Maybe your period was late, so you peed on a pregnancy test stick...and two pink lines are now staring you in the face. Sex-ed in this country may have a long way to go, but you still know plenty well what this means: You're pregnant.
In the midst of this overwhelming whoosh of emotion, not only do you have to process this yourself, but you also have tell your S.O. the big news—which is scary, there's no doubt about it. Regardless of whether you’re ecstatic, terrified or somewhere in between, informing your partner that he’s the father of your baby is not a light discussion. Remember, he wasn't expecting this either.
Knowing that, it’s important to broach the subject of a surprise pregnancy with openness, honesty, and a willingness to problem-solve with your partner. Relationship expert Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW, shares nine important dos and don’ts for breaking the baby news to your boo, and navigating the subsequent emotional rollercoaster.
Let's start with what you should do:
Have the chat IRL
No matter how you feel about the situation right now—happy, scared, confused, etc.—this is huge news. And while it might be tempting to call your man immediately, this announcement should be discussed in person.
“Tell your partner about the pregnancy face-to-face so you can see each other’s facial expressions and body language,” says Sonnenberg. “If you send a text, you won’t know his tone of voice or what his true emotions are unless he’s right in front of you.”
Sonnenberg also suggests refraining from physical touch when you break the news. “You have to give him the opportunity to react,” she says. This way, you’ll also know right away if his words are in sync with his body and face.
Once the pregnancy is out in the open, then you can embrace, hug, cry, jump up-and-down with glee, or express whatever your feelings may be.
Choose a comfortable setting
Telling your S.O. something this important should not be done in public over a latte. Set time aside to have this important chat in the comfort of your home (or his).
If you find out you’re preggers while away from home, you can still share the news with your partner quickly, but “wait until you’re home to finish this conversation and make any big decisions,” says Sonnenberg. Your perspective is different when you’re somewhere new versus facing reality in your living room.
Experience the initial shock together
“It’s important to tell your partner about a pregnancy while you’re still shocked,” says Sonnenberg. “He needs the opportunity to join in on the surprise as soon as possible for you to get on the same page.” Think about it: If you have time to mull things over and process the situation before he does, the ensuing conversation will not be a fair or honest one.
As for how to initiate the convo? Be straightforward and just state the facts, says Sonnenberg. For example:
“Babe, I missed my period last week, so I took a few pregnancy tests and they’re all positive. I’m pregnant.”
Then, actually show him the “proof” of the tests. This way, you can both be in disbelief as a team—and navigating this life-changing moment should def be a joint endeavor.
Explore every worry together
Since this pregnancy involves both of you, bring up all the issues that each of you might feel worried about, and discuss both sides of the coin.
- What are your options and fears surrounding having the baby or terminating the pregnancy?
- Are you ready to be in each others' lives forever?
- Are you scared your choice will cause backlash from your family/church/self?
Yes, emotional turbulence may ensue (especially if you’re not yet on the same page about next steps). If this spawns an argument, Sonnenberg suggests taking a break and revisiting things in a few days once you’ve both processed the situation a bit more.
Be totally honest
With him and yourself. The bottom line: A pregnancy (and what you decide to do about it as a pair) is such a personal decision. Be completely honest with your partner about your feelings. If you think he’s responding by just telling you what you want to hear, call him out and ask for his candid thoughts.
A surprise pregnancy will unveil deep, real feelings you have for each other—maybe ones you didn’t know you had. If you see a future with your boyfriend, maybe you’ll feel happy and ready to fast-track love, marriage, and the baby carriage. If your relationship has been rocky, perhaps the surprise pregnancy fills you with dread because “forever” with this person doesn’t feel right.
And a couple things to avoid:
Don't ask leading questions
As you’re processing your emotions, be open with him about how you’re feeling at the moment. Remember: This doesn’t have to be your forever emotion on the subject (it could change tomorrow or next week), but honesty is the best policy when making big “next step” decisions around a baby.
To find out how he’s honestly feeling, ask open-ended questions: “How do you feel about the fact that I’m pregnant?” allows him to share openly, while “Aren’t you happy about this baby?” is leading the witness.
Refrain from playing the blame game
You had the “birds and the bees talk” eons ago, so you know that this pregnancy isn’t just one person’s fault (it takes two to mattress tango, yes?). Accusing each other with “I thought you bought the good brand of condoms!” or “You told me you were on birth control!” is not helpful and won’t change the situation you’re in, so avoid it alltogether.
Now deep breaths girl, you've got this.
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