If there’s one thing that marks out pregnancy as a “special” time in your life it’s the discovery that you are supposed to obey a lot of rules. Rule upon rule, upon rule.
Many of them are practical and important. And backed by rigorous research about best outcomes for babies and parents. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t take drugs.
Other rules are meant to helpful but are their importance is often overstated. Don’t go near soft cheese, don’t have hot baths, don’t drink coffee (or tea!). And my favourite – don’t pick up a cat (because toxoplasmosis).
And then there are the rules that have no grounding in the health of your unborn child – they just exist to make society more comfortable about uncomfortable things.
Like the 12 week rule.
This is the rule that says you should not announce your pregnancy until you are past 12 weeks because miscarriage is most common in these weeks – and the last thing you want to do is tell people you are no longer having a baby after you have announced your happy news.
Because you are not just announcing you are no longer pregnant. You are announcing a miscarriage. And with miscarriage comes all sorts of taboos and silence. It’s a subject that for many years has been off limits, an experience that women endured in silence because it was too uncomfortable to discuss.
Of course I can understand if a woman wants to stick with the 12 week rule. It’s her body. Her pregnancy. Her life. And her choice. Many people wouldn’t want to talk about a miscarriage with their workmates or friends or acquaintances or their Facebook group.
For them it is easier to wait until they are past the most dangerous period, when statistically your pregnancy is more likely to fail. As many as one in three pregnancies self-terminate in the early weeks of pregnancy. This figure is slightly inflated in that many women miscarry before they even know they are pregnant. About one in five women miscarry after a positive pregnancy test before 12 weeks. These account for the majority of miscarriages.