Is there a ‘conception etiquette’?

A wanna-be mother sent a letter to the Slate columnist for manners and morals, “Dear Prudence”.

The woman and her husband were planning to start their family but then her sister-in-law suffered a miscarriage. She writes it’s the perfect time for them to begin to try to conceive but she doesn’t want to hurt her sister-in-law’s feelings by getting pregnant. She asks if there is a “conception etiquette”?

Here is the full question and Prudence’s answer!

I actually think this type of situation happens pretty often. Siblings are frequently of child-bearing age around the same time, hence babies being conceived and born around the same time.  I definitely think there can be jealousy and hurt feelings when one is successful and other has a problem, or when one sibling steps on the other’s announcement.

One of the things that struck me the most about Prudence’s answer is she points out that because a lot of woman get a year focused on them when it’s their time to be the bride they expect the same when they have a baby. And she feels like that shouldn’t be expected.

I disagree. I think an expectant mother should expect to feel pampered and special while she is pregnant. That is a very special time and it takes a lot of physical and mental preparation to become a mother.

I do, however, agree with Prudence that it’s just tough stuff if your sibling or sister-in-law is pregnant at the same time. I don’t think anyone should plan their fertility around someone else’s schedule or hurt feelings – it’s too hard to get pregnant to take that into account.  (I would however hold off until you were Jennifer-Lopez size telling a friend who miscarried that you were pregnant.)

What do you think? Have you experienced hurt feelings, jealousy or wondered about changing your conception time based on what a family or friend was experiencing? Is there a conception etiquette? Should there be one?

71 comments Add your comment


July 18th, 2009
1:04 pm

I see my comment was there. Now gone. ?


July 18th, 2009
6:29 pm

I had 3 miscarriages, at a time when many friends were having their babies, before and between my two successful pregnancies. I know how I felt when they were “popping out”, and I was so envious. I actually got to the point where I picked arguments with good friends because of that envy. I was very ashamed. But this is just to show that feelings go wild when someone who wants kids (as bad as I did) find it difficult to get and STAY pregnant. I wouldn’t schedule my children around brothers’ or sisters’, but I wouldn’t flaunt mine, either. Even tho I have no siblings, I can understand the hurt and envy they would have if I became pregnant while they tried so hard themselves. I’ve been on the other end of that, and didn’t like it one bit. If THEY brought the subject of my pregnancy up, then I’d talk about it…but I didn’t bring it up if I thought they were sensitive about it. It’s a fine line…


July 18th, 2009
7:34 pm

I would really appreciate it if my friends would not tell me the day after they have sex that they are pregnant! Please…wait until you are 3 or 4 months, at least….but also, please wear maternity clothes and not the skin tight ones. Ewwww…lol

Millie Thomas

July 18th, 2009
8:05 pm

Enter your comments here


July 19th, 2009
6:40 am

Somewhat timely topic…

T and I had a miscarraige about a year and a half ago, but she has had a couple of friends get pregnant since then- and in fact, I have to leave my house for several hours today so she can throw a shower for one of them. She seems to be handling it pretty well, but I also know how desperately she wants a child of our own.

That said, we’re heading down to JAX this weekend for a 3 day weekend – including a visit to a fertility specialist. What’s going to come of this? Who knows. Could be a lot of money down the drain for something that will happen eventually without their help. But I kicked off a new training schedule yesterday with a crucible, so I’m going to try to start getting in better shape and see if that has anything to do with it. :D (Hiked 10 miles – with ZERO prior training – with State Rep Austin Scott on his ‘Walk of Georgia’. Trust me, my calves in particular are NOT my fans this morning! Longest I had done prior to that was roughly 6 miles almost exactly 7 yrs ago in Austin TX on accident!)

Lisa Love

July 19th, 2009
8:59 am

I have been pregnant 6 times and I have three kids so do the math. I have also been through fertility treatments and had a hard time getting pregnant. While going through all this drama I had many friends and family member get pregnant seemingly effortlessly and have healthy babies. While it did pain me to have to see pregnant bellies while I was miscarrying and have trouble even getting pregnant, I kept my sorrow between myself and my husband. To my pregnant loved-ones I showed them love and happiness for their joyous news. When I did get pregnant and finally had healthy babies I wanted people to rejoice with me, not cry on my shoulder because they were sad for themselves in the face of my good news. That is so selfish! I know it can be hard, I’ve been there, but you simply have to show a pregnant woman love and joy no matter how you are feeling inside!

Jesse's Girl

July 19th, 2009
9:01 am

You go Jeff!!!! Getting healthy can definitely add to your chances of conception….very proud of and for you!


July 19th, 2009
9:04 am

Jesse’s Girl, your body temp goes up AFTER you ovulate. By then it is too late to get pregnant. You have to have sex before you ovulate. Study up on your science before you start giving everyone fertility advice.


July 19th, 2009
9:37 am

After my miscarriage I was always happy for those that got pregnant, but sometimes I was not as excited as the expectant parents would like. But that was true before my pregnancy as well and is still true now that I have a baby. Some parents-to-be honestly feel that everyone else’s lives should revolve around their pregnancies. Of course some parents believe the same thing about their children too.

I think this is more of a problem now not because of an increase in fertility problems but because of a spreading sense of entitlement.


July 19th, 2009
10:01 am

KCA — Is there an “increase” in fertility problems now? Or is there just an increase in people trying to get pregnant after their bodies are past optimal child-bearing? Fertility starts decreasing after age 25, and drops dramatically after 35. Interesting question — I would suspect that the average age of patients in a fertility clinic are mid-30s or more – 43% of IVF patients are over 35. In previous generations, women got married in late teens, early 20s, and had finished their family long before they were 30, during their peak childbearing years, so there wasn’t the issue of “fertility” problems, because no one wanted to get pregnant in their 30’s! So is it an increase in fertility “problems”? Or is it just society running into problems finding the limits of what the human body can do?


July 19th, 2009
11:23 am

Hope it all works out for you two, Jeff!


July 19th, 2009
12:59 pm

Jeff: Good to hear from you again. Hugs to you and T. as you work through this challenge.


July 19th, 2009
2:27 pm

DB…just what I was wondering at my 10:18 post on Friday. Jeff…best wishes for you!

new stepmom

July 19th, 2009
4:08 pm

Jeff…best wishes to you guys.

Becky, thanks for the support….it has been a tough two months. We hope to be pregnant soon, but if not God will bless us with a family in the manner that is his will.

Jesse's Girl

July 19th, 2009
7:04 pm

Um..hey Preggo…lighten the frick up a bit ok? Or get a sense of humor…whatever tickles your fancy.


July 19th, 2009
7:31 pm

Thanks for the well wishes all. Sorry I haven’t been as active on here this year, but most of you know why. I’ll try to drop back in after we get back and give y’all an update! (Walked 1 mile today even with my legs screaming at me!Trying to find a relatively dog-less route!)


July 20th, 2009
4:51 pm

Regarding taking peoples thunder I would love to get pregnant the same month that my sister or sister in law got pregnant just for the fact that my kids will have cousins the same age and the women can support each other through every step of pregancy change experiences and ideas(when you decide to be a mom it is not about you anymore). I also think that yes you have to be concerned with others if a loved one has just had a miscarrige be considerate but do not stop trying because of it.


July 20th, 2009
11:21 pm

Nobody ever said life was fair – there’s always going to be someone somewhere who’d rather not hear your good news, be it about engagements/pregnancy/new boyfriend/girlfriends/promotion at work/new job. It’s life, plain and simple. If we were to tiptoe around everyone when we got some good news, we’d probably end up celebrating alone! A good friend or family member will grin and bear it, and deal with their own emotions on their own time.


July 21st, 2009
1:20 am

14 years ago, I got a Ph.D. and started into a fast paced career. Life was good… But when I wanted to start a family, nothing happened but miscarriages and countless other medical complications… Boy was it hard then. I wanted a child so bad. I was devastated after trying to get pregnant for years. After enduring doctors’ poking, prodding and endless tests, my daughters finally arrived.
My girls are in middle school now. I can tell you, life really heals from this stuff. There is such joy when you get there. You guys still in the trenches, you will cherish you little one(s) when they finally arrive. The journey is worth it once when you finally get to the other side. Hang in there.


July 21st, 2009
8:11 am

ICC, boy would you love my family if you want them close..I have five sisters that each have three children and all of them were born within 3-4 months of each other about three years apart..

Jeff, sorry to hear about the tough time that you and T are going through..I’ll keep y’all in my thoughts also…


July 21st, 2009
9:10 am

Jesse’s Girl, you seriously need to get a life. You spend way to much time on this blog.