How can I politely tell people that my reproductive goals are none of their business?

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By: Hey Paul StudiosCC BY 2.0
As my husband and I decided that this pack of birth control pills would be the last (for a while), I found myself confronted with an awkward situation. Random people (co-workers, clients, etc.) asking me in one form or another if I was thinking about having a baby yet (“Anything in the works yet?”).

I find this to be perplexing. I told them the truth (NO — it’s really not yet, but I don’t want to say that), but started wondering about what I would say in four or ten weeks when there might possibly be “something in the works.” For some friends and family, I have no issue telling them where we’re at. But for the woman I interact with over the phone three times a year for work purposes, I’m not really comfortable telling you I’m trying.

I don’t want to lie, but what do you say to people who ask if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant when you aren’t yet pregnant but are trying… without being totally rude? — Hannah

Comments on How can I politely tell people that my reproductive goals are none of their business?

  1. I think most people who ask this are just trying (ineptly) to make conversation, rather than looking for details. Vague answers are perfectly appropriate and not untruthful at all.

  2. I actually find that lightheartedly turning the awkwardness back on the asker to be the best method of shutting it down, both then and in future. A light, trilling laugh (what I think of as my “champagne laugh”) and a, “Oh, Heavens, no, I can’t *stand* children!” to work splendidly, as it’s a sentiment – whether sincere or not – that makes people acutely uncomfortable when expressed, so they tend to leave you alone after that (although occasionally you’ll get a completely boorish busybody who will challenge you on it, getting offended/demanding to know why/trying to change your mind; in these cases, it’s acceptable and within your rights to be less good-natured in dealing with them, as they crossed the line first). Or, if you don’t mind causing the asker *personal* rather than generalised discomfort, you can try gasping with playful fake-shock, chuckling, “Ooooh, bit of a social faux pas for you, there!” following it with the aforementioned champagne laugh, and then leaning close and whispering conspiratorially, “Don’t worry – I won’t tell anyone!” and winking extravagantly, before moving the conversation on.


  3. Make up a story about ‘the last time someone asked me.’ Something along the lines of “Someone asked me the other day if we were ‘working’ on it yet and I thought they were asking about our sex life! It was so embarassing!” The story should either work as a change of subject so the person doesn’t realise you didn’t anwser or a warning/reminder that asking personal questions might embarass them. If you feel bad about lying even that much (a friend who you’re not ready to share the news with yet) just tell them that it was something funny you read! 🙂 If people still want to know after the story feel free to be blunt with “I rather not say.”
    you can say “are you offering!?” wink wink
    my favorite answer for most questions either akward or when I’m feeling in a silly mood…”Are you (insert question)?

  4. I like to respond to intrusive questions with some sort of smart-ass remark: Tell them you haven’t yet figured out how babies are made, and ask them if they could explain it to you. That should shut them up.

  5. I beat them to the punch.

    Hubs and I tied the knot earlier this year, so it’s already to be assumed I’m going to be asked. But to sweeten the deal, pregnancy seems to be contagious at work right now (4 preggos in a 40 person office).

    To fend off people asking me when I plan to join the club, I start the conversation by warning one of the preggos that I had “better not catch this from you!” and if the conversation continues to be steered in my direction, I inform people that I am “immunized”.

  6. I was usually pretty evasive about it: I’d say we were thinking about it, but weren’t ready yet, even though I was already pregnant. Everyone understood when the truth came out.

    Even if you are not pregnant, but are actively trying, you don’t need anyone watching and checking in with you every month to see if you are pregnant yet.

  7. Heck – don’t bother with ‘polite’… just ask her straight back what brand of tampons she uses 😛

    I hate these assumptions. And if it bothers you now (the ‘when are you going to get pregnant?’) then steel yourself for when you actually are and the busy body “when are you due” (when it decides to come), “what’s it going to be” (a dragon slayer), “no really, a boy or a girl?” (both can be dragon slayers, just some look better in a codpiece), “wouldn’t you like a little girl?” (just as much as a boy, healthy and whole!), and the piece of cake “what are you going to name it” (Graknor, Destroyer of Puddings).

  8. My husband and I have been married six months now and people are driving me insane with their sticky beaking. My answers vary from ‘oh one day’ to ‘I could be infertile you know’ depending on my mood.

  9. Very good comments… I am struggling with this right now and I must say, my reaction really depends on who is asking…. Moreover due to my thyroid condition (cancer removed 2 years ago) I put on weight before even being pregnant because the meds are to be regulated differently to avoid miscarriage. Due to this some people assume I am already pregnant…
    My dearest friends know that I am trying (and miscarried a few months back) so they are all very delicate about it and have a way to ask without asking that suits me: they show that they care and know that it is on my mind but they do not make me feel like a total failure every month.
    As for the acquaintances it is trickier. When they are too rude, I used to say: well we’re working on it, but I miscarried (thinking that would make them uncomfortable). Result: oh but at least you know it is working (is it just me or a miscarriage shows that it doesn’t work?). So now I just raise my eyebrows and say “well, we’ll see”.
    the hardest part is for me at work. A well intentioned colleague of mine (the one you should never show your back because of the knife she wants to plant in it) let know to the managers and directors that now that I was married I would have children. Result: every time I come across the financial director he is looking at my tummy and i won’t have any increase in my wages for the next 10 years at least….

  10. Personally I think it’s just as rude to answer what is generally considered a standard small talk question with a smart alek remark. Not that it’s not amusing or satisfying. My advice would be not to take it personally and most of the time they just want to know what’s up with you. I think it’s not helpful to confuse the hounding that a relative or any other boundary crossing person with everyone else. Just be straightforward, “I don’t want to talk about it”.

    • I agree with this.

      (although I’ve had people then persist, thinking I must be pregnant. I’ve had to say “you need to stop now”. I think it goes both ways – be aware if someone is politely declining to discuss, and move on to the weather or the movie you saw last night.). (you as in “one” 🙂 )

  11. I think that many people see having children as a joyous event, and are excited to share that with you, even if it’s just by being around and knowing about your pregnancy.

    Sorry, I know it can be annoying, and I don’t want to sound like a hallmark card! However, I think it’s pretty cultural for a lot of people– read my hispanic family– to be really fixated on babies or the possibility thereof.

  12. My sister used to use a variation of the quote from “Raising Arizona”–
    “My insides are a rocky place where [husband’s] seed can find no purchase.”
    That usually shut them up.

  13. That’s been the best thing about having had a baby, gotten married, and then divorced very young: I’ve never been asked when I will have another. I only graduated from college 6 months ago and hubs and I split up years ago. Nobody asks about my uterus. They ask about my career and I love it.

  14. HATE this question. Married for 2+ years and its starting to happen. Yes, I am trying. No, its not working.. is that something you really want to make me talk about??

    Also, saying that you’re “trying” is just so calculated and creepy sounding.

    I typically respond with “we’re good with whatever happens” or “well we’re not PREVENTING…” that one feels a little awkward, but at least shuts them up.

  15. my favourite smart alek response (from a friend who has a lot of kids-people keep asking if he’ll have more): “We had sex last night so we should know in a few weeks.”

  16. My sister-in-law mentioned to a customer that she was getting married “this weekend”–not sure how it came up in conversation but it did–and the woman responded with, “Oh how wonderful! When is the baby due?” (Implying, for anyone confused, that the only reason young people get married these days is because they get pregnant.) My SIL was so shocked and angry that she gaped at the woman for a couple seconds and just walked away fuming. Fortunately someone else overheard and took the customer but MY GOODNESS how rude!

    I like the responses that remind people they are asking a very personal question that is none of their business.

  17. I actually stopped going to one homeschool support group for a while because it was too hard to face those kinds of questions when it took several months to get pregnant with #3. I got sick of saying that yes, we hoped God would bless us with another baby but no, we didn’t have any news to report just yet.

  18. I have an 8 month old and am already being asked about baby number two. I just tell people that we’re enjoying the baby we have right now! I trudged through a lot of post partum anxiety and quite frankly would prefer not to do it again but that’s none of their business.

  19. I’d say like:

    – There is no definite date yet? They’ll ask if she is pregnant, replay cluelessly “No, why?”
    – Or maybe “I don’t know, anything I say to you, I would lie”

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