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9 ways to support a friend with fertility issues

Woman talking and supporting her friend with fertility issuesWhen your friend is having fertility issues all you want to do is support her.

But it isn’t easy to know what to say about such a personal and emotional subject. The very last thing you want to do is upset or insult her.

Everyone is different. Everyone handles things differently. It is hard to know what people want you to say, because really all they want to hear are the words “you’re pregnant”.

We’ve already shared a list of 7 things you SHOULDN’T say to someone with fertility issues so now here’s our list of things you SHOULD say …

9 ways to support your friend with fertility issues

Let her take the lead

Everyone deals with things differently so let your friend set the pace on how much she does or doesn’t want to talk about her fertility issues. Don’t push the issue when it is clear that she doesn’t want to talk about it, but let her know that you’ll be there if ever she does.

Be honest

If you really don’t know what to say to a person with fertility issues then be honest and say to them – “I’m sorry to hear that, I don’t know what to say” …

Listen – really listen – to her

This is the most important thing in their life right now so if they open up to you give them your full attention. Ask “how are you?” and really mean it.

Validate her feelings

You can’t really say “I understand” if you’ve never experienced infertility so it is best to just acknowledge what they are feeling and agree. Sometimes a simple “that sucks” is enough.

Help steer conversations away from ‘baby’ talk

Your friend might have confided in you but others may not know her situation. If you ever find yourself in a group of women endlessly complaining about their kids or their pregnancy it is up to you to gently change the subject. Same goes for those times when people seem to constantly be asking her: “when are you going to have a baby?” etc.

Support her decisions

If your friend decides to start IVF treatment, support her. Ask her what it involves. Ask her if there’s a way you could make things easier for her. If she decides to look into adoption or to stop trying after many unsuccessful fertility treatments, then support her decision.

Distract her

Your friend will find it hard to think about anything else – particularly in the two-week wait (where she may be pregnant but is too early to test). Take her out for lunch or suggest a movie (not about babies or pregnancy though!).

Don’t be scared to share your news, but be sensitive

Your friend will be happy for you if you happen to fall pregnant – but she will also be sad, for herself. Don’t ignore her or fail to tell her, but understand that your news will remind her of her own situation. Don’t tell her in public. Tell her in way appropriate to the level of friendship (ie. call her if she’s a best friend) but be brief and let her process the news in the comfort and privacy of her own home.

 

Keep your fingers crossed for her.

Tell her you’re thinking of her.

Be gentle.

Be there for her.

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7 comments so far -

  1. My husband and I battled with unexplained infertility for 5 years before becoming parents through ivf. I wish our friends and family had stopped asking when we were going to start a family as it became harder and harder to pretend that everything was fine when it’s wasn’t. I then wish they had been more supportive when we actually started telling people we were having problems. Suddenly when we needed them to be there there was just silence – in hindsight it was probably because they didn’t know what to say however when the statistics tell you how common infertility is and no one talks about it it just makes you feel more and more isolated. Since we had our son we have been quite open about our ivf journey but it still feels as though there is a stigma around the whole ivf/infertility issue. Ironically once we started to say we were going through ivf we started to meet and talk to lots and lots of couples we hadn’t previously known who were also going through the same thing and it helped enourmously to talk openly and honestly to others in the same boat.

    • Hi Brige, thanks for your comment. You’re absolutely right … people keep asking the question but not many cope when you tell them the real answer. I am happy to hear that you have found support. It can be an isolating experience but there are plenty of people out there in the same position. The IVF section of our forum is a good example, it is a very popular part of the forum because there are so many people out there going through the same things, but feeling like they are alone. Take care and all the best xx

  2. My sister and her husband have been trying to get pregnant for nearly two years now both naturally and through IVF. Last month after finally sorting out finances and traveling for a bit my husband and I decided to start trying. We got pregnant first try. I’m really worried about telling my sister. My baby will be the first in our generation and I know she wanted to be. I’m just so worried about what to say. Any advise?

  3. A lot of the time friends presume it’s an issue on the female side, but this is not always the case so don’t make presumptions about anything. Also, please don’t ask ‘so what’s the problem exactly?’ as it may not be appropriate… If your friend wants to tell you the nitty gritty details about the infertility issues, she will, but it’s best not to push for details that she or her partner may not want to share.

    • Our experience in working with infertility at Happy Swimmers Fertility is that it is 1/3 the man, 1/3 the woman and 1/3 both partners have the problem. And yes we need to be careful when talking about fertility issues, people are emotional and fragile enough without the extra pressure of having to justify themselves.

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