Did you know that approximately 1 in 8 couples are affected by infertility? I had no idea until a few of my closest friends experienced this first hand. It made me realize that while you may not personally experience fertility issues, chances are someone you know has or may currently be navigating them.
Today I want to share some tips on how you can support your friend walking through infertility, even if you aren’t.
I collaborated with my dear friend who has personal experience with infertility to read through these and provide feedback, so I could get some perspective outside of my own. I know it can be hard to know how to support a friend when you yourself may be pregnant or just not knowing what to say. I hope these tips are helpful!
Tip #1: Sharing your pregnancy news gently
If you’re expecting, be considerate in how you tell your friend. If this is a close friend that you regularly connect with, reach out and let them know ahead of time so they are not surprised by a pregnancy announcement on social media. Could it be awkward? Sure. But, empathy, consideration and acknowledging upfront that this is a sensitive topic goes a long way!
Some women may prefer receiving the news through email or text compared to face to face, that way they have time to process personally without any pressure before responding. You know your friend and your relationship best.
After the conversation, follow their lead. Do they need space? Give them that space. Release them of any expectations during this time and allow them to show up in the relationship however feels right for them.
Tip #2: Ask for updates
I know infertility can be such a personal and vulnerable thing, one not everyone loves talking about. For me, I would rather ask how they are doing in this specific area and lead with “I totally understand if you don’t want to talk about this…” rather than completely ignore a huge aspect of my friend’s life. Trying for a baby is a big deal! Show you care by asking how your friend is doing. Even if they don’t want to talk about it, it shows you are willing to be a safe space to process & share if they want that.
Extra note: Asking for updates is better done one on one versus in a group setting where your friend may not be comfortable sharing with everyone.
Tip #3: Acknowledge hard days
Holidays can be hard for friends waiting for a baby. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may seem like the most obvious tough days, but really so many holidays are kid-focused. Reach out and see how they are doing, let them know they are thought of.
Tip #4: Continue to support after the inital challenges
Do you have a friend who experienced a miscarriage? Send them a meaningful gift to let them know you see them and grieve with them. A necklace to hold their sweet baby close to heart, or a bracelet with baby’s name if they had a name picked out are some ideas that come to mind. Reach out and see how they’re doing as time passes. Others may forget or feel uncomfortable bringing it up; show them that you haven’t forgotten because you know that they haven’t.
Tip #5: Do some basic research
If you know that a close family member or friend is going through a specific fertility treatment, consider taking a few minutes to research the basics.
Some things you could look into: what’s the difference between IUI and IVF? What do hormone injections do? What’s the process of using a surrogate or donor?
Your friend may have to explain the very basics over and over again, and it can make her feel different or weird. If you know some of the basics and are able to ask even more relevant or specific questions, it can be very welcome & help her feel more understood.
As a final note, ask your friend how you can show up for them during this time in their life. We all feel supported in different ways! So don’t be afraid to just straight up ask your friend, “I want to support you in this, how can I?”