On April Fool's Day, think before you joke about pregnancy.

Gwen Stefani announced on her Instagram this morning that she is expecting a baby.

It's a girl ❤️💕❤️gx

A photo posted by Gwen Stefani (@gwenstefani) on


“It’s a girl” the pop star said, including a few heart emojis for good measure.

But as you probably already guessed, Stefani is not pregnant and this is an April Fools' joke.

On April Fools' Day, Stefani — and countless others — sometimes take to the social media account of their choice and attempt to convince their unsuspecting friends and relatives that they're pregnant. 

"It's all in good fun," they quip. "It's no big deal."

But they're wrong. 

Stefani with boyfriend Blake Shelton. Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS.

It might seem like harmless fun, but these kinds of jokes can really sting for more people than you'd think.

Photo by iStock.

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, an estimated 10% to 25% of of pregnancies end in miscarriage. And women who've had a previous miscarriage have a slightly elevated risk of having another. 

So whether you're aware or not, there is a strong likelihood that someone you know has or will suffer from pregnancy loss. 

And that's not even accounting for the 10% of women (that's more than 6 million) between the ages of 15 and 44 who have had difficulty getting pregnant or carrying their baby to term. Or the men, whose own health issues make up about 33% of infertility struggles.

For couples with fertility issues, trying to conceive can be expensive, painful, and physically and emotionally exhausting.  

Still laughing? 

And all of this is compounded by the fact that we don't often talk about infertility or pregnancy loss.

Photo by iStock.

Despite the fact that so many pregnancies end in miscarriage, the topic is still taboo, often discussed in hushed tones. 

When writing about her own experience, actress Laura Benanti wrote in The Huffington Post: 

"Well, if this is so common, then why do we only speak about it in whispers, if we speak about it at all?

If this is so common, why does it feel like the Voldemort of women’s issues?

The 'M' that must not be named."

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Trevor Project.

Many families never discuss their loss or struggles with friends or families; instead they press on in private. Some individuals develop depression, anxiety, or even post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience. 

April Fools' Day is a fun day for silly pranks and goofy jokes, but think twice about who or what you're making light of.

People who take offense to these "jokes" aren't trying to be killjoys or wet blankets. They're handling a complicated, painful experience that's still cloaked in shame and silence for far too many families. 

Celebrate. Have fun and enjoy yourself. But if you're thinking about making a fake pregnancy post, think again. 

It's just not funny. 

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Texas is currently debating two anti-trans bills. Once would criminalize parents for allowing their children to receive gender-affirming treatments. Another would criminalize healthcare professionals who administer them.

For a state that prides itself on promoting personal freedom, these bills go out of their way to punish medical professionals and parents for making deeply personal choices. Shouldn't doctors and parents have the right to make medical decisions for children without the state's involvement?

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less