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It's time we stopped judging people for announcing their pregnancy early

Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Britney Spears posted a heartbreaking statement on her Instagram page notifying her followers that she and her fiancé Sam Asghari were no longer expecting a baby. “It is with our deepest sadness we have to announce that we have lost our miracle baby early in the pregnancy,” the statement read. “Perhaps we should have waited to announce until we were further along however we were overly excited to share the good news.

The desire to share the news early is something I can totally understand. As a self-confessed over-sharer, I have never understood the longstanding notion that pregnancy should be kept a secret until you’re roughly 12 weeks or more. The thinking goes that since miscarriage is most likely in the first trimester (80% of all miscarriages occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy), and as Britney alluded to, it's thought better to wait to announce in order to save yourself having to explain what happened if your pregnancy were to end.

To me, this feels like a rotten hangover from the “stiff upper lip” generations who refused to discuss or even acknowledge topics that were deemed taboo, including mental health. In doing so, however, it deprived people of support when they needed it the most. Luckily, over the past decade we're learning that staying silent on a subject doesn't mean it doesn't exist and being open with friends and family can greatly improve health outcomes and recovery. Except when it comes to pregnancy and miscarriage, it seems.

While the 12-week rule isn't written in any official guidance, it's still very much an unwritten instruction and expectation. Even Britney's statement has an underlying tone of shame about sharing early in her pregnancy, as if she was anticipating that we would judge her or say, “told you so”.

When I found out I was pregnant in January this year, I was bursting to tell my friends and, indeed, I did tell a few select people. As morning sickness crept in and I started struggling with everyday life, I knew I needed additional support, especially at work. My symptoms continued to worsen and I became increasingly frustrated that people were actually advised to suffer in silence. I also remember being baffled by the idea that if I were to miscarry, no one would know. For me, that wouldn't be a blessing! I wouldn't be grateful that I kept my mouth shut. It would be incredibly lonely and difficult to have to pretend everything was fine and nothing had happened.

Obviously, there's a difference between me telling a moderate amount of people in my life, and Britney Spears telling her 41 million Instagram followers. Explaining something to friends and family is one thing, but explaining a tragedy to millions of strangers is another ordeal altogether and I can understand why many celebrities keep their pregnancies private for as long as they do.

Nonetheless, the early stages of pregnancy is arguably the hardest, and enforced silence only breeds loneliness, despair and anxiety. Let's start embracing people sharing their pregnancies as they wish, and encourage them to do so, without the worry of being met with judgement or alarm.

This article was originally published on Glamour UK.

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