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Getting Pregnant

10 Tips For Handling Relatives Who Pry (Are You Pregnant Yet?)

This Thanksgiving, it’s likely that you will gather around a table for a shared meal with family or friends. And perhaps, over turkey and cranberry sauce, some well-meaning loved one will ask “the question”:

So, when are you going to have a baby?

What is it about baby making that makes friends and relatives feel as though they have permission to weigh in? The process of conceiving a child—one of life’s most intimate experiences—shouldn’t be fodder for dinner table conversation, should it?

Would these same people ask about your sex life? Or would they say, “Hey, have you gotten that egg-white cervical mucus in your underwear yet?”

No, they wouldn’t.

Getting pregnant just isn’t something that happens because you’ve “decided” you want it to, any more than you can just “decide” that you don’t want the flu.

It helps to remember that this prying tends to come from genuine excitement. But even the most well-intentioned relatives can take their enthusiasm too far. So, we took a poll in our Ava communities to find out how women respond to “the question.”  And from these insights, we’ve put together a list of 10 tips for handling unsolicited questions about family planning.

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1. Hide it with humor

“Oh, we tried 5 times today already, and it hasn’t worked yet.”

“Babies are on back order, and there is no estimate on when they will be back in stock.”

Humor is always a good deflection tactic, so why not seize this perfect opportunity to kill the awkwardness with a joke.

2. Answer an uncomfortable question with an uncomfortable answer

“Well, we will probably at least wait until we get home.”

Maybe the person asking will think it through next time, now that they feel as uncomfortable as you do.

3. Dodge the question

“We have cats.”

Enough said.

4. Point out that they’ve overstepped

“I’ll forgive you for asking that question if you forgive me for not answering it.”

Please, if you use this one, send us a photo of the reaction. It’s witty, it’s sharp, and—it’s perfect at politely checking the person who stepped over the privacy line.

5. Give them a taste of their own medicine

“I’ll start trying to get pregnant when you start trying to lose weight.”

Hmm . . . medicine doesn’t taste so good now—does it? (Hey, they started it.)

6. Ask them some questions about their sex life.

“How’s the sex going between the two of you?”

This should stop the conversation cold. And remind people how intimate the topic really is. (I mean, really.)

7.  Remind them there’s no 2-day shipping guarantee when it comes to babies

“We’re trying for a baby, but as it turns out everything we learned in health class was wrong, and it takes more than one try.”

This response is an excellent combination of honesty, humor, and myth-busting.

8. Use it as an opportunity to learn or to grow closer

Some women in our communities pointed out that this question can open the door for a conversation about family history and fertility. Are there family members who have had miscarriages? Or struggled to get pregnant? What about genetic conditions—are there any that you should know about?

One of our community members shared, “I learned that several of my aunts had had miscarriages. I never knew! It made us closer.”

9. Disarm them with honesty

Some women suggested that the best answer is an honest one. One pointed out, “it’s not fair to withhold information from loved ones while simultaneously being mad at them for not knowing what we haven’t told them.” Other women suggested that, when you’re honest, it allows others to open up about their struggles—whether they relate to fertility or not—and you begin to realize that you’re not alone.

As one community member shared, “Most of the people we know and care about aren’t trying to hurt us with their nosiness; by telling them the truth that their questions are painful, it lets them know where you are and gives them an opportunity not to cause you further pain.”

10. Educate them

The truth is, well-meaning relatives and friends just may not know the facts about fertility.

Studies have shown that there is a major disconnect between infertility awareness and understanding. Meaning that most people know someone who has struggled to get or stay pregnant, but few really understand what “infertility” actually means. And most people don’t realize that even couples without fertility challenges only have a 20-25% chance of conceiving each cycle.

Ask your relatives, did you know that 6.1 million women (10%) between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States have trouble getting or staying pregnant? (Also, this number rises to 50 million worldwide.) Or did you know that 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in her lifetime?

Thankfully, more women are speaking up about fertility than ever before. Just last week, Michelle Obama revealed that she and Barack struggled to conceive for years and used IVF to conceive both of their daughters, Sascha and Malia.

Know that any response that feels right is right.

Whether you choose to go with a response that is snarky or sentimental, a reply that maintains your privacy or one that opens the door for a conversation, a comment that will silence the room or one that might educate those at your table—there’s simply no wrong way to respond. You should feel empowered to handle questions and comments about family planning in whatever way you like.

And this is our mission: to empower women with information about their bodies, their fertility, and their health. Whatever your journey looks like, and wherever you are on that journey, we support you.

From all of us here at Ava—have a great holiday.

Lindsay Meisel

Lindsay Meisel is the Head of Content at Ava. She has over a decade of experience writing about science, technology, and health, with a focus on women's health and the menstrual cycle. Her work has been featured on The Fertility Hour, The Birth Hour, The Breakthrough Journal, and The Rumpus.

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