Why keep pregnancy 'secret' for the first trimester?

Hi all

A few months ago my wife had a miscarriage at 11 weeks. (This sad story is mitigated by the fact that she is now pregnant again with a - so far - healthy baby). Not many of those around us ever got to hear about it, however, because we had followed the established cultural norms (in the UK, at least) of not telling anyone about the pregnancy until the 12-week scan. This got me to thinking - why do we hold off on announcing pregnancies until the 12-week milestone?

I suppose one obvious reason is the aforementioned: people don’t announce pregnancy straight away because there’s a chance it won’t work out. This then leads to the question of why we don’t want news of miscarriage to go public. There’s nothing to be *ashamed *of, exactly, so what are we protecting ourselves or those around us from? Is this a particularly British stoic tradition of not wanting to air one’s dirty laundry in public? Is it saving ourselves and others from receiving and giving tiresome well-meaning platitudes? Or is it saving *others *the discomfort and awkwardness of finding out about the death of an unborn child?

A second factor is - arguably - even more grisly. It is at the 12-week scan that we find out whether or not the child has any obvious pending birth defects (and so, implicitly, gives the parents the option of deciding whether or not they want to abort the child). We therefore delay telling the world at large about pregnancies before this period, because ‘We decided to abort our kid because we can’t deal with having a child with Down’s Syndrome’ isn’t the sort of thing you would want to post on Facebook.

Is this 12-week thing universal, or specific to our corner of the world/socioeconomic demographic? And for those who observe it, why?

Thanks in advance

You mentioned the main reasons. I assume some women don’t want to be treated any differently also. Work situations can be a factor, even with strong laws allowing parental leave and guarantee of a return to work woman may not want to deal with the questions of what they plan to do. My wife didn’t want to discuss her pregnancy for a while, it wasn’t a particular time frame, she just wanted to wait until she was comfortable talking about it.

Its fairly universal here in the U.S. as well.

I don’t think I’ve every heard anyone say its “just in case you choose not to complete the pregnancy” - its usually miscarriage.

I have a number of friends who have had early miscarriages. A few who told people early - and the issue is that months later, word got out that you were pregnant, but not that you had a miscarriage. So you keep getting the gut punch. And if you struggle with infertility, that can multiply the pain of a lost pregnancy. i.e. people say “well, you can always get pregnant again” - which is insensitive and hurts, but for some people that isn’t that easy - which makes it hurt more.

There are other reasons - historically, women who told could legally be discriminated against - even fired. So not saying anything until you need to provided some economic cover. That isn’t legal in the civilized world any longer (not even in the U.S. where we are slow to address maternal rights), but just because it isn’t legal, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Your boss should find out from you - and if you want a promotion, or better hours, or a spot on a choice project, or are interviewing for a job - you don’t want your pregnancy influencing the decisions other people are making being influenced by your pregnancy.

It’s common in the US, as well, for people to not publicly announce their pregnancies until about that point, as well. I suspect that it’s largely the concern about early miscarriages – and I wonder if women / couples who have already experienced a miscarriage may wait even a bit longer before talking about their pregnancies.

That said, it’s by no means a universal thing, and ISTM that family members and close friends are often told sooner than the general “public” announcement of the pregnancy.

Oh, we observed it as well (since you asked) for the traditional reason (we might miscarry) but also because we found out we were pregnant just as we were in the home stretch of an adoption. We didn’t need the “see, we told you’s” or the “that always happens” (it doesn’t). And we didn’t want the focus to shift from our new son to the potential baby. The baby in the house should get to be the baby in the house. So we didn’t tell people for almost six months.

Agree that it’s about miscarriage. I’ve had five early losses, and it just got old and tired and sad to tell everybody the good news, then tell everybody the bad news. It made me feel like an attention whore. I’d rather be a hermit than ride that rollercoaster.

There are costs to following this tradition. There have been articles.here and there about it in recent years.

Keeping the world ignorant about conceptions and miscarriages keeps.society ignorant regarding how common it is.

It makes people unprepared for the high chances of it. It doesn’t prepare your social and professional circles for the fact that people.might need to grieve—both because they don’t know it’s happening and because society has t creates room for people to have the need to grieve after a miscarriage. It forces women (and.men too) to put on a happy face while grieving.

This is balderdash. Many women are very forthright in talking about miscarriages - after they happen. I have found people especially forthcoming in talking about their own experiences to console someone else going through the same thing. And of course, your doctor is generally going to tell you “there is X chance of miscarriage.” Hard to set a clearer expectation than that. So it’s unfair to expect women to open themselves up to all that heartache just to raise awareness.

Screw that. You’re not required to prepare your co-workers for any loss you may experience, whether it be a pregnancy, or a child, or another family member.

I do think it is healthy and appropriate to tell people AFTER it happens, if you need the space for grief (not everyone does). But there should be zero expectation that a woman inform anyone of an early pregnancy or a miscarriage.

Yes - we were surprised by how many of (the few of) those who found out responded with ‘how horrible, the same thing happened to me/my partner amount of times’. Miscarriage happens way more often to far more people than I had ever assumed. “[A]lmost mundanely common” pretty much covers it, yet miscarriage is a huge cause of grief which rarely sees much public social recognition. I wonder why… The death of a child-who-has-already-been-born would be more publicly mourned by many orders of magnitude. Perhaps we don’t publicly announce miscarriages out of a grim sort of expediency: no-one has the *time *for that much mourning, and in any case an unborn child doesn’t really have any social relationships with anyone, so the death is for many (outside immediate family) rather an abstract affair.

Imagine writing the FB post:

“Hey, just found out I’m pregnant! We’re at 3 weeks, hope it survives! Send congratulations in October if it does!”

I mean, personally I’d be fine with that kind of message, but my humor is a little morbid. Most people apparently wouldn’t be.

If only to avoid this conversation:
Them: “I heard you’re pregnant, congratulations!”
You: “Sorry, not anymore.”
Them: “gasp what happened/you must be crushed/you don’t seem sad/did you get an abortion”

Repeat for the next 3-6 months, because there’s no such thing as a miscarriage announcement card. You just have to do it in person whenever some random person feels like bringing it up.

They don’t want a “boy cried wolf” syndrome, especially if there have been miscarriages before.

I’ve had that conversation as the ‘Them’ part. It sucked from that side, too.

[Though don’t be sad about that particular case; the woman on the other end of that conversation does now have a happy healthy child]

A friend of mine who has had a number of miscarriages has found that if you tell people they give ‘helpful’ advice about what she should have done differently to prevent miscarriage. :frowning:

She’s now a lot more selective about who she tells what.

My daughter didn’t want to tell anyone either (she told us.) I think she didn’t want to have to explain over and over again what went wrong if anything did. (It didn’t.) It was definitely not work-related since she was at the end of a post-doc.
It might depend on how private you are.

Yep, it’s just too brutal to have to untell a bunch of people. I frankly don’t care if there is a “cost” to society – I would do the same thing again. Although I do agree that a woman shouldn’t feel pressured to keep it a secret if she personally would rather share the news.

Professionally, I wanted to be the one to tell my employer. There is absolutely judgment applied as to what assignments you get and when. Judgments applied as to whether you’re “serious” about the company/your role/etc. <mega roll eyes>

Second, a relatively large percentage of early pregnancies do result in miscarriages. I had no problem sharing the news with immediate friends and family. I figured I’d want all of them to support me if I lost the baby, but no way did I want it going full Facebook and being confronted with the loss for untold months or years afterwards. Waiting until the doctor felt the pregnancy was stable seemed only prudent.

The problem there is the 25% statistic sounds like a lot but a huge number of those happen before the woman even knows she’s pregnant.

I told my mom right after I found out, and asked her to keep it to herself until I was ready to tell the world.

My mom had 8 miscarriages herself, so if it came to be that I needed to grieve a loss, she’d be the perfect person to lean on. Luckily it turned out well.

She agreed that waiting past the first trimester was a good idea.

I’m pretty sure you’re wrong–unless you can come up with a reputable cite to say you’re correct. I have a hard time thinking of a woman I know who has tried to have more than one child and *not *had a pregnancy loss. It is devastatingly common, and I’m not sure what you think you’re adding to the discourse, here.