Whether you’re aware of it or not, you know someone struggling with infertility. People ask all the time how to comfort a friend who can’t get pregnant, and while you can’t make it better, there are ways to provide infertility support.
Picture a gathering of friends for a moment – eight couples, to be exact. Among those eight couples, there is almost sure to be a constant stream of chatter revolving around play dates, school projects, sleep schedules, and the general difficulties of parenting.
One of those eight couples is probably holding their breath during these conversations, trying not to cry, avoiding dampening the mood.
Because according to national infertility statistics, one of those couples is likely struggling with infertility.
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Providing Infertility Support
Whether or not they’re open about their struggles, figuring out how to help someone with infertility can be difficult.
I remember each time my husband and I went through an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, I found myself searching for more fertility support than I felt like I was offered.
Infertility is an isolating experience that many of our friends and family can’t seem to understand.
I can also recall heartbreaking conversations and stories that were passed down throughout our fertility clinic of brave men and women who faced multiple rounds of IVF, miscarriages, and nonviable eggs.
Their situations were devastating, and I found myself wishing so desperately I could take even an ounce of their pain away. I wished I could provide infertility support to them because they were likely receiving so little.
While it might not be possible to help everyone, we can at least learn what to do for a friend with infertility so we can better assist the people closest to us.
If you’re looking for beneficial ways of offering infertility support, here are a few options:
(1) Just listen
While you might feel like you should offer advice when providing infertility support, the truth is that one of the best ways to help women trying to conceive and struggling is very simple: listening.
There’s something so helpful about having the opportunity to open up or vent about infertility struggles.
By providing your friend with a listening ear, you’ll be giving them the sounding board they need to get difficult conversations off their chests.
But remember: they are probably NOT looking for advice. People ask all the time, “Have you tried this or that?”
While they probably don’t need your advice, a listening ear that offers gentle encouragement, validation of their grief, or uplifting support might be what they need.
Just be cautious and avoid saying things that aren’t supportive to someone struggling with infertility, for example:
- Don’t say. ‘Just relax.’ This is not only unhelpful, but it can also make them feel like they’re actively doing something to cause their fertility problems.
- Try to avoid complaining about your own pregnancy or children.
- Avoid minimizing their problems with statements like, ‘At least you can still sleep in’ or ‘Maybe you should take the time to travel more.’
Learn more about what to say to someone struggling with infertility.
(2) Find out what they need
We’ve all done it; passively extended a, “Let me know if you need anything” to a friend or family member who’s going through something, without the genuine intention of following through.
Instead of empty offers, the best way of learning how to help someone with infertility is simply to ask. If you want to lend them your fertility support, don’t take no for an answer. Find out what they’re struggling with or what types of things would make their life easier and do them.
This could be as simple as bringing over dinner, volunteering to watch their older children, or lending them a shoulder to cry on.
Infertility treatments are taxing processes mentally, physically, and financially. Having a willing friend to help during the tough times may mean more than you could ever imagine.
If your friend won’t tell you what they need (and they often don’t even know), try giving specific options: “I’m going to do something for you. Would it help you more if I brought dinner, did your laundry, or had groceries delivered to your house?”
Trust me, this will be appreciated more than you know.
*Note: Also ask what they need in terms of baby showers, kids’ birthday parties, etc. Do they want to be invited? Ask them. Don’t expect them to come, but also don’t exclude them. Just text them, acknowledge the potential struggle of these events, and ask.
(3) Establish connections with others dealing with infertility
I once had a friend reach out to me for advice. She knew about my experiences with IVF and was trying to find ways of offering fertility support to her friend who was also struggling to conceive.
I volunteered to talk with her friend and provide any advice or support I could to help her through the complicated process of trying to get pregnant.
While some men and women might not feel comfortable discussing their problems with other individuals, let alone strangers, it can’t hurt to make a suggestion.
If you’re trying to figure out how to comfort a friend who can’t get pregnant and you know someone else who’s had similar experiences, why not consider putting them in touch with one another?
Having a supportive person to talk to who has first-hand knowledge of what you’re going through can be an uplifting option to anyone struggling with infertility.
Finding Yourself with Fertility Support
Infertility support doesn’t have to come from someone else. If you’re struggling to get pregnant, it’s helpful to find ways of supporting yourself through the difficult process.
There are several self care steps you can take to better care for yourself mentally and physically throughout a battle with infertility, such as:
- Eating a ‘fertility-friendly’ diet can be a good form of natural reproductive support
- Practicing meditation and other relaxation techniques
- Finding an infertility support group
- Taking up a new hobby
- Use social media carefully and mute people whose content triggers you
Infertility Support During a Pandemic
If you’re looking for a chance to exercise some of the options listed in this article, it would seem that there’s no better time than the present.
Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, couples who are trying to conceive could be facing more difficulties than normal.
In addition to struggles with staying healthy and being prepared for anything, there is the possibility of canceled fertility treatments that couples have waited so long to start.
While this may not seem like a huge deal to someone who has never struggled through infertility, I can tell you that the waiting feels ENDLESS. So learning that you have to wait longer is devastating.
Also, the medications people take to prepare for IVF are extremely hard on their bodies, and if someone had a cycle planned recently, they may well have taken those medications, only to have the cycle canceled at the last minute.
I cannot express enough the grief and frustration these friends are feeling.
If you know a friend who’s trying to conceive or struggling with infertility during these hard times, be sure to check in with them.
Let them know you’re available to talk and listen to their concerns during these trying times.
Understanding What to Do for a Friend with Infertility
If you’ve never experienced the devastation that comes with wanting a baby so badly but not being to conceive, it’s hard to imagine exactly how it feels.
Not understanding, however, doesn’t mean you can’t still comfort a friend who can’t get pregnant. Simple techniques like listening and being available to them can be exponentially beneficial.
Fertility support doesn’t have to involve grand gestures.
Sometimes, all it takes to feel supported is feeling like you’re being seen and heard.
During my own struggles with infertility, I was often amazed at how just being asked how I was doing could make such a difference in my day.
So, if a friend opens up to you about their conception difficulties, why not make a simple move to help brighten up their darkest days?
If you’ve had a hard time getting pregnant, what was the best infertility support you received?
More Infertility Articles:
- What to say to someone with infertility
- Fertility and infertility definition + what it’s like
- Using donor eggs
- What is embryo adoption?
- Laura’s primary ovarian insufficiency story
- In-person and online infertility support groups
- IVF gifts
- Stress and infertility
Articles about Trying to Conceive
Articles about Miscarriage Support:
- What to say to someone who had a miscarriage (+ what not to say)
- Miscarriage gifts
- How to support someone after miscarriage
- Miscarriage ornaments
- Books about miscarriage
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.