Understanding your reactions to other people’s pregnancies

When you struggle to conceive or have suffered pregnancy loss, it may become difficult to receive pregnancy announcements, or to see pregnant people and babies. It’s very common for people experiencing infertility to be triggered by this and you may react by feeling sad or angry, crying, shaking, or feeling anxiety and panic.

When we're in pain, it's natural to have thoughts and feelings that we wouldn't otherwise have. You might not think of yourself as a jealous person, or maybe you normally wish well for others, but now you find yourself green with envy and thinking negative thoughts about the people around you.

It's important to remind yourself that what you feel doesn't have as much to do with the other person as it does with what you're missing. Your grief is simply triggered by that pregnancy announcement or round belly. Your desire to be pregnant is about your identity, family, body, heart and soul, so when someone else has this deep experience that you're longing for, it makes sense that you react deeply.

“I experience everything from sadness to jealousy to resentment when I see a pregnant person. It feels like they’re showing off, simply by existing. I try to tell myself that they haven’t done anything wrong and aren’t purposefully trying to hurt me, but my pain takes over and I feel like a bad person for thinking that way.” - Maya

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Remind yourself that your feelings make sense, and you’re not a bad person for feeling them. It’s hard to work through feelings if we don’t first accept that they exist, and understand why they’re there.
  2. Be gentle with yourself, and set boundaries around difficult interactions and experiences. It’s okay to say “no” to attending a baby shower, or asking for space from a friend who is pregnant.
    If this feels difficult, imagine what you would recommend to a friend going through  something difficult to do - you would most likely not tell them to force themselves to attend something that made them feel sad. Try to show yourself the same kindness and understanding that you grant others.
  3. Find ways to get your feelings out. Many of us struggle with finding an outlet for our emotions and too often we internalize them and try to ignore them; no matter how much we want, that doesn't make them go away.
    Although you can’t stop these emotions from showing up, there are techniques to break a negative thought spiral and lower anxiety like journaling about your thoughts, mindfulness practices or moving your body.
  4. Be proactive and let others know how you’d prefer to be told about future pregnancies. You can’t control other people, but hopefully they can honor your request to be told via text, or in private, or whatever feels comfortable for you.

Try these exercises in Tilly's app...

About the author

Maya Maria Brown, M.A., is an infertility mental health expert. She has a master’s in Counseling Psychology, and has worked with individuals and couples on infertility and relationships. She also has personal experience with infertility and is currently in treatment.


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