The question of pregnancy is a difficult one for many women, especially those who have miscarried or lost a child in the past, or who are having a tough time getting pregnant.
Chrissy Teigen is one example. After confirming that she is undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in an Instagram post, the model stated in the caption, ‘I humbly beg you to stop asking if I’m pregnant because while I know it’s said with excited, good intentions, it just kind of sucks to hear because I am the opposite of pregnant!’
She then went on to explain that, although she had received backlash for asking this of her fans in the past, she would rather be the person to educate her followers and save them the awkward situation of upsetting another woman who had gone through a difficult time with pregnancy.
Having experienced a very public miscarriage in 2020, Teigen is now trying to get pregnant again through IVF. The mother of two has been open about her recent struggles, however, due to a combination of extremely intricate emotions surrounding pregnancy and IVF, as well as the lingering taboo of miscarriage, other women may face a silent journey with their only support coming from close family and friends.
With this in mind, we debate the question of whether it’s ever OK to ask someone if they’re pregnant, and how to navigate the situation if you do feel the need to ask.
Should you ask someone if they’re pregnant?
In most situations, the answer is no – especially if you don’t really know the person you’re asking. This question can bring up a lot of emotions and, if the person in question has suffered the loss of a child or had a very difficult pregnancy, memories that may make them feel emotional.
This could prompt a negative response, such as getting upset or crying, or even an argument. Meanwhile, you’re left wondering why a seemingly ‘innocent’ question might prompt such a reaction.
Not to mention, it could be that they’re not pregnant at all and perhaps have put on weight.
The best thing to do is avoid asking this question altogether, and wait for the person to announce their news, if they wish to do so.
If you are close to the other party, they may be more comfortable discussing the matter with you. However, it’s important to play it by ear. Here are some tips for going about it in the right way.
How to ask a close friend or family member if they’re pregnant
1. Talk about a closely related topic
First gauge their response by talking about something relating to pregnancy or parenting. It could be that you spotted some nice children’s clothing at a shop earlier in the week, or that you heard a celebrity had announced their pregnancy news. If they react negatively, change the subject.
2. Catch them at a good time
Approach them when they’re in a good mood and have time to talk. A busy person in a bad mood will not create space for a potentially difficult conversation.
3. Consider whether they’ve talked openly about pregnancy in the past
If you’ve heard them talk candidly about pregnancy or parenthood before, and it didn’t seem to stir up any negative emotions, you may have the go-ahead to approach the topic with them yourself.
Asking whether an employee is pregnant
If you are an employer and need to know whether an employee is pregnant, there are some legal implications involved, especially if the person in question is a candidate to be hired for a job, rather than a current member of staff. ACAS has some useful information about employment and pregnancy here.
Still thinking about asking someone if they’re pregnant?
While, in most situations, it may not be appropriate to ask someone about their pregnancy status, the best thing to do is play it by ear. There are many people who take great joy in being asked if they’re pregnant, while others will find the question upsetting. It’s up to you and your intuition to determine whether asking the question respectfully will be met with delight or disdain.