Getting pregnant again after a miscarriage can be an overwhelming mix of wonderful and worrying. For mingling with your joy at conceiving, there’s the anxiety about how things will progress. Not to mention the grief you’re still carrying for the baby you lost.
And then there’s the not-so-small matter of when is the right time to tell other people about your new pregnancy. Is it wise to wait till your pregnancy’s further along and you’re (hopefully) worrying a little less? Or is it better to tell people straightaway?
“It is normal and understandable to be anxious when pregnant after a loss,” says Ruth Bender Atik from the Miscarriage Association. “Having had the rug pulled out from under you before, it is hard to feel confident that all will be well this time. Getting support early on from people who listen and understand can really help you through.”
But, as Ruth acknowledges, there’s no right or wrong time to break the news, and it may be that, in the emotionally challenging early days of your pregnancy, you’d feel better – for whatever reason – seeking support in an online forum (like MadeForMums Chat) or from a healthcare professional, rather than from your friends and family.
Here, we’ve pulled together here some of the things you may want to consider – including how other women have felt in this situation – but, ultimately, when it comes to announcing your new pregnancy, you have to do the right thing for yourself…
When should you tell your partner?
You may want to tell your partner the moment you see the dark line on the pregnancy test. Or you may, like Ann Marie who took part in MadeForMums Bump Project research, want to wait a while before sharing the news with your other half.
“I didn’t know what to do for a week,” she says. “I was sitting on it. I’d been through a miscarriage and that was really difficult so I think, more than anything, I just wanted to give myself time to process it before I told my partner – even though he is super-supportive and lovely.
“When I did decide to tell him, I did want to tell him a sweet way so I got a little Babygro and it said, ‘Me and my mum love Daddy’, and he just smiled at me and kind of gave me a big hug and a kiss.”
Whether you decide to share straightaway or wait, what’s maybe more important is to be prepared for the fact that your partner may not necessarily react to your news in the way you might be expecting.
“Your experience of pregnancy loss may have brought you and your partner closer,” says Ruth, “or it may have put your relationship under strain.
“And you each may feel differently about this pregnancy. Perhaps one of you was more worried than the other about trying again, or one of you is feeling more optimistic than the other this time. You may be hiding your real feelings to protect your partner and that can be stressful in itself.
“But if you can find a way – early on – to talk to each other about how you are feeling, it may help you support each other.”
When is the best time to tell family and friends?
This can be a really hard one. But again, remember that this is about you, not them. And if you want to keep the news all to yourself for a long while or some people early on but not tell others till later, then that’s fine.
“You may feel reluctant to ‘announce’ your pregnancy to everyone, especially in those first few weeks, just in case things go wrong and you have to ‘un-tell’ everyone,” says Ruth.
That’s certainly how MadeForMums Chat forum poster Osborne felt. “I really haven’t enjoyed telling people,” she posted. “It makes me feel nervous again about what might happen, and I just wanted to keep control of it, I guess.”
And MrsMc88 who also posts on our MadeForMums Chat forum has decided, for just those reasons, not to tell people for as long as possible. “We have no intentions of telling anyone for as long as possible for fear of what might happen again,” she posted. “Our 1st scan is this Friday and, even if all is well, we won’t tell anyone. The plan is to tell people at 20 weeks.”
But it’s worth considering that telling some of the people you’re close to much earlier on may mean you have someone to turn to on days when you’re feeling particularly wobbly.
“It can be helpful to build a network of support around you, and it may be that sharing with your very close friends and family early on will give you someone to talk with about your concerns, worries, fears – not mention any health issues that may come up physically, emotionally and mentally,” says Rebecca Lockwood, a neuro linguistic programming master coach and hypnosis trainer.
“You may find it helps to tell a few chosen people,” agrees Ruth, “perhaps those who were supportive after your loss and are likely to be supportive now, too.”
When is the right time to announce your pregnancy on social media?
You may have seen other social-media posts about ‘rainbow babies’ or ‘rainbow pregnancies’ (phrases many people use to describe pregnancy or births after miscarriage) and those people may have found it really helpful to ‘go public’ about their pregnancy after loss but you certainly shouldn’t put yourself under any pressure to announce anything on social media, unless you want to.
“As with telling your friends, family or colleagues in person,” says Ruth, “you must do what feels right to you. Many people do choose to announce their pregnancy on social media these days. But if you’re feeling anxious about this pregnancy, you may not want your wider circle to know anything until your baby arrives. It’s a very personal decision.”
“The important thing is to remember that this is your and your partner’s journey,” says Rebecca, “and you will both know if and when it feels like the right time to begin sharing with your wider community.”
What if I have to tell work before family and friends?
Of course, this can often be a position pregnant women find themselves in – whether they’ve had a previous miscarriage or not. And that’s because early pregnancy is making you feel ill or faint or because you need work to adjust your working conditions to take your pregnancy into account.
But it can be doubly difficult if you’ve previously miscarried because you may feel particularly emotionally raw or like you have a lot more explaining to do.
“Do remember that you’re entitled to paid time off for antenatal appointments,” says Ruth, “and, in your situation, you may want to take advantage of these as soon as possible, especially if you’re likely to be having early scans, for example.
And your manager and close colleagues may also offer extra support and understanding – which, as it’s away from your inevitably more emotionally loaded family environment, you actually might find super-helpful.
“My manager and HR knew, as I was signed off at 6 weeks due to bleeding,” says MrsFish on our forum. “This was only a few months after being signed off for miscarriage but they have been excellent!”
How to handle people’s reactions (including when they say tactless things)
When you share your news, you should prepare yourself for a gamut of reactions from those you have told.
Some people may come across as over-enthusiastic about the pregnancy, a reaction that may jar with you if you and your partner have decided to err on the side of caution.
Or some people may try and dampen your excitement in a misguided attempt to ensure your expectations are managed.
“Some people may find it difficult to know what to say, or they may say nothing at all,” says Ruth.
“Most people do want to support you, but they might not know how. If someone says something tactless or hurtful, you might feel like you’d rather just try and ignore their comments and protect your own wellbeing for now.
“On the other hand, you may want to say something like, ‘I know you mean well, but actually that’s not really the best thing to say’ – and tell them what you’d rather hear.”
Above all, keep in mind that, however it seems at the time, no one is saying anything to deliberately upset you. “We have to remember that people are only acting based on their own perceptions of what’s happened,” says Rebecca. “They may have never experienced loss themselves or have any understanding of what is really going on for you.
“Just remember that your feelings are valid. Remember always to check back in with yourself and talk to the people closest to you.”