The First 12 Weeks Of Pregnancy: Rethinking The Golden Rule
With all the anxiety, stress, worry and nausea that often accompanies the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, we need to reconsider the rule of keeping mum in the first trimester.
“Don’t tell anyone until after three months,” has been the golden rule of pregnancy. Since the majority of miscarriages occur in the first trimester, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to announce your pregnancy until you’re over the hump, so to speak. But what about all the other stuff—like dealing with the transition to parenthood? Or feeling tired, nauseous, worried or anxious? Three months can feel like forever when it comes to keeping such a life-changing piece of news to yourself.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I realized that not only were there a host of physical symptoms to contend with like severe morning sickness and fatigue, there were other complications, too. The results of my AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) test indicated I had a significant chance of giving birth to a Down’s Syndrome child. Holding onto all this information while trying to act like everything was business-as-usual made me feel isolated and alone. Could I have handled this experience differently? At the time I thought I had no choice than to internalize this rollercoaster of emotions. I couldn’t tell anyone until I was out of the woods, right? Well, perhaps it’s time to rethink our options regarding the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
A circle of support
Many moms-to-be don’t even learn they’re pregnant until six or eight weeks into their pregnancy, so the first 12 weeks may not be as much of an issue. For many of us, however, knowing that our lives are about to forever change is a huge deal. Having someone (in addition to your partner) to share this news with helps you feel supported during this vulnerable time.
Reach out to a few family members or friends, those who can offer support and keep your pregnancy news to themselves until you’re ready to make a broader announcement. If you’d prefer to keep the information between just yourself and your partner, that’s perfectly fine, too. Keep a journal to monitor your progress, feelings and experiences — you’ll be glad you did.
Grieving a miscarriage
Miscarriages are a relatively common experience — occuring in 10–20% of known pregnancies — and yet there’s so much personal shame and social taboo when it comes to talking about them. In her memoir Becoming, Michelle Obama wrote, “Miscarriage is a pain too often unacknowledged. Yet it is real, and what we have lost is real.” Keeping the grief, guilt and shame of this experience to ourselves only deepens these emotions. Having a friend or family member who can support you and your partner can make a world of difference, helping to recognize that your loss is worthy of being acknowledged, grieved and processed. You can also reach out to a grief counselor or support service that specializes in pregnancy loss.
Whatever you decide is okay
From the moment you learn that you’re going to have a baby and all throughout the next three months, who you decide to share this momentous news with is entirely up to you. The more people you tell at the outset, the more you’ll have to alert if something unfortunate happens, so keep that in mind — and do not share the news on social media unless you’re prepared to communicate about your progress publicly. However, keeping mum about becoming a mom is not a hard-and-fast rule, but rather your personal choice.
Sharing the news with a few close friends or family members opens the door to receiving support. You’ll be able to normalize your feelings among other mothers, mothers-to-be and people who know and love you. Remember that whatever the outcome, you deserve care and nurturing from the outset, when you may very well need it most.