First Trimester

The First Three Months: How to Keep Your Pregnancy a Secret

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Asians are culturally … well, a curious bunch (to put it nicely). Aunties, in-laws and old friends have no qualms about asking very personal questions in very public spaces. While at times this can be endearing, other times it can make you squirm uncomfortably, especially if you’re in the first trimester of pregnancy and want to keep things a secret between you and your partner for now.

But what’s a (queasy, exhausted) mama to do when you’ve gone from knocking back buckets of beers with the girls to hugging the bucket while slowly sipping water? Here are a couple of tips, tricks and response options to suit your style of responding to that very delicate and personal question: “Wah, pregnant ah?”

The health overhaul

For ladies with a social life which sometimes (all right, let’s be honest – usually) involves caffeine or alcohol, the drinks are usually first to go when you’ve got that early positive test.

One way to get around this is to temporarily hitch your horse to the health bandwagon and claim you’ve been re-evaluating your health habits and want to be healthier – this includes cutting out alcoholic, overly sugary and caffeinated drinks.

If necessary, spin a yarn about how you’re not getting any younger and how your body is your temple (both true facts). For maximum impact, only ever leave the house in activewear/athleisure.

The upsides of this approach are, firstly  a) an excuse to wear yoga pants everywhere, and  b) you actually will be setting a healthy foundation for that little person growing inside you.

The noncommittal

Take a leaf out of the books of politicians everywhere and say nothing by saying … well, a lot of other things. Waffling, changing the topic, and distraction will be the new weapons in your arsenal.

This approach works if you don’t want to deny your pregnancy outright but also don’t want to answer the question. Always end with a question directed at the other person, because people love talking about themselves.

If asked, “Eh, you put on weight la. Pregnant ah?” you could respond (we also highly recommend practising a pained expression) “You know how it is after Chinese New Year. How do you keep so fit?”

If people at work ask why you’re looking pale and drawn, tell them you’ve been having family issues and don’t want to talk about it.

If people in your social circles ask you the same question, tell them you’re having issues at work (yeah, like how much you hate retching into the work toilets and how you have to be discreet about it) and don’t want to talk about it.

Basically, tell people you don’t want to talk about it … but are seeking professional help. (And you are – your team of healthcare providers certainly are professionals!)

The creative licence

If you’re not opposed to the idea of telling some outright lies, then go crazy. The key here is to literally drive people crazy – be inconsistent with your story, say things with a dead serious expression then wink at the end. Or don’t. It adds to the mystery.

Attribute it to your new life philosophy/ spiritual teacher/ combination of herbal supplements/ hypnotism. If anyone asks you if you’re having a baby, whisper back “A dragon. I will be the mother of dragons!”

Please note this approach will only work if your friends and family expect you to be absolutely bonkers most of the time anyway.

Other tips and tricks

  • Dressing
    Tempting as it may be to dive straight for the tent-like dresses to conceal your growing belly, it’s probably not noticeable to anyone else but you just yet. But if you’re feeling self-conscious, opt for bump-concealing cuts like babydoll dresses, shift dresses and box-cut tops.
  • Lifestyle
    Even secondhand cigarette smoke can be harmful to your unborn baby’s health – and yours. If you hang out with your friends in clubs or other places where there are lots of smokers in an enclosed environment, suggest an open air bar instead (while you sip on your mocktail).
  • Exhaustion
    If you find yourself exhausted by the end of the day, suggest meeting your friends for brunch or afternoon tea on the weekends instead of going out to dinner. Alternatively, go for a walk in the park, because low-impact exercise is good for you. Failing that, just tell everyone you’re sick from the night before (they don’t need to know you’ve been sick for the last eight weeks!)
  • Babies everywhere
    You know how it is – you’re suddenly seeing babies everywhere. People might innocently ask, “when are you going to have babies?” and if you don’t feel like denying it, or telling an outright porky, a “when the time is right” (with a smile) might cover all bases.


Photo credits: Isabella Kronemberger/Unsplash, Arek Adeoye/Unsplash, Marcelo Mataraz/Unsplash,Allef Vinicius/Unsplash.

Faye is a former journalist now working in marketing and communications. She lives in Darwin, where she enjoys the best of Southeast Asia (the food and night markets) and Australia (the workday that ends punctually at 4.21pm), with her husband, toddler and small dog.