Beyond the Egg Timer

An insider's guide to having children in your thirties and forties.

The 3 Month Wait (or Not)

We offer thoughtful advice on when to announce your pregnancy.

When couples initially find out that they are pregnant, they experience a host of emotions. They may feel elated, scared, ambivalent, shocked, grateful, or anxious to name a few.   After making a doctor’s appointment and throwing out the thermometer; the next step is often deciding when to announce your pregnancy.   The internet is full of vague articles saying it’s the couple’s choice and many people wait until the second trimester.  Although both statements are true, we thought this topic needed a little more exploring.  There is no right or wrong answer.  However, there are some factors including and beyond miscarriage risk you should consider. 

The highest rate of miscarriage is in the first trimester.  This risk is significantly reduced as you move into the second trimester which officially starts at week 13.   Many couples, if they experience a miscarriage would prefer to cope privately or with the support of a few close relatives and friends.   Others want their entire Facebook community involved.  How you have coped with other losses in your life can help guide this decision. One of the major advantages of having children later in life is that you have more experience and, hopefully, a better sense of yourself and your needs than the younger version of you.  If you opt to keep the pregnancy private and then experience a miscarriage, you can always tell supportive friends and family after the fact.  They should be no less sympathetic because they were unaware of the pregnancy to begin with.  If they are, then it may be time to reconsider the relationship. 

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I venture that a more important factor to consider in timing your announcement is the great emotional adjustment pregnancy demands. Discovering that you are growing another human being and are ultimately tied to that human being for the rest of your life is a cosmic shift that can shake even the sturdiest, most self actualized of souls. To date, I have not met one woman who would disagree with this.   The immensity of changes that your body, heart, and life will undergo can feel overwhelming to some.  This is exactly why you may want to wait to announce your pregnancy.   You need to find a way to adjust to all of the emotions and bodily sensations you are feeling. At the very least, you need to learn how to present yourself to others in an appropriate way. There is no timeline on this.  Some women can do it at 6 weeks; others may be at 20 weeks. 

Some pregtiquette to consider:

  1. How will you respond to people asking you how you feel? If it’s a close friend whom you often share “TMI” with then go ahead and tell her exactly how you feel.  If it is a co-worker or acquaintance then it’s best to share minimal information like “Great, just really tired and a little nauseas”.
  2. What if you are anxious about your ability to care for the baby(ies)? You can share theses concerns with close friends or relatives as long as they are not struggling to conceive.  There is nothing more insulting to a woman struggling to get pregnant than someone who is pregnant expressing incompetency. You will most likely not receive any sympathy from someone who desperately wants what you have.
  3. Express gratitude. No one is guaranteed a healthy pregnancy or baby.  Roughly 10% of those trying to conceive will experience some difficulty.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t vent about your leg cramps or indigestion.  Just do it understanding you are fortunate to be experiencing these discomforts. 
  4. Be humble.  Check out this hilarious Garfunkle and Oates song, “Pregnant women are smug”. 
  5. Be sensitive.  We discuss this in other pregtiquette posts here and here.
  6. Tell your supervisor before you tell your co-workers.  Your work culture will dictate when you should share the news.  It is not legal in the United States to discriminate against pregnant women but sadly it  happens. 
  7. If you used fertility treatments, consider how much you plan on sharing about that.  Don’t be surprised if people ask you how you conceived.  Of course it’s rude but not atypical if you are older, having twins, or took a long time to conceive. Before answering, think about why they are asking and why you are sharing. There is a huge difference between a woman struggling to conceive looking for a little inspiration and a nosy acquaintance.
  8. Be considerate to others.  Do not steal all of the attention at your cousin’s wedding by announcing your pregnancy.    Check in with the star of the day to see if he or she minds you making an announcement before proceeding.
  9. Have an honest discussion with your spouse about this.  His or her opinion is as important as yours.
  10. Lastly, announce when it feels right to you. 

 

What do you think?  Are there other factors to consider?

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Sharon I. Praissman is an adult (medical) and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Emma Williams is a public health researcher and writer.

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