This Mom Says It's Time to Stop Keeping Early Pregnancy Secret
With the hashtag #IHadAMiscarriage, psychologist Jessica Zucker is trying to change the conversation around pregnancy—and pregnancy loss.
Conventional wisdom says that you should wait to share your big pregnancy news until after you're "out of the woods" and past the first trimester, when most miscarriages happen. But psychologist Jessica Zucker wants us to reconsider that idea. "The age-old notion that women should wait to share their pregnancy news until after the first trimester essentially translates into: 'don't share your good news in case it becomes bad news so that you won't have to share the bad news,'" she says. "We need to rethink this conceptualization of sharing our news in an effort to bolster support for women in pregnancy, no matter the outcome."
Dr. Zucker began specializing in mental health connected with reproductive health and maternal medicine before it became a personal issue, when she miscarried in her second trimester. She founded the #IHadAMiscarriage campaign to increase the conversation around pregnancy loss. "The central aim is to de-silence, de-stigmatize, and de-shame pregnancy and infant loss," she says. "The sooner we begin supporting women, the sooner we disband the ubiquitous reported feelings of shame, isolation, alienation, self-blame, guilt, and so on... If more women were open about their bad news, women wouldn't report feeling so surprised by their losses and the fact that so many people they know have actually been there, too, but hadn't told anyone."
To help those dealing with pregnancy loss, she worked with artists like Kimothy Joy and Anne Robin Calligraphy to create cards and art prints to help families through pregnancy loss. "I wanted to establish a way for people to connect after loss, in a concrete way, so that loved ones could support grievers in a meaningful way," she says.
And this year, she hopes to encourage more women to choose when they share their news, whether that's early or late in their pregnancy. "Every woman can decide for herself when she openly talks about her pregnancy," Dr. Zucker says. "If someone is inclined to wait until the second trimester to share, she should maintain that privacy. However, if others would like to share sooner, that’s okay, too. The point is really to look at what we are conveying when we encourage women to wait to share. If we don’t share our joy in case it becomes grief, this situates a woman to mourn quietly."
And for many women, staying silent isn't the healthiest choice. "With community and conversation in place, we can carry these potentially painful experiences together," Dr. Zucker says.