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Suffering in Silence: Why Pregnant Women Should Speak Up

The idea that women have to suffer in silence is beyond a joke. It's just like so many other issues surrounding the female body that we're not supposed to discuss or acknowledge; painful periods, the menopause and difficult childbirth.

I'm nearly 18 weeks pregnant. The halfway mark is within touching distance. My burgeoning belly is getting bigger by the day; honestly, my uterus is out of control! I've relinquished anything tight or short and fully embraced shirt dresses and leggings (clothing de rigueur for pregnant ladies). I've now seen my baby on a scan. I know he or she is there, wriggling away like a mad thing inside me, healthy and alive. A little alien! All of this is wonderful and terrifying at the same time.

The thing is, as my pregnancy continues apace, I've still not really gotten around to telling everyone about the bun in the oven. It's fair to say I've never been a wallflower but having kept it quiet for the first three months, as is protocol, I've simply not found the right way to break our baby news. There's so much pressure to some up with something cute, quirky and original! It's left me in a state of inertia.

I've been monitoring Kim Kardashian's Twitter feed and her growing bump with fervor (she's roughly a month ahead of me). She announced on Fathers Day that she's having a baby boy. Of course, her post was accompanied by an adorable snap of Kanye and North. Kim Murray meanwhile is a month behind me and is due in February. She apparently let the cat of the bag to her family and friends right after the nerve-racking 12-week scan.

It kind of sticks in the throat that after finding out you're expecting, you then must endure several months of misery, while keeping this major life news one big fat secret. Let me tell you, for most women the first three months are head down the loo miserable! Why does no one really warn you about this? My mum certainly never mentioned all day 'morning' sickness but in her words, you just got on with it back in those days. Never complain never explain and all that. It's a mantra I don't subscribe to. Obviously.

Friends that have suffered from sickness claimed they were just unlucky, so I was mighty shocked to discover that around 80% of women are affected by nausea. If you've not experienced it, let me describe it for you. It is best compared to travel sickness or a lingering disgusting hangover or that feeling you get when you've just come off the waltzers after drinking a bottle of wine (I've never actually done this but I imagine it would feel exactly this way). You want to hurl constantly and eating is the only method of easing the symptoms. Usually weird food of some description (I developed a passion for corned beef sandwiches, ice lollies and Capri Sun juice).

Then there's the breast pain. The ladies trebled in size in my first trimester. My husband was extremely pleased with himself until he tried to touch them. Nature is so very cruel. As most pregnant women will attest to, breast pain at this stage is sheer agony. Brushing past a wall may induce tears. Add to this the surging hormone levels, heightened emotions, extreme fatigue plus a need to wee every five minutes and you have a recipe for a very unhappy woman. Not even a glass of wine or a sneaky cigarette can help things along because that's not allowed (funnily enough I've totally gone off the booze THAT'S HOW ILL I"VE BEEN).

It's a hell of a lot of ask a person to endure without saying a word, don't you think? I was working on a national radio breakfast show during the first three months of my pregnancy. Some days began at 5am and didn't end until 5pm. I was throwing up in-between broadcasts. I feel like I deserve a bloody Oscar. Don't get me wrong, I am deeply thrilled to be expecting. Over the moon! Yet I believe this idea that we must keep our pregnant bellies under wraps until we have passed the 12-week mark is fundamentally flawed.

From the moment that the pregnancy test stick is dipped in that little pot of pee we are taught to keep quiet. Just until we're through the 'danger zone' you understand. This comes during the challenging and stressful first trimester, when a woman needs support more than ever. It's a scary time too. Many will experience the devastation of losing a baby. Sadly, 20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. This shouldn't be taboo. If the worst happens, we are expected to just bear the pain with a false smile and get on with things. This can be an extremely tough façade to maintain, particularly at work and with friends.

The idea that women have to suffer in silence is beyond a joke. It's just like so many other issues surrounding the female body that we're not supposed to discuss or acknowledge; painful periods, the menopause and difficult childbirth. Keeping quiet should be a genuine choice, not a tradition of martyrdom that's imposed on us. Nope, all this sweeping under carpet stuff is nonsense. It doesn't make any sense to me at all. Of course, I only fully appreciate the stupidity of my own silence through the benefit of hindsight but if I could turn back the clock, I would speak up and give those around me the opportunity to offer their help.

Now I just need to figure out how to finally break our baby news. Oh wait...

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