When Your Partner Says She's Pregnant

Couple with a positive pregnancy test
Photo © PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images

When you first take that pregnancy test and you're so excited to share the news of your pregnancy, you run to the one you want to tell first. Overwhelmingly that person is your husband or partner. Though once you get there and share the words: I'm pregnant! something can happen inside their brains and the nicest things don't always come out. Here are a few of the ones that I've heard over the years from women.

  1. Are You Sure? 
    1. Please, don't make us doubt the result of the home pregnancy test even more than we already do. Even if we're not 100 percent positive, we have a pregnancy test that has a positive result, we need your love and support. We want this to be one of those memories that we treasure forever.
  2. How Did That Happen? 
    1. Even when trying to get pregnant, it can come to a shock to the male half of the team. Open mouth, insert foot. Seriously, even if you missed that part of health class, surely you've picked up a thing or two over the years.
  3. Whose Baby Is It? 
    1. My husband thought this was a particularly hilarious thing to say. I was not quite as amused as he was with this statement. Perhaps this is not the best time for jokes, even if you're pretty sure she'll laugh, maybe save that one for later.
  4. Already? 
    1. Did your man agree to try to get pregnant, assuming it would take a while? Hopefully, this isn't his reaction, but it might be. In his defense, one dad pointed out that he was having a lot of fun trying and was ​afraid that the "fun would end."
  5. Aren't You a Bit Young?
    1. This also goes for: don't you need a bigger house, a better job, etc. It's none of your business what their life is like and what they have or don't have. This one is probably not coming from your partner, but perhaps your parents or other older relatives.
  6. Silence. (Nothing.)
    1. This might be the worst of all the reactions to being told you're expecting a baby. For goodness sakes, say something! Even if it's just, "Wow." Sometimes nothing is a bad response because of something personal, sometimes it's just a lack of something to say.

Please don't hurt him if you hear one of these things! Chances are he think he's being funny or his brain was temporarily turned off because he's so happy. Remember how you felt when you saw the positive test—a bit happy, a bit frightened and a whole lot of other emotions. Dad experiences all that too. The only difference is that he doesn't get the whole five minutes you had before you could read the test.

What You Should Do When You Don't Get a Nice Reaction

So if you get a response you weren't expecting, here's what you should do:

  • Don't overreact.
  • Ask for what you need.
  • Talk about how you feel and how the reaction makes you feel.
  • Take time alone if you need it or want it.
  • Don't panic.
  • If it was meant to be humorous, try to laugh about it.

This type of response is probably not what you were expecting and can be just as bad as the response from other relatives. The good news is that most people who give a negative reaction report being caught off guard. This is one of the things that happens when you surprise someone. This might be something that you take into consideration to planning a surprise announcement.

If a good response is most important to you, consider other ways of announcing your pregnancy. When possible, maybe even set the person up for the long notice. You know, "Hey, I might be pregnant." Or "I'm thinking of taking a pregnancy test." This can help with reducing the surprise factor for that person. While you may want the surprise, some people are just not that great with them. Which matters most to you? A positive memory of finding out you're pregnant may be really important to you, if that's the case, try to steel yourself against what others have to say. Sometimes, this means preparing and giving up a bit of the element of surprise.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.