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Do we need the 12-week rule

woman touching belly - Genea AustraliaThe 12-week rule is the unwritten rule that says you should not share your pregnancy news until you hit the 12-week mark, the point at which most pregnancies are considered safe and likely to be successful. It implies that telling people you are pregnant before that time means you will have to tell them the bad news if something goes wrong, and that somehow this is not ok.

The real issue is why is there such a “rule” rather than leaving this choice entirely up to the only people whose opinions matter – the pregnant woman or couple?

  1. Your pregnancy is no one else’s business but your own, you may want to enjoy it completely privately for a little while.
  2. If you are one of the 1 in 4 affected by baby loss, you might not want to grieve publicly about it, you may not want to have to tell people what happened.
  3. When you are pregnant people may want to wrap you in cotton wool, or judge what you do or what you eat, you may want to avoid that for as long as possible.
  4. It can invite unwelcome advice from well-meaning friends and family members.
  5. And if this is a rainbow pregnancy, you may not want the assurances or concerns of others crowding your head.
  1. Early pregnancy can be awful, with morning sickness, anxiety and much you don’t know, the support and guidance of others can be so helpful at this time.
  2. Miscarriage should not need to be a secret, though it can be private. It is not something shameful to be hidden and ignored. It is a loss that needs to be grieved and grieving often benefits from support. If others don’t know of your loss, they cannot support you.
  3. You won’t have to lie, or pretend or fake drink when out with others.
  4. Advice from others who have been there can be so supportive and encouraging.
  5. People who know your story can share in this part of your journey; help you build your village.
At the end of the day, there really is no rule. This is your pregnancy and your choice, so think hard about what is best for you, and then do that – and that will be just right.

Many members of our community strongly agreed with Evelyn that it is still a personal choice regardless of what the wider community might try to impose. And sometimes that choice can change from pregnancy to pregnancy and that’s fine too.

“Grief is different for everyone ... some of us that lose babies want to talk about it, some don’t and personally I can think of nothing worse than discussing such a private matter at such a traumatic time. This is all hugely personal, and each person is different ... no one should be forced to announce their pregnant or forced not to ... make the choice yours.”

“I shared my joyful news as soon as I found out. I also shared my IVF journey as I was going through it because I think it is important in helping others. I also didn’t want my work colleagues thinking I was super crazy whilst injecting hormones and I suspected I may have needed some nurturing during the difficult time. It turned out that my experience did help others and I also believe that pregnancy loss needs to be normalised as many, many people experience it and they need to know they are not alone. Thankfully I have not experienced it, but I would like people to know that I am here for them if they need to talk, hug, cry, sit in silence etc.”

“It is a personal choice. I never felt ‘shamed’ into ‘keeping quiet’ about either of my ongoing pregnancies until beyond 12 wks. Nor do I think that it is ‘socially unacceptable’ to reveal a first trimester pregnancy, even if that pregnancy does not continue on. As far as I’m concerned there is no ‘12-week rule’.”

“I would keep it a secret. I’m the type of person who likes to deal with things like that on my own. I don’t like people feeling sorry for me.”

“After our miscarriage at 13 & a half weeks, I think I will be more open about being pregnant even in the early days next time. I wouldn’t go crazy telling the world but people close to me I would share the news.
Simply because I don’t think I could have gotten through the last 6 weeks without these people in my corner.
Not to mention we were past 12 weeks, out of the “safe period” it just proves there is no safe period, so I think I’d definitely need the support if anything bad happened again.”

“Our parents, siblings, close friends and my work know. I'm 6w. We have our scan next week and if that's OK we will broaden the scope of who knows. But won't be making any public announcements until after the 12-week scan, more out of my own anxiety about having to "untell" people if something goes wrong in those 5 weeks between scans.”
Our Counselling team is available to our patients via email, phone or Skype. Please contact them on counselling@genea.com.au or Genea Hollywood at perth@genea.com.au.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is a Genea Group blog and as such information may not be relevant for all clinics. We advise that you consult clinics directly for further information.