This is a partnered post.
About 6% of married women between the age of 15 and 44 in the US find it difficult to get pregnant after one year of trying, and 12% have difficulty carrying the pregnancy to term. About 9% of men have infertility problems making it a concerning issue globally. Common causes of infertility in women are:
- Problems with a menstrual cycle- conceiving when cycles are irregular gets harder
- Failure to ovulate
- Uterine fibroids
- Autoimmune disorders
- Failure for an egg to mature correctly
- Reproductive system structural problems
If you have a friend who has been trying to get a baby unsuccessfully, understand that it’s a very stressful moment for her and how you handle the situation will determine whether your friendship will last.
If you have been getting babies successfully, but your friend is struggling, it gets even more complicated handling the issue. Here are tips on how to support a friend struggling to conceive
Don’t Offer Solutions
You might have 1001 things that you might think can solve your friend’s issues, but as much as they’re well-meant, it’s not a guarantee that she will like the help.
Understand that she has probably tried many things and might even be exhausted and not ready to try any new suggestions. The best way to handle this is to be supportive without pointing out possible solutions.
Don’t tell her what your other friend, aunty, or sister did to get a baby. She is already doing the best she can. If you feel something can help, first ask whether she’d like to hear, and when she refrains, don’t insist.
However, if she agrees to listen, don’t follow up to find out if she tried. Understand that listening doesn’t always guarantee that she wants to try the suggestion. Also, if she tries and doesn’t succeed, it’s probably one of the things she is not ready to talk about after failing again.
Don’t be Invasive
Sometimes well-meant questions can turn out to be invasive, ruining your friendship. For instance, don’t ask about the progress with questions such as ‘Are you pregnant yet? Or you’ve added some weight, is it what I think it is?’
Probably she wants to keep the challenges to herself, and when she feels comfortable sharing, she will come to you.
When you meet, it helps not to talk about the issue or anything to do with babies. Such topics will make her feel bad or pressured to talk about issues she’s not ready to. Instead, wait for her to express her feelings or bring up the topic. Then, take it from there but in a compassionate way.
Remember that you’re her friend and if she cannot feel loved and accommodated while with you, she’ll just cut off the friendship or withdraw.
Acknowledge Her Fears
Shutting down your friend’s fears might seem like the best thing to do, but it’s often not a solution. Probably you want her to feel better or focus on more positive thoughts but acknowledging the fear goes a long way to show that you respect and understand what she’s going through.
For instance, she might be worried that she will never have babies and even express the same to you. Replying with a reassuring statement like, ‘don’t worry, everything will be okay, and you’ll have a baby’ is positive thinking but doesn’t help change the situation.
Being realistic and acknowledging her current emotions and fears encourages her to talk more or express her feelings freely without the fear of being judged, misunderstood, or condemned.
Protect Her from Nosy Relatives and Friends
Some friends can be a pain to deal with, and keeping them in line gives your friend peace of mind. Some, not well-meaning friends can even go to her prodding for details, offering lots of unnecessary advice, or pressing her for information on her latest baby-making news. Such actions are insensitive and depressing.
Some friends might even come to you for the information. It would be best to teach such friends the importance of respecting your friend’s privacy and being sensitive to her struggles. Let them know that it’s not appropriate to prod her or you for information, and if she feels that some information is essential to share, she will do so.
Relatives can also be hard to deal with, and your friend might not know how to approach them or protect herself. If you know the relatives, talk to them and let them understand your friend’s struggles and advise them not to prod or ask invasive or unkind questions. Let them know that the issue only concerns your friend and partner, and no one should try to invade their privacy.
Let Her Know She’s Not a Failure
Many women get into marriage thinking that they will quickly get babies, and when this doesn’t happen when expected, they get depressed and anxious. Often, they feel like they have failed in life.
If your friend feels like she has failed in life and marriage, try to understand her feelings and offer hope.
It’s devastating for any woman who loves kids not to be able to get pregnant. Point out that she is not a failure and motherhood doesn’t define who she is, but it’s just a phase in life. Remind her of her positive attributes and achievements.
Check on Your Friend’s Partner
Men also go through trying times when they’re struggling to get a baby. The sad part is that many men don’t know how to express their feelings or don’t have caring and sensitive friends to share their frustrations with.
Many partners feel helpless, angry, sad, and miserable when they cannot have a child or realize they have infertility issues. You should be there for both partners and, if possible, support them as they try to keep their relationship alive and unaffected by the struggles.
The more you understand your friend’s feelings, the more you’ll be able to help her through the struggles and make your friendship last. Understand that it’s not every time you’ll have a solution or do the right thing but keep on trying, be sensitive, and accommodating. Your love and presence will greatly ease her struggles.