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Congratulations on the big news! No matter whether this is your first pregnancy or your tenth, I’m sure it is exciting. And you are wondering when and how to spill the pregnancy beans.
Let’s review the pros and cons of revealing it at each stage of pregnancy and tips on how to share it with friends coping with infertility.
Telling during your early stage of pregnancy
Some moms, and arguably some dads too, simply cannot a secret. It is way too exciting. Family and friends will share their happiness with you and you may have a distinctive feeling of freedom. Because, telling the truth sets you free, right? From now on, you do not have to hide anymore. Everybody will understand why you are so tired, why you pass on that delicious glass of wine… or why it seems like you go to the bathroom every 15 minutes! Also, now you can rely on family and friends to help you in case of need. And their support may become extremely handy. Not only they can lend you a hand you with day-to-day chores, such as picking up your other kids from school or shopping for you, but also being by your side during rough times. One mom said: “One of the biggest reasons for announcing my pregnancy early to close friends is that if the unspeakable were to occur, I would need their love and support.”
Telling at the end of the first trimester
Many women prefer to keep things private in the event of a loss. The risk of miscarriage drops dramatically by the end of the first trimester (at around 10 to 12 weeks). Also, by the end of the first trimester, your bump probably shows (see my post about early signs of pregnancy here). Family and friends may feel relieved to know from you that the extra weight you put on is a little growing life.
Telling during the second trimester
Some expectant moms, especially those who experienced previous losses or who are at risk of complications, choose to wait until they’re firmly in the second trimester before telling. Additionally, this is the time when you may get the results from prenatal tests (see Pregistry posts about amniocentesis here, chorionic villus sampling here, and cell-free fetal DNA testing here). For some women, the decision to carry-on with the pregnancy depends on these results being negative. That’s why they wait before they tell.
Telling during the third trimester
If you are a typical 21st century mom, your social network counts more “online friends” than “real friends”. These online friends usually don’t get to see you frequently. And, even if they saw you (through Skype, FaceTime, etc.), they may never realize you are pregnant. Some women prefer to keep it as a secret from these online contact to make a point that they are not real friends (“if you were my friend I would have told you long time ago!”). Some women go this route because they don’t want to deal with unsolicited advice or criticism.
Some women keep it quiet because they do not want to be at risk of losing their business. While some workplaces are supportive, and the laws protecting women vary depending on where you live, others aren’t. Think about it. For example, if you are a pregnant freelance graphics designer and told prospective clients that you may be unavailable some days for the next 2 or 3 months, you may lose a lot of potential contracts, even if your performance is not diminished.
Telling different people at different times
Most women reveal their pregnancy to different people at different times. Often, close relatives and the Best Friends Forever find out first. But, can you rely on them being tight-lipped? You know how it is… word gets out fast! Researchers found that women are overcome by a burning desire to share gossip as soon as they hear it. They will typically spill the beans to at least one other person in 47 hours and 15 minutes! Read more about this study here.
Tips for sharing your pregnancy with friends coping with infertility
If you have friends or family members that are suffering with infertility, it is likely that your pregnancy announcement will be difficult for them. It’s not that they are not happy for you. What happens is that a pregnancy announcement reminds them of what they don’t have.
Here are some tips to deal this matter sensitively:
- If she is a close friend, tell her first. If she found out about your pregnancy from Facebook or from another person, she will probably get upset.
- Don’t keep it a secret from her because you are afraid to upset her. If she finds out that you’ve kept it from her, she will not feel protected; she will feel betrayed.
- Break the news preferably over the phone. It might seem impersonal, but if she’s struggling with it, this will be easiest on her.
- Be very sensitive and compassionate when you announce it to her. Make her feel special and that you trust her. For example, you may want to start with something like, “I wanted you to be the first to know that I’m pregnant. I know that you and <partner’s name> have been trying for a long time and I want you to know that I care about you deeply and I want to be there for you.” Let her know that you’d like her to be involved as much as she feels comfortable with. She might surprise you and be your #1 babysitter, and happy to do it, when you need someone to come over just so you can shower and take a nap.
- Do not expect your friend coping with infertility to be immediately expressive. She might need some time to process the information.
- Don’t talk about baby stuff or doctors’ appointments to her or around her and don’t go on and on about your pregnancy with her. Don’t rub it in her face. Be sensitive!