or Connect
Mothering › Pregnancy Articles › Pregnancy Announcement Etiquette

Pregnancy Announcement Etiquette

 

Reposted with permission from MotherWise

 

1000

 

For some people, announcing a pregnancy is a happy, exciting time.  Many soon-to-be mothers experience joyous reactions, hugs, happy tears, high-fives, and other loving, encouraging responses.  Others are not so fortunate, and it seems that an etiquette guide is in order.

 

I am a single parent, and although I was 23 and had a good job at a library, most of the responses I received when I told people I was pregnant were insensitive and inconsiderate.  It appeared that the main focus was that I was unmarried, not that I would be giving birth to a real live human in a few months.  Instead of “Congratulations!” I heard, “Are you going to keep it?”  Instead of, “Wow, you’re going to be a great mom!” I got, “This is not what you needed!”  Instead of happy tears, there were tears of disappointment and sadness.  There were a few people who were wonderfully supportive, but overall I felt a lot more anxiety than joy at telling people.

 

I know other moms who have gotten negative remarks too.  One of my single mama friends heard, “How will you afford a child?” when she announced her first pregnancy, and three years later upon announcing her second pregnancy (although she is now partnered, working, and happy) she promptly heard, “How will you afford two children?”  I have friends with multiple children who get questions like, “This will be your last, right?” or, “You know what causes this, don’t you?”   I have other single-parent friends who received similar reactions as I did, with people suggesting they are making a mistake, rather than offering support.

 

It’s natural to worry about friends and family, and bringing a child into the world is an incredible responsibility.  But take a moment to ask yourself: are your words actually helping?  A pregnancy announcement is not the right time to offer criticism or concern, whether the mom is a teen, or an older mother, or a single parent, or a low-income person, or a mother of multiple children, or a gay parent, or any variation of that.

 

It is not the time to ask how they’re going to afford it.  It is not the time to ask if they were using condoms.  It’s not the time to show shock or sadness.  It’s not the time to chastise or insult or worry.  It’s not the time to pry or project.  It is simply not the time to be negative.

 

There are some helpful, encouraging things to say instead of negative opinions.  Try something like this:

 

Congratulations!

 

You are going to be an amazing mother!

 

What can I do to help?

 

Is there anything you need?

 

You are glowing!

 

How are you feeling?

 

You are going to rock this!

 

I’m so excited for you!

 

I can’t wait to knit you organic rainbow baby booties!

 

If you take the time to judge a soon-to-be mother before asking her how you can help, you might want to take a moment to check your priorities.  At the end of that pregnancy announcement is a mother who needs love and strength to be her best self, and a baby who is a real human being and deserves respect and care.  And guess what?  The ol’ cliché is true:  My son is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  He changed my life and revolutionized my world.  He made me a stronger, more powerful woman, artist, writer, and activist.  He gave my life purpose that it previously lacked.  With the right attitude, resources, and support, what has been deemed a negative situation can become the best thing ever.

 

In the spirit of support, here is an excellent idea for helping out a soon-to-be or recently postpartum mom:  Feeding New Moms

 

 

*

 

Read more at motherwiselife.org

 

Comments (6)

I completely agree with you. We announced our 3rd pregnancy last January and didn't get the happy joyous congratulations that I was so excited for. It was more like, "Really? You are pregnant? I guess a congratulations is in order then." WHAT??? HOW RUDE! We have been together for 10 years, married for 8 this summer, with a 7 year old son and 4 year old daughter. We know that Family is what matters most and the four of us are supper excited for our addition.
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was single. I told a distant relative of mine, who I was staying with at the time. The first thing he said to me? "If you don't want to keep it, can I adopt it?" (yeah, there was NEVER a question in my mind whether I was going to keep 'it').
I was at the downtown campus of my college and lost my car. Well I had my 5 month old on my hip (had just went in to fill out some paperwork) and spent over a half hour searching for my stupid car. I was pretty agitated by that point, so I asked the school's security guard to help me. He agreed to help, then asked if there was something I wasn't telling him. I said "Excuse me?" And he asked if I didn't pay for my car or if my boyfriend was mad at me and took it or if it wasn't really my car. I told him that my HUSBAND is at home over an hour away, sleeping because he works overnights and that I bought that car with MY money and it is paid for. Seriously, because I'm young and with a baby he thinks I'm up to no good.
Pregnant with baby girl#4 here and some reactions we got were just thoughtless. "You already have 3 kids, isn't that enough? Or "Are you happy?"

My response was "it took us over a year to conceive. So yes, we are happy and this baby is very much wanted."
When someone tells me they are pregnant, I usually ask if it is good news or bad news for them. Because a woman who is in a crisis pregnancy doesn't need a cheerful "Congratulations!" Although she may keep the baby, it might not feel like good news for her right away. I'm often not a very good listener, but this is one time where I usually try to find out what the person telling me really needs from me right now.
At the other end, I was a teenage mom so I whole heartedly agree that people should express nothing but support! Nothing like hearing (whether direct or second hand) "Oh you've ruined your life!" or "Oh, there goes your plans for college." etc.
And THINK people. Don't say to or around the pregnant person's (teen or otherwise) sister, friend or family member any of these negative things either! It will get back!!!
I was 20, unmarried, and a college drop-out when I got pregnant with my first. (Although, we announced our engagement along with the pregnancy.) When I told my family, I might as well have told them that I was going to prison for dealing heroin. I saw all of my dreams suddenly coming true; they saw my whole life going down the toilet.

When I got married, I became full-time caregiver to my two young step-children, making me an instant mother of three. When we announced that we were TTC, and then pregnant with, a fourth child, I got, "I was praying you wouldn't get pregnant," and "Having four children will put you in an asylum!"

My husband and I have now been together more than twelve years, and we're pregnant with our eighth child. We're thrilled, but my family has never once responded with happiness to a pregnancy announcement. They have asked me multiple times when I'm going to "do something about that" (ie, get fixed). The last couple of pregnancies, I didn't even tell my family. They found out on Facebook.
Mothering › Pregnancy Articles › Pregnancy Announcement Etiquette