Pregnancy Announcement Etiquette

Me, several months pregnant.
Me, several months pregnant.

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

My son, a few months old.
My son, a few months old.

25 thoughts on “Pregnancy Announcement Etiquette

  1. Awe. I love what you wrote. Children are ALWAYS a blessing, and they are NEVER to be a mere financial choice. Babies are miracles, nothing less, and if God trusts you to have one, then he will also supply you with all the love, grace, wisdom, and other things that a mother needs to be a good mom! So glad you didn’t listen to the people who could not see the hope and beauty in the situation. Hopefully, they now understand. By the way, when my sister-friend got pregnant after several miscarriages, a still birth, and an ectopic pregnancy, no one wanted to be happy for her. I knew her longing, so I encouraged her to keep her spirits high and just treat herself like gold. Now, she is the mother of 3 beautiful children. Thank God she did not give up. She is the best mom I know.

  2. Unfortunately I know way too many single moms that the birth of their child did not make them a better person, just a neglectful parent since they were not ready to make another human being priority over themselves. I too had my first child before I was married and it changed, no saved my life but looking back I wish I would have been able to wait till I was better prepared maturity wise. I don’t make rude remarks when someone gets pregnant under less than ideal circumstances though, I offer every help I can even if I don’t know them very well because I remember being that girl 18 yrs ago. Thank you for pointing out that these mothers need love and help not judgement. To ask are you keeping it I think is the worst, I mean why would someone tell everyone if they were just planning on killing it anyways? You are basically asking her if she is a murderer.

  3. Thank you! I got such a mix when announcing my pregnancy. I lost count of how many times I heard, “are you going to marry the father?” Because that’s the only way this baby was worth rejoicing over, you know. :( I love my little guy. He’s changed my life, but for the better. I’m so grateful for those who were genuinely excited for me and who offered much needed support.

  4. Thank you for writing this. All three of my pregnancy announcements were met with cruelty from family and friends. It was so hurtful. Im happy to be in a different place
    in my life now where those “friends” are no longer and that family is kept at a distance but if I pause to remember those times I feel the pain. Thank you for writing this.

  5. Wonderful post!

    It reminds me of when my current hubby and I were planning to have a baby together. I had three children from a previous marriage, but he had never had children.

    When I told people how we were very much hoping to have a baby, a few people said, “Why would you want another one, you already have three.”

    But I realize that people like that just don’t get it. It does not matter how many children you have, every single child is a unique, wonderful blessing.

    And my family is now complete, and I am a mommy to four wonderful little human beings.

  6. I love this post. I had similar bad responses when we found out we were expecting our son almost 2 yrs ago. We werent married but living together and had a good income. My elder brother’s response was F**K You!! and walked away and didnt talk to us for weeks simply cause we werent married at the time. It broke my heart and still a piece of me never forgives him for it as with all his children I was over the moon even when they werent born at the greatest of times. I believe no matter the time or difference in couples babies are a true blessing and making of a family. Everyone else had a wonderful response. Recently we found out we are expecting again. Told the family and my brother’s response was above wonderful and it puzzles me the only difference is we are married now. Same people same finances just a ring on our hands.

  7. You’re not alone. Some of us married moms with large families get some pretty rude responses because we dare to have more than 2.5 children. I once told a new neighbor who asked that I was pregnant with my 5th. Her response was a look of disgust and “oh my God.” And I had just met her! I still want to punch her and it was eight years ago

  8. i am a mama of six. and after #2 was born, all other children were met with a mild bit of disgust from my family. it hurt, it still hurts. between 5 and 6 i had two miscarriages, instead of support when i found out i was pregnant again, i got so much grief from my folks. i must admit almost 3 years later, it still stings. why couldn’t they just say “woohoo, another grandbaby!” and love her like we already did? :(

    1. My father in law used to buy a portrait sitting for each child for their first birthday, but, to make a statement, he stopped at number five. (I never asked for them!)
      This man had six children in two marriages and he would tell me husband to get snipped which is incredibly offensive. At a party recently he said to me, ” you had too many kids!”
      I snapped at him “which one should I take back?!!”

  9. Although I sympathize with the horrible experiences some folks have had, there is one good reason to be less than enthusiastic (never rude,) when someone announces they’re expecting; if they are less than enthusiastic. Everyone who has posted comments here was able to, and decided to, birth and raise the babies they were announcing, some people aren’t able to or choose not to, either through abortion or adoption. I work with young adults in transitional living, some of whom have dealt with big problems like addiction, past abuse, or working through mental health issues, but most of whom just come from less than ideal pasts and haven’t had a chance to become real adults yet. When one of my youth tells me they’re expecting they usually haven’t decided for themselves what they’re going to do. If my immediate reaction was “It’s so great you’re going to have a baby, congratulations on the baby, baby baby baby baby yeah!” I’d just be telling them they can’t figure out for themselves if they’re ready to raise a kid and that having a baby is just something to get praise for, not a huge two-or-more lives altering event. I usually ask them what the biggest emotion they’re having is and go from there, or ask “is this good news or bad news for you?” I’ve worked with too many parents who were pushed as pregnant teens to raise a child they weren’t ready for, and are now giving up toddlers for adoption at the worst possible developmental period.

    What if you are the broke unmarried young or whatever mother who intends to place your baby with adoptive parents and everytime you have to tell someone you’re pregnant they shower you with congratulations and tell you what a good parent you’ll be and ask how excited you are. That would be pretty horrible too.

    1. I see your point, however “It’s so great you’re going to have a baby, congratulations on the baby, baby baby baby baby yeah!” was not one of the suggested responses to a pregnancy announcement. Some of the suggestions like, “How are you feeling?” or “Is there anything I can do for you?” would still apply even if the mother didn’t want to/couldn’t keep the baby. I was broke, unmarried, and young-ish (23) when I got pregnant, and the rudeness I experienced was unacceptable. I think it’s basic common sense to not shower a person with congrats unless they’re in a position where you know abortion/adoption isn’t on the table.

  10. Kristen Tea, this was AMAZING article!!!!!!!! loved it sooo much!!!!!!!!! I wish everyone could read this….I think as a society are we are losing value for life….we are entertained by death and suffering…there is so much jugement on each other…. a lot of people (in my experience) focus on themselves a LOT and have lost thier ability for human kindness/compassion
    also great website!!

  11. I absolutely loved what you wrote, I have 2 children from 2 different dads and have noticed that people can be very judgmental, and this about everything… I can’t believe you’ve had such comments about your pregnancy but I’m not that surprised… I’m French with an English partner and left France to live in the Caribbean 10 years ago, I resigned from a job in an import-export company in pharmaceuticals and started all over again here… Most people don’t like anything a bit unconventional, but this you know already!

  12. Congrats! Wishing that you and your son be blessed! I am 17 weeks pregnant and it seems like the married moms at my sons school turn their heads when I come around to prevent talking to me. I’ve been shunned! I really want to enjoy this pregnancy but find it hard because people make me feel like I should be ashamed. I’ll just take it one day at a time. Wish me luck…

  13. 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.

  14. I first want to say sorry for my english writing is not so good. People can be so cruel, is one of the worst feeling in the world when your child is not accepted. I got engage a year ago August, with my boyfriend I was together for 8 years and we plan to marry in 2015. When I got engage his cousin did get engage to after me and also married within a year. Everyone told her how excite they are for the new baby in the family and she should have one soon. But when I found out I was pregnant a couple of weeks ago and told his family it was the worst thing I could do. I was told that I did it wrong it because I’m mad she was married before me and ask more than once “Zoya how can you be selfish , not thinking that she would think and how it would feel like to her she is to having a baby first.” But I don’t think of her before intercourse, so I don’t know how it would feel like to her?

    My mother had feeling I was pregnant for the past few weeks, and really the reason I went for a blood test to physicians when pregnancy was negative from the store, so it was very easy to say to her I was pregnant, but both of my sisters were cases of miscarriage one 5 months and one 11 weeks in the last 3 month, so I’m nervous for tell them . I never think my first pregnancy it was going to be a lot of discomfort for some, and it’s hard to tell other, I think as long as I have my little family, and we are happy is okay . Sad to say, but I am happy that we live 5 hour away from his family and negativity that follow them.

  15. I have to agree with this. I just recently found out I am pregnant with my first child, almost 23, unmarried. For the most part, the few close people I told were excited and supportive, while others first response ran along the lines of “f*ck, abort, abort”, saying it was my duty, etc. And that I would regret it, etc. Very hurtful and absolutely uncalled for, especially at such a new vulnerable and while exciting, also scary time for me, being that thewhole coursr

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