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Pregnancy April Fools' Day jokes thoughtless and hurtful: charity


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This week, posts urging the public to avoid pregnancy April Fools' jokes have been widely shared on social media

This week, posts urging the public to avoid pregnancy April Fools' jokes have been widely shared on social media

This week, posts urging the public to avoid pregnancy April Fools' jokes have been widely shared on social media

A fertility charity has urged people to leave false pregnancy announcements out of April Fools' jokes this year, warning they could be "distressing" for those who are struggling with miscarriages and infertility.

Posts where someone claims to be pregnant as a joke can trigger those who would love nothing more than to have their own child, said Hilary Knight, the Northern Ireland coordinator for the Fertility Network.

Around one in six couples across the UK is affected by infertility, and fake announcements can affect those who are struggling, she added.

"(They are) not intended to hurt, but they are thoughtless," Ms Knight explained.

"They can be distressing and they follow on from what we describe as 'trigger days', such as Mother's Day and Easter, when there's talk of Easter egg hunts with the children and spending family time. Christmas is also a very difficult time. It's hard for people who don't have the family they've longed for.

"Some people are also incredibly hurt by pregnancy messages or when a joke is made of it because they might have experienced pregnancy loss."

This week, posts urging the public to avoid pregnancy April Fools' jokes have been widely shared on social media.

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Ms Knight said such posts had led the Fertility Network, a charity that provides support services to people who are infertile or are struggling to conceive, to advise some to avoid social media on certain days.

"Any posts you make are sensitive and can be triggering for people, so we advise people to stay away from their social media for the day if that's a trigger for them," she added.

"It's not even just jokes on April 1. People are insensitive with what they post. A sister-in-law might share a scan picture without thinking. Culturally, we don't have an awareness of what it's like to want children and not be able to for whatever reason."

The Fertility Network coordinator advised sensitivity to those hoping to post a joke tomorrow or when posting online on any other day of the year.

"Nobody puts up the sad things or whatever we're trying to deal with, a lot of the time in private," she said.

"The whole area of infertility has a stigma. You might not even feel comfortable telling your family that you're struggling, so they might not know to avoid putting up a jokey post.

"(Those with fertility difficulties) just want to be heard. People with cancer feel the same. You don't want to be fixed. You just want someone to listen to how you're feeling.

"We need to create awareness on how it's not easy for everyone and how some people assume you get pregnant and then have your baby without experiencing any problems."

With the Covid pandemic, it has been a particularly difficult for people trying to conceive through IVF.

Many couples are under pressure for time to remain eligible for treatment, which can be incredibly stressful.

"We only have one cycle of IVF available on the NHS here. In the New Decade, New Approach deal, there is a desire to move ahead in the pledge to fund three cycles of IVF," Ms Knight said.

She also urged people who are struggling to conceive to get in touch with the Fertility Network to access support.


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