The 12-Week Rule & Four Women Who Broke It
If you’re early in the early stages of pregnancy, you’ve probably already started dreaming up the cute social media reveal you’ll break out around the three-month mark. You’ve probably also told yourself you just have to get through those silent months of pregnancy, in all their morning sickness-riddled glory. But here’s the thing about the first trimester: It. Feels. Never. Ending.
If the silent months are testing your patience in some serious ways, consider this: You don’t have to hide your secret until that 12-week milestone. While most couples prefer to hold off until the risk of miscarriage plummets at that point, there are some to-be parents out there who share their happy news right away. And you know what? That’s pretty awesome.
There’s no right or wrong time to share your news, and there are considerable benefits to spilling the beans. For one thing, staying tight-lipped about a pregnancy is so, so hard. Chances are, you’ll want to shout your news from the rooftops. There’s also the whole morning sickness thing – explaining that you’re pregnant means family members, friends, and co-workers will be way more sensitive to your needs if you’re feeling sick or exhausted. And while miscarriages are common in the first trimester, maybe that presents an even more compelling reason to share your news: If you do suffer a loss, you’ll want all the support you can get. And who knows? Maybe if we all stopped keeping our pregnancies under wraps, we’d have more open conversations around pregnancy loss.
Whatever your reason for telling may be, breaking that 12-week “rule” is totally acceptable. A few women who went that route shared their experiences to show not everyone stayed…well, silent, during the silent months of pregnancy.
The Woman Who Was Too Excited To Keep Quiet
Cori Magnotta, a 34-year-old fitness instructor, was lucky enough to get pregnant as soon as she started trying — she was shocked and over-the-moon excited, and she didn’t bother waiting to share her happy news.
“I told my boss immediately, my husband told his family, and I even posted it on Facebook. The thought of waiting didn’t even occur to me,” Magnotta says.
I had heard of [the 12-week rule] before but I think I thought it was more of a high-risk thing.
No one ever warned Magnotta against sharing her news so early, but a few people were surprised at her decision to do so. She told a woman sitting near her on a plane immediately. “She told me she was 12 weeks along and said, ‘How many weeks are you?’ The answer was four and she was like, ‘Oh and you’re sharing it?’” she recalls. Her mother-in-law also mentioned that maybe she shouldn’t have posted the announcement on Facebook so early.
By her own admission, Magnotta wasn’t aware of how common it is to keep a pregnancy under wraps until that 12-week mark. “I had heard of [the 12-week rule] before but I think I thought it was more of a high-risk thing,” she says. “I thought it was something women over 40 pay attention to. I didn’t think anyone my age really waited. Now that I am a mom I see pregnancy announcements and I see that plenty of people wait.”
But even moms who are well aware of how common it is to wait out those silent months – and of the fact that first trimester miscarriages are really quite common – are opting to share their news right away.
The Woman Who Wanted A Support System
When Julie Burton got pregnant in 2005, she knew she didn’t want to keep her news a secret. She also knew miscarriage was a real possibility. “You always hear about losing your baby, especially in the first trimester and [people] always [tell you not to] say anything [until you’re past that point]. But I thought if I told everyone and I did lose the baby, at least I would have a support system. I was mentally preparing myself for that.”
I understand why [people] keep it a secret but I had a good experience in telling — but I also didn’t lose a baby so I don’t know.
Burton told her family, in-laws and friends “pretty much the same day” she learned she was expecting. “I wouldn’t change it. I don’t know what it would be like to hold a secret that long,” she said. “I didn’t want to be at the hospital losing a baby and have everyone shocked that I was even pregnant. I wanted them to know.”
Sharing her news made the logistics of early pregnancy easier as well: Her friends and family members understood when she was too tired to do certain things, and she didn’t have to make up excuses as to why she wasn’t drinking.
“I understand why [people] keep it a secret but I had a good experience in telling – but I also didn’t lose a baby so I don’t know,” Burton, a magazine writer, tells Romper. “It would have been devastating but at least I would have had my group there. I think people should remember that. You shouldn’t have to suffer in private.”
The Woman Who Wouldn't Share It Early Again
Jennifer Lizza also opted to forgo the silent months of pregnancy, but sadly, she lost her baby at 10 weeks. “I was told during an ultrasound that the baby had no heartbeat,” she said. “As if that wasn't devastating enough, I now was forced to tell everyone I lost the baby. Even worse were the people I forgot to tell, only to have to tell them when they asked things like, ‘Do you know what you're having?’ It was then that I wished I had kept the news close to the vest until after 12 weeks.”
I felt like the moment I got married at 29 all eyes were on me as to when I was going to become pregnant.
While Lizza opted to keep subsequent pregnancies secrets until the 12-week mark, sharing her news made navigating early pregnancy a bit easier. “I was pretty nauseous in the early days and it felt impossible to hide it at work,” she said. “It was a very male-dominated office and to be honest, I felt like the moment I got married at 29 all eyes were on me as to when I was going to become pregnant. Initially I was going to keep it to myself, but my bosses started to question things like why I had to leave for a doctor’s appointment.”
The Woman Who Wanted Her Boss To Understand
Abby Despins, who is currently pregnant with her second baby, echoes this line of thinking. “I was very sick and it helped my boss understand why,” she explains. “I was also able to confide in my mom and close friends when I had questions or wasn't feeling well. It made the first trimester a lot less lonely, and people were much more understanding with my sickness and mood!”
We decided to tell my immediate family when I was only four weeks along.
Managing her symptoms wasn’t the only benefit of sharing her news. “I knew there was a ‘risk’ in sharing the news early if something went wrong [like a miscarriage], but I know so many women who have gone through [miscarriage]. I honestly felt like I wouldn't be ashamed or embarrassed if this happened. On top of that, it felt a little silly to hide it and trying to sneak non-alcoholic drinks around friends and family. We decided to tell my immediate family when I was only four weeks along, with the promise that they didn't share it with the entire world, of course. We also told my in-laws, my boss and very close friends before I was eight weeks along.”
Despins represents that middle ground: Unlike Magnotta, she didn’t share the news in a public forum right away; instead, she opted to tell people in waves of importance.
When it comes to pregnancy news, your decision to tell or not tell doesn’t need to be a black-or-white decision. Many couples keep the news to themselves, but many others share the news with parents and close friends immediately. Others are willing to tell strangers while hiding the news from their social circles. And then there are couples who take the no-holds-barred approach and share the news on social media for all the world to see.
Although both Magnotta and Lizza shared news of their first pregnancies right away, both women wouldn’t do this again. “If I get pregnant again I think I’d definitely wait. I now know other moms, I know all the things that could go wrong, so the second time around, I’d definitely wait,” Magnotta said. “But the first time around I had no clue. I thought [miscarriages were] rare because people don’t really talk about them. Now that I have mom friends, maybe a third of them have had early miscarriages.”
“I think everyone has to do what they feel comfortable with, but after losing a baby I decided never to share again until we reached 12 weeks and had heard the heartbeat,” Lizza says. “I did not share the news with anyone about being pregnant with either of my sons until the 12-week mark. To me, those first weeks felt so vulnerable. And to be honest, it was nice having that time for [me and] my husband to soak it all in.”
While Lizza and Magnotta wouldn’t share pregnancy news before the 12-mark in the future, the other two women we spoke to would — and that’s a pretty clear indicator that there’s no right or wrong time to broadcast your news. You could go so far as to post it on social media the day you find out, wait until you’re in the safe zone to tell even your closest friends and family members, or you could pull a Kylie Jenner and wait until you’ve delivered to tell the world. The bottom line? It’s your body, your baby, your business. How, when and whom you tell is your choice and your choice alone.