With one in four couples experiencing infertility or miscarriage, there’s a good chance you know someone — or are someone — who understands the struggle all too well. For far too long, both scenarios were largely kept under wraps. But even as awareness grows, knowing how to support someone who is struggling to conceive, navigating fertility treatments, or experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy loss isn’t as well understood. It makes sense — there’s no manual for this kind of thing. In most cases, simply showing up and bearing witness to a loved one’s struggle is the best sort of support you can offer, but it’s nice to have a few options for being there. As we move closer to National Infertility Awareness Week, we’re sharing four meaningful ways to show support through infertility or miscarriage.
- Infertility and miscarriage are more common than people may think, but even as awareness grows, understanding how to be supportive isn’t always easy.
- Don’t try to problem solve for a loved one — instead, be there to listen.
- Recognize that every infertility or miscarriage experience is different.
- Avoid cliches, but don’t overthink everything you say.
- Give your loved one space, but don’t stop inviting or checking in on them.
Don’t be a problem solver
It’s hard when someone we love is struggling, and the natural inclination is to leap to the rescue with suggestions and tips, or research and recommendations. But being a problem solver on someone else’s behalf often has more to do with minimizing your own discomfort about the situation. And when the issue is infertility or IVF or miscarriage, unless you’re being asked directly for input, it’s not helpful.
Remember that this isn’t about you in any way, and a friend who opens up to you about their struggles isn’t obliquely asking for your advice. So don’t offer it — just be there to listen. If you’re dying to help in some tangible way, focus on the small stuff. Offering to drop off groceries or meals can go a very long way when someone is dealing with a major challenge like infertility.
Recognize that every experience is different
Cliches and pat statements always come from a good place, but assurances that “everything happens for a reason,” or “at least you know you can get pregnant,” or “just relax and don’t stress about it,” can minimize your loved one’s experience or be downright triggering. Just… don’t. Instead, when the topic is infertility or miscarriage or babies, take your cues from your loved one and let them guide the conversation. When you let go of the burden of saying the “right thing,” it gets easier, so just check in — a simple, “I’m thinking about you,” or “how are you today” can go so far.
Infertility or miscarriage can be isolating, but sometimes people need space to process their experience. If your loved one is finding get-togethers or social gatherings too hard, don’t forgo the invitation, but don’t take it personally if they decline. Make a point of sharing that you support their decision to attend or skip, and that you want them to do whatever suits them.
Worrying about showing support the wrong way is a very real concern, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out. If a friend or loved one trusts you enough to open up about infertility or miscarriage, being a sympathetic listener and open to hearing about their experience is a wonderful way to show support.