pregnant woman having a conversation with friends

How to Handle Tough Social Situations While You're Pregnant

By Kerry Weiss
April 01, 2024

Celebrations, social gatherings, work functions, holiday events—it can be fun to spend time with others. But sometimes these get-togethers come with prying questions, odd remarks, or unwanted opinions from people. You might find it happens more often when you’re pregnant.

“I think almost everyone who’s been pregnant has experienced someone saying something that they didn’t want to hear or been asked questions that are inappropriate or too intrusive,” says Michelle DiBlasi, D.O., a board-certified psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center, in Boston.

During pregnancy, it can feel like a social spotlight is pointing right at you.

“Those who feel uneasy about this new kind of attention they may be receiving in public spaces can plan how they might respond to common situations or questions that may arise,” says Carolyn Ponting, Ph.D., psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

These tips can help you navigate different types of difficult social situations with ease.

Situation 1: You’re Not Ready to Tell People You’re Pregnant Yet

There’s no “right” time to start telling people you’re pregnant. Do it when you feel most comfortable. But it’s common for people to wait until the end of the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage goes down significantly.

If you’re not ready to share the news yet, it can be hard to keep the secret. You might worry how to respond if loved ones ask nosy questions like “Are you pregnant?” or “Why aren’t you drinking wine?”

The good news is that you might not get any of these questions. “Most of the time, people are so focused on themselves, they’re unlikely to dissect small changes in your own behavior or question your decision to socialize in a particular way,” Ponting says.

But just in case, some people choose to hide the signs they’re pregnant by wearing flowy clothes that hide a baby bump. Others order a seltzer with lime to have a drink in hand without people questioning its alcohol content.

If you are asked prying questions, DiBlasi suggests answering in a vague but polite way. “So if someone asks if you’re pregnant, respond with ‘I hope so. I guess time will tell,’” she suggests as an example.

Another option is to decline social invitations for now, if that’s what’s best for you.

Situation 2: You’re Asked Nosy Questions About Your Pregnancy

Once the news is out, people may start to ask you personal questions like “Were you trying?” “Did you need fertility treatment?” or “What names have you picked out?”

Depending on the situation, you may be okay with these questions. But if you don’t want to answer, keep these responses in your back pocket:

  • “Why do you ask?” This can show the person that you may not want to answer. “Or it will give them a chance to provide more context as to why they’re asking something so personal,” Ponting says. “It may be a bid to connect.”
  • “I’d rather not discuss that.” This is a good way to shut down intrusive questions directly, DiBlasi says.
  • “I’m keeping that private for now.” This can be another good response if you simply don’t want to respond or engage any further, Ponting adds.
  • “What an odd question.” This can help you establish a boundary if the question was upsetting to you, Ponting says. Another option: “I’m surprised you felt comfortable asking me that.”
  • “I’m just excited about the baby.” This is another good response to help you avoid answering the question, DiBlasi says. It may also allow you to change the subject to something you’d rather discuss.

Respond in whichever way feels most comfortable to you in a given situation.

Situation 3: Others Are Judging or Disagreeing with You

Maybe your pregnancy wasn’t planned. Or you’re not married. Or you’re younger or older than the average pregnant person. You might feel judged.

There are other things people could disapprove of, too. Your loved ones could be unhappy that you don’t want them in the delivery room. They could disagree with how you plan to feed the baby, where the baby will sleep, or how you plan to handle childcare.

“These can be really challenging situations, especially when you truly value your friend or family member’s opinion or don’t want them to feel disappointed about your choices,” DiBlasi says.

Start by acknowledging that any strong feelings from a loved one are likely coming from a place of care, Ponting suggests. “Then, it can be helpful to express that your choices are also based on a desire to do what’s best for your family,” she continues.

You can also express to them that you’re listening to them, even though your choices or opinions may differ. “Tell them that if you have questions about their preferred approach in the future, you’ll be sure to let them know,” Pointing suggests.

Situation 4: They Wish They Were Pregnant

If someone in your life is trying to conceive, is struggling with their fertility, or has experienced a loss, your relationship may feel strained.

“Simply acknowledging the different positions you are in can be affirming,” Ponting says. This can show that you’re aware of or sensitive to their feelings.

For example, if you need to tell this person you’re pregnant, you might try a version of this script from Ponting:

I want to share some personal news with you because you’re an important person in my life. I'm pregnant. I've worried a bit about how this news might impact you. I want to be supportive of you and to check in to make sure you know that. So if there are things that you'd rather I not share, please let me know…

“This allows the friend or loved one a chance to reflect on what might be difficult for them about the situation,” Ponting says. “And it allows them the opportunity to express sincere excitement and care if that is what they feel.”

Keep in mind that, even if this person is happy for you, they still may have a hard time. Anything from seeing your growing baby bump to getting a baby shower invitation might bring up tough emotions for them. Acknowledging their feelings at different times throughout your pregnancy can go a long way.

Remember to Care for Your Well-Being

“Social situations while pregnant can be awkward, uncomfortable, or even stressful,” says DiBlasi, in addition to everything else you’re going through during pregnancy. Too much stress during pregnancy isn’t healthy for you or your baby.

It’s important to manage any stress you’re experiencing. It may help to exercise, meditate, and find time to relax. You may also need to lean on your support network.

“I recommend that people really talk about what’s stressing them out with a friend or family member they trust,” DiBlasi says. “Or connect with a therapist if you feel like you need an objective person to help you process your feelings.”

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