Often, I get asked by new mums and dads, “Why is the 0-3 months part of any pregnancy often the hardest emotionally?” It’s tricky question. So many mums and dads are overjoyed when they finally get pregnant but then the emotional turmoil really starts.
The uncertainty of the little life they are growing is a delicate time for many couples. Most expectant parents choose to wait until after their 12 week scan before announcing their big news, I chose to do the same thing. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 9 weeks and so it made sense the second time round to wait until we had been given the a-ok. But was this really the right choice? In hindsight I think I suffered silently through the first trimester of both pregnancies. In this article I’m going to look at some of the reasons why expectant mums and dads choose to keep ‘mum’ about their new babies and the pros and cons of this approach.
Keeping the good news in…
Lots of new parents choose to not say anything about being pregnant in their first trimester. Like I said before, I did the same thing. But why? In hindsight I can’t really remember why we didn’t want to say anything to our friends and family. I know it was because we were afraid of something happening. I think that’s the reason why most people don’t say anything. But why then does the fear of something happening to the baby stop us from sharing our news with our extended family and friends? Again, I think having to tell people that something isn’t not okay with a tiny baby is the most heart breaking of all. It was enough to put me off sharing the news with pretty much everyone the next time I got pregnant. However, when I was pregnant for a third time, after the birth of my own baby girl I wasn’t so precious about keeping my news under wraps. Someone at work saw me touching my belly and said something to me. I wasn’t mortified like I would have been the first time. It is because having already had a child I didn’t feel like I had failed at having a baby and so the shame I felt the first time round wasn’t there?
Why it’s good not to say anything –
I definitely felt like I was protecting something. I don’t know what but by keeping our news between me and my partner initially, it kind of felt like we could control it. I know differently now, but maybe that’s the only thing you can control in the first trimester (or any stage of pregnancy really) – who you tell and who you don’t. I didn’t feel ready to tell the whole world. At the time, I was working in an environment where, for a number of reasons, I didn’t feel comfortable telling my boss and co-workers about my new pregnancy. I felt I would be discriminated against, possibly bullied or asked to agree to future arrangements when I didn’t really know enough about maternity leave and employees rights during pregnancy. I was not ready to be exposed as a pregnancy fraud yet. I didn’t know enough, hadn’t spent enough time googling yet, to know what I needed to know. Even though I was more confident the second time round, I still kept our news private. Maybe also there was a bit of not wanting to get everyone’s hopes up in case we didn’t grow the baby properly again??
Why it’s good to say something –
One in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and 80% of miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks. That means there are a lot of women and men dealing with the affects of miscarriage alone. If we lost the fear of speaking up about our pregnancies and became more honest about our birth journeys, I think we would go a long way to normalising pregnancy and the first trimester. After my miscarriage the BEST support came from the people I had told/who already knew I was pregnant. They were my everything. They made me feel supported, included and not as isolated as I thought I was. It was hard to tell people I had miscarried but I found it even harder to tell them I was pregnant, sorry you didn’t know, and then I had a miscarriage. The people who I hadn’t told wanted to know more details. The people that already knew were just there for me. I didn’t have to speak, I could just cry. I am also slightly envious of those people who can make an announcement about their pregnancy before 12 weeks. They seem so confident to me. I adore their optimism. I consider myself an optimist but I just couldn’t stretch to this. They say to me that even though the chance of miscarriage is there, they know they will deal with it. These people also are already starting the process of transforming into new parents. All of a sudden, they are to everyone who knows that this is something in their life that is important to them, even if it could end. They want to be parents and we are privileged enough to come on their journey with them, rather than them doing it in isolation.
Whenever you choose to tell the wide world your amazing news, one thing is for sure… It is your choice. Feeling pressured to say something at any time is not ok. You have the right to deny or fend off inappropriate questioning for as long as you need to. You also have the right to yell your glorious news from the roof tops. It’s up to you!