says Anna Musson, director of The Good Manners Company. “Remember that other people are still really focused on themselves and their work. They will respect your dignified pregnancy over one that everyone hears about through the office.”
Oversharing, as a trend, is on the rise. So much so that this year the Oxford English Dictionary added both “overshare” and “TMI” (too much information) to its pages. (Overshare, by the way is defined as the tendency to “reveal an inappropriate amount of detail about one’s personal life”). In fact it’s a word that might be worth taping to your work computer once you have that positive pregnancy test!
Because it’s not just inappropriate, it’s also potentially embarrassing for others. “I had the bad luck to be pregnant at the same time as one of my colleagues” says Janine, a banking specialist. “She was a chronic oversharer and was way too eager to describe every single physical and emotional detail of her pregnancy, not just with me but with everyone else in the office. If her boobs were sore, we’d know about it. If she had a new food craving, we’d know. If her feet were swollen, if her skin was itchy, if her nose was blocked – we knew about it all. And because I was pregnant as well she would keep asking me, usually in front of our co-workers, if I was feeling the same way. One day she asked me, in a team meeting, how many times a day I had to wee. Like I want to share that with the office!”
"Try to avoid pregnancy related grunts, groans and sighs".
So in the modern age where natural reticence – and maybe common sense - has been diminished, where should the pregnancy lines be drawn at work? “More than anything, don’t bring out details,’ says Anna Musson. “When colleagues do ask how the pregnancy is going, just politely smile and say great, thank you. No details.” Anna also suggests the following tips for maintaining a professional distance at work:
No comments. Avoid making comments in the workplace that refer to your pregnancy. Things like: "early lunch, eating for two" or "shhh – the baby is sleeping"
Go easy on the noises, too. Yes your tummy might be tight and your ligaments might be sore, but try to avoid pregnancy related grunts, groans and sighs every time you move – not to mention rubbing your stomach incessantly.
Definitely no birth plan! “Your birth plan is off limits in the workplace,” says Anna. “Talk about it over lunch with other mums, but single people and most men should not be privy to this very personal information.”
Put yourself in others' shoes. While pregnancy can be all-absorbing, it’s impossible to know who around you might be having challenges conceiving, and your enthusiasm can seem insensitive.
Bottom line: no matter how enthralling your developing pregnancy is to you and your family, professional respect is easy to lose. “The grossest thing a colleague ever shared about their pregnancy? In two words: vaginal discharge,” says another worker – and parent - Sam. “I nearly vomited. I don't need to know that much detail about someone's bodily fluids.”
- wee, frequency, duration etc
- sore boobs, boob sizes
- stretch marks
- weight gain
- cravings - unless asked
- pet names for the feutus
Do you know an oversharer? Comment in the EB forums.