Most women discover that they’re pregnant through a series of familiar symptoms that can really disrupt your day, especially exhaustion and nausea. Not everyone has the same experience, but only a lucky minority of women get to skip out on morning sickness. In an era where we’re used to telling everyone everything, is it reasonable to expect a mom-to-be to wait until the traditional 12 or 13 weeks to keep her exciting news (and her roiling stomach) to herself?
The reason many people wait is a little grim: about 10-20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and the risk of miscarriage is greatest during the first trimester. If a loss occurs, some moms-to-be feel that it adds stress to the situation to have to tell everyone that your happy news has gone awry.
Heidi at What To Expect also writes that people love to share unsolicited advice, criticism, and terrifying labor stories as soon as they find out that you’re pregnant, and you might want to hold that off for as long as you can. “One disadvantage of telling everybody early is that they’ll be asking ‘How are you feeling?’ for months, and you may grow tired of answering,” writes etiquette expert Marjorie Brody at Parents.com.
And then, of course, there’s your boss: you’re going to want to plan out how to break the news that they’ll lose you for at least a little while (and perhaps permanently, if you decide to stay home), and so you’re probably doing your best to keep it quiet. You definitely don’t want your boss to find out because a gossipy coworker heard about it on social media! And you definitely want to research the company’s maternity leave policy before you tell.
On the other hand, when you’re feeling lousy, having friends to commiserate with is so important – even if your partner is wonderful, he’s not going to have the same perspective as your pal who had a baby last year. You’ll probably want to at least tell your mom, your sister, and your best friend that you’re pregnant right away, but a broader sisterhood of support may be more helpful for you.
If you’re part of the modern tribe of ladies who love to overshare (I count myself as one of these), then you may find it unbearably lonely to not be able to talk about what you’re going through. Abigail Rasminsky at Medium writes,
“Why does early pregnancy have to be a stiff-upper-lip acting job? Can’t it just be a big fat announcement of a wondrous and difficult biological truth?
“I wonder whose anxiety we’re trying to protect in concealing these first few difficult months. Is this supposed to be for my sake? Are we trying to protect me from the embarrassment of admitting that I can’t go 45 minutes without eating and am gaining weight at a rapid clip? That I spend most of the day crying and moaning on the couch, Alicia Florrick my fictional companion? That I’m afraid of losing the pregnancy but can’t fathom that this debilitating state of being has anything to do with an actual baby? Are we really trying to save me from having to share the news if I have a miscarriage? Or are we trying to protect our culture from admitting that not all pregnancies are beautiful and easy and make it to term, and that the loss can be absolutely devastating?”
As an oversharing gal, I also agree with Babble writer Vanessa Bell that “Secrets Suck,” and that sharing happy news is far more fun than keeping happy news under your hat. Keeping a secret is stressful, and if you’re already stressed out from early pregnancy symptoms, why do that to yourself?
You will want to be careful about announcing the news to a friend who’s having fertility issues or has suffered a recent miscarriage, though. Be gentle, be compassionate, don’t try to give advice, and don’t let her find out through Facebook either. As the YourTango experts at PsychCentral write, “Women dealing with infertility have a keen sense of who might be pregnant around them. It’s like every woman they see is a ticking time bomb full of embryos ready to hatch. If she finds out that you’ve kept it from her, she won’t feel protected; she will feel betrayed.”
Ultimately, there is no “correct” time to tell everyone that there’s a baby on the way (although there are some rather tacky methods for doing so). Weigh the pros and cons, talk it out with your partner, think over what you can handle and what you need, and choose what’s right for you.