But so far, I’ve kept my second pregnancy a secret outside of my family. I’m already halfway through, but I still haven’t shared the news on social media. I didn’t even mention it to friends unless they pointed right at my stomach and asked.
It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about my new little one, nor am I any less excited about baby number two. But in the two years since my daughter was born, a dear friend of mine shared that she had a hard time learning about my pregnancy the first time around. She had struggled with infertility, and knowing that I’d had an easier time conceiving was difficult for her.
I worried others felt the same way—after all, infertility affects nearly one in five heterosexual women in the U.S., per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and an estimated 26 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. (Single people and those in the LGBTQ community who want to be parents, meanwhile, may encounter “social infertility,” meaning that they cannot conceive without medical help due to their relationship status.)
I don’t want my pregnancy to be the reason a loved one feels down while scrolling or needs to fake a smile while out to lunch with me. So this time around, I put off making any kind of baby announcements. But as my belly has grown, it’s become more difficult to avoid talking about my pregnancy. I wanted to find a way to share my exciting news—and talk about this key phase of my life—while being sensitive to my friends who are struggling to get, or stay, pregnant.
As it turns out, I had a lot to learn about announcing a pregnancy in a thoughtful and compassionate way. Here’s how experts say to share baby news to those struggling with infertility.
How to share pregnancy news with friends and loved ones still trying to get pregnant, according to experts
1. Consider sharing your news privately
Lots of people choose family gatherings and parties to announce their pregnancy. But Aparna Iyer, MD, a reproductive psychiatrist based in Frisco, Texas, explains that those struggling with fertility might prefer to learn the news ahead of time, and in a more private setting. “Sharing your news beforehand gives them an opportunity to think about it and to privately express their emotions,” Dr. Iyer says. “It also gives them permission to feel how they truly, organically feel. It doesn’t mean that they’re not happy for you, they just might need space to deal with their own emotions.”
Asima Ahmad, MD, MPH, a reproductive endocrinologist and co-founder and CMO of Carrot Fertility, agrees that giving a loved one a heads-up before making your announcement is a smart move. While a phone call could be a good way to share the news privately, she says that a simple text message or email could be even better. “With a text, you’re not putting them on the spot and you’re giving them time, because in most cases, people want to hear about the news but without immediately needing to give some sort of reaction,” Dr. Ahmad says.
The same thing applies to social media posts. While it’s perfectly acceptable for expectant parents to share baby news online, those who are struggling with their own fertility may have a hard time seeing another pregnancy post, says Elizabeth Grill, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and an associate professor of psychology in the departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Medicine and Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Grill says that telling a loved one before posting “can allow your friend to protect herself by choosing not to check your social media page.”
She adds, “Being sensitive to your friends by directly communicating to them prior to posting can allow you to lean into the joy of your announcement.”
“As long as we are being open and honest and understanding that everyone is on their own [fertility] journey, I think that it creates a safer, more effective approach to being able to announce in a considerate way.” —Aparna Ayer, MD
2. Don’t assume that you know how loved ones feel
When sharing pregnancy news with someone struggling with infertility, It’s natural to want to comfort them and even claim to understand their pain. However, Dr. Grill says that parents-to-be should resist the urge to identify with another’s infertility—unless they’ve truly been in a similar spot.
“Avoid saying that you know how your infertile friend feels unless you have suffered a miscarriage or struggled with infertility in the past,” Dr. Grill says. “And even then, be cognizant of the fact that [their] journey is unique, and [they] may feel differently than you did when you were struggling to build your family.”
Dr. Iyer also warns against trying to sound too encouraging about someone else’s family. She points out that saying things like, “Don’t worry, I know you’ll get pregnant next,” can be hurtful for those who aren’t feeling optimistic, or who have already been trying for a long time.
“What I find is that people’s fertility journeys are complex and just because your path looks a certain way doesn’t mean that you can then make assumptions about how somebody else’s fertility path will look,” Dr. Iyer says.
On the other hand, Dr. Ahmad says to keep in mind that if you have gone through fertility struggles, it’s absolutely okay to share some of that information with your loved one—as long as it’s not too difficult for you to talk about. “I think in many cases, people feel shut out or left out and kind of left behind,” she says. “Talking about your fertility journey may also help them realize, ‘Hey, others are going through this as well and I’m not alone in this process. There is some hope here.’”
No matter what, Dr. Ahmad says that it’s important to be supportive and compassionate. “Acknowledge that you care about them, that you’re here for them. Make sure you acknowledge their feelings,” she says.
3. Accept that some people might need time
Dr. Ahmad notes that those who struggle with fertility sometimes have mixed feelings when learning of someone else’s pregnancy. She points out that some people may act distant or want some space after hearing the news.
“I would say, the majority of the time, they are really happy for you and they care about you. But it is difficult to hear the news when they themselves have been unable to get pregnant or maybe stay pregnant,” Dr. Ahmad says. “Again, they are happy for you. They just may need time to process it.”
Dr. Grill suggests letting a friend or family member know that you’re available when they’re ready. Let them know that you’ll wait for a cue from them before discussing the pregnancy further, she suggests. “Remain open to a range of reactions your friend may have and try not to take it personally,” she adds.
4. Be considerate to yourself, too
While it’s good to be considerate of others when announcing a pregnancy, Dr. Ahmad says that pregnant people also need to be conscious of their own comfort level.
“I think we as people want to make sure we are thinking of other people but we need to do the same for ourselves,” she explains. “Don’t put yourself in an uncomfortable position where you feel forced to share the news when you’re not ready. For many, getting and staying pregnant can be an uphill battle and maybe you’re just not there yet. Maybe you had a struggle before you got pregnant. Maybe you had pregnancy losses and you’re not ready to share your news or details of your pregnancy. You want to make sure that you give yourself that space too.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Iyer notes the importance of communication and understanding from both sides. “As long as we are being open and honest and understanding that everyone is on their own journey, I think that it creates a safer, more effective approach to being able to announce in a considerate way.”
As for my own pregnancy announcements, I’m taking the experts’ advice and letting some friends know in private. I’m so glad and excited to talk about my new little love, and while I know all my friends might not have the excitement initially, I think that’s okay.