National Infertility Awareness Week is this week and nearly in its third decade. Even though one out of every eight couples experience infertility, many people continue to feel shame talking about infertility and pregnancy loss. Help us break this pattern and get on board with the many public figures who are talking and sharing their stories about pregnancy challenges.
By letting others know that you want them to listen, and by teaching others how to help, we can start talking and stop shaming.
Listening, the cure for shame
As Brené Brown beautifully put it, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
Sharing one’s fertility journey, regardless of whether it has been three weeks or three years, can be challenging, and, for many couples, a conversation they dread. Telling family and friends what it feels like to hope month after month for a positive pregnancy test can be like speaking a different language.
Why is that? After all, it is likely that friends only want the best for their friends and family members and really only want to help ease the pain. Right?
Well, the answer is very simple, what is needed most is to listen.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you sought out support when you were upset or making a big life decision, chances are you may not remember what words were said to you so much as the way that person acted towards you.
Here is InfertilityCoping’s list of helpful tips from to share with friends and family, to give them the opportunity to help break the shame of infertility and pregnancy loss. Visit InfertilityCoping.com later this week for our list of what “NOT TO SAY TO SOMEONE” going through infertility.
8 helpful tips for families and friends of people coping with infertility
Hi family and friends: wondering what to do when your family member or friend is sad, angry or anxious about not getting pregnant or has had a miscarriage or pregnancy loss? You aren’t alone, here are some tips to make it easier for you.
- Ask your family member or friend: “Would you like to talk?”
- Tell them: “I’m here to listen anytime.”
- Remind yourself that you may not know what to say but that you really want to help.
- Set up a time to meet in person or on the phone. (Rather than calling unannounced, this allows the couple to be prepared to talk, in a location that they can talk – rather than at work or near other people.)
- Ask them: “What is it like to be going through this?”
- Say: “I imagine it can be really hard.”
- Listen for their answer. Just listen. Don’t respond.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6.