How to Let an Infertile Friend or Relative Know You're Pregnant

Young women friends using cell phone and drinking coffee in cafe

Hoxton / Tom Merton / Getty Images

Sharing the news of your pregnancy is typically a joyful moment. However, telling a friend with infertility that you're pregnant is a bit more complicated and may end up feeling stressful for you both. You may already know how hard it can be for them to learn about other people's pregnancies. As excited as you are, you may also be dreading sharing the news with a loved one who is dealing with fertility struggles.

This conversation can be even harder if you experienced infertility together, as you may have some survivor's guilt. But there are ways to broach this topic tactfully that will celebrate your good news while also honoring the pain or stress it might bring up for your friend.

Don't Keep Your Pregnancy a Secret

Not telling your friend with infertility, but telling others, may seem protective and easier at first. However, it is very likely to backfire. They may find out from someone else and feel hurt that you didn't tell them. Be sure that you're the one to tell them about your new pregnancy so they don't hear it through the grapevine.

Leave Out Details and Advice

Hearing about a friend's pregnancy is often difficult when you are experiencing infertility. Listening to a friend talk about how easy or quickly they conceived is likely worse. If you weren't planning your pregnancy, or it happened quickly, leave those details out. All it will do is remind them of their own struggles.

Unless your friend asks you, avoid sharing advice on trying to conceive, especially if you didn't struggle with infertility. As you already know, your friend is doing everything they can. Most likely they are already researching and learning how they can improve their fertility and what treatment options they may have.

Getting fertility advice from you right now could feel insulting. It could feel as if you're implying they aren't "trying hard enough." Even if you have struggled with infertility yourself, resist the urge to give unsolicited advice.

Allow Some Space and Time

Your friend will want to be happy for you but it's normal for their first reaction to be heartache and envy. This is about their feelings of loss and frustration. Allow them space and permission to have these feelings, and remember their sadness is not about you. This is the key to being a good friend to someone facing infertility.

Depending on the circumstances, you may choose to share your news via email or text message, which gives your friend time to process the news before responding. If you tell them in person, they may feel like they have to put on a brave face for you. That doesn't give them space to feel what they need to feel.

Or, if you opt to tell them face to face, be sure to do so in a relaxed setting. For example, telling them at Thanksgiving dinner is not a great idea. Sharing your news in the middle of the workday probably isn't a good idea either. A coffee date, perhaps after work or on a weekend, might be a better, less pressured time to let them know.

Giving them permission to feel their feelings could mean simply stating, "I know this may be hard for you to hear." Those words can be a great source of comfort. Your friend may feel guilty for any negative feelings they may have, and these words will reassure them that it's okay to feel upset along with being happy for you.

Of course, no one needs another person's permission to have their feelings. But knowing you understand can provide a tremendous amount of relief.

Give Notice Before Big Announcements

A big pregnancy announcement can be fun and creative. People post cryptic, puzzle-like posts on social media or share sneaky (and often videotaped) announcements at a family dinner, like putting a bun in the oven along with a positive pregnancy test.

This kind of announcement can be painful for a friend with infertility. This is especially true if you are close. Getting the news via social media can hurt. Getting the news at a family event can be awkward, as the person can be caught off guard and without space to deal with their feelings.

You can still plan an elaborate announcement—just warn your friend. Let them be the first to know, and let them know your plans for the announcement so they can either avoid it or be ready for it.   

Another mistake people often make is not inviting their infertile friend or relative to the baby shower. It's true that baby showers are often difficult for those with infertility, but not being invited is also painful. Instead, invite them, but be clear that they are not obligated to attend.

Stay in Touch

For people struggling with infertility, it can feel like their friends disappear one by one off into parenthood, leaving them behind. The fact is that pregnancy and early motherhood are overwhelming and take a lot of time. That said, maintaining the friendship is also important. Even if you can't be in touch as often, don't stop calling altogether.

If you're worried about talking only about the pregnancy and the baby, try to remember all the things you spoke about before you got pregnant. Make yourself a list, if it helps, so that when you call, you're not scrambling for non-baby related topics to talk about.

Ask Instead of Assuming

Yes, hearing about morning sickness and first kicks can be difficult in some situations, but not all. Your friend might complain about their coworker who talks endlessly about their morning sickness, but they may enjoy hearing all about yours. So, if you're not sure how much detail they'd like to hear about your pregnancy, ask. That way you can share comfortably.

A Word From Verywell

The uncomfortable barrier between pregnant and infertile friends isn't primarily caused by the pregnancy, but by all the unspoken fears and tension that can grow in silence.

The pregnant friend may worry about not hurting their friend's feelings. The infertile friend wonders why the pregnant friend doesn't want to speak to them anymore. It doesn't have to be this way. Talk about your concerns, let your friend know you care and understand. And, most importantly, don't drop out of your friend's life.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Greil AL, Shreffler KM, Schmidt L, McQuillan J. Variation in distress among women with infertility: Evidence from a population-based sampleHum Reprod. 2011;26(8):2101-2112. doi:10.1093/humrep/der148

  2. Golmakani N, Ebrahimzadeh Zagami S, Esmaily H, Vatanchi A, Kabirian M. The relationship of the psychological coping and adjustment strategies of infertile women with the success of assisted reproductive technologyInt J Reprod Biomed. 2019;17(2):119-126. doi:10.18502/ijrm.v17i2.3989

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.