Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when you share something super sensitive and personal with a friend, family member or colleague, and they say something that is most likely well-meaning but a little thoughtless and insensitive? It hurts, sometimes a lot.
Most of us, at some point, have also been on the other side of this situation too. When a friend comes to us and tells us something important to them, we may have responded inappropriately. This leads to both parties feeling terrible, and the situation just becomes more awkward.
It’s easily done, and most comments like this come from ignorance of the subject or an overwhelming desire to offer a solution to our bestie’s problems.
Unfortunately, infertility is a subject which often leads to well-meaning friends putting their foot in it. Simply because they don’t really get where you are coming from or how you feel. Unless, of course. they have been there too.
In this article, we will highlight some things you should never say to a woman or couple struggling to conceive and why.
It will happen
Almost all women start their ttc journey full of hope and optimism. However, with every passing month, hope can start to dwindle, and fear and worry can take over. Instead, offer some supportive words to show you are thinking of them rather than telling them it will happen when to be honest, you can’t guarantee that outcome no matter how much you want to mean it.
You just need to relax
There is little that is more annoying than being told you just need to relax to get pregnant! It’s unlikely you started your journey feeling stressed about getting pregnant. Instead, it’s something that has instead built up after months of trying and countless negative pregnancy tests.
While non-intentionally hurtful, telling someone to relax indicates that you think they are stressed out. Of course, there is some truth to the fact that relaxation aids conception. But maybe instead of commenting on your friend’s mental state and stress levels, it would make more sense to invite them for a day of relaxation and pampering.
We had a hard time conceiving too
Friends will want to show empathy for your situation. However, be aware one woman’s definition of a hard time can be completely the opposite of someone else.
Remember that a hard time for you might have been 12 long months of trying. For your friend, a hard time could mean having multiple doctors looking at their vagina to see what is going on and multiple tests to get to the bottom of their fertility struggles. The two aren’t really comparable.
Dealing with infertility is complex and emotional, and there’s probably a lot on your friend’s mind. Offering a listening ear is much better than going through the details of your own medical history.
Have you tried?
IVF, a particular position, eating more pineapples? Yes, the chances are if someone is struggling to conceive, they have done their homework and tried every trick in the book, from ovulation tests to fertility monitors and the latest apps.
Unless you are privy to a miracle pregnancy pill, no one else has heard of. This question is best left alone!
You could always adopt
Adoption is a deeply personal choice. Whilst it’s a great option that gives children a chance to be part of a loving family, it isn’t for everyone. Plus, maybe the person isn’t quite ready to give up on having their own children yet. Regardless of how they feel about adoption your comment could come at the wrong time.
At least you’ve already got one
Reminding someone they are lucky if they already have one child when they desperately want another one isn’t helpful. Secondary infertility affects many couples, and commenting that they should be happy with what they already have might make them feel selfish and guilty. Even when this wasn’t intended.
You can borrow mine
Honestly, offering your own child to someone struggling to conceive as a joke probably won’t go down that well. Someone trying for a baby might have invested a lot of time, money and energy into becoming a parent. It’s an all-consuming process. Offering to lend a child like you would offer to lend a dress to someone who would give anything to be a parent can be extremely hurtful
How to help someone who is struggling to conceive
We could go on and on with examples of what not to say, but hopefully, the above gives you an insight into how a well-meaning comment can be hurtful to someone on their TTC journey. In reality, you don’t know how long someone has been longing to have a child and what their journey had looked like before they decided to confide in you. So if you are wondering how you can support someone struggling with infertility, try the following instead:
- Offer a listening ear
- Ask if there is anything you can do to support them
- Give them a big hug
- Make yourself available to go out and do something that helps distracts from their fertility struggles.
Infertility is hard to talk about. It’s a sad fact that so many people don’t know how to react to women going through their own fertility struggles. Are you struggling to conceive and interested in joining a community of like-minded women in the same position as you?