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Supporting A Friend through Infertility While Growing Your Family

Supporting your friend through infertility when you are pregnant or have a family of your own.

Infertility can be a heartbreaking and challenging journey for those who experience it. If you’re fortunate enough to be pregnant, sharing the news is typically an exciting time. However, if you have a close friend who is struggling to get pregnant, you may find yourself feeling hesitant to bring up your pregnancy with them. There are ways to approach this conversation with your friend respectfully considering her pain while celebrating your baby’s arrival. Here are some ways to navigate with empathy and compassion.

If you have a close friend who is struggling with infertility, you may find yourself feeling hesitant to bring up your pregnancy with them.

Don’t Keep Your Pregnancy a Secret

Your initial instinct may be to avoid telling your friend to protect them. However, hearing the news directly from you around the same time you are telling others, will allow them to feel included, instead of burdensome. It also ensures that they aren’t hearing about your pregnancy second-hand, which can be hurtful.

Let Them Know Before a Big Announcement

Elaborate and public pregnancy announcements are fun and exciting for the expectant parent(s) and their loved ones. For a friend who is struggling with infertility, being caught off guard with a social media post can be triggering and painful. Prior to making your public announcement, consider letting your friend know first. Choose a private setting to disclose your pregnancy, for example via text message, allows them to absorb the information without feeling pressured to respond immediately.

Allow Them Time and Space to Process  

Be mindful of the fact that your own pregnancy news may cause mixed emotions for your friend, and that’s okay – for both of you. Understand that they might need time and space to process their feelings after hearing your news. Give them the freedom to take a step back if they need it. If they distance themselves from you for a short period of time, be ready to love on them when they are ready to reconnect.

Don’t Be Paralyzed by Fear 

The fear of saying or doing the wrong thing can leave us doing nothing at all. It is important to act and let your friend know you are there for them. Keep it simple and sincere—express your support, offer your time and a listening ear, and let them know you’re available to talk whenever they need. Showing up for your friend reminds them that they are loved and cared for.

Avoid Judgement & Unsolicited Advice

Infertility is a grief journey, and everyone copes with grief differently. Refrain from judging your friend’s choices or emotions during this time. Instead, provide them with a listening ear without offering unsolicited advice or recommendations. Let them express their feelings and be there to validate their experiences. Avoid sharing advice on how to conceive, stories of others’ successes or failures with fertility treatments, and refrain from asking about their exercise routines, stress levels, or nutritional choices, which can be shame-inducing and increase their anxiety.

Keep in Contact

People experiencing infertility often feel left behind as they watch their friends gradually transitioning into parenthood. It is a very isolating experience for those who still haven’t been able to bring a baby home. Life with a young family is busy; set aside some time (even set regular reminders in your phone!) to reach out to your friend to check in and let them know they are on your mind. Use this as an opportunity to catch up on all the non-baby things you used to connect over.

Supporting a friend through infertility requires patience, sensitivity, and understanding. Be there for them consistently, check in frequently, and let them guide the conversation. With your genuine care and empathy, you can provide the support they need during this challenging chapter of their lives.

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