Expecting mom and wedding photographer Vanessa Scavone didn’t reveal her pregnancy online or to clients until she was eight months along. (Photo: Je Revelle)
For many expecting moms, revealing their pregnancy is a milestone moment, celebrated in Facebook posts of sonogram photos, announcement videos, even festive gender reveals. But for other mothers — who might fear career repercussions or medical complications, or who simply want to maintain some privacy — keeping their expecting status quiet is a priority.
In an essay posted Tuesday in the Asbury Park Press, wedding photographer Vanessa Scavone, now mother to a 6-month-old daughter named Felicity, revealed why she kept her pregnancy quiet for eight months. The reasons, she explains, were varied — she was still coming to terms with being a mom, she didn’t want to be viewed as handicapped, she didn’t want to upset clients (and didn’t want clients to discriminate against her), she didn’t believe in the big Facebook reveal, and, as she says, “I could, so I did.”
“For one reason or another, despite having a perfectly sized baby according to ultrasounds, I could easily hide I was pregnant until I reached about 7.5 months,” Scavone writes. “Not to mention, I’m a photographer, so I knew how to pose in pictures that could be posted on social media without looking like I had recently had a glutinous night of beer and hamburgers. I could keep my personal life personal for a while, so I chose to do that as long as I could.”
Vanessa Scavone, at eight months pregnant, taking photos at a wedding. (Photo: Instagram/Vanessa Joy)
But Scavone says that not all her friends agreed with her decision. “Unfortunately, I lost a few friends in the process who berated me for not understanding right away that every child is a gift.”
Keeping her news a secret was a decision that evolved naturally, Scavone tells Yahoo Parenting. “At first I wasn’t ready to even tell myself. But then I grew to like telling people in person,” she says, explaining that she did tell some friends when she saw them, she just decided not to reveal anything online. “It was something that was special, I didn’t want to make it a big social media thing.”
Her career as a small-business owner was another driver in her decision to keep quiet. “In the past I had potential clients say to me, ‘We’re concerned you’re going to start a family’ and not hire me because of it,” she says. “It was complete discrimination, and at the time I wasn’t even planning on getting pregnant, so I said as much — as soon as I picked my jaw up off the floor.”
Once she was expecting, Scavone said there was no reason to mention it to wedding couples. “I wasn’t disabled, I was pregnant. If anything it was more of a creative boost,” she says. “And I didn’t see the need to tell clients and stress them out. A bride has so much to worry about already, there was no reason for them to be concerned about whether I could do my job.”
Scavone says she knows other women who’ve been in the same boat. “I wrote the story because I knew it was something that would resonate with a lot of moms,” she says. “For the women I know who have their own business, they keep it quiet as long as they can. I know plenty of people are pregnant right now and planning to do exactly as I did. Not everything has to be on Facebook.”
Another reason many women keep their pregnancies quiet is fear or anxiety about complications threatening the baby, says Dr. Jessica Zucker, a clinical psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health. “This idea out there in the Zeitgeist is that women shouldn’t share their pregnancy until week 12. With up to 20 percent of pregnancies ending in miscarriage usually before the 12-week period ends, many people don’t talk about it just in case,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. Yet Zucker encourages women to take the opposite approach and share with close friends or relatives. “If something does go wrong, don’t you want the support of your loved ones?”
While Zucker says she has heard more and more stories from women who are trying to change the tide of this “keeping it quiet for fear of miscarriage” trend, she understands the desire to keep the news off social media. “A lot of people do seem to announce their pregnancies on Facebook,” she says. “Waiting and having more privacy, there is something refreshing about that.”
Some women might also want to stay quiet about their news because pregnant bodies often start to feel like communal property. “I think a lot of women don’t love that pregnancy becomes a community issue,” Zucker says. “Suddenly strangers comment on your size or the gender of your baby or ask if you’re having twins when you’re not.”
Scavone, who continued to work until she was eight months pregnant, says she thinks more and more women will keep their baby bumps to themselves, in part as a backlash to the onslaught of social media and as a stance against career discrimination. “Women today, we want to own our own businesses and do what men do without hindrances, but there are underlying discriminating factors when it comes to pregnancy,” she says. “Plus, for so long it was so cool to live your life on social media that I think now not having things on Facebook is becoming a trend.”
Whether you choose to make a big reveal early on or stay quiet until you’re about to pop, Zucker says it’s a mother’s choice. “There’s room for everyone,” she says.