What do you say to a friend who is struggling to have a baby?
With 1 in 7 couples in the UK having difficulty conceiving, it’s a common yet largely unspoken issue. Being such a deeply personal issue, it can be difficult to know what to say to someone whose fertility journey isn’t straightforward. Similarly, if you haven’t conceived as easily as you’d hoped, you’ll know the impact it can have on all areas of your life. Here, we look at the impact of the fertility journey on someone who is experiencing fertility difficulties, infertility or frequent miscarriages. and share what to say when someone shares their journey with you. This blog does not just refer to primary infertility (trying for your first baby) but also secondary infertility – when the journey to a second child is not easy.
How a difficult fertility journey can impact you.
Wanting and waiting for something you desire more than anything, but not having it, is in its simplest form, a type of grief. Grief for the life you wish you had right now and in the case of miscarriage, grief for a life that didn’t come to be. As women it is one of the single biggest things to go through in life. Society still has huge expectations for women and committed couples to procreate and if it’s something you want but for whatever reason do not have, it feels very much like something incredibly personal is in the spotlight. People will ‘lightheartedly’ make comments, noting your age or number of years you’ve been with your partner, and questioning when you will have children. It’s rarely meant in any way other than human curiosity (or plain nosiness) but that still doesn’t make it anyone else’s business! This is certainly one of the hardest things to deal with when going through a fertility journey or loss. The best thing can be to respond in a straightforward manner and then change the subject. ‘I’m not sure when we’re having kids. How’s work?’ or a clear ‘That’s a very personal question’.
Whether you are trying for a baby or already know for certain it will not be an option for you, the sense of loss is huge, impacting your life in many far-reaching ways. If you’ve always seen yourself as having children one day, the news that this may not happen will change the notion of who you see your future self as on its head. If you’ve made plans based on the idea of having a family, coming to terms with the fact that may not happen is a long and hard process. Regardless of whether you are still trying to conceive – with the appointments, drugs and cost that entails, or whether you know you are infertile, it often becomes an all-consuming and debilitating situation to be in, sucking the joy from your life and making you very singularly-focused. This loss of self as you go through this period is a common consequence and can soon impact on your friendships and desire to socialise. Living in a ‘perfect’ future takes you out of the day to day moments and makes finding gratitude near impossible. We offer Freedom Fertility Formula® to help you if you’re in this place.
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are common when struggling to conceive. And the real kicker is this: ‘Your fertility journey is adversely affecting your mental and emotional health, which in turn is adversely affecting your chances of having a baby.’ (source: www.danygriffiths.com). Yes, the more stressed you are about it, the less likely it is to happen. Least useful piece of advice ever, we know. Yet even when you do have a child, the memories of your difficulties do not simply get brushed away.
The journey to having a baby takes many years and however it turns out, your relationship will take a bit of a battering. For some people, the struggle brings a couple closer together but for others, the stress can drive a wedge between them. Keeping an open and honest dialogue going with your partner and seeking help from a counsellor or therapist can help you both understand how the other is feeling.
What to say to someone struggling to have a baby
If someone you know – however close or not – shares with you that they are having difficulty conceiving, it means they trust you enough to respond with empathy. They are looking for someone who is not directly a part of their situation to listen in order to gain an understanding of what life is like for them now.
| Most importantly – it’s not helpful to give advice. ‘Have you tried XYZ? It worked for me/my friend/someone I read about in a magazine’. Whatever you suggest will not be anything revolutionary your friend will not already have heard about or tried.
| If you have children, don’t joke about them being a handful – ‘You can have one of mine’ is as flippant a comment as they come.
| Don’t compare it to an experience you are or have struggled with in the past. Even if you also share some commonalities with your friend’s story, every journey to having a baby is completely unique.
| We’d like to believe you wouldn’t do this anyway – but a reaction suggesting, ‘Perhaps the universe thinks it’s not meant to be’ or, ‘Think how much more freedom you can have in your life without kids’ are crushing things to hear when all you wish for is children.
| What you can do is simple: Listen. Tell her you’re sorry she’s going through this and admit you may not always know the right thing to say. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help. For example, could you meet her for a coffee after a consultant appointment? Would she appreciate you dialling down how much you talk about your own children temporarily?
| Be understanding that sometimes your friend may bail on you last minute. The physical and emotional toll of infertility and fertility issues are heavy and exhausting. Let her know you’re always there when she needs you – it’s not dependent on a specific time and place.
| Similarly, don’t always bring up the topic – sometimes people just want to have fun and forget about it for a few hours! Follow her lead.
| Finally, even if you know someone who got pregnant after a hard time conceiving – ‘because they relaxed’ – do not share this! It’s of no help at all as relaxing is the very last thing that anyone can simply ‘do’ on command.
Suffolk Women’s Wellness Centre® SWWC Fertility services – Me Fertility
Freedom Fertility Formula
If you’re struggling to conceive, are infertile or have had frequent miscarriages, SWCC can help. Trained in the Freedom Fertility Formula®, we work with women and couples to help you emotionally cope during this stressful time, giving you the tools to take care of your mental health and emotional wellbeing – so often overlooked at this time. We work towards rediscovering the joy in your life which your fertility journey may have sucked away and in the process, help you enhance your chances of becoming pregnant as you learn to learn to reclaim your emotional control of the journey you are on. This is not a magic solution, but reclaiming yourself again with the help of an experienced, caring teacher, can help you face your journey from a stronger place. Read more here
Reflexology is also known to help promote fertility. Massaging specific points on the feet which reflect our internal organs can help with achieving optimal hormonal balance and body system regulation. We also offer tailored lifestyle guidance and support which when followed alongside weekly reflexology sessions will help maximise your chances of getting pregnant and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. For more information, please read more here.