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Here’s my unpopular opinion about when to announce a pregnancy. I don’t think you should wait until 12 weeks!
In fact, I don’t think you should follow any set rules at all. Because pregnancy is real and raw and scary. And it’s personal how you handle it, just like the choices you make through your entire parenting journey are yours and no one else’s.
I experienced 4 miscarriages before having my son, Jack. That means I’ve been pregnant 5 times. And throughout that time, my opinions about when to announce pregnancy have changed drastically.
I’ve learned, grown, walked through the fire, and come out the other side with a completely different opinion than I had before.
In this article, I’m going to talk about why the timeline of announcing a pregnancy is your choice entirely, and how to decide what’s right for you. If you want someone to outline a timeline to make it easy, then this article isn’t for you.
But if you’re looking to better understand yourself and what will work for your own needs, then read on, friend. I’ve got you covered.
Here, we’ll talk about:
- Why a “safe” date shouldn’t necessarily be your concern
- How to determine what timeline is right for you
- When to announce a pregnancy to parents and immediate family
- When to announce pregnancy at work
- When to announce pregnancy on social media
Why is 12 weeks safe to announce a pregnancy?
Many women choose to announce their pregnancies at or after 12 weeks because this when the risk of miscarriage drops significantly. At this point, they’ve usually had an early pregnancy ultrasound scan, and the 12-week mark is when we’re traditionally told it’s safe to share the news.
We’ve all seen the memes going around in the month of October announcing, “I am 1 in 4.” These messages are a reminder of what most pregnant women already know (but many avoid trying to wrap their brains around)–that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.
But while the risk of miscarriage is 20-25% at the time of implantation, many losses occur before the mother even knows she’s pregnant. At 12 weeks, the risk drops to 1-2%.
This is why many people wait to tell.
How waiting to announce can be hurtful
When I learned I was pregnant for the first time, after a year-and-a-half of trying to conceive (TTC), I insisted we wait until 12 weeks to announce the pregnancy. Husband wanted to tell our parents, but it wasn’t “safe” yet, I insisted.
When I found out the pregnancy wasn’t viable at 8 ½ weeks (read more about that experience in my blighted ovum story), I experienced an unexpected awkwardness that I was not at all prepared for.
Not only was my heart shattered into millions of confused and jagged little pieces, but I now had to explain what was happening to people who not only had no idea I was pregnant, but who also didn’t know I’d spent a-year-and-a-half struggling to conceive.
How do you break the news of miscarriage to people who didn’t know you were pregnant?
I called my mom–while my dad was in surgery, to boot–sobbing hysterically, to tell her I was losing a desperately wanted baby when she still thought I didn’t want children.
I realized then that I’d been keeping secrets for far too long. No one knew we were trying to conceive. No one knew when we were pregnant. But when I found out I was miscarrying, I needed support, so I told everyone.
It may sound counterintuitive, but many women who have experienced pregnancy loss actually choose to announce new pregnancies early.
It’s not because we think we’re immune to miscarriage. It’s actually the opposite. It’s that we know that safe isn’t really “safe,” even if it’s “safer.” And because we know that we’re going to need a support system if things do go wrong.
When to announce a pregnancy to different people
Here’s what I really want you to know, and it probably isn’t something you want to hear. There is actually a chance that you will miscarry, though this chance truly reduces with each passing week of pregnancy.
When I insisted to Husband that we not tell anyone we were pregnant because we weren’t “safe” yet, I never actually thought we had any chance of losing that pregnancy, let alone the 3 following ones.
I’d actually joked to Tessa, of of two friends I’d told about my pregnancy, that October was the WORST time to find out you’re pregnant because you’re bombarded with all these 1 in 4 announcements reminding you of the risk of miscarriage.
Yet, I never internalized that risk. I never imagined it.
And what I didn’t know at the time was that these women were not posting memes about their losses to make me feel bad for them.
They were doing it to help me, and other women like me!
They wanted us to be prepared, to know the risks, and to make decisions accordingly. I didn’t listen, and it caused me a lot of pain.
If something goes wrong, who will you turn to for support?
When deciding when to announce a pregnancy, this question is key.
The odds are that your pregnancy will be healthy.
But if it’s not and something goes wrong, who will you turn to for support? These are the people I recommend announcing a pregnancy to early.
That way, if all turns out well, they can celebrate with you along the way. But if it doesn’t, they’re prepared and available to help.
Announcing to parents, immediate family, and close friends
Choosing when to share the news of your pregnancy different family members and close friends can be tricky due to relationship dynamics.
Will one person be offended if you tell someone else, but not them? (If so, they likely won’t be one of your best support people anyway.)
Do you risk someone spilling the beans and telling others you don’t want to know?
There are lots of questions to consider. But ultimately, determining who is closest to you who can actually support you both through pregnancy and potential complications will help you figure out who to tell earliest.
By the time I was pregnant with Jack, I told everyone I was emotionally close to early. The first person I told was my dad, and I chose him because I knew my mom would be excited, and I was too guarded to be excited.
I told him that I wanted him to tell my mom, but that she wasn’t allowed to call me until she could contain her excitement and not use words like, “This time will be different.”
It’s not that I didn’t want my mom to know first–I did. But I also knew her personality, and that she’s a glass half full kind of woman, and I did not need that.
I needed the people around me to know specifically for the sake of support.
For everyone else, I sent a text that went something like this. “Well, here we go again. Pregnant and going to the doctor every 2 days for bloodwork. Terrified, not excited. If I’m not myself for a while, you know why. Thank you for being there for me.”
The tone of the text managed everyone’s expectations and told them how I needed them to react. And this time, although they were all cautiously supportive, we finally got to celebrate having a baby!
Announcing at work is complicated for a number of reasons, but there are a few questions I encourage you to consider:
- What is the hierarchy of people you need to tell? (Your boss should never hear the news through the grapevine. They should always hear it from you first!)
- Will you want work to know if you miscarry? (If so, you can announce your pregnancy earlier so they’re prepared for that possibility and more likely to be able to grant you time off. This can also make returning to work after loss easier.)
- Are there laws in your state about when to tell your employer and, if so, what are they? (Many states require at least 15 weeks notice before delivery.)
In my experience, most women do not choose to announce a pregnancy at work until they’re well past the “safe” period. Most wait until their baby bump is becoming difficult to hide.
The major exception tends to be women who experience severe morning sickness–they tend to tell work earlier.
There’s no right or wrong answer here–the only way to make a bad choice about telling work is to let your boss find out from someone else.
On social media
When I was pregnant with Jack, I waited until 24 weeks (the point of “viability”) to announce on social media. If you saw me in person, you’d known for a long time because I was showing very early.
The reason I chose to wait for social media was because I knew it would be a celebratory response, and I simply wasn’t ready for that. I could prepare people in my daily life for the fact that I was terrified, and they would react accordingly. But on social media, people are going to congratulate you, and I just couldn’t take it.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t tell sooner. If we choose to try again and are lucky enough to be successful, I will likely announce immediately. Because I’m an open book on social media and I’ll want people following along with me. But that wasn’t my situation 3 ½ years ago.
When you announce on social media, be prepared for congratulations, but also make it clear why you’re announcing. If you just want to celebrate, awesome. But if you want people to know you’re announcing but still cautious, tell them that!
Also, I encourage you to be really mindful of others when making your announcement. Seeing a pregnancy announcement can be really hurtful to women experiencing infertility or miscarriage. That isn’t to take away your joy–you deserve your joy–but to say to be thoughtful in your words and images.
For Jack, I posted a photo of a onesie specifically because ultrasound photos and positive pregnancy tests had been hard for me to see for so many years. People who were struggling noticed the care I took, and they thanked me for it.
In terms of when to tell, it’s up to you. Know yourself and your needs. I will say this, though. If you would not announce a miscarriage on social media, then waiting until the second trimester is probably smart.
The only right time is your time
There is no right time to announce a pregnancy. There is only your time. Know yourself, know your people, and make choices accordingly.
This parenting journey is going to require a lot of decision making, and nothing will serve you better than getting to know yourself and your needs and learning to trust yourself to make the best decisions for YOU.
I promise, you can do this!
Can you announce pregnancy at 12 weeks?
You can announce your pregnancy anytime you want. Many people wait until 12 weeks because the miscarriage risk drops to between 1-2%. But telling people earlier can allow them to better support you if something goes wrong.
When should I announce my pregnancy on Facebook?
Announce your pregnancy on social media when you feel ready. Ask yourself if you’d announce on social media if you were to miscarry. If not, it’s probably best to wait until the second trimester. If so, then announce anytime!
When should you tell your employer you are pregnant?
See if there are laws in your state, as some require you to announce a pregnancy at least 15 weeks before your due date. Otherwise, choose the most appropriate time given your personal dynamics with your boss. Always announce to your boss first!
What was your choice about when to announce a pregnancy?
Other Pregnancy Articles
- Unusual early pregnancy signs
- Pregnancy care package
- Hospital bag checklist printable
- Birthing checklist (how to write a birth plan)
- Getting ready for a baby checklist
- Baby registry must haves
- How to prepare for labor induction
Trying to Conceive Articles
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.