Spilling the beans

You’re excited about your pregnancy and pumped to share it with the people in your life. Now, how to go about breaking the big news?

I’ve had four babies now (the last just this June!), so you might think I’d have baby announcing down to a science. Not quite. I actually tend to get awkward about it and end up never making an official announcement, leaving people wondering if I’m really pregnant or just putting away the cheesecake.

In a classic example of do as I say, not as I do, here’s a rundown of best baby announcement practices. Good luck, and happy sharing!

Relation revelation
Family first, right? Or at least let them think they’re first, especially when it comes to baby announcements. While you might not be ready to announce your status to the world until you’ve at least reached the second trimester, it’s OK to let close family members in on your secret whenever you feel ready. If an early pregnancy ends in miscarriage (because they sometimes do), understanding family members will be there to offer emotional support.

Parents like to know before everyone else (so if you’ve already told your sister, make sure she keeps hush!). It might not be feasible to announce to both your parents and his at once, but try not to show obvious preference when you tell one set of would-be grandparents before the other. You might choose to divide and conquer: You tell your family, and let your partner tell his. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, and it could be the best option depending on relationship dynamics. However, it’s also nice to present the big news as a couple, showing that parenthood is a united effort that you’re approaching together.

When you tell siblings, individual phone calls (or visits if you live nearby) will mean so much more than a group text. (And seriously, don’t let them find out via Instagram.) If your siblings are already parents themselves, a little face time can really boost your bond—experienced parents love to give advice to newcomers!

The actual announcement can take shape as a serious conversation, a clever hint or a funny surprise. Your baby announcement can set the tone for your pregnancy—are you feeling spiritual and grateful about it? Somber and concerned? Fun and excited? The way you introduce your pregnancy will influence the way your family approaches the subject for the next nine months.

Professional proclamation
Working at Pregnancy & Newborn, getting pregnant is a career builder, in a way. I shared my news with my awesome boss almost before I told anyone else. For the rest of the office, I placed framed pictures on my desk: one of my 3-year-old and the other of my little ultrasound gummi bear. I was lucky to find myself pregnant in the most understanding work environment of all time.

Of course, I realize that the typical workplace may not be as encouraging. Lisa Abramson, best-selling author of The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave, recommends announcing your pregnancy at work during the second trimester, “after the risk of miscarriage has gone down, but before your bump starts to show” (sometime between 13 to 16 weeks). Abramson says, “Prepare for the conversation with your boss by researching your state’s family leave policies, searching your intranet or employee handbook, and talking with women who have taken maternity leave within your company (keep the conversation casual).”

Talk to your boss before sharing the news with other co-workers. In your first conversation, tell your boss you’ll begin working on a plan to cover your responsibilities when you’re gone. Then schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss your plan—this will leave your boss assured that you’re not going to leave her high and dry. When you share with other co-workers, they will also be less likely to feel resentful when they know you’ve prepared a low- stress solution for your absence.

“Remember, taking maternity leave isn’t a special request. It’s your right. So don’t apologize or feel bad when approaching this topic with your boss,” urges Abramson.

Social sharing
Because miscarriage is especially common during the first 12 weeks, many moms-to-be choose to wear a poker face until the second trimester. After that, there’s still risk involved, but if you’ve heard a heartbeat and received good news from your care provider, you can feel more confident in announcing your pregnancy to friends, either on social media or face-to-face.

Just as with family, close friends will expect to be told before the general public. Ask yourself, which friends might feel miffed if they don’t get a personal update before your online announcement goes live? Which of your girlfriends would you expect to hear from if the circumstances were reversed?

Name shaming
Also, consider the feelings of any close friend who is struggling to conceive. Infertility concerns are extremely sensitive. While your friend may feel hurt that you’ve conceived and she hasn’t, she’s likely to feel worse if she thinks you’re hiding your news from her out of guilt or discomfort. It’s usually best to have a private conversation—let her know you’re expecting and express honest regard for her feelings. Then, throughout your pregnancy, watch your words. Anything that sounds like either gloating or complaining could be hurtful to a friend who wants so badly to be in your position.

Once your VIPs have been briefed, you’re free to share your news with a more public audience. When you do decide to air your tiny, sweet, pastel laundry on social media, will it be after you’ve learned baby’s gender? This would likely put you around the 20-week mark (or halfway through for you mathematicians), so your pregnancy will seem to go by faster for those following your progress. You’ll also have fewer questions to answer if you come forward with the baby announcement and gender reveal all in one.

By Ginny Butler

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