Saturday, March 14, 2009

Start Spreading the News?




One of the most exciting parts of finding out you’re pregnant is getting the chance to share that news with family, friends and loved ones. The question of when to tell people is really a personal choice: some women can’t wait to reveal their good news and choose to spill the beans right away, while others prefer to wait until they are a bit further along or even until the physical signs are obvious enough that most people probably already know. Again, who you choose to tell and when is something you and your partner should discuss and decide for yourselves. Here are some things you may want to consider.


  • It is rare but not impossible to get a false positive result on a home pregnancy test. Some women choose to wait until they’ve seen their doctor and confirmed the results before letting anyone in on the secret.

  • Early pregnancy, especially for a first-time mom, can be a very confusing and trying time. Both emotional and physical changes are taking place, and you might find it helpful to have some support and advice from friends and family during these early weeks and months.

  • Telling people early on also means you don’t have to make up excuses for why you’re not having that glass of wine with dinner, or explain why you’ve been so moody or feeling sick in the morning.

  • Miscarriage is a devastating event however it happens, but many women especially dread the possibility of involving other people in that difficult experience, should it happen. Whether it’s because they don’t want to get people’s hopes up, or because they don’t want to have to deal with the questions, or they simply wouldn’t want others to know if they miscarried for whatever reason, many women are hesitant to let the cat too far out of the bag when uncertainty exists. Your risk of miscarriage drops dramatically once you enter your second trimester; for that reason, it is common for women to wait until this time to begin telling people.

    Another perspective on that, however, is that since miscarriage is such a tragic occurrence in a woman’s life, having to go through something of that magnitude alone and with limited support can be very difficult. It could be beneficial to the grieving process to have someone you can talk to about your situation. Also, since it can be a very emotional time, it is likely that people will notice a change in your demeanor or behavior, which could prompt uncomfortable questions. I know a few women who had originally chosen to keep the news to themselves, but after miscarrying, ended up telling one or two trusted friends to help them through it.

  • If you wait long enough, your body will eventually begin telling people in its own ways. Some women start showing very early, within the first few months; others, not until well into their second trimester. At some point, however, people will almost certainly begin to notice. You may choose to wait until you simply can’t hide it anymore and your growing abdomen spills the beans for you. However, you should consider how this might make certain people feel, both about not being told and the awkward position you may have put them in by making them wonder and perhaps even ask whether or not you are pregnant.

  • No matter what stage of your pregnancy you decide to begin telling people, you will probably want to tell those closest to you first, face to face or, if they live further away, over the phone. This is the kind of news that close family and friends often prefer to hear firsthand, rather than through the grapevine or, say, in a letter, e-mail or text message.

  • There are certain situations where you should discuss your pregnancy, even if it’s only with a few absolutely necessary individuals. For example, if you are in a high-risk pregnancy (due to a pre-existing condition or prior miscarriage, for example) it might be advisable for someone to know what’s up in case something should happen. Also, if you are in a joint living situation, whether it be with roommates or family members, anyone who will be directly effected by the arrival of your new bundle of joy, they have a right to know about it. It’s no different than if you were going to ask someone else to move in with you, or if you were thinking of getting a pet; they need to be informed of the major change that is about to happen in their day to day living space so that they can prepare or, if need be, arrange for a new living situation.

  • One of the major questions a lot of women ask is when to tell their boss that they are pregnant. Again, this is a personal choice and depends on a number of factors: what type of work you do, your relationship with your boss, whether you plan to take maternity leave, whether you plan to return to that job after your time off, etc. For example, if you are in a line of work that is strenuous, dangerous or otherwise physically challenging from a pregnancy standpoint, you may went to tell your boss earlier than most so that you don’t risk harming yourself or the baby.

    There will be a lot of things to consider and discuss with your partner and/or family members before sitting down with your boss, so don’t jump right into it without having a definite agreed-upon plan in place. Will you be returning to work full-time, part-time or not at all? Will you or your partner stay home with the baby during the day, or will a family member be able to babysit, or will you use outside childcare? Will one parent’s salary be enough to support your family if you or your partner does decide to become a stay-at-home parent? Do you feel comfortable being away from your child during the day, or leaving him in the care of others? You should also review your company’s maternity leave policy when making these decisions. How much time do they offer? Will you be paid for all or a portion of your leave, or is their maternity leave plan unpaid? Are there supplemental plans available, either through your company or perhaps through your medical insurance or state programs, to offer additional time or income? These and many more questions will need to be answered in order to produce a picture of what you want your work life to be like after the baby is born, so that you can in turn convey that to your boss.

    You have to be prepared for the possibility that your boss may not consider this news as welcome and exciting as you do. Most women receive positive and supportive feedback from their employers, but this is not always the case. It’s important to remember that you do have certain rights. Please visits these links for more information on maternity leave rights:

    BabyCenter.com: Maternity Leave Basics
    Parents.com: Maternity Leave Rights
    Salary.com: Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Information

  • If you and/or your partner have other children, you may also be wondering not only when but how to tell them about their new sibling-to-be. For the same reasons as mentioned earlier, many women wait to say anything until after their first trimester. This may be especially true in the case of telling children, because as little as they may understand about pregnancy, they will understand even less about miscarriage.

    Beyond that, how and when you choose to tell them will first depend largely on their age. Older children will notice the signs on their own sooner and be more aware of people discussing it around them, so you will want to tell them before it becomes too obvious or before they hear it from someone else.

    Most of the women I’ve talked to with pre-school and early elementary-aged children waited until they had a small but somewhat noticeable bump – they say that this gives them something to show the child when they’re explaining it and makes it more “real” for them.

    Very young children will not likely not grasp the concept that you are growing a brother or sister for them in your belly, but you should talk about it with them any way.

    I think the most important thing is to be as open and honest as possible, and to make the other children feel like they will be involved in the process and that the arrival of a new little one will be fun and rewarding for them. Explaining that they will get to be a big brother or sister and you will need their help to take care of their new younger sibling may be a good way to make them feel like they will be included. A friend of mine bought her son an “I’m the Big Brother” T-shirt, which he said made him feel special. Maybe even ask them for name suggestions or to help pick out nursery colors. Encourage them to talk about their feelings or ask questions about the situation. Be prepared that they might want to have the “where do babies come from” conversation, so you may want to take some time to at least consider how this discussion will go before approaching it with your child. You can’t possibly be prepared for all the questions they may ask (kids do say the darnedest things), but it helps to at least have a game plan.

    Be aware that children handle this kind of news in different ways. Some are excited at the prospect of having a new brother or sister. Some may want to take on a helper and/or protector role. Others may become jealous or resentful of this new person stealing mommy and daddy’s attention or replacing them as the “baby” of the family. Again, try to make your other children feel as involved and loved as possible by giving them special tasks, making special time to play with them, listening to them and talking to them about how they’re feeling, letting them help with the preparation for and care of the new baby, etc. If you feel it is necessary you may want to involve a family counselor to help your children assimilate and accept the idea of a new addition to the family.
Of course, everyone's circumstances are different and there may be many more things you will have to consider before choosing who to tell and when. Frankly, you may not care about any of these things and just start telling people as soon as the pee is dry on the pregnancy test. Again, there is no right or wrong answer here. It is a personal choice that each individual mommy-to-be has to make. Share with as many or as few people as you'd like. Just do what's right for you and have fun with this exciting time in your life. The rest will fall into place.

~*~

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