A positive pregnancy test is just the first step in your months-long journey toward parenthood. Once you’ve gotten over the initial rush of emotion — shock, excitement, fear, joy, or panic — of realizing that you’re actually pregnant, one of the first things that comes to mind is how and when to start telling people. The first person you tell that you’re pregnant might be a partner — or even your BFF — and maybe your mom, dad or close sibling, but what about your partner’s people? Thinking about when and how to tell your in-laws you’re pregnant can be fun or, depending on your relationship with them, it could nerve-wracking. Or it could be a little of both. When it comes to managing pregnancy and in-laws, almost everyone’s family dynamic involves some degree of complexity. But, you will likely need to tell your in-laws that you’re pregnant at some point. Here’s how to handle it, no matter how good or bad your relationship with them may be.
When to tell your in-laws you’re pregnant
You might feel conflicted, particularly if your partner wants to tell them right away and you’d rather wait to start sharing the news. Many people like to wait until after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage drops considerably. Meanwhile, others may choose to tell people as soon as they find out they're pregnant. There’s no hard and fast rule about exactly when to tell your in-laws that you’re pregnant. Rather, it’s a conversation to have with your partner. No matter when you decide to tell the in-laws, it may be helpful to be prepared for their reaction — whatever it may be. Even if you have an amazing relationship with your in-laws, the news might take some time to get used to. Try not to expect any one particular reaction, and instead let them take the news in in their own time.
How to tell your in-laws that you’re pregnant
You might be the type of person to frame your sonogram photo and give it to your in-laws excitedly to hang on their wall as the first official photo of their grandchild. Or, you might just casually tell them you’re pregnant at dinner, between a story about your day at work and asking them to pass the rolls. How you tell your in-laws that you’re pregnant expecting will really depends on your relationship with them and how you think they’ll take the news, says Dr. Lee Phillips, a psychotherapist and certified sex and couples therapist. “There are so many ways to do this, but it really depends on what you want as a couple and if the pregnancy was expected or it was unplanned,” says Phillips. “It is important to think about your in-law’s personality and how they will react, and then create your plan of action.”
How to tell your in-laws you’re pregnant when you don’t have a close relationship with them
Deciding when and how to tell your in-laws that you’re pregnant can be a really complicated conversation in the best of circumstances, especially if you’re not on the best terms with them. If your in-laws are likely to be nonplussed about your pregnancy, disapproving, or even judgmental, you may want to wait until you’re further along in your pregnancy — if you even choose to tell them directly at all. Above all, honor your own emotional wants and needs as well as those of your partner’s. No matter what your relationship with your in-laws is, if you are excited about your pregnancy and they are not, try to celebrate this major milestone in your life without letting anyone (even an in-law) steal your joy.
Ways to tell your in-laws that you’re pregnant
If you are excited about your news, and to announce your pregnancy, here are a few ways to make this big moment extra special.
Tell them in person
It might be nice to wait — if you can — until you have everyone together in person to enjoy moment when your partner’s parents find out that they’re going to be grandparents.
Celebrate with something sweet
After dinner, bring out a cake that says, “we’re expecting” written on the top. Dessert has never been so sweet.
Bring the test (or a picture of it)
Admit it: You’ve been sneaking peeks at that positive pregnancy test as soon as those two little lines showed up. And as excited as you might be to show your in-laws the actual test, you might just want to snap a shot of it and show it to them instead.
Give them a board book
Buy some cute wrapping paper and wrap a baby board book in it. When your in-laws open their gift, tell them, “This is for you to read to your grandbaby.”
Give them a calendar
Your in-laws might wonder why you’re giving them a calendar, until they see your due date circled on it. Then you can let them know how far along you are, and how much longer they’ll have to wait before holding their grandchild in their arms.
Wear an “I’m pregnant!” shirt
See how long it takes for your in-laws to notice your “Tacos For Two” or your “Pregnant AF” shirt to realize that you’re expecting.
Send a video announcement
If your in-laws live far away, you can always send them a pregnancy video announcement. The cool part is that they can keep it forever (and watch it over and over again).
Do a treasure hunt
If your in-laws are game people, set up a scavenger hunt with friends and family. Use baby-oriented clues that lead to an announcement of your baby-to-be.
Send a card
You can send a congratulatory card to your in-laws. When they open it up, you can announce the news with a “We’re pregnant!” or “Congratulations, you’re going to be grandparents!”
Finding out that you’re expecting is often such exciting news. And sharing your big news with important people in your life should only increase the happiness and joy felt by everyone. A little preparation, a little planning and — no matter what — you’ll be ready to tell your in-laws that you’re pregnant.
Dr. Lee Phillips, a psychotherapist and certified sex and couples therapist