When Kate Middleton’s extreme morning sickness forced her to admit she was pregnant before 12 weeks, we all felt a lot of sympathy for the Duchess. After all, the 12-week stage is considered the acceptable point to spread the news. We spoke with the experts to find out what to do if you have to break the news early.
It’s very tempting, especially with your first, long-awaited positive test, to tell the whole world your exciting news and yet conventional wisdom tells us to hold back. Who better to walk us through why that is — and what to do if the news leaks — than Doctor and Daughter, a perfect pairing of a renowned obstetrician/gynaecologist and his daughter, now pregnant with her second child?
SheKnows: Why has the 12-week stage become such an important marker? Is there any scientific reason behind it or is it just superstition?
The Doctor and Daughter: Many of the newer and more sensitive tests can test positive even before you have missed a period. At this early time in the pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage may be as high as one in four. Once you have seen foetal movements or a heartbeat on a scan, the risk decreases to less than one in 10, but it is not until that 12-week scan that you can be reasonably sure you have a healthy pregnancy. Remember if you do spread the news early, it can then be very difficult and sad to explain if things do not go well.
SK: Will people “know?” before 12 weeks?
DandD: Although there may be some tell-tale clues, like avoiding your usual gin and tonic and an increase in bra size, you will probably not start to show until 16 weeks. This means there is little risk of discovery, especially in the workplace. Importantly, there is no particular advantage to telling your work colleagues until the pregnancy is more advanced, unless of course, there are complications.
The really difficult decisions concern telling the potential grandparents and close friends, all of whom are eager for you to conceive. Do remember that some of your friends may also be trying, miscarrying or delivering, so be sensitive when you break the news.
SK: When did you personally tell people and why?
DandD: I told a few close friends before the 12-week stage as I was going on a hen night and needed some allies to help me cover up the fact I was not drinking. I picked those people because I realised that if I miscarried or something happened, they were the people I would look to for support. It was quite a relief to share my secret with some other people. I also told close family — and when I went to tell my sister, she beat me to it and told me she was also pregnant.
SK: Do you have any tips for how you break the news?
DandD: I told most of my friends individually and then sent messages to other friends who were more difficult to reach. It was very difficult for me to tell one friend who had been trying to conceive for a long time and had just announced she had miscarried. However, I wanted her to hear from me rather than anyone else. I just took a deep breath and told her. She was very happy for me but also a bit sad because of her own situation. As above, it’s important to be sensitive.
SK: If, like the Duchess, you are forced to announce your pregnancy before 12 weeks, do you have any tips for how to manage information?
DandD: Tell a close circle of confidantes. Consider telling them to wait to hear news from you in the early days instead of asking for information regarding the pregnancy.
SK: And how should we respond in order to be respectful of a new mum’s needs for confidentiality and support?
DandD: Just offer support by respecting her need for privacy at a very difficult and emotional time and respect the fact that, when she wants to reveal information or other pregnancy landmarks, she will do so at her own discretion.