Since becoming a parent myself I am so much more aware how suffering from infertility can be extremely frustrating and upsetting. Especially when it might seem like everyone is getting pregnant or has children already. Seeing a friend struggling to conceive can be difficult. I don’t always know how to act or what to say, even though I truly want to support them through this tough time. I’ve teamed up with CoParents today to share some advice on how to help be as supportive as possible to anyone you know who is facing fertility issues.
How can I support a friend who is struggling with fertility issues?
Get informed about infertility
You don’t need to become an absolute expert on the topic in order to be able to support your friend. However, it’s always helpful to know at least the rudiments of infertility. This way you’ll show your friend that you’re taking the issue seriously and that you’re trying to understand what’s she is going through. Additionally, this will allow her to talk about any infertility-related issues she’s experiencing without having to explain everything to you first.
What works for others won’t necessarily work for her
In a world where fertility treatments can increase fertility after 40 and help women to conceive in their forties or even later, it’s easy to convince yourself that, no matter what, there will always be some way to get pregnant against the odds. However, what works for your sister or for a film star won’t necessarily work for your friend. Additionally, not every couple wants to conceive via IVF or to become pregnant using donor sperm.
Infertility can be the result of so many different and varied factors that, sometimes, doctors just can’t find an explanation or offer a solution. So, bearing that in mind, there is a good chance that you won’t be able to find the answer to your friend’s issues either.
If you don’t know what to say, that’s okay. Just listen.
It’s normal to not know what to say in moments like this, even if you’ve experienced infertility yourself. The most important thing is to show that you care and that you are here for your friend if and when she needs to talk, sometimes just as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on.
Remember that your advice is not always welcome
“You should try acupuncture, I read that is really helpful.” “Have you tried red clover or nettle? It seems to perform miracles.” Trying to help your friend by giving her advice might seem like a very kind act, at first.
However, the thing is that she has probably already tried all sorts of diets and read so many blogs that your advice may not always be welcome. The risk is that she could take it badly and think you’re implying she’s not trying hard enough. If you think that your tip is really worth sharing, start by asking if you can suggest something to her.
Don’t minimize her issue
Sentences such as “at least you have one child,” if she’s experiencing secondary infertility, or “this could be worse” won’t help. Minimizing her pain could hurt her even more and make her feel more isolated.
Don’t tell her she should “just relax”
It’s true, several studies have shown that stress can interfere with conception by making women ovulate later in their cycle or even preventing them from ovulating. However, phrases such as “just relax, it will happen eventually” can be taken badly. Why? Because your friend may well feel like you’re implying that they’re the cause of their own problems. Telling her to relax won’t help, and, actually might do far more harm than good.
Ask her what she needs
It may seem obvious, however, many of us forget to ask. Yet asking could make a difference. On one hand, you may not be sure how and what to do to support your friend. She, on the other hand, may fear appearing needy or being a burden, if she asks you for help. Don’t hesitate to ask her directly what she needs. She will appreciate that you care and want to help.
Avoid talking too much about other peoples’ pregnancies
Inevitably, if you or another friend of yours just got pregnant, you’ll be super keen to announce the good news. There’s no point trying to keep this exciting development from your friend, as she’ll eventually find out anyway.
However, obviously, there’s a chance that hearing about it will hurt her, regardless of how happy she is for you. So, you can tell her, but maybe avoid going in to too much detail, and do your best not to go on and on about your pregnancy each time that you see each other.
For the same reasons, let her know that she doesn’t have to attend your baby shower or kids’ birthdays, if doing so makes her feel uncomfortable or sad.
I hope these tips have helped if you’re also looking for advice around the subject, I feel so sad for people who are struggling with infertility, it just seems so unfair! Sending lots of positive vibes and love. Thanks for reading x
*This post was written in collaboration with CoParents