How Infertility Awareness Has Changed Pregnancy Announcement Culture

Zara Hanawalt • Apr 25, 2024

It’s crazy to think that ten years ago, infertility and pregnancy loss were rarely discussed. Today, social media and IRL conversations about these topics feel fairly mainstream. I’d argue that many people (at least people who are in the age group where their friends are beginning to think about growing their own families) have at least some awareness of the many hurdles families face in this regard. People are finally grasping the reality that fertility issues and pregnancy loss are common…and with that awareness comes greater sensitivity.

Today, we’re finally seeing some of that sensitivity play out in real life, and that’s being reflected in pregnancy reveal culture.

In 2024, are flashy (and insensitive) pregnancy announcements "out"?

Back in 2016-2018, when I was going through my own fertility issues, social media was a constant source of triggers. Every single time I logged on to a social media platform, I’d come across a baby announcement. It wasn’t just the sheer volume of pregnancy reveals, there was also just something about the sentiment behind so many of them that was hard for me to process. 

Couples would speak of their “happy accident”, share that they weren’t even really trying, or stage cheeky photo shoots to reveal a baby bump. Other people’s pregnancies felt completely unavoidable, both on social media and in real life. And while I don’t think people should ever have to hide their incredibly happy news, it always just felt like there was just a lack of sensitivity around how people revealed their pregnancies. 

People would even “reveal” pregnancies as April Fool’s Day jokes, which, as we’re finally discussing, is deeply problematic. Pregnancy is never a joke or a prank, and turning it into one is so hurtful to someone who is in the throes of infertility. Not understanding that is completely reflective of a lack of cultural sensitivity.

When I was trying to conceive, fertility was pretty much all I could think about. My experience wasn’t exactly normal: I was working as a journalist covering prenatal health, so I spent my days knee deep in studies, conversations with experts, so I was both professionally and personally consumed with thoughts about fertility. But I would argue that most people who have spent a significant amount of time trying to get pregnant can relate to that feeling of being totally consumed by the experience. It’s on your brain all the time, and triggers are all around. Now, it feels like the abundance of those triggers may finally be starting to recede.

People finally seem to understand that revealing a pregnancy is something that needs to be handled with some level of sensitivity, especially if you have people in your life who are struggling. Today, public figures often share their exciting baby news with disclaimers or shout outs to people who are struggling with infertility. Others ask for advice on how to gently and lovingly break news of their own pregnancies to their friends or family members who are still waiting on their own positive pregnancy tests. Many are even including information about their own journeys or roadblocks in their pregnancy reveals.

I’ll never forget when Anne Hathaway revealed her own pregnancy in 2019. She shared a mirror selfie featuring her baby bump — nothing elaborate, but the caption still sticks with me. ⁣”It’s not for a movie...⁣⁣#2,” she wrote. “All kidding aside, for everyone going through infertility and conception hell, please know it was not a straight line to either of my pregnancies. Sending you extra love.” Even just that little acknowledgement of the difficulties that she, and so many others, faced made such a difference in the overall sentiment of the post. A reveal like this goes to show: You don’t need to divulge your full history in order to make people navigating fertility issues feel seen.

When you’re facing fertility challenges, it’s really easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world who is going through it, even if you intellectually know how common infertility is. When every single time you log on to social media, all you see is a line of joyful pregnancies announcements, it’s hard to not feel that isolation close in around you. When you see a pregnancy reveal that hints at the challenges many of us face along the way, though, some of that isolation fades. 

That’s not to say that every pregnancy reveal needs to include a disclaimer about struggles, or that everyone needs to send love and thoughts to those who are struggling when they announce a pregnancy. It’s okay to want to celebrate the happy moments in your own life, even when you know that others are having a tough time. But when we have a culture of awareness and sensitivity around fertility challenges, we start to see messages that make people who are struggling to feel less alone and less invisible.

Infertility awareness has affected pregnancy reveal culture in so many ways. We see people think, not just about the theme and concept of their reveals, but also about how they can avoid hurting anyone who may be struggling with fertility challenges. That may mean not joking about how your husband “just looks at you and gets you pregnant” in your Facebook post. It might mean making sure you have a personal conversation with the friend who is struggling to conceive before you share your news on Instagram. Or, it may even mean not revealing your pregnancy via a highly thought-out Instagram reveal at all. 

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The trend of “hard launching” babies is gaining popularity too. That essentially means not revealing a pregnancy online at all, instead just sharing the news with close friends in real life, and sharing a photo of your baby after birth. Now, more and more people are opting out of the pregnancy reveal pressure, where highly stylized shoots and produced visuals ran the show. I’d even argue that people have started to find those splashy pregnancy reveals to be a bit dated and even, as the kids say, a little “cheugy”. 

My take? There’s nothing wrong with doing a pregnancy reveal, or even putting a lot of thought and effort into one. But a few years ago, revealing a pregnancy began to feel like a competition. I’ve known several people who began thinking about how they’d reveal their pregnancies on social media, the colors they’d use in their theme, the jokes they’d employ, the tropes they’d lean on, and even the hashtags they’d use — all before actually getting pregnant. Some people even seemed to give more thought to that rather than the biological realities of getting pregnant. Like most things on social media, it was taken to extremes at times. 

But with infertility awareness growing, we have a lens to really look at pregnancy reveal culture and reexamine how it can take something sacred and make it a performance. It’s given us an awareness of how revealing a pregnancy isn’t a joke or a production, and that real feelings can be involved. It’s giving people the courage to open up about their own fertility struggles publically, and it has given others a sense that they’re not alone. It’s caused us to rethink whether or not it’s even worth it to reveal a pregnancy with that once-popular performative approach. 

When it comes to infertility awareness, we have a long way to go — especially where sensitivity towards people who are struggling is concerned. But we’re getting somewhere, little by little. And when we look at the evolution of pregnancy reveal culture, that becomes really clear.

Zara Hanawalt is a freelance journalist and mom of twins. She's written for outlets like ParentsMarieClaireElleCosmopolitanMotherly, and many others. In her (admittedly limited!) free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, trying new restaurants, and traveling with her family.