As a woman, the joyful discovery that your suspicion you may be pregnant is correct leads to so many more questions than it answers. The first biggie is when to tell people you’re pregnant. But even that is complex, because you may have vastly opposing feelings depending on who is involved: when to tell work you’re pregnant may feel like a very different question to when to tell family you’re pregnant.
Considerations For When to Tell Work You’re Pregnant
It’s important to consider your company’s policies and history when it comes to their treatment of pregnant employees. Sadly, in practice not even the law can protect you from poor support or underhand tactics.
I was far less secretive about my second pregnancy than I was about my first, because I realised that the only motivation I had for keeping it to myself – my previous employment status – was long gone (thank Gahhhhhhd).
The only other reason I had for not shouting our happy news from the rooftops was that culturally, it’s not the done thing. But why not?
When to Tell Family You’re Pregnant
Even women who are not working often seem to follow the ‘rule’ of not making an announcement until after the 12 week scan. For those women who wait for the scan (it’s a misconception that this is also the results of screening tests – it’s not, they arrive a week or so later by post), they are depriving themselves twofold:
They lose the right to scream about their wonderful news when they first receive it; and then they deny themselves support should they tragically experience a loss.
Perhaps we should reconsider our approach, at least for close family and friends?
Naturally there are exceptions; I’m fully, painfully aware that many, many families endure tragic losses before conceiving their rainbow babies, or even more devastatingly, they may not go on to have children at all. And in those types of circumstances, where there’s repeated loss, I appreciate their reasons, of course. The distress of reliving that trauma over and over is not something that needs to be spelled out.
But, there are many families who go along with this cultural norm because, apparently, it’s ‘what we do’. And although it’s normal in so much as it’s typical, it still seems rather strange behaviour when you consider what it amounts to: missing out on sharing those magical first weeks and, potentially, a lack of support at a vital time.
If a woman has her own reasons for keeping mum, then of course that’s totally fine! But that’s sort of my point: there are so many traditions we’ve taken on board that are plain weird or even harmful. It doesn’t feel logical or rational, rather it feels like a societal expectation which we blindly follow.
Are Cultural Norms Actually a Bit Weird?
Culture is a funny thing. It’s like a pass for inappropriate behaviour. More and more I’ve been noticing strange customs in our society, which are totally accepted, but also totally weird.
For example, the fact that we care so deeply about the colour of the clothes which we use to keep our children warm and dry; the fact that different styles denote gender; the fact that such emphasis/importance is placed upon the gender of babies at all – that such a fuss is made about the way we feed our offspring for the first months of their lives.
The only reason there is for anyone to think it’s disgusting to openly breastfeed is that they’re sexualising the most natural and innocent thing we can do. Otherwise why in the world is it something to even talk about? After all, changing a nappy – nope, not something to discuss; mopping up vomit – not especially noteworthy; bathing a baby – only merits a mention in terms of its loveliness.
Culture has a lot to answer for.
So when it comes to announcing pregnancy, I say we take a stand against tradition and make a choice based on our personal circumstances.
Should I Announce My Pregnancy Before the First Scan?
Of course there’s always the option to share a loss at the point at which it occurs. But how dreadfully sad to be in a position whereby you never get to share the joy, only the pain? Besides which, if the purpose is to seek solace from loved ones in such an event, why withhold such happy news in the first place?
I’ve been blessed not to have problems of that nature myself (though I have close friends and relatives who have), and personally I know I’d need the support of my loved ones.
It’s not my intention to tell people how to live their lives, I’m merely shining a light on the fact that we too often accept bizarre customs without ever really questioning their source or validity. I’m sure I’m guilty of regularly doing the same, but I’m making a conscious effort to stop.
When did you share your pregnancy news, and what were your reasons for your choice? Would you do it differently next time?
If you’ve suffered pregnancy loss, you can find support here.