As you and your friends begin to raise families, you will all have unique challenges. Perhaps many of you struggle with the typical parenting woes and spats with your partner, but others may have to deal with more medically serious situations — and this includes infertility.
About one in eight couples, or 12% of married women, has trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to full term. When your friend confides in you about their struggle to conceive, you may not know what to say. It can be a heartbreaking situation for any family, especially if your friend has dreamed of becoming a parent for years. But remember that you have the tools to help them through this time.
“No matter how you took the news, the fact that they’ve told you is a big deal,” Rachel Gurvich writes in Verywell. “This means they trust you. They think you’ll be supportive. However, knowing how to actually give that support can be tricky, especially if you’ve never experienced infertility yourself.”
The following are some Dos and Don’ts to help you give the best possible support to your friend.
DO ask what they need from you.
You might be embarrassed that you don’t know how to help your friend, and this is why you should simply ask. They might just want someone there to listen, or they might need you to watch their kids while they attend appointments. By asking, you are giving them the opportunity to confide in you rather you assuming what they need.
DON’T start any sentences with “At least.”
It can be tempting to put the situation in perspective for your friend but refrain from doing so. Saying, “At least your health is good overall” can be more painful than you might realize. Remember that their struggle is valid and you are there to support that.
DO take the time to listen.
Be sure to thoughtfully and mindfully listen to your friend while they are talking about their infertility. Refrain from giving advice when it’s not asked for. This time together and your calming presence can go a long way for your friend.
DON’T complain about your own parenting responsibilities.
When you are doing everything you can to have kids, there is nothing worse than hearing someone else complain about their little ones. Even when you are having a frustrating day, remember that your friend would happily trade places with you. While it’s still okay to confide in someone about these issues, find a friend who is not struggling with their fertility.
DO provide fun distractions.
While your friend is focused on conceiving or going through fertility treatments, it can seem like this is their entire life. You have the opportunity to introduce some joy and normalcy back into your friend’s routine. Plan nights out, take an exercise class together, or take a weekend getaway to give your friend a boost.
During your friend’s infertility battle, the best you can do is be there in any way they want you to.
“The medical protocol for infertility is between a doctor and a patient, and getting in the middle of your friend’s treatment is not a wise decision,” Barbara Collura, President and CEO of RESOLVE, said in a statement to Parents. “However, infertility medical treatments can be stressful, and standing by your friend with emotional support during this time is critical.”
So, grab your friend’s favorite chick flicks and snacks, and get ready to provide the love and support she needs.