HOW DO YOU SUPPORT SOMEONE GOING THROUGH A FERTILITY STRUGGLE?
WORDS: CECI JEFFRIES, FERTILITY COACH
As a Fertility Coach, I am often asked how you can support someone going through a fertility struggle. It’s difficult to know how to support someone through something that you haven’t experienced firsthand.
The more we raise awareness, open the dialogue and break the stigma surrounding infertility, the more support family and friends can provide. Infertility is all-consuming and not something you need to go through alone.
Here are 6 ways you can support your friend or family member experiencing a fertility struggle:
Forgive their absence. Forgive them if they drop off the radar for a little while. Forgive them if they’re not always asking how your pregnancy is going. Forgive them if they’re not always asking for photos of your baby. Forgive them if they don’t come to your baby shower at the last minute. These events can cause a lot of emotional pain. They are just trying to cope and survive so please forgive them.
Ask if they are ok. Ask how you can support them. Validate their pain. It helps to know someone is thinking about you when you are struggling. If they don’t want to engage, don’t push them. And remember to only ask them if you have time to listen.
SUPPORT THEIR LIFESTYLE CHOICES
If they tell you they’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol, cut out gluten, take up football, eat more eggs, do gymnastics after sex, start a hot yoga course – please support them and don’t question them. People will try anything to have a baby and they don’t need the added stress of justifying what they’re doing to anyone.
LEARN WHAT NOT TO SAY
Comments like ‘just relax’, ‘at least you miscarried early’, ‘whose fault is it?’ or ‘my friend got pregnant naturally after 4 rounds of IVF’ are not helpful. Try not to offer unsolicited advice. By following accounts like Fertility Hand (and therefore educating yourself), it will help them know you are trying to understand their difficult situation.
PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES
If you find out you are pregnant, text them to tell them first. It will give them time to grieve their infertility privately without being put on the spot. It also shows you respect their situation. You deserve to be extremely happy with your news but it shows empathy towards their situation. Please understand they are happy for you, just sad for them.
BE THERE FOR THEM
They might appreciate you going to an appointment with them. They might appreciate you taking them for a walk. They might want you to sit with them at a baby shower, engagement party or wedding. Or they might just want you to bring a bottle of wine over and keep them company.
Awareness and support is everything.
For more information about Fertility Coaching, or to contact Ceci from Fertility Hand: