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April Fool's Day Pregnancy Announcements Are No Joke, Women Say

For many people, pregnancy is no laughing matter.
Many people say it can be hurtful to see April Fool's Day jokes about pregnancy.
Many people say it can be hurtful to see April Fool's Day jokes about pregnancy.

Let's be honest, very few April Fool's Day jokes are actually funny. But there's one in particular that a lot of women are telling people to think twice about: the pregnancy fake-out.

Having a kid is such a life-changing event that for many people who aren't ready for children, or who don't want to have them, or who already have a bunch, the idea can seem like a joke: "LOL, imagine me with a baby?!" But when it comes to a holiday with the express purpose of making people laugh, pregnancy isn't always the right topic to poke fun at.

That's the mistake made by former Real Housewife of Beverly Hills and noted Person Who Tweets A Lot Brandi Glanville, who she joked that she was pregnant in an Instagram post. (Following intense criticism, she deleted the photo, Tweeting that "PEOPLE ARE TO [sic] F**KING SENSITIVE.")

Fertility can be an incredibly fraught topic for many families. One in six couples in Canada who want children struggle to conceive, according to a recent study. Experiencing infertility comes with a host of psychological effects that are often made even worse by painful and difficult fertility treatments.

A 2009 Harvard study found that 50 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men said that infertility was "the most upsetting experience of their lives." The women surveyed experienced anxiety and depression at rates comparable with people who were diagnosed with cancer or recovering from a heart attack.

Infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth can be devastating.
Infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth can be devastating.

And that accounts just for the attempts to get pregnant — not to stay pregnant. About 15 to 25 per cent of pregnancies in Canada end in miscarriage. And stillbirths — babies who are born with no signs of life — happen about seven times for each 1,000 births. The definition for a stillbirth is an infant who dies after 20 weeks, or nearly five months — a point at which many people tell friends and family they're expecting a baby, which can make the trauma of loss more difficult.

"They had their nursery set up. They had a baby shower already," Queen's University obstetrics and gynecology professor Dr. Ashley Waddington explained to the Toronto Star in 2016. "They knew when the due date was. It's almost like mourning the loss of a child or grandchild."

Of course, people who post joking pregnancy announcements on April Fool's probably aren't thinking about all this, and it's unlikely they're trying to hurt anyone. But infertility and miscarriage are so common that it's likely everyone knows someone who's suffered, whether they've told you about it or not. This is always a good rule of thumb, but particularly when it comes to April Fool's Day on the internet: before you make a joke, think about who you might inadvertently be hurting.

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