One of the most exciting times in your pregnancy is getting that first positive test. You probably want to tell the whole world you’re expecting. But is it safe to tell people right away?
Many parents-to-be wait until the end of the first trimester — around week 13 — to tell friends and family about their pregnancy. A number of factors influence why people wait until this time to share the news. Still, the most important part of your decision should revolve around what makes you the most comfortable. Read on to find out more about what to consider before you decide to announce your pregnancy.
The risk of miscarriage
The first trimester is a tremendous time of development and change for you and your little one. With all that change comes some risk that the pregnancy might not carry to term. Between 10 and 25 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and roughly 80 percent of these miscarriages occur in the first trimester.
Most miscarriages are caused by factors beyond a mother’s control. About half are caused by chromosomal abnormalities. In other words, the baby doesn’t develop properly.
Other causes of first trimester miscarriage include:
- illness in mother
- luteal phase defect (problem with a woman’s monthly cycle)
- hormone imbalances
- adhesions (scar-like tissue) in uterus
Age is yet another factor with regard to miscarriage. Here is the miscarriage risk breakdown by age:
- Women ages 20 to 30: 9 to 17 percent
- Women ages 35 to 39: 20 percent
- Women ages 40 to 44: 40 percent
- Women ages 45 and older: 80 percent
If a developing baby lives to 7 weeks with a heartbeat, the risk of miscarriage drops to 10 percent. In those beginning weeks when the risk’s highest, you may not even know you’re pregnant unless you’ve taken an early test. After week 12, the risk of miscarriage falls to 5 percent for the rest of the pregnancy.
Given these statistics, it’s pretty easy to see why parents wait until the risk of miscarriage drops before they announce. Most women don’t want to have to tell people the sad news of a miscarriage shortly after announcing their pregnancy.
The first prenatal visit
Another reason couples wait until the end of the first trimester to share has to do with prenatal checkups. Your first appointment may be around week 8 of pregnancy, or even later. During the first visit, your provider will run tests to confirm your pregnancy, estimate your due date, screen for infections, and determine the general health of you and your baby.
For some couples, hearing that heartbeat for the first time or having an ultrasound to date the pregnancy is reassuring before announcing it to everyone.
Recurrent pregnancy loss
Have you experienced a previous loss? If so, your risk of having another miscarriage may be slightly higher, depending on your health history.
This news can be disheartening, especially in the case of recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). Your doctor will likely examine you, get a blood workup, and do some other testing to determine the cause(s) of your losses. The good news is that with the right treatment, your chances of carrying a baby to term may increase. But you might feel more comfortable waiting until after this treatment to announce your pregnancy to everyone.
The pros of waiting to announce your pregnancy
If you’ve had difficulty conceiving, had a previous pregnancy loss, or a stillbirth, you may want to wait even longer than 12 weeks to share news of your pregnancy. It’s OK to share later than the traditional first trimester cutoff. It’s entirely up to you and what you feel is best. Though loss in the second and third trimesters is rare, couples may feel sensitive or worried that something will happen.
In these cases, you may choose to share news about the following instead:
- having an ultrasound that shows baby’s healthy
- finding out the sex of the baby
- reaching the halfway mark of pregnancy (week 20)
- reaching a personal milestone (e.g., when you start showing)
Sometimes letting a close friend or family member know can be helpful, especially if you’re feeling anxious.
Still rather keep the news to yourself? Your doctor may be able to refer you to a therapist or support group where you can let out your feelings without having everyone in on your business. For even more anonymity, you can browse around for online forums with women who’ve gone through similar situations.
Some groups include:
Pros of Waiting
- The risk of miscarriage usually decreases after the first trimester.
- You might feel more comfortable after you’ve had an ultrasound, heard your baby’s heartbeat, or reached a pregnancy milestone.
- There’s anonymity for you and your partner.
The cons of waiting to share the news
If you’d rather have a support network in place regardless of your pregnancy outcome, feel free to share the news right away.
The first trimester is rough for some women because of fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant symptoms. Letting a few key people know may help ease the burden. And if you do end up miscarrying, you might not want to have to go through it alone.
You may also want to tell your employer about your pregnancy right away if your job requires you to do physical labor that might be dangerous. These hazards might include:
- bending repeatedly at your waist (more than 20 times per day)
- standing for long periods of time
- lifting heavy things, like boxes, patients, etc. (more than once every five minutes)
- being exposed to chemicals
Your job may require these tasks. The data isn’t concrete on whether or not these activities directly lead to miscarriage, but it’s still worth considering in the overall picture. Speak with your doctor about the recommendations for lifting during pregnancy for more specifics.
Cons of Waiting
- The first trimester might be difficult without support.
- You might be exposed to workplace hazards if you don’t tell your employer.
- Friends and family might find out from other sources instead of you telling them directly.
Announcing to different groups
It might make sense to announce your pregnancy to different groups at different times. You may want to first tell a few close family members and then some friends before you announce it publicly on social media or tell your co-workers.
Consider telling only your family to start. Your pregnancy will be major news for your parents, especially if this is their first grandchild. You might want to think of a creative way to tell your mother, father, and siblings so you can be there to witness their reaction firsthand. If you choose to announce to just your family early on in your pregnancy, you’ll have plenty of people to celebrate with, but you won’t have to explain things over and over again if something does go wrong.
You’ll most likely want to tell your closest friends first. Then, whenever you feel more comfortable, you can broaden the group, or make it Facebook official. But be aware that the news might slip out of even the most well-meaning friend or relative.
Social networking is probably the easiest way to get the news out to friends and family who live far away. Posting a picture online of your ultrasound can get the news out in an instant.
You will have to tell your employer sooner or later, especially if you are going to be taking parental leave or time off work. As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to tell your workplace right away if your job entails physical labor that might be dangerous. Once your employer knows of your pregnancy, you are protected against discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. Your employer is required to provide you with reasonable accommodation if you are unable to perform your work activities safely while pregnant.
If your job doesn’t entail physical labor, you can wait until you’re comfortable letting them know. Just make sure you give your employer a reasonable amount time to prepare for your time away. You will most likely want to tell your direct manager first so you two can plan together how to tell others you work with. It’s completely fine to ask your manager to keep this information confidential until you are ready to tell others. If you don’t want to inform your immediate superior right away, feel free to meet with your company’s human resources department to discuss your options. Be prepared to discuss their concerns about how your pregnancy will affect your job. Being professional and prepared will help reassure your workplace of your commitment to making this a smooth transition.
What should you do?
In the end, the choice over when to share your pregnancy is entirely up to you. You can tell friends and family right away, or wait until you know more about the health of you and your baby.
To help make your decision, you may want to ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a high-risk pregnancy or other factors that increase my miscarriage risk?
- Will telling everyone make me feel more comfortable, or less comfortable?
- Do I have certain work or lifestyle factors that make telling sooner important?
- Do I want a large network of support if something happens?
The beginning of pregnancy can be both exciting and frightening. But try to relax and enjoy the journey. A lot of women choose to announce their pregnancy at the end of the first trimester because the risk of miscarriage is greatly reduced and their “bump” may no longer be easy to hide. Of course, announcing at the 12-week mark isn’t required and the choice is entirely up to you.
Whether or not you tell the whole world right away, make sure to tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Pencil in a prenatal appointment, take your vitamins, and keep up with good eating and exercise habits. Try to take care of yourself and your baby-to-be. No matter when you leak the news, it’ll surely be reason to celebrate.