Coping with different reactions when sharing pregnancy news
Not everyone will react the way you expect when you share your pregnancy news. They might seem uninterested or blasé or perhaps they’re TOO interested and it’s overwhelming. While you can’t control the way your family, friends, or social circle respond, you can learn how to cope with the array of possible reactions.
It can be especially upsetting if your partner doesn’t react the way you expect them to. It can also be confronting if you learn that they’re not on the same page about the pregnancy. Perhaps they’re overjoyed and want to tell everyone when you’re not ready. Or perhaps they are nervous and want to keep it a secret when you desperately want to tell your best friends. It’s possible they feel anything from excitement to anxiety, and can become withdrawn and uncommunicative.
I really wanted to wait until we were past the 12-week wait but my partner wanted to tell his family. So we compromised and just told our parents first.
It’s important to keep communicating with one another as you get your head around the news and what this is likely to mean. It’s OK if you process it differently.
Your parents may also react in a variety of ways that may surprise, and even upset, you. From glee to ambivalence, a grandchild can be seen as a welcome surprise or as a shock to their own identity and plans. On one hand, it’s possible you may be met with some unwanted judgments about having a baby or an excess of unsolicited advice, not to mention immediate assumptions about their level of involvement. On the other hand, it’s possible your parents may be uncharacteristically quiet as they process the news. However they respond, a new addition to the family usually involves a renegotiation of roles and adjustment of relationships which may take some time to get used to.
I was expecting my parents to be really excited about their first grandchild but I think my mum really struggled with the idea of becoming a grandmother.
Sharing the news with your in-laws might strengthen the relationship you have with them, solidifying your place in the family, or may leave you feeling smothered. It’s possible you may notice a shift in the intensity of their connection to you or be bombarded by intrusive questions that you are uncomfortable answering.
The reaction of your siblings may take you by surprise, especially if they’re not as excited or supportive as you hoped. The news of a baby can disrupt established dynamics between siblings and can lead to a number of of upsetting reactions from resenting the attention you’re getting, a preoccupation with getting family attention, regression to childlike states, to dismissiveness, or aloofness.
You may find yourself hoping that sharing your pregnancy provides an opportunity for bonding or to improve relationships, and it’s common to feel disappointed if existing dysfunctional patterns don’t change. Even if you’re not surprised by their reactions, it’s understandable to find yourself wanting them to respond differently.
My older sister who had been trying for a while didn’t speak to me for a few weeks after we announced our pregnancy. It was really hurtful but I tried to understand where she was coming from.
After you announce your pregnancy, your friends may hug you and squeal and jump with happiness as you might expect. Unfortunately, our friends don’t always react in the ways we hope. From competitiveness or jealousy, to distancing themselves and anticipating rejection when you can’t be there for them, the reactions of our friends can be confronting and upsetting. Keep in mind that sometimes there may be more than meets the eye when it comes to their initial reaction though. If they are experiencing their own challenges, your friends may even feel ashamed that they can’t be as happy for you as they would have hoped.
Your peers are also in their reproductive years… going through their own demanding conception, pregnancy, and parenting experiences. Their reaction to your pregnancy may range from slightly strained to wildly inappropriate if they are wrestling with their own uncomfortable feelings. Even your friends who do not have children may have strong reactions as they relate to your plan for a vision of life that will diverge from theirs. Dr. Sacks & Dr. Birndorf
For many expectant parents, sharing the news of a pregnancy is an exciting time. If you’ve found, however, that the reaction has been hurtful or confusing you’re not alone. Just as pregnancy is a transition for the expectant parents, it’s also a change for those around them.