Finally you're pregnant, and you want to tell the world! Or maybe you don't. Or maybe you're not sure. Deciding when to announce your pregnancy is a complicated issue for those who don't struggle to conceive, but for those who have dealt with infertility -- and possibly pregnancy loss - announcing (or not) can get even more complex.
Reasons Not to Announce Your Pregnancy Early On
The most common reason for not sharing your pregnancy news, at least early on, is in case of miscarriage. The thinking goes that if you tell everyone you're pregnant, and then you do miscarry, you'll have to face telling everyone you lost the pregnancy. Or worse, after the loss occurs, people may come to you asking about your pregnancy, and you'll need to tell them what happened. This can be uncomfortable and stressful.
Up to 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the majority of losses occurring in the first 12 weeks. Many risk factors for infertility, like PCOS and endometriosis, increase your risk of miscarriage. If you've experienced multiple losses, your risk for miscarriage may also higher than most, depending on the cause and possible treatment.
Because the majority of miscarriages occur in the first three months, the average pregnant couple may wait until after the first trimester to spread the news. However, if you've been dealing with infertility (or experienced a late miscarriage), you may not feel safe to share even after the first trimester. You may decide to share only when the pregnancy is visibly obvious, which depending on your body can happen quickly or take a very long time.
Reasons to Share Your Pregnancy News, Even During the First Trimester
Not telling people you're pregnant means that later, if you miscarry, you'll have less open support. While needing to tell people you miscarried can be painful, it can also be healing. It allows you to talk about your loss, to openly grieve, and receive compassion from more people.
There is also a strange shame that comes with miscarriage, a shame perhaps born in the silence of the event. Many women have confided in me that they told maybe one other person besides their spouse about a miscarriage, but felt uncomfortable with the idea of telling others. Speaking about the pregnancy early on may lessen feelings of shame if a loss does occur.
Another reason to share your pregnancy early on is because you're excited! If you struggled to conceive, you know a positive pregnancy test doesn't guarantee a baby, but you also know what a blessing a pregnancy is - even if it lasts a short while. So celebrate! Share it with everyone if that feels right to you.
By the way, don't be surprised if you're chided by people who think it's improper to share a pregnancy during the first three months. Some people are just old fashioned, or even superstitious. There are even people who don't want to know because they don't want to hear about a future miscarriage, perhaps because they don't want to experience a sense of loss themselves. Don't worry about them; you should do what feels right for you.
When You Can't Keep It a Secret
If people know you're going through fertility treatments, keeping the outcome a secret gets very tricky. Not only will it be harder to keep the pregnancy a secret, you may be asked more frequently than you'd like if "there's any news." (And you know exactly what news they are fishing for!)
Do you keep a fertility blog? If you told your friends and family about the blog, and you've been documenting your cycles, you'll be in no position to keep the pregnancy a secret. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - see above on why sharing early can be good - but it does take away your invisibility cloak.
Announcement Guilt and Losing Your Infertility Club Card
An emotion you may not have expected to have when sharing your pregnancy news is guilt. If you have friends who are still in the trenches of infertility, you may experience survivor's guilt. You may remember what it felt like to hear pregnancy announcements yourself from friends and family and worry that you'll cause others that same pain by sharing your exciting news.
Another reason you may hesitate to share is you're not ready for your "Infertility Club Card" to be revoked. This is more likely to be a concern if you're active in the infertility community, whether through advocacy, support groups (whether online or off), or blogging. But your club card won't be revoked. You will always remember what infertility felt like. Getting pregnant won't take away the insights and empathies you've developed towards the fertility challenged. You can still be there for your infertile friends, and you are not leaving anyone behind.
Remember that you are not the annoying coworker, the one who "wasn't even trying" and gets pregnant when a man "just looks" at her. You're a warrior sister, with battle scars, and with war paint on your cheeks, and you made it through to the other side. While your pregnancy announcement may cause a twinge of heartache in those still struggling, it also will give them something invaluable - hope.
More about pregnancy after infertility:
- How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy After Infertility
- Pregnancy Success Stories
- Quiz: Do You Have Pregnancy Symptoms?
- Could You Be Pregnant with Twins?
- When to Take a Pregnancy Test
- Early Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms
- Pregnant After IVF
- I'm Pregnant! Now What?
- Positive Thoughts on Twins and Multiple Pregnancies
- Due Date Calculator
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Patient Fact Sheet: Recurrent Pregnancy Loss. American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Accessed October 20, 2012. http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/recurrent_preg_loss.pdf