Having another baby? How to tell your au pair

by cv harquail on July 12, 2010

[First in a multi-part series on New Babies & Au Pairs: Sharing the Good News… ]

It’s great news for you and your partner when you discover that you’re having another baby — and it’s just the kind of news you want to share with your au pair thoughtfully.

201007102142.jpgHaving a baby changes things, and having another baby changes things even more. For your au pair, the addition of a new baby to the family changes her or his workload, relationship with child(ren), available emotional energy in the family, use of the house and even where she might sit in the family car (once you put in another car seat!). The new baby changes the balance of things in your home and your family, and requires your au pair to adjust.

What can you expect?

If your baby is expected while your au pair is still with your family, the new baby will definitely change the rhythms of her on-duty and off-duty hours. Even though your au pair won’t take care of the infant for the first three months, s/he will need to manage the chances in the house in a way that supports both you and your other child(ren). And, after three months, her work days will change dramatically if she begins to care for a baby and her other host kid(s).

And, if the host mom gets especially tired as her pregnancy progresses, or if she ends up on bedrest, this will also change your au pair’s days.

Plan ahead to anticipate questions

As you prepare yourselves to tell your au pair, think about what changes you can anticipate, and prepare to answer his or her questions (even if those questions aren’t voiced.) Also, prepare to share with your au pair your ideas for how you’d like things to be– even if you don’t know the details, you should know what kind of spirit you want everyone to have as the new baby joins the family.

When should you tell your au pair?

If your au pair already knew you were hoping for more kids, the announcement of a pregnancy may not come as a surprise. But, if it seems to your au pair to be ‘out of the blue’, it may take a bit of time for her or him to get used to the information and what the new baby’s arrival might entail.

Perhaps the worst case situation is if your au pair thinks that, for some reason, you were hiding this information from her or him. This seems to happen when families and au pairs match 4 months from the au pair’s arrival date but the approach of a baby is only announced once the au pair has arrived in your family.

Your au pair will need to adjust to the arrival of another host child, and s/he may also need to adjust beforehand if s/he doesn’t know much about how pregnancies can affect host moms and dads. For example, host moms get tired and cranky, host parents (moms and dads) might get uptight about medical issues, finances and family coordination, host kids might have difficulty with the change in their place in the family¬†¬†hierarchy, etc.

Things you au pair might not understand

201007102138.jpgOne of the things I’ve learned as a working mother and as a manager is that people who haven’t had kids or who haven’t had challenges getting pregnant assume that we can actually plan when we have kids. I remember my associate dean complaining that I should have timed my baby’s arrival so that it wasn’t right at the start of the semester– as though, after so many years, I was going to be picky? Your au pair may wonder why you “decided” to have a baby now, rather than waiting until s/he was nearer to the end of her/his year…

Another thing I’ve learned, a bit more painfully, is how hard it can be when you are expecting a baby or babies and then experience a miscarriage, “pregnancy loss”, still birth, or infant death. You and your family are all getting excited for the baby or babies, and then tragedy strikes. Again, people who haven’t had children, haven’t experienced miscarriages, and haven’t had their infants die have a hard time understanding what this means to a woman and to a family, and they can be oblivious or even downright un-supportive. So, if your au pair doesn’t ‘get it’ when you have a pregnancy-related tragedy, this can add additional friction and pain to an already horrible situation. You may hope to avoid this by waiting until you’re absolutely sure … as if there were such a thing as absolutely sure.

  • If you know you are pregnant and you are looking for your next au pair, when should you bring this up?
  • If you’re pregnant and have concerns about whether you’ll be able to carry the pregnancy to term, should you mention anything to your potential au pair?
  • What do your think your au pair needs to know, and when?

See Also:
Itty Bitty Babies: Ups & Downs of Au Pairs for Infants (and new Host Parents) by Guest Host Mom Dorsi

We’re Pregnant! from super-structure
pregnant pose from brapps

{ 36 comments }

BLJ Host Mom July 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm

We welcomed a new baby into our home after our first AP was with us for 4 months. When did we bring this up to our AP? BEFORE we got pregnant, we mentioned it in the host family letter. In our interview process we made sure that before a girl even talked with us, they would be comfortable watching 3 kids. Maybe we’d never get 3 kids, but we needed to be sure that just in case, she would be willing and able to care for all three.

A lot of things changed, and a lot of things were difficult once the baby did arrive. In some ways I was so fortunate to have a good Au Pair in our home and in other ways it made things very difficult. I’m glad this will be a series because I have a lot more to say on the topic, but for now, I’ll stick to the topic at hand, how and when to tell her.

After interviewing candidates for about a month, I had narrowed my choices down to 2. Then I found out I was pregnant. Both girls knew we wanted to be, and both said they were more than ready to take on three, including an infant. Interestingly enough, when I told them, the one who acted truly excited for us was the right girl! The other forgot to even say Congrats right away, and that was a big turn off for me. I knew I’d need someone who was looking forward to the arrival of a baby in the house, because that last month isn’t easy!

Another important thing to do if you are in this position is to tell the placement manager at the agency that you are hoping for another child. If you don’t have any children that will be under two when your AP arrives, she would be REQUIRED to leave the house when your baby is born if she isn’t infant qualified. Even if she is never to care for that baby, she can’t live in your house if you have a child under two. So if you think there is any chance of becoming pregnant, only look at infant qualified APs for your next match.

Darthastewart July 13, 2010 at 11:22 am

I had to let an AP go because I got pregnant after we matched, and just before she arrived in country. Sucked. (And yes, I count that one in my rematch list. ) But I think she found a good family for the rest of her year here.

StephinBoston July 12, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Wow CV, you must be reading my mind :-) This is very timely for us as we will be welcoming a surprise baby #3 in February next year. I was one of those who was already matched (and very happy with her match by the way) well in advance with a non infant qualified au pair since my other children are no longer infants. This situation doesn’t affect the au pair we currently have since she will be gone before the end of my first trimester. So as soon as I found out, and I’m serious, the night of the positive test, I freaked out about incoming au pair. I felt bad changing the contract on her and mostly, I was worried she wouldn’t be infant qualified. So in that night of insomnia, I got on the computer and wrote her a long email explaining the situation. It was therapeutic for me while I think I did a good job laying out the new situation to her. I explained that I totally understood if she was no longer interested in joining our family (this is a BIG change from a 4 and 6 year old who will be in school most of the time) and that I wouldn’t be offended if she wanted to rematch. If she was still excited to come spend the year with us, I needed to find out if she had the right experience. I heard from her bright and early the next morning, she was thrilled about the news, even more excited to join us, and so supportive. It melted my heart right there. She also had the hours so all we needed to do was to get the agency to document them. So I called them that morning and after being chastised by the placement manager for not telling them earlier (she later apologized and congratulated me when I told her I had found out less than 12 hours before on a Sunday night ;-), she said she would work with the new au pair’s home office to get it figured out. 4 days later, her hours were documented in the online system and we are good to go!
I think what I learned from this experience was that full disclosure and openness about the situation works well. Now everyone is excited about the AP arrival and the baby arrival 6 months later.

BLJ Host Mom July 12, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Steph,
That is AWESOME (in the end after some not awesome panic)! What a find, I bet she turns out to be a super AP. When does AP arrive? Our baby #3 came exactly 4 months after AP arrival.

StephinBoston July 13, 2010 at 8:48 am

BLJ Host Mom, yes is it, I feel like things happen for a reason, I truly feel blessed to have found this young lady. She comes at the beginning of September and baby is due, end of February so it will be 6 months after she comes.. To be honest, she’s not here yet but I’m secretly hoping she extends, I really do have a great feeling about her. Our first AP took care of our 2nd from 5 months until he was 2 and she was like a 2nd mom, really great experience.
When will you be returning to work? I’m still debating that, hard decision but I want a plan before I tell my manager about the pregnancy.

hOstCDmom July 12, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Not sure that is true, re being required to leave. I understand the State Dept rules, and our agency’s regs, that this AP cannot CARE for the baby if she is not infant qualified, but she could live in the house and care for the other children as long as another plan was in place for the infant (i.e. SAHM or day care, nanny etc.). Perhaps this differs by agency?

BLJ Host Mom July 12, 2010 at 9:17 pm

It might vary by agency. Both Cultural Care and Au Pair in America told me she could not be living in the home with a child under two regardless of whether she was caring for them. I assumed this has come up because of a baby being born and a non infant qualified AP who is not caring for baby because it is in the first three months.

But, I didn’t question the rule because for me it was a no-brainer to get an infant qualified AP since I did in fact want to have an infant during her time with us. But it is hard to say how strict they are on this rule if the AP really isn’t in charge of the baby. I still say, put it out there, at least with the agency, if there is a chance, better safe than sorry.

hOstCDmom July 12, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Funny – Cultural Care told me they couldn’t look after the baby, but could be here/look after the other kids. I was thinking this could be relevant if the baby was due in the (non-infant qualified) AP’s last 3 mos, when an AP couldn’t look after a baby in any case. Then one might not care if the AP was infant qualified or not.

PA host mom February 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I know this was written a while ago, but I’d really appreciate it if you could tell me who you spoke to at CC or when? I’m expecting my 3rd child approximately 10 weeks before my current AP’s year is up and CC is telling me that she’ll have to leave our house when the baby is born – even though I’ll be on maternity leave for 5 months and NO AP can care for a child under 12 weeks. I read the State Dept. regs and they state only that
1. No AP can care for a child under 12 weeks. and
2. An AP must be infant-qualified to be placed with a family who has children under the age of 2.
I read that as you cannot place/select an AP for you family who is not infant-qualifed after the 3 month mark, but as the AP is already placed and cannot care for the infant anyway (neither could one who is infant-qualifed) that the AP should be able to continue to care for the children she has been caring for all year. I’d love any suggestions anyone has for this.

Anna February 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I’ve encountered it, and it seems like a hard and fast rule. Number 2 on your list is read as “no au pair can be in current placement with a family who has children under 2”
As soon as there is an infant in the house, they take away non-infant qualified au pair. I’ve seen rematch candidates who were in rematch because of this rule.

That’s why I made sure to match with infant-qualified au pair when I was PLANNING to conceive. I told my agency that, and they opened up the infant-qualified pool for me even though I didn’t have an “under 2” child at that time. The baby ended up being born a month after the infant-qualified au pair left, LOL.

Dorsi February 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm

The actual wording is:

With a family that has an infant less than three months old unless a parent or other responsible adult is at home;

I had my first Au Pair start taking care of my 2 month old — I worked evenings and my husband would come home early on the days that I worked. I also would sleep in the next morning. She provided valuable child care that first month.

Dorsi February 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Also, the second half of the wording is:

Cannot be placed:

In homes with children under two years of age unless the au pair has at least 200 hours of documented infant childcare experience;

Can your current AP find 200 hours of documented experience with the under 2 set?? Can you make that work for her?

PA host mom February 10, 2011 at 8:22 am

What I find interesting is that hOstCDmom got a different interpretation of the rule (and one that fits more for my situation) than CC is giving me.
The reason we’re in this situation is because we had to rematch fast at the end of last summer – I had a week to find and get someone new before I returned to work as the AP we had could not drive and everyone the agency had been sending me could not get into the country in time. I had just found out about the pregnancy – but due to some concerns knew I’d be having CVS – and we didn’t know if the pregnancy would be able to continue. We rematched with an AP in-country who is not infant-certified, but we knew if all went well with the pregnancy that her time would be up prior to the 3 months and I’d be home with said infant for 5 months.
Re. her getting infant-certified – CC has brought that up and our AP is willing to do so – but in my mind that is still breaking the rule as the state dept. regs say they need to come to this country already certified and can’t change that once they’re here. Also, re. the “placed with a family…” my interpretation of that would be during the placement of an AP – not after placement has already occurred and doesn’t the prior rule (No AP can be placed with a family that has an infant less than three months old unless a parent or other responsible adult is at home) prove that since it doesn’t refer to infant-certification at all?

hOstCDmom February 10, 2011 at 9:39 am

Perhaps, offer to provide an affadavit that the AP will not provide any care whatsoever for the infant, will never be in the house (or elsewhere) alone with the infant, and will have no duties related to the infant. I believe it is possible to have a non-infant qualified AP for the older sibs of an infant if said infant is enrolled in FT daycare, for example. Basically, offer to put in writing (give affadavit, which you could even get notarized for good measure, but which really doesn’t convey any magic to the document but may give it some gravitas…)

Who is pushing this issue, LCC? Any chance that if you just stop talking about it and don’t mention anything more about the baby to the LCC, and AP also does the same, that LCC will just turn a blind eye? A don’t ask, don’t tell re whether/when the baby was born? This might work if AP is on the same page and wants to stay with you….

PA host mom February 10, 2011 at 10:34 am

Unfortunately the agency, not the LCC, is the one pushing it because I began my application for our next AP. I’ll try suggesting the affidavit and see where that gets me. To be honest, I could accept being home and responsible for all 3 kids myself until we get a new AP at the end of June (not a great situation, but doable) – but I don’t feel the situation is fair to our current AP. She’ll only have up to 3 months left of her year and has her vacation planned for during the time – so who would take her? She came to us in rematch, which was not her fault (the family was actually dropped by the agency) and we were told we were her last chance for a family because the 2 weeks was almost up. I hate to see her lose her deposit when none of this is her fault!

Chev July 12, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I thought the rule was that AP’s couldn’t be left alone with a child under 3 months but that we could still look after them. I arrived at my family when the boys were 6 weeks and looked after them right away. My HM was home on maternity leave until they were 4 1/2 months old but by the end of my first week there i was looking after them while she caught up on sleep so she could take care of them during the awake parts of the night.

BLJ Host Mom July 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

Chev,
That is correct. You can care for them, but not be alone with them. Giving mom naps are a perfect example of what is aloud before 3 months. And you were obviously infant qualified, so there was no issue there. I didn’t have my AP help with the baby too much during my maternity leave because he was so fussy and because she wasn’t quite comfortable with him when he was tiny. Plus I felt that my other children really needed some individual attention from her. I did have her hold the baby at times while I tried to give them that, but he really wasn’t the easiest baby to settle. She did get it and is now excellent with him.

Steph – I went back to work at 3 months.

Poor AuPair July 21, 2010 at 9:51 am

I was thinking the same, I was here when the babies (twins) born so I take care of them since they came from the hospital.
I have usually someone with me when the mom slept, but when was the grandparents I always get mad cuz they hold them and I had to change the diapers ALL the time and made the formula. I had problems with them cuz they (grandparents) didn’t like how I take care of them, they were 4 pounds each one, and they always complain. Have to say that my host mom always said I was doing great, but still it was difficult heard someone complaining all the time and not helping you. Plus I have to take care of the other 2 kids. I wole up at 7 to get ready the other kids for school, and offer stay away up to 12 or 1am with the babies and the cousin who stay here to help, so the mom can sleep. After 10 months work 10 hours a day is just an illusion in this house, but when the twins look at me and smile, is priceless!

HRHM July 13, 2010 at 8:07 am

When to tell is a pretty touchy question for a lot of people. Statistics say that over 35% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. For some of us, that number is more like 80% (sorry if that is TMI). So my practice has been to withhold the actual information until around the 14th week. I make it no secret that we would love more kids, but I don’t actually come out and tell them that I’m pregnant. So far, this has been a best-practice for us, because I would have then had to explain the miscarriages and really don’t feel close enough to our APs to want to share that pain with them.

I’m not for trying to hide the information, I just think it can be premature to announce it immediately.

Hula Gal July 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

We did not share that we were pregnant with our now 22 month old until all of the testing was done to be sure the baby was healthy. We do indicate that we would like more children and we make sure that they are ok with babies and are under 2 certified but we do not go on too much about it. We are currently trying for #2 and it has taken more than 10 months of trying with no success so it gets disheartening to start actively planning when the months keep going by. We have gotten all of the testing done and I’ve been to the doctor several times and bought an expensive fertility monitor and lost weight in case you were going to suggest any of those things. ;-)

Anna July 13, 2010 at 9:57 am

HRHM,

PPKS.

I have had many miscarriages. I have been pregnant at the end of our first au pair’s term with us (when she left I was about 12 wks along), and I didn’t tell her (she figured out on her own turns out, but she was very respectful of our privacy and didn’t let on that she knew). I didn’t tell our next au pair who came, but she was already infant qualified – our youngest was just under 2 at that time. I did tell the new au pair when I was 16 wks, but then I lost that pregnancy at 20 wks.
One rematch later and another (disaster) au pair in our house, I had another mis at 10 wks, needless to say she didn’t know about the pregnancy nor about the miscarriage; in fact I stayed up late to bake her a birthday cake the day I came back from the surgery.
With our next match, we let the agency and the au pair know that we are planning a pregnancy and she was infant qualified. I did become successfully pregnant during her year, and I let her know at 6 wks, because she was great, I felt close to her and wanted her to know and understand if I might behave differently, because needless to say that was going to be a nerve-wracking pregnancy for me (and it was). She left about a month before the baby was due; of course the new au pair knew that a baby was coming shortly after she arrives.

Should be working July 13, 2010 at 2:18 pm

::racking my brains trying to figure out what ‘PPKS’ means::

Jan July 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I waited until around 20 weeks to tell anyone I was pregnant. I had two miscarriages under 10 weeks so I’m a little shy about sharing my good news. I didn’t tell one au pair that I was pregnant during the interview because I felt that it was a little too early in case something happened. I did tell her after we had matched, but she had already told me that she was okay with a newborn.

Anon for this July 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm

I’m expecting a new babe in March. We told our AP almost as soon as we knew. We still haven’t told our parents. I did it because I didn’t want to be secretive/vague with her — I have doctor’s appointments, morning sickness, etc that are a bit obvious. And if something were to go badly with this pregnancy, that would be difficult to conceal as well. It seems like it might take a lot of emotional energy to keep it from the AP.

We will have a new AP in January, so it is well timed to be a part of our matching process (the pregnancy will be far enough a long that there is a reasonable assurance in the outcome). It is also nice timing — the current AP can share the ride with us, but it does not change her job description or plans.

StephinBoston July 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Congrats! Here’s to a happy and healthy pregnancy!

massaupairmom July 14, 2010 at 3:38 pm

We found out we were pregnant with our third just before our first au pair’s arrival. We knew that we were considering a third, so I was careful to match with an au pair who had experience taking care of three young children. We decided not to tell her right away, mainly because I didn’t want to overwhelm her during her first few weeks (you think this is challenging, just wait till number three arrives!). After that, the right time just never seemed to present itself. Finally, I told her when I was about four months. She was genuinely thrilled to share in the experience with us.

CrazyLady July 14, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Our first au pair was with us when we found out I was pregnant with #3. It was towards the end of her year (she was done in Nov and I wasn’t due until June), but I put off telling her for a bit, but I realized I kept nodding off and taking naps that I didn’t normally take, so I apologize for my lethargy and fessed up. She was so happy for us and actually sounded disappointed that she wouldn’t be here when I had the baby. We had already matched with our next au pair, so I was kind of worried about what would happen. She was “under 2” qualified because I had a one year old when we matched but she had also agreed to come to a house with 2 kids, not 3 and not one with an infant (though she did actually have a good bit of experience with an infant). She had also already agreed to come to us as a regular au pair instead of an “elite” (a program APC used to have, that I don’t believe they have any more, but would have entitled her to more $). I was afraid to tell her, but I knew I had to, and she was actually really excited for us. She was amazing when I knocked on her door at 4 am and told her that we were headed to the hospital and when she got the girls ready to come and see me and the baby at the hospital a few hours after he was born (she came, too). As someone else mentioned, she was so great for giving my other 2 the attention they needed while I was tending to the baby. This was in ’07. She got married last year and just had her first baby 2 months ago- she named her after our oldest child. =)

Anon for this July 14, 2010 at 10:06 pm

This made me cry. But then, I’m pregnant.

StephinBoston July 15, 2010 at 8:52 am

Had me tearing up too! Must be the pregnancy hormones. To me, that is what an au pair relationship should be, I know not everyone is looking for this kind of closeness but that’s what I feel most comfortable with. Sounds like you had a gem!

AZ HM July 15, 2010 at 1:58 am

Congrats to all of you APmoms who are expecting!!!

Our surprise #3 pregnancy was the impetus to us actually getting our first AP :-). Our first AP didn’t have any experience with infants, but was very qualified with toddlers and preschoolers (our other two were 2.5 and 4.5 when the baby was born). I didn’t think our AP would have much infant responsibility for at least half of her year…so her past experience was a good match for our family. She was here for 4.5 months before the baby was born and then I took a 3 month maternity leave and worked remotely from home after that. Our AP initially worked with the “older” children and then I slowly gave her more and more responsibilities with the baby. I was there and could oversee and provide support, instruction, etc…. Before our AP arrived, I envisioned her staying with us for 2 years for the stability, etc… In the end, she didn’t want to extend with us (and we were really interested in finding someone new). But I thought that year went well.

Our second AP arrived when baby was 7.5 months old and she has been a better match for lots of reasons….but one reason is that she had experience and confidence with babies. We are extending with our 2nd AP, which I’m really excited about…she’ll be able to see our baby all the way to 2.5 years.

Maybe this will come up in the upcoming posts…but I LOVE that we’ve been able to use our AP to give us unique, special times with one or two of our children while our AP watches the other(s).

TERRI July 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

It should be noted that to be infant qualified, there are not strict measures dictating that title. If someone has cared for even ONE child under the age of two they are considered infant qualified. Even if the child was 23 months and they only took care of the child ONE time. Yes, CCAP did in fact confirm this to me. And no, I do not agree that it qualifies someone to care for an infant.

Host Mommy Dearest July 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I am pretty sure that one day of sitting for a child under 2 does not make you infant qualified – that’s not what you are saying is it? I thought to be infant qualified an AP needed to have a certain number of hours caring for a child under 2. The hours can come from a daycare setting too I think.

NewAPMama July 23, 2010 at 5:18 pm

As with the troll post regarding the amount of hours an aupair can work, and how they are treated, I think certain people on coming on this website with the intent to cause trouble and stir things up. It would not even be logical to think that an aupair would be infant qualified after one time of taking care of an infant.

Theresa July 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm

AuPairCare requires (and I’m pretty sure it’s a State Department requirement) 200h caring for a child under 2, so sitting for a child one time does not make an au pair infant qualified.

Allie October 10, 2010 at 6:32 pm

I think my au pair mom is pregnant but I’m honestly not even sure how to ask. Should I even ask?

MommyMia October 10, 2010 at 10:22 pm

I think it depends on how close you feel you are to her and what other types of personal topics you’ve felt comfortable discussing with her previously. If she’s starting to show (you’ve noticed a “belly bump” and are sure it’s not just weight gain!) and you’ve calculated that the baby might be born during your time with the family, you might want to bring it up – if you’re not infant qualified, then that might be a deciding factor. I think if I were you, I’d wait a month or two and just be really observant and extra nice and supportive if she’s feeling sick every day or acting wacky. Maybe she’s just been afraid to tell you because she’s afraid it will upset the balance and routine you have going right now?

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