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Baby subterfuge in the office

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One of the upsides of being female in a predominantly male profession is that men are much less likely to pick up on the tell-tale signs of early pregnancy.

If, however, there are any other women on the team - and that includes receptionists and part-time librarians - concealment requires advanced subterfuge. The most effective technique is to plan your life with sufficient precision to be able to implement a long-term strategy well in advance of conception. If you are so much as thinking about embarking on parenthood within the next year or so you may want to develop, or at least hint at, either a serious drug habit or, better still, an eating disorder.

That way nobody will bat an eyelid when you start dashing to the loo every few minutes and indulging in random vomiting fits.

Abandon any pretensions to sartorial elegance. Develop instead a preference for illfitting clothes (baggy, rather than tight), elasticated waistbands and outfits which are clearly borrowed from somebody else. Indulge in rapid weight gain.

Whatever your tipple of choice, switch to gin and tonic now. That way, people are less likely to notice when you start nursing a glass of mineral water with ice and lemon.

If it is already too late, I can only suggest that you avoid your colleagues and, in particular, after-work drinking.

Unless you have a convincing religious or cultural excuse, a request for a non-alcoholic drink will invariably be greeted with a cry of: 'Are you pregnant?'Claim that you are still suffering from a particularly heavy bout of drinking on the previous night. But remember, you can never get away with this on two consecutive nights.

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