First things first: There is actually no wrong time to announce that you’re pregnant.
“Patients ask me all the time, ‘When is it safe to tell everyone we’re expecting?’” says Heather Bartos, an OB-GYN in Cross Roads, Texas. “And I always tell them the same thing: Use your discretion. The decision is entirely up to you.”
It can also be a slow roll-out, if you prefer. “Announcing your pregnancy to one person—or one group of people—does not mean you need to tell everyone all at once,” says Bartos. Your boss does not need to know at the same time as your mom or your best friend. (Just be sure your news-holders can keep it under wraps.)
Take me, for instance: While I waited until I was about 13 weeks to tell my officemates, my husband and I called my in-laws with the happy news moments after my pregnancy test yielded that awesome-scary-life-changing double pink line. (In fact, I’m pretty sure we dialled the grandparents-to-be before the stick had finished calculating all of my changing hormones.)
My husband and I cherished those first 10 weeks or so, when so few people knew our news. It was our special secret. And delaying the “we’re expecting” announcement also helped us gradually adjust to the idea ourselves.
Of course, my reasons for spilling and not spilling may be different than yours. There are a variety of factors to weigh when deciding the perfect time to share—and with whom. Here’s what to consider before you announce your pregnancy.
The early-bird announcers
Not everyone shouts the news super-duper early. “It’s usually pretty traditional to wait until the end of the first trimester, around 12 weeks, when miscarriage risk greatly decreases,” says Bartos. “But there are several good reasons to share earlier.” For instance:
“I shared the news with family at six weeks,” says Bartos, a mother of two herself. “We had IVF pregnancies. In fact, most of the earlier-announcers in my own practice have gone through IVF, too.” When everyone close to you already knows you’re going through in vitro (which often requires daily blood work, many months—or years—of treatment, and lots of medical appointments), it’s almost unnatural not to disclose the latest developments.
Extreme morning sickness
“This kind of physical burden coupled with not sharing the news can be quite isolating for some women,” says Shara Brofman, a clinical psychologist specializing in reproductive and perinatal mental health at the Seleni Institute in New York. “Telling early is a means to garner support.” Plus, if you’re unable to work, or feeling ill all day (and all night) long, coworkers and family are bound to notice. One way to deal with extreme morning sickness is to discuss accommodations with your workplace.
This might seem counterintuitive, but for some women who have experienced a pregnancy loss in the past, letting others know early on is exactly what they need. Pregnancy after miscarriage can be a roller coaster of emotions, and some couples know they will want support and extra check-ins from loved ones, whatever happens. “Ask yourself how you tend to cope with stressful situations,” says Brofman. “If, for you, it often helps to have a few friends and family to safely share your feelings with, you might want to announce to some early.”
While The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada [SOGC] recommends that women have their “dating” ultrasound—meaning the scan when you find out your due date—at 11 to 14 weeks, some women get their scans earlier. (This might be recommended, for example, if you have irregular periods or aren’t sure of the date of your last period.) Practitioners can often determine gestational age via ultrasound (either using a traditional abdominal ultrasound or an internal vaginal probe) after seven weeks.
Some genetic screening is back
Some, but not all, pregnant women receive non-invasive prenatal testing (sometimes called cell-free DNA or cfDNA, or the Harmony test) as early as 10 weeks (depending on your age, whether the pregnancy is high risk, and other factors). Here, parents-to-be can learn whether there are any indications of Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities a bit earlier than the more traditional screening that’s typically completed between weeks 11 and 14. As a bonus, if you choose, the NIPT can also determine the sex of the baby, without waiting for the anatomy scan. (If you do not do the NIPT, you’ll get a nuchal translucency scan, an ultrasound that measures the fetus’s neck fluid—see below.) “For some, getting more information helps them feel more confident to announce,” explains Brofman.
“If you’re set to travel to high-risk areas, meaning areas that are prone to the Zika virus, you’ll need to share your news—and very likely—change your plans,” says Bartos. (Contracting the Zika virus while pregnant poses significant risks to the fetus.)
The 12-week announcers
The close of the first trimester and the start of the second is primetime for pregnancy announcements, notes Bartos. Reasons to announce at this stage include:
Miscarriage rate drops
Come trimester number two, most women’s chances of miscarriage drops to between 1 and 5 percent, notes the March of Dimes. “Because of this, many couples now feel more comfortable bringing people in on their excitement—and even allowing themselves to feel their own excitement more fully,” says Marissa Long, a licensed clinical and reproductive health psychologist in Southern California.
Some genetic screening is back
Between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy, most women receive a blood test and/or an ultrasound that, together, look for markers that could indicate an extra or missing chromosome, such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21), trisomy 18 and trisomy 13. “Getting the results can be reassuring; parents-to-be have more info that can encourage them to share their news,” says Brofman.
Morning sickness and exhaustion may improveStop everything and watch this pregnancy announcement that went hilariously wrong
The late announcers
Living in a world of perfectly styled letter-board pregnancy announcements on Instagram, it can be hard to remember that not everyone wants to publicize their pregnancy to the social media masses ASAP. Some reasons why you may want to wait:
Whether your pregnancy was planned or not, many women are unsure of their feelings about becoming a parent. “When you’re aware that others will react with excitement and they’ll expect the same from you, it can be easier to avoid that pressure rather than pretend or force an emotion that you don’t have,” says Long. In addition, a pregnancy announcement often puts the spotlight squarely on mom-to-be. If you’re attention-shy, you may simply want to savour your privacy for as long as you can.
Past pregnancy loss
While some women who’ve experienced miscarriage or loss want to share early, others have the opposite reaction. “And both are totally fine—and normal,” says Brofman. Bartos says that many of her patients who’ve experienced miscarriage in prior pregnancies choose to wait. “If you announce it and then lose the pregnancy early, it can take a lot out of you to inform everyone about the news. This can actually cause some PTSD,” she says.
The anatomy scan
Between weeks 18 and 20, women get their anatomy scan (also known as a level two ultrasound), at which they can learn their baby’s sex (if so inclined). At the same time, a clinician checks to see if the baby’s size and position are on target and the baby’s brain, heart, lungs, and other organs are developing as expected. “For those who have a very real concern about genetic disorders, they may not share their news until this scan offers some reassurance,” says Long.
For the majority of first-time mothers, the tell-tale baby bump usually “pops” at about 14 to 16 weeks of pregnancy, making it harder not to share (without some very strategic wardrobe adaptations).
In the end, there is no single right time to announce your pregnancy. In fact, says Long, “even the idea that there is a ‘right’ time can cause distress and create worries.”
Instead, go with your gut. Or your baby bump—whichever compels you to share first.