Why I Hate The “Wait Until 12 Weeks To Share” Rule

This rule is everywhere. Everyone feels they need to abide by it and society expects us to.

“Don’t share your pregnancy news until you are past the first trimester”

This rule is a huge reason why miscarriage is so under supported and the stigma of shame and the taboo of speaking about it has been put upon us. 1 in every 5 pregnancies will end in miscarriage according to the latest research and this rule is supposed to protect us from the hurt if our pregnancy does not make it past the first trimester.

That is bullsh*t.

We will still be hurt. We will still grieve. Only difference now is we won’t have the support of our friends and family because we ‘couldn’t’ share our good news with them. This rule tells us that a miscarriage in the first trimester must be covered up, is not ‘big enough’ for grief and support and understanding.  It cloaks the pain and tells us not to talk about it. It perpetuates the myth and idea that the baby is not ‘real’ until after 12 weeks. That early miscarriage or first trimester miscarriage is somehow not that big of a deal.

Miscarriage should not be an embarrassing topic. We should not feel like we can’t share the news until the risk of miscarriage goes down.  There is no rule where a miscarriage will be any less painful.

This rule is what makes us feel so alone. We are told we are not allowed to talk about it and that is wrong.  Our pain is real and only by talking about it will we see how ‘normal’ it is to be affected by it and to grieve the loss is healthy.

For something that happens to 1 in 5 pregnancies – miscarriage is seriously under supported.

Comments are moderated before appearing. Please note: your comment here may show up on your Facebook Feed.

Devan McGuinness

is the founder and executive director of the award-winning resource Unspoken Grief .

  1. hmmm…it’s so interesting that you posted this today. I have a blog post idea that has been floating through my head. This may just push it out of me.

    no, I am not pregnant 🙂

  2. I hate it because it gives people the false impression that if you make it past week 12, everything’s going to be fine. We didn’t know my daughter had a potentially life-threatening brain defect until week 15, when it finally showed up on ultrasound. She ultimately passed at week 30. When I see people posting on FB or talking about “we made it past week 12, yay baby!” I want to slap them. You have no idea if that baby is going to make it until it is out!

  3. Yes! In my town, miscarriage is not something we talk about it. I mean, here it’s seems that people are ashamed of it and it makes me terribly sad. This rule seems to followed a lot here and the sad fact is that miscarriages also happen after the 12 week mark. I want to comfort someone if they’ve been through this rather than not know about it all.

  4. See for me it’s not about shame. It’s about privacy. For as long as I can keep people out of my business, that’s my choice. We didn’t tell anyone I was actually, for sure, pregnant until we were nearly 28 weeks (and at a point where I could honestly no longer hide it).

    Given that I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant in the first place and every appointment was nerve wracking because we didn’t know if there would still be a heartbeat, we just weren’t prepared to share that. But my family is also big on private funerals and weddings and so forth, so that we want to keep as much about birth private is hardly surprising.

    I do agree, however, that too many people assume that clearing 12 weeks means everything is okay, and are often shocked when it doesn’t work out the way that they expect. I also agree that people who want support should be able to seek it from, essentially, the day of conception if that’s what they want.

  5. I agree. We appreciated the support from family and friends when we miscarried at 9 weeks. We hadn’t made a mass announcement, but our close friends and family knew. This time we’re a little more cautious, but we’re still telling people. I personally can’t wait until 12 wks and as previous comments stated 12 wks doesn’t always mean you’re in the clear.

  6. I recently had a missed miscarriage at 8 weeks. One of the first things my midwife said was “You didn’t tell anyone you were pregnant did you?”

    We had already told everyone, family and friends. I’m glad they knew, I am getting the support I need and I don’t have to suffer in silence.

  7. This is so true – why is there a 12 week rule at all? We should be able to choose WHEN to share our pregnancies with others instead of following some archaic ‘rule’. I, naively, also followed this rule, almost exploding every time we saw our family as I wanted to share our big news – then when we lost our sweet angel at 11 weeks no one made a big deal, there were no condolences or best wishes, casseroles or hugs. I’d like to thing that maybe if my family knew earlier, they would have been more supportive to us during this difficult time. I definitely know that if we are blessed enough to go through a ‘next time’, we’ll be shouting it from the rooftops from the beginning.

  8. I agree that it adds to stigma that miscarriage should not be talked about. I’ve experienced it three different ways myself… The first time we told the whole family and we got as far as 13 weeks and then no heartbeat. The cards and flowers from friends was comforting. The second time no one knew and we lost it at 7 weeks. It was a bit lonely. The third time a few knew and we got as far as 9 weeks. It was even lonelier. I felt like I was grieving in total isolation. No one knows why I’m staying home today, no it’s not because I’m sick, It’s a DEATH IN THE FAMILY. That’s when I decided to start writing about it. It’s not a dirty little secret.
    So I would begin telling people when I feel comfortable telling people and I would hope that everyone would be sensitive to my situation and not be overly enthusiastic but supportive.

  9. AMEN! I have been saying this lately myself. I am tired of the stigma. And I just recently posted to my blog about how my parents found out I was pregnant in January. They found out when I was involved in a freak parking lot accident and I hadn’t told them yet because I was *only* 7 weeks! Then they had to find out the VERY NEXT DAY that I miscarried. I vowed to myself that my parents or any close loved ones would never find out about a baby in that way again. And I needed the support system. With my 1st miscarriage, we had told everyone we were pregnant at 8 weeks. It never crossed my mind then that I could ever miscarry. But when it happened, I was so so thankful that I had a huge support team there (especially my mother!).
    It is time for the secrecy and shame to stop. I know I have other friends out there who have been through this with little support and I want them to know it doesn’t have to be that way.
    Thank you again.

  10. Thank you for this post, Devan. It’s really making me rethink my desire to keep our next pregnancy a secret in the first trimester. I’ve shared my other three (including one loss) within the first eight weeks, and have done so always with joy. Why keep this joy to myself for our next pregnancy? And why risk feeling even more isolated if I experience another loss?

  11. I completely agree with you that it shouldn’t be assumed that all will be well after 12 weeks. Nor do I feel that first trimester miscarriages should be treated as a less significant loss. Personally, I believe that I grieved my 11.5 week fetus every bit as much as I would my three year old. Different because they are two different children, but they *are* both children.

    I am a private person, though. When I got pregnant, I didn’t want to tell anyone but my mother (and, of course my dad would know too). My husband did want tk share our news and I have always regretted that I had to grieve publicly. Instead of feeling supported, I felt naked and exposed.

    This is my *personal* preference. When others have asked me whether or not to say something, I make sure to tell them why I’d choose to wait. I did choose the end of the first trimester to announce my second pregnancy. Because I show quite early and because the risk of a loss is reduced quite a bit after that stage is over. I knew it was still possible, but I felt safer after that point.

    If I ever get pregnant again, I have no doubt that I will once again choose to wait to tell people. But it’s about my comfort and not anyone else’s.

  12. Whether to disclose or not disclose is a very personal choice, and I think either decision is valid. I know loads of people who did both and I don’t think they faced any societal stigma in doing either.

  13. I’m a fairly private person as well, but I’ve realized that I need to tell my family as soon as I know I’m pregnant, because I need their support to get me through the stressful weeks and to be there for me when I miscarry.
    Despite that, the grieving process is still a very lonely one, because no one really understands. I don’t generally share the pregnancy or loss with many outside of my family, but I’m trying to be more open about it, just because I’m tired of it being something people can’t freely share and no one knowing why I’m not doing ok.
    Overall, I think it’s good to have the support in place, but it’s also a very personal loss and no one should be made to feel like there are any rules to when or how they share their pregnancies or losses.

  14. I totally agree! The medical community has lulled us into a false sense of security with the “wait until 12 weeks to share” “rule”! I have never had a miscarriage, I had a beautiful first pregnancy until 35 weeks, when my daughter had a heart attack and died, then was delivered stillborn… I don’t feel safe until my child is delivered and in my arms!
    I believe that we should be surrounded by support from the moment we are pregnant. That is when we need the support, while things are, so-called, iffy until week 12. That is the saddest thing when a couple has a miscarriage and there is no one there to support them. I can imagine the pain and frustration that comes along with that. Then to tell people that the baby is gone before they even knew it was there, would be a hard thing to digest and react to.
    There needs to be a movement where we stand up right away and say… I am pregnant.. and I need support.

  15. Thank you. I have linked this to my Facebook page. I had my miscarried baby on my mind as I would have been 19 weeks today. I want people to know that it is seriously undersupported and there should be no reason you cannot say “I had a miscarriage.” I even had family members that popped out of the blue saying they had had one when I had mine… and I didn’t even know that they had. When can women be honest and open with the world about what’s going on in their lives? Post partum depression is another huge issue I think the world should address as well.

  16. Thank you! I am the mother of 9, 5 living, 2 miscarriges, 1 ectopic, and 1 baby due in Aug. We were 9 weeks Friday and I’ve been tossing around the idea of telling my friends (a few know and so does family) but after reading this, I’m going to go ahead and tell them. We always do, but I wanted to follow the “rule” this time and have, at times, felt bad about doing it.

  17. This is a stupid article. I’m pregnant with my second child and I’m at the age where almost all of my friends are either pregnant or new mothers. The 12-week rule is NOT to invalidate the pregnancy or to undermine the seriousness of miscarriages. The reason for the 12-week rule is to PROTECT the mother from having to explain to the world that she has lost the pregnancy, if that were the case. Only tell people whose support you would need in the event you do miscarry. By not having to rescind the good news from the world doesn’t trivialize the miscarriage; it just prevent you from having to tell and retell and tell and retell everyone who asks you about your pregnancy that you’ve lost it.

    And I completely disagree with the article that miscarriage is an embarrasing topic. Almost every woman I know in my life has had at least 1 miscarriage and we all talk about it and we support each other. It’s not a taboo. No body hides it. It’s a common occurence and it’s a common topic. You go online and forums and articles about miscarriage are galore. And who says you’re “not allowed” to talk about it?

    Unless you truly understand the reason behind the 12-week rule, you shouldn’t write about it.

  18. I am just at 12 weeks… Some of my family said not to tell till at least out 14 week but i agree with all you… It makes it really hard not telling people i make myself sick worrying about it. We wanted to wait to tell as many as possible till 8 weeks when saw Dr for first time, but even that was hard. We told a few people to help get me through. At 8 weeks we had are first ultra sound cause of my miscarriage history.. only to find out we are at 12 week. It was a surprise and a relief all in one, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying.. Ill feel better when i get this little one all the way through… I won’t relax till I get baby in my arms… and even then you worry.. So why not have support from day one.

  19. My reasons for telling as soon as I found out had nothing to do with thoughts of miscarriage. It had everything to do with horrible morning sickness and thinking, “There is no way I am going to work and my coworkers don’t know what is going on.” But I am one of those who have “bad pregnancies” and never finds happiness durring it. Felt that way with the first, feeling that way with this one. I have no secrets to hide. Yay! The one relief I can find 🙂

  20. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My husband couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just wait until 12 weeks to share the news. We just shared it at 9.5. I literally couldn’t wait a minute longer. I needed the support, the encouragement, and really I was feeling like crap, I needed something to lift me up again.