Do You Feel Guilty Because You Can’t Get Pregnant?

Feelings of guilt and shame are common for women who can’t get pregnant. Men, too, struggle with shame and guilty feelings if they can’t “produce” a baby. Sometimes husbands and wives blame each other. I get comments from wives whose husbands make them feel guilty for not getting pregnant. This is ironic because there is a 33% chance that the pregnancy isn’t happening because of male fertility issues! Men who shame or guilt their wives for not conceiving have no idea how foolish they’re being. Neither do women who make their husbands feel guilty for not getting them pregnant.

Feeling guilty because you haven’t conceived is different than dealing with the disappointment of not getting pregnant. Being disappointed is a natural, normal response to getting your period instead of a positive pregnancy test result. Guilt, on the other hand, involves taking personal responsibility for someone you have no control over. Guilt often involves shame and even self-hatred.

Is someone making you feel guilty for not conceiving? Maybe you’re torturing yourself. Nobody is loading guilt on you because you’re doing a fine job of heaping it onto your own back. Here are a few thoughts on guilt, shame, and infertility.

Remember that there are no quick tips on how to stop feeling guilty when you can’t get pregnant. Guilt and shame are deep-seated emotions that go to the core of who you are. It probably won’t happen overnight, but you can find freedom and healing! You can find the root of your guilty feelings and grow into a healthy self-identity – whether or not you get pregnant.

You can be at peace with yourself and life no matter what happens.

How to Cope With Guilt When You Can’t Get Pregnant

Three questions about guilt and infertility:

  1. Where, who, or what are your guilty feelings coming from?
  2. Do you feel guilty, or ashamed, or both? Do you know the difference between guilt and shame?
  3. How are you coping with guilt for not getting pregnant?

You participation is required! If you truly want to deal with guilty feelings, you need to do the work. I can’t give you quick tips for erasing bad feelings. I can only encourage you to examine your own thoughts and beliefs about your life. Once you gain some self-awareness, you will see your guilt and shame through different eyes. And this will help you heal.

How to Cope With Guilt When You Can’t Get Pregnant Overcoming Guilty Feelings 1. Where, who, or what are your guilty feelings coming from?

It’s not always husbands who make wives feel guilty for not getting pregnant. Sometimes it’s mothers and mothers-in-law, fathers and fathers-in-law, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends and even neighbors.

When my husband and I couldn’t get pregnant, a family member prayed to God to forgive the sins we committed! As if God was punishing us by not giving us a child. This is a silly, childish notion. If someone is making you feel guilty or ashamed because you can’t get pregnant, learn how to question your own thoughts and beliefs. If you do, you will discover that you don’t need to forgive yourself for infertility or not conceiving a baby.

Maybe you’re making yourself feel guilty for not getting pregnant. Maybe your husband and/or family are trying to convince you not to be so down or hard on yourself. Maybe your friends and neighbors think you’re crazy for feeling such guilt and shame over something you can’t control! But you can’t help yourself. You know something they don’t know. Your guilt comes from your own past choices and thoughts. Your guilty feelings and shame have nothing to do with what other people say about getting pregnant.

2. Do you feel guilty, or ashamed, or both? Do you know the difference between guilt and shame?

In How to Stop Feeling Guilty and Ashamed About a Choice You Made I describe the difference between guilt and shame. When you can’t get pregnant, it’s important to understand how your thoughts and beliefs are affecting your self-identity.

Guilt means you feel bad about something you did wrong. You did something that goes against your personal values, family culture, or society’s laws. You broke the spoken or unspoken rules, committed a fraud, or perpetrated a lie. The specific transgression is less important than your guilty feelings. For example, not wanting get pregnant or keep a baby is “wrong” in the eyes of some families or communities. Other cultures view childlessness or adoption as a healthy personal choice.

Shame, on the other hand, means you hate yourself for what you did. Your self-image and self-identity is negatively affected. You didn’t just do something “wrong”, you feel like you’re a bad person because of that choice. If, for example, you told your husband or family that you don’t want to have a child yet (or at all), they may respond with disbelief, shock, anger and even criticism. If you don’t believe what they believe or live their way, they tell you that you are wrong, bad, stupid or corrupt. Sinful! If you believe what they say, you start to feel ashamed.

3. How are you coping with guilt for not getting pregnant?

Is your husband making you feel guilty for not getting pregnant, or not wanting to have a baby yet? Maybe you’re beating yourself up for a past choice or pregnancy failure. Maybe your feelings of guilt are arising from the fact that you actually don’t even want to get pregnant.

Sometimes guilt comes from past choices that you regret making, such as giving a child up for adoption or choosing not to have a baby. Sometimes the past choices are about lifestyle, addictions, self-abuse, or even just waiting too long to try to get pregnant.

This is where your work begins. It’s your job to learn where your guilt or shame is coming from – but don’t stop there! Learn how to deal with guilty feelings in healthy, life-giving ways.

Do You Feel Guilty Because of Your Past? 5 Tips for Forgiving Yourself

  1. Learn what “you did the best you could” means. You made choices in your past that may have affected your fertility or ability to get pregnant today. You did the best you could back then, which means you made the best decision based on your circumstances, personality, past experiences, the people surrounding you, and what you thought was right. You didn’t know what long-term consequences your decision would have…you were just doing what you could.
  2. Make self-compassion and self-love to a daily choice. Forgiving yourself for infertility is something you may have to do every day, until you eventually let go. We don’t just forgive ourselves and are magically free from guilt, regret, shame, or self-flagellation. It takes time and dedication to forgive ourselves for things that may have caused us not to get pregnant today.
  3. Remind yourself that you made the right choice. This tip for forgiving yourself for infertility or not getting pregnant works for any past mistake. If you were an addict, for example, you are not using today. Are you? Your past is part of who you are today, but it is not who you are today. Maybe you made a mistake; acknowledge it and move on. You owe it to yourself to choose to be healthy!
  4. Remember that you are not alone. Other individuals or couples coping with infertility are dealing with the same regrets, guilty feelings, or unfortunate choices. Nobody is immune to making mistakes affect the future! Sometimes it helps to remember that you’re not the only one who made certain choices or mistakes, and you’re not the only one who is struggling to forgive yourself. Almost all of us struggle with guilt, regrets, and shame. If you feel depressed, read Help Coping With Depression When You’re TTC and Can’t Get Pregnant.
  5. Talk to a counselor. If you can’t stop struggling with regret, blame, or shame – if you can’t forgive yourself for “causing” your infertility or problems getting pregnant, go see a counselor. Talk to someone who understands, who can help you see that infertility isn’t your fault. A fertility counselor can help you see your life and choices more objectively.

How are you doing? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below. You will find no judgment here…only acceptance, love, and compassion.

If you’re scared about the future, read What Are the Best Ways to Cope With Fear of Infertility?


Tags: Health, Emotional Health, God, Infertility, Can't Get Pregnant, Goal Of Getting Pregnant, Why Cant I Have A Baby, Want To Get Pregnant, Couples Coping With Infertility, Emotional Issues Of Infertility, Coping With Infertility, Depression & Anxiety, Infertility Guilt


June 27, 2020 at 12:54 PM Overcoming Setbacks When You’re Trying to Conceive
April 8, 2020 at 5:00 PM How to Stop Stress From Destroying Your Fertility
July 12, 2011 at 12:21 PM When Your Husband Had a Vasectomy Without Your Knowledge
July 12, 2011 at 12:21 PM How to Cope With Your Husband’s Secret Vasectomy