This week, I came across an article titled “No More Isolation: Why More Women are Sharing Pregnancy News During the First Trimester”. I am so glad this is happening! I have fallen pregnant three times, the second of which ended in miscarriage - but all three times we told family and friends as soon as we knew. And having experienced both these happy and painful outcomes of pregnancy, we still wouldn’t do it any other way.
Of course, sharing the news is a very personal thing. It is understandable that many mums-to-be keep it secret in the first 12 weeks, being in a very vulnerable place. But for my husband and myself, we really feel like the positives outweigh the negatives.
First and foremost, the joy! We love sharing the wonderful news of a new addition and allowing our loved ones to enjoy the excitement with us. Plus it’s a lot easier to be open about why I’m not drinking or why I’m so tired! And when we lost our second baby (I was 9 weeks pregnant), we then had an army behind us to help us endure our sorrow. We felt so supported and loved by the people who were there for us - whether they called, texted, sent flowers or just prayed. What is the point of friends and family if they are there when things are good, but not when we suffer?
I can’t imagine the isolation some couples feel when they haven’t told anyone about the pregnancy and then have to deal with the loss. When we suffered the miscarriage, so many women told me of their experiences too - women who I thought I knew but I had no idea they’d been through the same thing! Going through it made me realise how common it really was.
I think another reason for sharing our pregnancies and being open about our experience of miscarriage is to help and stop certain stigmas. Because as much as they shouldn’t exist in this day and age, they do. They exist as a subconscious thought that perhaps the mother was to blame - maybe she had some seafood, or some alcohol, or didn’t take it easy enough - and often it is the mother herself who is most guilty of these beliefs. But I know that my miscarriage wasn’t my fault. For some reason, that I’ll probably never know, that baby was not meant to be on earth.
Or then there’s the stigma that others don’t need to know that baby ever existed - that because he or she didn’t make it to full-term, the baby isn’t worth grieving over. Well this certainly isn’t the case. My second child existed just as much as my others do, and so we did grieve, and I still do in certain moments. And it wasn’t just my husband and I; our families and friends grieved with us.
Women need a support system through pregnancy, even (and mostly) if it ends in miscarriage. I think it’s a really healthy thing that women are becoming more comfortable with sharing their news earlier.
Tamara El-Rahi is a full-time mother of two and freelance writer from Sydney