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How To Tell Your Partner You're Pregnant — Planned Or Unplanned

Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Just Found Out You're Pregnant? How To Share The News With Your Partner

Planned or unplanned, pregnancy is big news to both parties involved. If you recently found out you're pregnant, you're probably thinking about the best way to tell the other person—so we asked experts how to go about it. Here's what they had to say.

Telling your partner when the pregnancy is planned:

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1. Take some time to process for yourself if you can.

Even if you and your partner were trying to get pregnant, the moment you see that positive test result is still going to be a huge moment. If you took the test solo while your partner wasn't there, don't feel like you have to tell them right away unless you want to.

As licensed marriage and family therapist Shane Birkel, LMFT, tells mbg, you can take as much time as you need to process before letting them know, whether it's a couple of hours or a couple of days. "You'll have the ability to experience all those emotions without there being any pressure," he says.

2. Consider the timing & setting.

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When you do decide you're ready to share the news, psychoanalyst Babita Spinelli, L.P., suggests communicating the news in person if you can. "This is a huge life event, and connecting with your partner in person to see the look on their face, feel their emotions, and physically touch, elevates the experience," she explains.

She also adds you'll want to pick a time and place when and where you can share in the joy at your own speed with no interruptions, so it's not a bad idea to make sure your partner knows you want to set aside time to talk.

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3. Don't expect a certain reaction.

According to Birkel, there can sometimes be an expectation for your partner to react to a pregnancy announcement in a particular way, but he cautions against expectations here.

"Sometimes people can feel disappointed if the other person is shocked, quiet, or doesn't know what to say," he notes, adding, "That doesn't mean they're not going to be excited or there's anything wrong, it just means they haven't had that chance to process this huge life event yet."

4. Have fun with it.

Lastly, if your pregnancy was planned, this is super exciting, so feel free to have fun with the way you share the news! Spinelli says you can lean into creativity when telling your partner, such as leaving clues around the home that hint you're pregnant, having them open a special baby-themed gift (or even your positive pregnancy test!), or other creative ideas that feel relevant to your relationship.

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When the pregnancy is unplanned:

1. Take time for yourself to process the news.

If the pregnancy was unplanned, Birkel and Spinelli both say it's a good idea to process the realization that you're pregnant before you break the news. There's a lot to think about here. Are you committed to the person who got you pregnant? Do you want to have the baby, or are you considering abortion or adoption? If you do want to have the baby and become a parent, do you want the other person to be involved in your child's life? Will you stay together or opt for co-parenting? All things to consider.

Birkel adds that if you are not in a committed relationship with the person who got you pregnant, and you intend to terminate the pregnancy, he says it's up to you to decide whether you tell them at all.

2. Broach the topic sensitively at a good time.

An unplanned pregnancy announcement is going to be a lot different from a planned one, so Spinelli says it's extra important to be sensitive about how and where you communicate this news.

"Choose an appropriate setting. Pick a place that is private to make room for the range of emotions that could arise," she says, adding those emotions can range from shock to denial to excitement and even fear.

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3. Consider the reaction and plan accordingly.

Depending on who the other person is in the equation, you may be anticipating a negative reaction. If that's the case, Spinelli says you'll want to take an appropriate amount of time to prepare emotionally for that possible reaction.

"There may also be anger, so if a person is worried about a reaction, it's best to have a trusted family member or close friend nearby," she notes. Consider your safety in the situation. A licensed professional, such as a therapist, can also be a big help here if necessary, she adds.

4. Be direct.

Last but certainly not least, Birkel and Spinelli both recommend being as clear as possible when you share the news. "Being transparent and direct is essential—it's a difficult conversation and important to communicate so you understand their feelings," Spinelli says, adding that it's entirely possible you two may want different things.

Regardless of how the conversation transpires (which we'll get to in a moment), Birkel advises clearly letting them know exactly what's going on, how you're feeling, and how you want to proceed (or not proceed) with the pregnancy and potential parenthood. You want to make sure you're both clear about how the other feels.

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Moving forward.

The first thing to consider when thinking about moving forward is, of course, whether you want to have the baby. Obviously, that's not a consideration if you planned this pregnancy, but in any other case, that's a conversation that will need to be had.

You'll want to consider whether you're ready for a baby and want to be a parent at this moment in your life. Birkel says it's ultimately up to you to decide whether you even want to include the other person in this decision, but if you do want to make the decision together, it's also important to factor in the status of your relationship. If you've only been together for a few months, for example, he says you shouldn't feel like you have to stay together just for the sake of the child.

From there, if you do decide you want to move forward with the pregnancy, Spinelli says it's more than normal to experience a myriad of emotions, so be gentle with yourself. "Emotions from joy to fear show up simultaneously," she notes.

Having a solid support system throughout the pregnancy will also go a long way in easing the physical and mental burdens of pregnancy and motherhood, so she advises turning to support where it feels safe to explore your feelings and options without judgment. "Reaching out to a therapist to navigate this space can really help the couple figure out their next steps," she adds.

Pregnancy can sometimes feel isolating, but Spinelli notes to remember that there is no "right" way. Maintain your boundaries from those who you feel don't support you, and surround yourself with those who do. And of course, be sure to lean into self-care, she says.

Overall, as you make it through the next nine months, it's important to seek out resources to keep yourself in good health, physically and mentally, for you and the baby.

The bottom line.

Announcing you're pregnant is going to be a pivotal moment between you and your partner, so it's worthwhile to tell them in a way that makes sense for the two of you and your unique relationship. From there, you can focus on taking care of yourself and how (or if) you want to approach parenthood so you and your baby will be happy and healthy come delivery day.

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