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What’s the point of announcing a pregnancy after 12 weeks?


 Every woman who has ever been pregnant will know about the 12 week rule - If you get through the first trimester of pregnancy, then it is deemed acceptable to announce the expected arrival of your baby. It is like a rite of passage because you are officially in the safe zone. But what exactly are we protecting ourselves from?


What if I told you that there is a community currently existing that is full of women and men who lost their baby after 12 weeks? What if I told you that every day in Australia 6 babies are stillborn (that counts babies who die after 20 weeks gestation); and what if I told you that because this topic is so ridiculously taboo, these women and men are forced to grieve in silence and not talk about their babies? 


 Well, it's happening! 

I remember announcing my pregnancy to my family at only 7 weeks gestation and people telling me it was too soon. My mum would respond to them, "A baby can be lost at any time, so we should celebrate it regardless". People would struggle with this concept, but I really do not understand why.

I did get through the "danger zone" and came out the other end with a complimentary dose of morning sickness. I officially announced it to all my friends and colleagues at that time (even though most already knew), and I felt that everything was full steam ahead after that. My mother’s words never crossed my mind again.

Lauren and James with Sebastian (mumspiration.com.au)Lauren and James with Sebastian (mumspiration.com.au)It wasn't until my 20 week morphology scan (now deemed as the 'doom scan') that I was told my baby was not developing properly and that he had a prenatal diagnosis of "lethal skeletal dysplasia", he was expected to die in utero at any time.

Nine days later I delivered my sleeping Angel, Sebastian, to a silent room. His lifeless body was greeted by his Dad, Grandparents and Great Aunt. I walked around for days after his birth holding Sebastian's burial clothes, I sang songs to his photos and cried myself to sleep every night. It was the darkest time of our lives, and even though it has only been three months since this day, every minute is haunted by the life Sebastian will never get to live, the laugh we will never hear and the cuddles we will never get to give him.

The weeks that followed Sebastian’s birth I would have people say to me, "it's a shame he didn't die at an earlier gestation" or "maybe don't announce the next pregnancy until after the 20 week scan". Yes, you read that correctly - people were thinking that robbing me of time with my son would have been easier and that hiding future pregnancies will be beneficial to everyone. But here is what I know about pregnancy loss: no matter the gestational age of the baby, the baby is very much wanted, loved & cared for. No matter the gestational age, the baby will be missed and the parents will live a life of wondering "what if". 
everything Sebastian was buried with (mumspiration.com.au)everything Sebastian was buried with (mumspiration.com.au)
 The next thing I learned about my son dying in utero is that it's actually an emotional rollercoaster that does not stop. Your child dying makes you feel isolated, and you suddenly realise not many people understand the grief that follows. It's a taboo topic that people don't like to talk about because it makes them uncomfortable. 


 It's not just me; I've had friends endure miscarriages. I didn't even know that they were pregnant at the time due to the silencing of the first trimester. However, what I do know is that as soon as they experienced their miscarriage, they told people. They no longer wanted to deal with the loss by themselves. They wanted support from family and friends, a shoulder to cry on because they too were grieving their baby who died. Yes, grieving parents at times are on the receiving end of heartless comments or opinions by others; however the amazing support that is available from true friends and family, as well as complete strangers certainly outnumbers the negativity.

In Australia, it is estimated that 150 000 couples endure pregnancy loss each year with one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage before 20 weeks gestation. However, a loss can occur at any stage and for many, many different reasons. That makes it 1 in 4 pregnant women going through this heart ache, and potentially going through it alone. 

Lauren O'Meara giving final kiss goodbye to son, Sebastian. (mumspiration.com.au)Lauren O'Meara giving final kiss goodbye to son, Sebastian. (mumspiration.com.au)
My question I want you to ponder - why are we putting rules on when it's ok to announce a pregnancy? Is it because we expect the couple to grieve silently if they do lose their baby? Is it because we do not count those little lost heartbeats as a loss? Or is it because we do not know how to support these women and men?


And why are we as pregnant women not announcing our pregnancies early? I can admit that I was guilty of having the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mentality, but I was mistaken. What if it does happen to you? Do you plan on going back to routine like nothing happened? From my experience, whether you are grieving the baby that died or the endless torture of infertility, I can guarantee you that this is not something you would want to battle on your own. It can be a long and torturous battle, but whether you fight it in isolation or not, is up to you.


I guess my point is to get you to reflect on what you are hoping to achieve by keeping it a secret for 12 weeks. If you can weigh up the different scenarios and identify which is more beneficial to you emotionally and physically, then that is great! But don’t keep the pregnancy a secret just because society tells you to. If you ask any mother who has lost her child in pregnancy or birth, they will tell you that there is no ‘safe zone’. The only way we can make grieving parents feel less isolated is if we help break the silence by raising awareness of how common it is and the impact it has on lives. You can help end this taboo.