It can be important to consider how you'll tell various people about your pregnancy - for all sorts of different reasons. Work colleagues.
There are different reasons why and when you tell the different people in your life that you are expecting a baby.
With work colleagues, you may well decide not to tell them you’re pregnant until at least 12 weeks when you have had your first scan and you know everything seems OK and you have a good idea of your due date. You might want to wait even longer depending on your situation at work. Familiarise yourself with the maternity policies before talking to your employers. When you do announce it to your workplace, it’s polite to tell your boss privately before announcing it to work colleagues.
Holding off until after your first scan might be your preference since you can then avoid having to tell people if you suffer a miscarriage. However, if you have a miscarriage you may choose to tell your colleagues or your work friends for support. You may grieve for the death of the baby and your life plans and it can be very hard and not always the best solution to keep it a secret. However, each couple needs to make a decision based on their individual situation.
12 weeks or so gives people at work and you enough time to start discussing how your role will be filled if you leave work or whilst you’re on maternity leave.
However, if you are suffering from extreme morning sickness, you might want to tell work colleagues earlier, so they’ll understand the reason you’re not up to par at work, or you’re having to have days off.
You also have the right to attend antenatal appointments so shouldn’t have to lie if you need to see your midwife or have a scan. Just try and book appointments into your work diary at the easiest time for you and your colleagues.
If your work involves any hazards that may affect your pregnancy, you’ll have to tell your boss straight away. This might include hazardous substances or, for example, if you travel to tropical countries you will not be able to take anti-malaria medication.
A MAT B1 form can be given to all employers after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This can be signed by your GP or midwife.
With close friends and family, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to tell them before 12 weeks are up and you’ve had your first scan. You might want to tell them earlier so you’ll have their support if you miscarry. For the same reason, you might want to keep this private. You might be so excited you tell them the day you know! Some couples wait until they have had a scan that shows the baby’s heartbeat but again you should go with your instinct as to what will be best for you and your partner.
It can feel a little selfish to share your good news with friends who are experiencing fertility problems or who are desperate to have a baby but are not in a relationship. However, don’t leave them until last to tell, it may be harder for them to get the news second-hand. Tell them in a straightforward way, preferably when you’re on your own rather than in a group. Be sensitive to the number of excited updates you give them throughout your pregnancy and be led by their preference.
Last but not least, when is the right time to tell your children that they are going to have a little baby brother or sister? In general, around the 12 weeks can work well but that is not to say that miscarriage, tiredness, and morning sickness should be kept secret from your children. The sooner you can tell your children, the sooner you can help them to prepare for the life change that a new baby will bring. However, younger toddlers don’t have much concept of time and can get fed up waiting so you need to judge the best time to tell them!
It can help to focus on your child when you tell them, for example, that they are going to be a big sister or that they will be moving into a new big boy’s bed. It can also help to buy them a doll or teddy that can be their ‘new baby’ and give them exciting jobs so that they feel involved, such as choosing decorations, clothes for the new baby.
If you have a pet that is used to being the “only child” in the family – it might be kind to think through any implications the arrival of a new baby may have. For example, if they are going to have different sleeping arrangements, you may want to introduce these slowly and in advance. It may also be wise to introduce them to other babies in advance, so they get a general idea. Very much up to you and your particular pet – but worth thinking through!
Essential Parents’ expert GP, Dr Sarah Temple, talks here about visiting your Midwife when you find out you’re pregnant.