Whose Pregnancy Is It Anyway?

Our baby or your baby

Posted Jan 13, 2020

Flickr Creative Commons/Free Use
Our baby or your baby
Source: Flickr Creative Commons/Free Use

There are many different stages of pregnancy people go through, from deciding when to have a baby, to beginning to try to conceive, to either becoming pregnant or not and, in that case, having to consider other options such as fertility treatments, surrogacy, and adoption. One big question that is often not addressed until it takes on a life of its own is, when do you bring other people into the equation?

Do you share what’s going on right from the beginning of the journey with family and friends? Or do you wait until the baby is well on his or her way? Or, like Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden did recently, do you keep the entire pregnancy under wraps until the baby is born?

The celebrity couple, who began dating in May 2014, have always kept the details of their relationship quiet. Even so, it was a surprise when the two recently announced the birth of their daughter, adding the caveat that they will not be releasing any photos or additional details because they want to protect the baby’s privacy. In order to keep such a big secret, the couple must have agreed to it together, in advance, and then stuck to it.

How can you decide when the time is right to tell other people, and then make sure the information isn’t leaked before you’re ready?

People tend to be curious and inquisitive about when others plan to start a family, but that can sometimes feel intrusive. Often you might find that you are asked before you are ready to answer, possibly even before you have thought it through. Your mother in law, for example, might be eager to become a grandmother, so she might ask when you are going to give her that grandchild. Or your sister has three kids and can’t wait until they have cousins to play with, so she might be pushing you along. It can start to sound and feel like pressure.

If you tell people you plan to try, then you might imagine it is all they think about when they see you, wondering how it is going. If it doesn’t happen quickly, you might start to feel a sense of public accountability, and if it begins to take a long time, you might even feel like you are failing and disappointing the people you have told. With all this in mind, it is a good thing to think about before you are faced with it. 

Talk to your partner early to decide where you each stand on the topic, and determine together when you will share the news with family, friends, and as in the case of Cameron and Benji, with the public. Try to do this at each stage of the process so you can always be on the same page. If one of you goes ahead and spills the beans before the other is ready, that can cause tension between you.

Say, for example, you can’t wait to tell people and share the excitement as soon as you see the positive test, but your husband is superstitious and asks you not to tell anyone until you are beginning your second trimester; it will be pretty awkward when your best friend blindsides him with a big congratulations.

Along the same lines, if you tell some people and not others, the ones who are out of the loop might feel slighted if they hear the news secondhand or find out later that others knew before they did. It can be tricky.

It is easy to avoid such problems by having a well-thought-out and agreed-upon plan as you move forward, one that takes the needs and wishes of each of you into account. Consider who you want to tell, when you want to tell them, and how much information you will share. Not only will doing this allow you to support and respect each other, it will also give you the chance to maintain control of your own space and insulate your privacy as you see fit while avoiding fallout and resentment from the people around you.

It used to seem that your baby was our baby, in other words, all babies were fair game, from the moment that baby bump began to show itself, and strangers didn’t think twice about patting you on the tummy or cooing at a baby in a stroller. That has changed, and people are more thoughtful and protective about putting out information at each stage.

Pregnancy invites in the world, but it is up to you if you want to let the world in or not. Just as Cameron and Benji did, you can keep it private for as long as you like.