Discussing a Multiracial Pregnancy

Celebrating a biracial pregnancy

Once upon a time, multiracial pregnancy was considered shameful in America because some believed that people of different races weren't supposed to date or marry. These days, most Americans have gotten over those ridiculous ideas. A multiracial pregnancy is just like any other pregnancy. It's something to celebrate!

Dealing with Questions

Unfortunately, there are still some people who don't think that different races should mix. You don't owe these people any explanation. Hold your head high and be proud of your pregnancy.

Here are some things that even people with good intentions might get wrong:

  • Assuming, when they meet your partner, that he's anyone but the father of your baby. Just smile, introduce him properly, and share how proud and happy you are about the pregnancy.
  • Asking if you're worried about discrimination. It's your choice whether to tell the truth. If you're not worried at all, say so. If you are, it's up to you to decide whether it's any of their business.
  • Telling you that you're brave. Some women will think this is a compliment. Others will feel frustrated that race is still an issue at all. Try this: either smile and say thank you, or smile even more sweetly and say, "I can't imagine what you mean!"

What Will the Baby Look Like?

One of the fun things about any pregnancy is that you don't know which parent the baby will resemble. He might be the spitting image of his father; she might look just like you; or your baby might have his or her own beautiful mix of features from each of you.The same thing is true with a multiracial pregnancy. There's no telling until the baby arrives and it's time to take those first pictures! A white and Asian baby might look mostly Asian, mostly white, or, most often, a combination of the two. The same goes for any other racial mix. Sometimes, the characteristics of one race or the other become more prominent as the baby grows.

Genetics and Multiracial Pregnancy

Although people of different races may look different, actually we're all pretty much the same. It's just a very few genes, like the ones that control skin color, that underlie "race." Our intelligence, our creativity, and our capacity for love are all alike.

Genetic Concerns

Just like genetic problems run in families, there are some genetic problems that are more common in one race or another. That doesn't mean only people of a certain race can get them, just that the odds are higher.

Most of these problems aren't likely to affect your baby, but you may want to know about them just in case. For each of the genetic problems listed here, a baby would need to receive the gene from both parents to have the disease, but an unaffected child could be a carrier. This could be important when your baby grows up and is ready to start a family of his or her own.

  • Cystic fibrosis is most prominent in Caucasians.
  • Sickle cell disease is more common in people of African descent.
  • Thalassemia is more common in people of Mediterranean origin or of Asian, African, Indian, or Filipino descent.
  • Tay-sachs disease tends to affect Ashkenazi Jews and people of Eastern European descent.
  • Hemachromatosis occurs most often in Caucasians of Northern European descent.

If you're concerned about these or any other genetic problems, talk to your doctor.

If You're Concerned About Discrimination

Parents of mixed-race children do report some challenges. It's important to think about these during your multiracial pregnancy so you can help your child through them.

For some children, being from two (or more) races can be confusing. Other kids from these different backgrounds may tell your child that they don't belong because they're only "half" that race. Or, your child may feel funny about being the only mixed-race child in a homogeneous classroom. These things can leave a child feeling like they don't belong anywhere.

Be ready to reassure your child. You'll want to teach them to be proud of their multiracial background. Sometimes, though, plenty of hugs and love may be what's needed most.

To Learn More

To learn more about the joys and challenges of multiracial pregnancy, check out the many support groups and pregnancy forums on the Internet. Moms and dads talk about everything from dealing with discrimination to deciding how to celebrate the holidays of different cultures.

Discussing a Multiracial Pregnancy