When you are struggling with infertility, you are already a mess of emotions. The last thing that you need is to hear unkind (although well-intentioned) things from others. In this article, we’ll cover not just what NOT to say, but also some things you might say instead and also other ways to help support a person or couple going through infertility.
What NOT To Say
In general, any comment that tends to minimize or diminish whatever someone is feeling is generally unwelcome. Also, don’t say anything that could be perceived as blaming. I guarantee anyone who has gone through a miscarriage or infertility has gone through their life in detail to try to find a reason. To have someone else voice their fears makes it a million times worse.
So don’t even consider starting a sentence with something like, “If you had lost weight,” “If you hadn’t waited so long,” or “If you hadn’t been working so hard.”
Other things not to say:
“You can always try again.”
“I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”
“You’ll get over this.”
“You have plenty of time; there’s no rush.”
“Just relax. It will happen when it’s supposed to.”
“It was God’s will.”
“Just trust in God’s timing and you will get pregnant when you’re supposed to.”
“Just try having more sex. Then you’re bound to get pregnant!”
“Try buying some sexy lingerie or going on a vacation.”
“Aren’t you going to have kids?”
“Are you pregnant yet?”
“At least you weren’t that far along. It’s not like you were 7 or 8 months.”
“Don’t you already have kids?”
“You know there are others who are having a worse time of it than you are.”
“Why don’t you just adopt? There are millions of kids that need a home.”
“At least it’s not cancer.”
“Having children is a lifestyle choice. You just need to pick a different lifestyle.”
“You can always do IVF.”
“Trust me, you’re lucky you don’t have kids.”
What To Say Instead
It’s best to keep your comments simple and compassionate. To someone who’s had a miscarriage, you might say, “I am so sorry — this must be really hard for you.” Or, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” Or, “If you ever want to go for a walk or just talk, let me know and I’ll drop everything.”
Just knowing that there is someone there, willing to support them and that they aren’t being an inconvenience or a bother, can really help someone to open up and give them the space to process their loss. Be supportive and invite her to talk about what she’s going through without asking a lot of questions. That way, she won’t feel like you’re prying or intruding into her private grief or stress.
Other things to say:
“I know it’s hard when you lose someone you love. I’m here if you want to talk about it.” (And then, ACTUALLY BE THERE!!)
“How are you feeling? And I mean REALLY feeling??”
“What do you need most from me right now? I want to give you what you need.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“How is your partner coping?”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“I’m here to listen, whenever you need me.”
“I wish I knew what to say to comfort you.”
“I wish there something I could do or say that would make it all better.”
Other Ways to Support Your Loved One
Don’t Disregard Their Grief
“The more people understand the “darker sides” of conceiving and pregnancy, the more women will talk more openly about it. And the more women talk more openly about it, the more people understand the grief that can accompany it.”– Devan McGuinness of Toronto, Canada
Infertility is not just the struggle to conceive, but also the difficulties of holding onto a pregnancy. And as anyone who has suffered a miscarriage or months of negative test results can attest, there is a lot of grief involved in this process. That’s part of why some of the above things, while they are usually said from a place of love, are even harder for women and couples struggling with infertility to handle: because they disregard that grief or try to speed up the grieving process.
Offer to Run Errands or Provide a Source of Distraction
Practical forms of support, such as dropping off a meal or offering to walk her dog; or sweet gestures, such as delivering flowers, may be truly appreciated. Similarly, it may help your friend if you provide a pleasant source of distraction by asking her to go to a movie (preferably an upbeat one) or to take a cooking or art class together, so that she can get out and take her mind off reproductive issues for a while.
Be understanding if your friend or loved one turns down social invitations, though. Attending events where there are kids running around or where your friend may be asked upsetting questions may be more than she can (or wants to) handle. Offer to run interference for her.
If you’re going to a party where a pregnancy will be announced, let her know ahead of time. If you’re at a party where a pregnancy is announced and you didn’t know beforehand, it might come as an extreme shock to your friend. Be supportive. If she needs to leave, ask her if she’d like you to give her apologies to the host so that she doesn’t have to try to cope with that as well.
If a mutual friend is having a baby, offer to buy a gift so she doesn’t have to look at baby stuff. If she doesn’t want to go to a baby shower, help her come up with a great excuse.
Get Informed About Miscarriages and Fertility Problems
Reading about what your friend is going through can help you be supportive and sidestep some of the hidden minefields in talking about pregnancy losses, complications, and related challenges. The American Psychological Association provides keen insights into how women often feel after miscarriage, and Resolve, the National Infertility Association, offers helpful advice about adhering to infertility etiquette.
Don’t Pretend the Hardship Didn’t Happen
But don’t pretend the pregnancy loss or other hardship didn’t happen by avoiding the subject altogether — that can make someone feel like you aren’t sensitive or supportive. Knowing that other people care and sympathize with what they’re going through is helpful for couples as they try to heal from a pregnancy loss or persevere through their fertility treatment journey.
Refrain From Giving Unsolicited Advice
Meanwhile, it’s a mistake to give unsolicited advice — about switching doctors, enhancing fertility naturally, adopting a child, or anything else baby-related — or to send articles or information about miscarriage or pregnancy loss. If your friend asks you to look into some of these subjects for her, that’s one thing, but don’t overstep on this issue.
Don’t Share News That’s Not Yours to Share
Similarly, if a friend or family member confides in you about her infertility or miscarriage, don’t talk to other people about it unless she asks you to. Otherwise, it amounts to gossiping. It’s not your news to share; it’s theirs to share when, and IF, they want to.
Most Importantly, Remember to Stay Patient
The pain and stress of dealing with a miscarriage or fertility problem can last longer than you may think, so don’t be judgmental about this. If your friend suffered a miscarriage, she’s unlikely to suddenly snap out of her grief after a certain amount of time — there’s no expiration date for this kind of heartache.
Similarly, don’t expect her to be jubilant if she gets pregnant after a pregnancy loss. Getting pregnant is really scary after a pregnancy loss or miscarriage. I know when I got pregnant with each of my rainbow babies, I was terrified because I knew the things that could go wrong. I was not okay until I had my baby in my arms and all those risks were passed.
Also, just because your friend has had successful pregnancies since a miscarriage or since struggling with infertility, it does not mean that the fears have gone away entirely.
Make sure you grab a copy of my FREE guide 5 Steps To Increase Your Fertile Cervical Mucus & my FREE Self-Care Mini Course. You can access either one by clicking on the title. These are packed full of information that you can begin implementing today to put yourself one step closer to getting pregnant, naturally.
If you’re looking for a group of like-minded women with which to share your fertility wellness journey, be sure to check out my Whole Body Fertility & Wellness Facebook group today!
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