Many women holding that positive Home Pregnancy Test meet intense pressure to tell others who’d feel left out otherwise. Others feel great pressure to zip their lips until the calendar hits 12 weeks.
**Spoiler alert** (since that’s what this post is about, right?): Based on some hyper-scientific and extensive research, I’ve concluded that the best time to announce your pregnancy is…whenever YOU feel like it! No explanations, defenses, or peer-reviewed supporting hypotheses necessary.
I see nothing wrong with waiting to spill the news of pregnancy… even up to the moment of birth! If a woman doesn’t want to tell anyone about her pregnancy, I wish her influences (society, family, what-have-you) wouldn’t oblige her to believe she must do so. No woman should feel the need to inform others of her pregnancy before she’s ready.
Likewise, she also needn’t wait the standard 12 weeks to share her news if she feels like she’s unwillingly fighting an invisible muzzle.
The first time around, we waited until nearly the close of the first trimester to inform the general public that we were expecting. This time we tried something a bit different.
So what happens when you publicly announce your pregnancy just several weeks (or sooner) after learning about it yourself? From my recent experience, I know you get a lot of joyful congratulations and well-wishing… but also a sense of some others’ trepidation. And doubt.
(But who could doubt what knowledge lies behind these smiles? 😀 )
Why You Might Want to Delay a Declaration
Many people tend to feel uncomfortable upon hearing a bun-baking declaration earlier than they expect.
Why is this? Do they fear for the seemingly so-fragile woman? Maybe for the apparently so-fragile baby? Do they fear not knowing how they should react in the event of bad news potentially quick to follow? Do they feel like awareness of a pregnancy before the physical sign of a baby bump (the marker of “publicity”) makes it too personal? Does it feel in some way like a kind of unwanted solicitation (for an emotional response, a promise of a swiftly mailed “Congratulations!” card, or applause, or something else terribly inconvenient…)?
Now for those who wait: Is it superstition, science-based, cultural — where did the idea of waiting until second trimester to announce a pregnancy come from?
A bit of a tease, I’ll admit I have no leads to those answers (feel free to leave a comment with your own theories!).
But as a “waiter” myself once upon a time, I did come up with a few reasons why some new parents wait:
1). Fear of experiencing miscarriage (or facing the stigma that comes with it).
It’s been shown that 80% of miscarriages occur in the first trimester and one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. On a Discovery Health special, an OB/GYN said after a heartbeat is detected, the risk of miscarriage decreases to about 5% – 7%. Women who struggle with morning sickness are shown to be significantly less likely to miscarry.
Many women have a history of recurrent miscarriages, so the hesitance to announce before feeling “safe” is definitely understandable.
Valerie Williams wrote on Mommyish:
“I know this opinion may be unpopular, but I do think the risk of miscarriage is a very good reason to wait to share the news. Sure, you can argue that you will want the support of your friends and family but I don’t think you can know how you will feel about a miscarriage until it happens. You may want to be left alone to grieve in private but will be struggling with how to retract your Facebook pregnancy announcement and to break the sad news to everyone. You may not want everyone prying into what is really an intensely personal and difficult time in your life.”
2). Sensitivity toward those suffering from fertility problems.
Guilt, shame, pity, sorrow… all kinds of emotions might get stirred up with the blessed news of a soon-to-be-occupied nursery, when a newly-pregnant woman’s best friend or sister or favorite coworker recently endured a miscarriage, or has lamented that she knows infertility like the back of her hand. The “bad news bearer” might then decide to find a way to break the ice more gently, and skating that terrain gracefully will of course take time.
3). Avoiding a slew of unwanted advice and questions.
Most people can already strongly suspect whether or not they’ll face the dreaded “boundary-pushers.” In fact, some may even have a specific name or two in mind that single-handedly plays into the decision to put the brakes on their pregnancy announcement. The “Bubble of Peace” is crucial at a different time for different women during pregnancy — for some, this is it.
4). Risk of consequences if employer finds out.
Pregnancy discrimination is real, friends. Turns out there’s a LOT to consider when it comes to telling the boss about your pregnancy, from timing the news to avoid threatening a possible promotion, to giving management time to plan for long-term projects and your maternity leave, to having a good explanation for your increasingly frequent bathroom breaks (read more about announcing your pregnancy at work here). If I didn’t work for myself, I’d probably wait as long as possible to deal with these unavoidable headaches, too.
5). Prolonging privacy.
More time to enjoy the secret news with just your partner… More time to cherish personal hopes and dreams about your baby, those wishes and fantasies closest to your heart, before everyone and their sister start making guesses… More time to plan the cutest announcement ever, one that’ll sweep your friends off their feet… Just — most importantly — more time.
6). The notion of being “kinda-sorta” pregnant.
There seems to be this idea that a woman becomes “increasingly pregnant” with time. I know, kind of ridiculous as we know one is either fertilized or simply not, but also kind of biologically true as pregnancy hormones do increase rapidly in the earliest days — still, just hear me out.
I get this impression:
It’s as if in the early weeks she’s acknowledged as “maybe” pregnant (it could swing one way or the other), maybe it’ll “stick” and maybe it won’t. It’s not real for anyone else until they can listen to the heartbeat themselves, at least not real like it is for the new mother. It’s not real until the bump starts to show. Early pregnancy is an imagined state; a woman isn’t pregnant with a baby. S/he’s an “it,” a “that” instead of a “who,” you see — a thing. In-limbo.
If the woman miscarries before fetal viability, it’s not like she was far enough along to be “really” pregnant. Certainly not with all the emotions and attachments that would come with the kind of baby who takes up an acceptable amount of space on the ultrasound screen.This unfortunate attitude neglects to empathize with the reality of pregnancy that befell the mother (because she was one for however briefly) and fails to respect the massive succession of changes that occurred to make her insides into another being’s whole world.
If she suffered an ectopic or molar pregnancy, her loss may be seen as forgettable, ignorable, meaningless.
So, those are a few prevalent attitudes.
Understandably, some women may fear facing others’ views of what’s happening to them as “not real enough yet” and wish to protect their own knowledge of this falsity.
7). Right to reticence and ownership of body.
Despite individual perspectives and triggers, pregnancy will remain a natural state of being (as is not being pregnant), rather than a unique condition to be sedated before tangible validity of a round belly, then cured through emergent proof of the baby from its watery home.
And it’s certainly not a state justifiably censurable by anyone but the woman herself, should she choose to plead the fifth on every aspect of her body and baby, so help her God.
Why I Didn’t Wait 12 Weeks
Not in any particular order, here are the reasons why I felt compelled to tell sooner:
1). I want to celebrate with loved ones for as long as possible.
This is our second baby, but what if s/he’s our last too?
2). I needed support earlier.
Last time, The Designated Dad was the only person I really trusted to help and support me through pregnancy, which at times became an overwhelming expectation for both of us. I have a “three-nager” to take care of now, so the need for help has multiplied. I finally get how it truly takes a tribe to “make” a mother out of a woman not only the first time, but again with each subsequent baby to keep her sane and reassured.
3). I wanted advice sooner.
Some things need attention immediately. For example: The first time around, I was a pescetarian; now I’m a vegan and I have no experience with vegan prenatal vitamins or pregnancy diet options and so on. Certain vitamins are extremely important in the earliest weeks and I needed to reach out quickly not only to decide upon the best options for me but also where to find them locally. I’ve made a lot of expert connections in the birth community over the past three years; naturally, reaching out to them would give away my prego position.
4). A uterus grows ahead of a baby.
I’d rather not face concerned queries about the strange “hernia” I’ve developed under my navel when really there’s a baby and expanding uterus rounding out my belly (specifically, poking through an unhealed portion of my diastasis recti like a gorilla’s knuckle). Because, awkward.
5). Withholding information and lying makes me uncomfortable.
The time came for me to start looking into midwife options, and I needed to turn to the aid of my local pregnancy/birth groups — where I happen to know more than a few people in real life. Turns out you can only ask a question “for a friend” so many times before people start to wonder…
6). I’m not ignorant to the “possibilities.”
I know that bad or unexpected things can happen, which rings true for anything in life. From prior experience I know I won’t feel “safer” at 14 weeks along than I do now. We simply walk the path life paves for us and trust it leads us where we need to be. For now, I’m here, and I’d like my loved ones to know where I’m at.
I had a miscarriage scare with my first pregnancy. I hemorrhaged at five months due to a heavy subchorionic hematoma bleed. I was devastated to believe it was the end. The heartbreak I felt as we made our way to the ER was shattering. Thankfully, everything turned out okay… But if the unimaginable had happened, personally I would’ve wanted immediate support rather than taking the time to first explain to people: “So I WAS pregnant, and now I’m not…” I’d have felt deeply hurt if the topic was then avoided as if it never happened, as to them it’d never been a “known reality.”
7). I connect with my favorite people more frequently on my phone than face-to-face.
I don’t see my friends as regularly as I’d like in person. We’re all so busy with careers and kids and pets and life, and that’s cool — but that means if I wait to tell them important news when I can make eye contact, I’m going to need to schedule it like two months in advance.
I’d like to also note that sharing the news sooner doesn’t mean (in my life at least) than a greater amount of unwanted attention should be expected. It’s not like I now field a hundred calls and comments per day about our impending family addition. Everyone is busy living (and sometimes social-media sharing) their own lives, just as I am with mine.
And I don’t think any of my friends or family felt particularly strongly about knowing we’re an expectant family of four, say, three weeks ago versus three weeks from now.
8). Acknowledgment of the child and understanding of maternity.
An announcement of a second child is just that. This time, the woman is already and will forever be a mother. So this kind of announcement celebrates the existence of the child rather than the making of a maiden-to-mother, additionally.
When a woman gives birth to her first baby, people say, “You’re a mother now!” Before then, she’s a mother “to-be.” Sure, caring for a child on the outside is much different than caring for one who never leaves the physical space where she holds her gut instincts. But to say a woman who never experienced a live birth, despite feeling new life within her, was never a mother… is to say you’ve decided for her what makes her a mother, when really only she can know.
I believe we’re mothers of as many babies as have lived in our wombs, whether or not they had the chance to see the world outside.
I’m already a mother, and so I felt like waiting to announce this new being would serve very little point in this regard. I wanted my baby to be acknowledged as a person. I thought, “Let the child exist. Let the child be known. Let’s make it okay to acknowledge and understand not only the mother, but her baby as well.”
9). Pregnancy is always between a mother and her child — nothing can change that.
No one can experience a pregnant woman’s journey as she feels it. No one but her can feel her baby wriggle from the inside. No one else can recognize the tiny hiccups through internal vibrations. No one can feel her baby drop and grind his head against pelvic bone as she walks (waddles). Or can share dreams with this baby in the moonlit hours. While she’s pregnant, no one else is ever alone with her baby.
10). I like overseeing the information flow.
No matter who knows I’m pregnant, The Designated Dad and I will always be the only valid sources of knowledge about it. I feel like being able to manage and oversee the flow of information myself puts me in control. It’s up to me to decide when and how that information is delivered.
To me, announcing early or late makes little difference in that regard — what matters is *I* made that decision.
As a private but careful person, announcing my pregnancy when I felt like it didn’t strike me as trigger-happy. The decision warranted a great deal of my thought.
As for oversharing, I must say that for all I share, there’s a lot I don’t.
The *fact* that I’m pregnant is far from the most personal, vulnerable thing about my life. Particular details about my pregnancy, perhaps… but the mere fact of its energetic presence in the realm of this world, not so much.
11). Choosing optimism.
My first pregnancy was relatively private and cloaked in many ways. I didn’t do the sunset maternity photos and weekly bump selfies and all of that. Back then I thought, “How saccharin! How cliche! How contrived!”
But really, I was afraid. I feared not fitting into the world of “the mother,” a world where all those things exist as symbols, as rites of passage. I feared failing at all the things “good moms” do, or I at least feared hating those things and wanting to abandon ship.
In nine whole months, it was a great leap of courage for me just to share a few ultrasound photos. I never even finished writing my birth story or bothered reading it to anyone.
Self-conscious and guarded, I felt the need to strongly protect my baby by hiding. I chose to wear clothes that didn’t accentuate the evidence of my pregnant figure. I was afraid of doing things “wrong” — of being judged or compared. I didn’t feel empowered enough to ensure the caregiving “authorities” upheld my choices.
The bottom line is, I was not as open to the experience as I could’ve been. And in turn, the experience was not as open to me as I’d have liked.
Though I’m still learning how to be comfortable inviting others to know (in real-time) more about my life, I don’t want to regret what would be a repeated fear-based decision to hide for as long as possible.
So, I started with the pregnancy announcement.