Miranda Layton

The DOs and DO NOTs of Supporting Those Struggling With Fertility Issues

by Miranda Layton

 

Fertility issues have become much more prevalent, and couples are talking about them more than they previously had been. While fertility issues continue to be a very private and intimate issue for some, others rely on their support system to be there and support them in an appropriate, helpful, and loving manner. In fact, most women or men know someone who has suffered from a fertility issue, or have suffered themselves, and recognize that it is a very emotional journey. While friends and family try their very best to be supportive, it may be extremely difficult to know what to do and what not to do. I will outline some helpful tips below that I hope can provide a resource for and your loved ones during an emotional journey.

 

  1. DO NOT say, “God (or anyone or anything else) has a different plan” or “It was not meant to be.” DO say, “This must be so difficult for you” or “This must be so difficult to understand why it is happening to you.”
  1. DO NOT say, “Just relax and it will happen” or “Just keep trying, it will happen.” DO say, “This must be so hard to keep trying and continue to be disappointed” or “This whole process has to be so emotionally draining for you.”
  1. DO NOT say, “You can always adopt” or “So and so adopted and then got pregnant naturally.” DO say, “I know how desperately you want to become pregnant and have a child” or “I know how hard it is for you to struggle with not having the joy of becoming pregnant yet.”
  1. DO NOT say, “Just try to stay busy and keep your mind off of it” or “Maybe you should not focus so much on getting pregnant.” DO say, “It must be so difficult to focus on other things during such a stressful time” or “I can not imagine how difficult it must be to try to go through the day to day activities and having this on your mind.”
  1. DO NOT say, “If you had not waited so long……” or any other blaming statements. DO say, “I know you have tried everything you can to become pregnant” or “I know this makes no sense why it is happening to you.”

When supporting women or men struggling with fertility issues, the most helpful and loving way you can help them is to let them cry, tell their story, or whatever they need to do to process through. Your role should be to provide a safe, supportive, loving and non-judgmental space for them to feel their feelings. Too often, people try to provide support during difficult times but end up making the person feel bad, judged or invalidated for feeling the way they feel. If you do not know much about fertility issues, then research so that you can be more supportive, without judgment. Most important is to just BE there and let them know you are there. Sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is to just provide that safe space and verbalize that we care and want to hear their story and how they feel when they are ready to share.

Miranda Layton Psychotherapist

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