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    Pregnancy announcement: When should you tell people you’re pregnant?

    Updated 25 May 2022 |
    Published 23 May 2022
    Fact Checked
    Dr. Sara Twogood
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Sara Twogood, Obstetrician and gynecologist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Group, California, US
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    There are lots of considerations when deciding when to announce a pregnancy. Often, it’s a battle between when it’s safe to share pregnancy news and how long you can keep it quiet. We ask an OB-GYN if there’s really a right answer…

    Soon after her positive test, 35-year-old Arianna was eager to announce her pregnancy. It wasn’t excitement that made her determined to share the news, however; she wanted to tell people why she wasn’t acting her usual self. The first trimester had been tough, as Arianna not only battled with chronic fatigue, nausea, and vomiting but also experienced antenatal (or prenatal) depression

    Arianna, who heads up Pachamama, an online support group for new and expecting mothers, often felt she didn’t want to get out of bed. “I felt like crap, but I put this insane amount of pressure on myself to keep going at my usual pace,” she says. “I thought, I’m just going to tell everyone that I’m pregnant and I feel awful. If anyone’s going to understand, it’s that community, right? But for some reason, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reveal my pregnancy before the 12-week mark.”  

    You’ve probably heard of the “12-week rule,” the universal benchmark for when it’s safe to announce a pregnancy. But to what extent is it fact or folklore? 

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    “The 12-week rule is not actually a rule,” says Dr. Nazaneen Homaifar, an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) at Inova Health System, DC, USA. “It’s more a recommendation from medical providers that by 12 weeks, if everything is okay, then there is a good chance that the pregnancy will continue.”

    This is because the greatest chance of miscarriage during pregnancy is in those first 12 weeks. It’s estimated that about 1 in 8 pregnancies will end in miscarriage, and more than 80% occur within the first trimester. Your first ultrasound scan aims to confirm your pregnancy and may also be part of a screening test for Down’s syndrome. It typically takes place between weeks 10 and 14

    “To determine if a pregnancy is viable, we look for certain milestones,” Dr. Homaifar explains. First, there’s the development of the yolk sac, which provides the embryo with nourishment before the placenta is formed. Then comes the fetal pole (the first direct image you can see of a fetus), fetal number (whether it’s a single or multiple pregnancy), and then the fetal cardiac motion (what will go on to be the baby’s heartbeat). “Those milestones take about 8 weeks to reach, and then the period between 8 to 12 weeks is just about making sure they are continuing,” she says.

    “The 12-week rule is not actually a rule”

    While Arianna was aware of the medical argument for sharing pregnancy news at 12 weeks, the reason she waited was less rational. While running Pachamama, Arianna had been sharing the details of her fertility journey on Instagram for some time. If she’d had a miscarriage, she would have opened up about that too. But still, something stopped her from going against “the norm.”

    “I think it was this bizarre societal pressure … you almost have to justify why you’d announce a pregnancy early because it’s not ‘how it’s done,’” she says, adding that she was worried people would think of her as “foolish” if she shared her pregnancy news earlier than usual. “My mum was like, ‘Don’t tell anyone! ANYONE!’ As if that would jinx it.” 

    Keeping her pregnancy secret ultimately took a toll on Arianna’s mental health. “The whole thing was really isolating,” she says. “If I’d announced it early, I would have felt much more supported and far less alone. I don’t think it’s best to wait 12 weeks. I think you should decide for yourself and announce pregnancy whenever you feel comfortable.”