Supporting a Friend through Infertility or Pregnancy Loss
While more women today are open about their struggles with infertility or pregnancy loss, it is still hard to find the right words when one of your friends or loved ones shares her challenges in getting pregnant or maintaining pregnancy. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month can open our eyes and hearts wider to these issues: 1 in 8 couples has difficulty getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If someone you love has lost a pregnancy, no matter how early or late, or has been unable to get pregnant, you might feel concerned but also helpless. While everyone faces challenges and grieves differently, following are some ways you can support a friend in need:
- Offer tangible help. Rather than saying “what can I do?”, ask what your friend needs at the grocery store, where the dirty laundry is or what she would like for dinner. The more specific you are, the easier it may be for your friend to accept your help.
- Listen and listen some more. Be willing to listen any time of day or night, even if it’s the same story or worries. Rather than rushing in to try to solve the problem or offer unhelpful platitudes such as “it just wasn’t meant to be” or “everything happens for a reason,” make eye contact and listen closely without interruption.
- Understand that grief has its own timeline. While we often expect someone to feel better in a prescribed time frame, grief is not linear and does not have a deadline. Someone might feel fine one day and terrible the next; respect your loved one’s feelings as they ebb and flow.
- Stay connected. Reach out on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, holidays, the day of the loss the baby’s due date, or any other significant days to share your thoughts and love.
If your friend or relative has experienced a pregnancy loss, make sure you talk about the baby, including the name, if applicable. The baby is still a part of that family and your friend will likely appreciate that recognition. While infertility and pregnancy loss are often difficult to talk about, they are even more difficult to experience – showing your love and compassion can make a difference.
Dr. David Clay will participate in the upcoming “Exploring Paths of Hope: 35th Annual Infertility, Adoption & Family Building Summit” on Nov. 9 in Golden Valley. The largest summit of its kind in the Midwest, it offers free expert advice from reproductive endocrinologists, adoption agencies, complementary therapy practitioners, attorneys, mental health experts and more.
“If you or someone in your life may be interested in learning about new treatments and issues around infertility and adoption, this summit is a place of both compassion and education,” he said. “Wherever you may be in your family-building journey, this summit offers connection and resources.”