Why are we still waiting 12 weeks to tell people around us we are pregnant?
For the vast majority of us, pregnancy is the most exciting, wonderful and special time of our lives.
I know when I was pregnant, I literally could not wait to tell people I was having a baby – and I was so bad at keeping the 'secret' that by the time we were booked in for our 12-week scan, most of my family and friends knew already.
However, I also found that, as well as sharing in my joy, many people were surprised that I opted to tell so early on.
"Aren't you worried it's too early to tell?" I remember one person asking me – and another one being a little blaze about my pregnancy when I told her I was 'only' seven weeks along. It was almost like she felt it wasn't worth getting overly excited just yet – as I hadn't reached that magical 12-week line yet.
And yes, I know, statistically miscarriages – are they to happen – often occur within those first 12 weeks.
However, it also, to me, felt all sorts of wrong to start out this pregnancy feeling like something would go wrong. I was excited, and I wanted others to be excited with me.
Sharing joy and grief – if it was to happen
And sharing the joy is not the only reason why I think it's time to ditch the 12-week pregnancy announcement norm.
How about – if something was to go wrong – having someone to share your grief with?
Because honestly – this having to keep early pregnancy a secret – are we not just putting a whole bunch of stress on women who really should be trying to avoid feeling stressed and anxious?
If all goes well, isn't it amazing to get to share the happy news with those you love as early as possible, so they can be excited with you? And if, God forbid, something was to go wrong, would it not be better if somebody around you at least knew you were pregnant, and could grieve with you and be there for you and help you through? Surely women – and couples – should not be expected to shoulder this compltely alone?
Three reasons to ditch the 12-week rule
Experts agree too that it is indeed time to ditch the 12-week 'rule' now.
Here are her reasons for getting rid of the 12-week baby announcement tradition once and for all.
1. First trimester blues
During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, you will often experience a roller coaster of emotions, hormone changes, and pregnancy-related symptoms. Up to 80 percent of women experience some form of morning sickness or nausea during the first 12 weeks.
And then there is the extreme fatigue and exhaustion that follows. It is during this time that stress levels can increase dramatically because you are still trying to do everything while pretending you’re not pregnant.
Having support from people around you, both physically and emotionally, would dramatically decrease your stress levels and enable you to relax into the first part of your pregnancy. But for most women, we experience the complete opposite.
2. Suppressed emotions compound stress
We all experience a vast array of emotions on a daily basis. While on a fertility journey, it can often feel like those emotions are intensified. There is the fear of not getting pregnant, disappointment in the results, guilt and shame for either not getting pregnant yet or embarking on an IVF journey, and the loss and grief.
When we don’t express our emotions, we suppress them and push them down into the body. Suppressed emotions can then compound stress levels, and eventually cause dysfunction and dis-ease in the body.
By being able to talk about the fertility journey and express all emotions felt during the first 12 weeks, you ensure the emotions are not suppressed and decrease the stress felt. Bottling up your emotions is a surefire way to increase stress levels.
3. Miscarriages should not be hidden away like a dirty little secret
Pregnant women are often advised to wait until they pass the 12-week mark to announce their pregnancy because the chance of miscarriage then drops dramatically.
One in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, which means the chance of experiencing loss and grief in the first 12 weeks is at its highest. By not announcing your pregnancy during this period of time, you are left to shoulder the burden of the hurt on your own (or with your partner) should you experience a miscarriage by keeping it hidden away.
Miscarriage is in fact a part of life. Yet, having to keep such a secret will amplify the stress felt in the body.