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We can't all afford an oversized Birkin bag or some crazy couture to hide our growing baby bump like a celebrity, but then again most of us don't have paparazzi photographing our 'suspicious' outfit choices.
Celebrity standing aside, almost every mum-to-be has moments early in her pregnancy when she'd rather keep the news to herself.
In a perfect world, you would get past the all-important 12-week mark before a pregnancy announcement is made to genuinely stunned family and friends. But these days your loved ones are usually onto you the minute you pee on the stick.
If you’re keen to throw them off your trail, consider making a few – ahem – modifications to your behaviour so you can make your announcement at the right time, on your terms.
Q: I’m known in my office for my three-cups-a-day coffee addition and I’m worried if I suddenly stop drinking it or switch to decaf, everyone’s going to notice. How do I explain my new preference?
A: It’s hard when everyone’s familiar with your caffeine habits, but there’s plenty you can do about it. You can take regular OH&S breaks from your desk by volunteering to collect the office beverages yourself so no-one knows what you’re ordering. Or you can dramatically declare your intention to give up coffee after having read some rather sinister research on the topic over the weekend. Our favourite tip? Tell everyone you’re giving up coffee for X number of months to raise money for charity, then set up a fund through everydayhero.com.au and ask people to donate to the cause of your choice. Not only is it great to give back, no-one will suspect a thing!
Q: As a committed foodie, my tastes usually run to soft cheese, pâté and caviar – all pregnancy no-nos. Will my friends know something’s up if I suddenly start ordering overcooked eggs and grilled-until-it’s-grey steak?
A: Friends and family usually tweak at the first sign of a well-done steak, so your best plan here is to go on ‘detox’. Do a little research beforehand so you can explain how this niche Californian detox you’re suddenly on is going to transform you into something that resembles a Victoria’s Secret angel. If you’re comfortable with the idea, another option is to tell them you and your partner are going to try for a baby soon enough and your doctor has recommended you change your diet to aid future conception. Only the brave (and the foolish) would dare continue with their line of questioning.
Q: I’ve always been a social drinker and I’m concerned my hawk-eyed friends will notice if I suddenly go on the wagon. Any tips?
A: Even if you’re not a heavy drinker, your friends will always become suspicious if you knock back the offer of an alcoholic beverage within their company, so the trick here is to make it look like you’re still guzzling away. If someone has poured a glass for you, take it and have your partner sip from it surreptitiously. If you’re in a bar scenario, order a Claytons (which looks suspiciously like Scotch), or ask your waiter to dress up a glass of water to look like a gin and tonic. BYO occasions have also been made easier with the popularity of screw caps – just refill a bottle of plonk with a non-alcoholic variety and no-one will suspect a thing.
Q: I used to be the life of the party but I can barely stay awake past 8pm these days. How can I explain my sudden reluctance to socialise after hours?
A: You can hide behind a credible excuse with this one because the modern world lends itself to it. The truth of the matter is that everyone’s working harder and longer than ever, so make the excuse that your horrid boss has been giving you unrealistic deadlines and you’re exhausted from burning the candle at both ends. Of course, this won’t wash if you’re expected to be your bright, bubbly self at a work function, so for everything else, make it clear you have a virus you just can’t seem to shake.
Q: My ‘morning sickness’ goes all day long. How do I keep my need to run to the bathroom every 20 minutes from giving the game away?
A: Morning sickness can last for weeks or months (or in some cases, the whole pregnancy), so blaming your inability to remove your head from the wastepaper bin on food poisoning can only go for so long. Migraines, however, are known to cause terrible nausea, lethargy and vomiting so casually make it be known that the debilitating migraines you used to suffer in your teenage years (but have kept remarkably quiet about ever since) have come back with a vengeance. You might even get enough sympathy to be offered naps in a cool, dark space.
Q: I’ve been wearing coats and ponchos in 30-degree heat in an effort to disguise my burgeoning belly. There must be a better solution than heatstroke, surely?
A: To answer a question with a question: How do you feel about Aerosmith? We ask because you’re going to seem like their biggest fan, since you’re about to channel lead singer Steven Tyler with his endless array of scarves. And that’s the trick when it comes to hiding your belly: you need to wear clothes and accessories that distract the eye to other areas of your body, like scarves, loud prints, layering and eye-catching necklaces. And if anyone dares mention you’re looking in the ‘family way’, all you have to do is cross your arms, glare at them and spit out a frosty, “Well, thanks a lot.” Cue awkward silence.
Q: I’ve always been an emotionally stable person but lately everything (and I mean insurance commercials) makes me weep. What can I do to explain my sudden sensitivities?
A: One of the best things about being a woman is your God-given right to blame any emotional instability on PMS, and if there’s ever been a time to pull this card from your bag of tricks, this is surely it. The next time you find yourself crying at a dancing puppy on YouTube, rub your bloated belly and ask around for a tampon. People will obviously assume it’s that time of the month, and as a wonderful bonus, this clever cover-up also allows you to eat your body weight in food without inviting a single unkind comment. Such a wonderful idea, we could weep ourselves!