Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Welcome to pregnancy, this very special stage in your life.
Early pregnancy can feel like a bit of a secret time. It’s not quite official yet, and might feel a little bit lonely or isolated. Some people find that they don’t have any professional support in early pregnancy. It’s possible if you’ve had IVF or any previous pregnancy complications, you might have some doctors and midwives supporting you very early on. But if you’ve got a normal, healthy pregnancy, you might feel like you know what to do or where to go next. So this is just to help you get through those first few weeks of limbo.
Pregnancy can feel a bit like limbo because you are between friends and lifestyle. Those of your old world, and those of your new world as a mum. And this is a particularly strong feeling if it’s your first baby. At this stage you may not actually feel pregnant, or you could have the beginnings of pregnancy symptoms, including sensitive and large breasts, you might have a little bit of nausea, and you are probably beginning to feel very fatigued. Many women very early in pregnancy start to feel completely exhausted and would just love to sleep for 14 or 16 hours a day. If you can, go ahead and do it!
I’m going to be talking about two main topics. The first one is about early pregnancy anxiety. The second is about whether you should hide your pregnancy, or tell people about your pregnancy.
Stress And Strain
So to start with, the anxiety. I want to help to stop you from losing your mind. It can be a really crazy time. Those first few weeks of pregnancy, when it just feels so up in the air. And particularly if you’ve experienced any previous pregnancy loss, it can be an extremely, extremely difficult time. I’m going to share with you a few of my top tips for staying calm and relaxed.
First of all, I want to share a few facts with you. Most people think that they have to wait until they’re 12 weeks pregnant before they can feel like the pregnancy is safe. And it’s true that once you get to 12 weeks, the risk of miscarriage is generally down to 0.5% for young, healthy women. So that’s good. It’s pretty rare to have a miscarriage after 12 weeks. But, what most people don’t realise is that if you have an early pregnancy scan (a dating scan) at say, nine weeks, and the heartbeat is detected, your chance of miscarriage is down to 0.5% anyway. You might be really comforted by that, if you’ve had a scan and they’ve seen the heartbeat, you’re already in the safe zone after about nine weeks.
If you didn’t find the heartbeat, it’s no cause for concern. It just can mean the baby was in an unusual position, or it can mean you’ve got a little bit of extra padding the ultrasound and the baby, that meant they couldn’t actually get the heartbeat detected. Other than that, before that safe zone, your pregnancy loss risk, overall, for generally healthy, young people, is around 15%. So it is fairly common to lose a baby prior to 12 weeks, or prior to nine week if you’ve detected the heartbeat.
The first thing I want to say though is, if you are irrationally worried, it could be crazy hormones. I think some people find they just feel so much anxiety and fear, and they’re worrying and worrying about it. If this feeling is irrational for you, maybe it is actually a sign that you are very pregnant, because your hormones are making you go a bit crazy. So try and be comforted by any irrational fears. Try and use them as a message to your body, that your brain is telling your body, ‘Yep, got some mental hormones flying here and I’m feeling awful, and that is actually a pretty good sign that I’m pregnant.’
Some people find affirmations really helpful. If you are into hypnobirthing, you can try and find some hypnobirthing tracks, which are positive pregnancy affirmations and relaxation tracks. You might try meditation, breathing. Some of the mums I came across said they had affirmations that really worked for them. One of them was,
And someone else was using the affirmation,
So try repeating these affirmations to reassure you, just to help you feel a little bit more grounded. Any of those general relaxation techniques, and perhaps getting a bit more sleep can help to calm your mind.
I also think it can really help if you can let go of control. One of the really big messages of motherhood, for most people, is realising that we are not in control. And see this as sort of an initiation into motherhood. You cannot control life or death any more than you can control your pregnancy. If it helps at all, just trust the universe, trust your God, trust whatever you believe in, to keep your baby safe or not, as the case may be. But try not to think of it as something you can control.
If you’re having really, really hard time combating your stress, you could have an antenatal mood disorder. Anxiety during pregnancy is very common, and you can see a GP or a counsellor if you need some help either with talking things through, or there are some medications you may be able to take to help you keep that stress under control. And there really should be no shame or guilt about this, as stress is one of the most damaging things you can do for your baby. If you really feel like you can’t get a control of that anxiety, that worry and fear, go and get professional help for it.
There’s a really awesome TEDTalk if you want to check it out, and it’s a really great tool on how to use stress to your advantage. It’s no good if you’re feeling stressed for someone to say to you, stop stressing out. In fact, it can just make you more stressed. Every time the stress comes up then you feel even more stressed just because you know you shouldn’t be stressed, and you know how much the stress is damaging the baby. This TEDTalk is a really great one for using stress to your advantage. You may be stressed about money or relationships or anything related to early pregnancy, and this TEDTalk, I feel, could make a big difference for you. So go ahead and watch it.
To Tell Or Not To Tell
The next topic is whether you’re going to hide you’re early pregnancy, or whether you’re going to tell people about your early pregnancy. I think these days most people still choose to wait. If you do choose to wait, it is worthwhile (in my opinion) telling a couple of people at least. Maybe your best friend, or your mum, someone in your family, your sister; who you can turn to for emotional support. If anything does go wrong with the pregnancy, or if you just have a scare, or if you just need to celebrate, or if you’re having a bad day with some symptoms and side effects of pregnancy, it’s really good to have just a few key people who you can turn to.
Some people choose to wait because they want to celebrate privately too. If you prefer to just tell that inner circle and make everyone else wait, that’s perfectly fine. Some choose to tell, and there’s no hard and fast rule about whether you should tell or not. In a way it’s old wives tales. If you do want to tell, there are advantages. It means you don’t need to fake it anymore, you don’t have to pretend that you’re not pregnant. It also means that you have more people to celebrate with. Maybe you’re just bursting with excitement, you can’t wait to tell the world, so go ahead and tell them.
If you have really bad morning sickness, then it can be really helpful to tell people, particularly at work. It can really disrupt your day, your ability to get stuff done, being on time, being efficient. So if you want to tell people just to help you get through that morning sickness, then go ahead and tell. Also, some people find that they prefer other to people to know just so they’ve got a got of extra support and comfort.
If you do choose to hide it, I’ve got a couple of tips to help you hide your pregnancy, both at work and socially. When you’re work, one of my favourite things to do when I was pregnant the first time, was to have a nap at lunchtime. I used to go for a quick walk outside my office to a park bench, I’d take off my badge from work, make sure no one could see where I was from, and I would have a sleep on the park bench. I probably looked like a homeless person, but I felt so much better after a 15 minute power nap. I could go back to my desk and keep working.
I’d start to wear loose blouses, obviously. If you want to have coffee at a staff meeting, but you’re trying to cut out coffee, try having decaf coffee so that no one knows the difference. Have ginger tea in your water bottle, or some people prefer ginger ale. And if you keep this on your desk, it can help you to overcome morning sickness just by having little sips frequently. And if you do feel overcome with nausea or with fatigue, try and go straight to the toilet. Make sure you’ve got regular snacks too, as that will help you a lot with overcoming that nausea.
Socially, the most difficult thing, of course, is not drinking. If you’re not drinking because you’re pregnant, and you don’t want your friends to know yet, then it can be really tricky. The obvious thing there is, you can drink juice or fizzy drink, and pretend that it’s a mix drink. I did hear one woman say she would order a beer and go to the toilet, tip the whole beer down the drain, fill it up with water, and go back out there and keep drinking. If you’re happy to waste beer, go ahead and do that, because no one will be able to tell the difference as it’s in a dark bottle.
Some people will tell everyone that they’re the designated driver, and that can be helpful in some social occasions. You could also tell people that you’re on antibiotics and that you can’t take any alcohol whilst you’re on antibiotics. That’s another little tip for you to try.
Knowing when to tell your employer can be a little bit challenging. One in two women are discriminated against during their pregnancy, maternity leave, or upon their return to work. It’s the most common form of workplace discrimination in Australia. So know your rights. Go ahead and look it up in your country and find out what your rights are before you tell.
In Australia, there’s no deadline of when you have to tell your employer. The only thing you need to do is check your employer’s leave policy to find out how much notice you have to give them before requesting leave. And that may impact when you have to actually tell them that you’re pregnant. In other countries there is actually a deadline, a date, a week, by which you have to have told your boss. Check it out for your own country.
The other thing to take care of, if you’re thinking about when to tell your boss, is to make sure that they hear about it from you, and not through any office gossip or overhearing a conversation at the watercooler. When you ultimately decide to tell you boss is up to you, and depends on your health, any risks or complications in your pregnancy, and also the nature of your work. Maybe you do some work that could potentially be unsafe for your pregnancy, in which case you’re going to need to tell your boss earlier.
That’s it’s pretty much all I’ve got for you today. If you enjoyed this, I’d love you to sign up for my free weekly pregnancy podcast, to help you find peace and joy in this transition time, during this time that you’re in limbo, between worlds.
You can check out more podcasts below, and I’ve got a few podcasts that might be of interest if you’re in early pregnancy, on morning sickness, Listeria and sex during the first trimester. Have a look at them if those are topics that you’re wondering about at the moment too.
Finally, if you know anyone else who is currently pregnant, and maybe they’ve just found out and they’re feeling a little bit anxious or worried, or they’re wondering who and when to tell, please share this. It might really help them to set their mind at ease.
TEDTalk on Stress: Kelly McGonigal
Podcast on Morning Sickness: 3 Causes Of Morning Sickness (And 6 Natural Remedies)
Podcast on Listeria: Listeria Hysteria! Can I Please Have Some Soft Cheese?
Podcast on Sex During Pregnancy: I'm Pregnant! Is It Safe To Have Sex?