13 December 2021

Tips On How To Support Your Loved Ones Going Through Fertility Struggles This Christmas

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Christmas time can be a very difficult time for anyone having difficulties conceiving, especially when they’re going through fertility treatment. It can feel like an emotional rollercoaster for most couples.

Couples having difficulties conceiving are likely to be feeling sad, frustrated and sometimes angry. Fertility issues can have a huge impact on self-esteem and many experience feelings of guilt and shame at being unable to easily achieve something that they expected to be able to do naturally.

It can also be an isolating time particularly if friends and family are at the same life stage and getting pregnant. 

This article is to help you understand how some couple may be feeling at this particular time and some tips on how to help them through their journey.


Acknowledge Their Pain

Everyone's journey with fertility is different, and what they need can vary over time too. At some points, they might want to open up and talk things through, while at other times they might not be in the mood to talk about it at all.

There is no ‘right’ thing to say, the important thing is to follow their lead, and acknowledge the pain and sadness people go through while experiencing fertility issues, rather than brushing it aside. It can make all the difference just to let them know you’re there.


Still Include Them 

It can be very difficult to know if you should Invite them to events such as Christmas events that include children. It’s very important to be sensitive about it and let them know that you understand if they’d prefer not to come. It’s also a good idea to be ready to change the subject if the conversation is starting to get awkward while in a social setting. Infertility and fertility treatment can feel very isolating for some, so it will be a great relief to know that you are looking out for them and that you recognise some of the difficulties they face.


What Not to Say to a Couples Coping with Infertility during Christmas

Common phrases that we hear people say, almost always innocently enough, that can actually be quite hurtful to the people involved:

So, when do you plan to have a baby?

Having a baby is a very private and personal event and the couple may not want to discuss it publicly with others, particularly if they are having difficulties. If in doubt, its best to avoid asking a question of this nature, as harmless as your intentions may be.

Just relax and it will happen / Go on a holiday

The reality is that most couples only have 12 chances of getting pregnant each year, so ‘just relaxing’ is not going to help them have a baby. Sex at the right time of the month is essential for conception, which is why some women keep a close track of their likely ovulation date. Although a holiday might be fun, it’s not going to help them become pregnant any more than frequent sex and good timing.

You have to think positive!

None of us can be positive all the time, and if couples have experienced a lot of disappointment while trying to fall pregnant, they may find it harder and harder to be hopeful. Positive thinking is not going to help them get pregnant but worrying about any negativity they are feeling only adds to the overall emotional burden.

Have you tried IVF?

IVF treatment is not always successful and often requires more than one cycle before you fall pregnant. This creates its own emotional rollercoaster combined with the physical discomfort and financial pressure. If they are already undergoing IVF treatment, they may also be worried that it will be unsuccessful and the more people who know, the more people they have to tell at the end if it doesn’t work.

What about adoption?

The reality is adoption is a very lengthy and difficult process. This sort of question also minimises and dismisses how much the couple may want to have their own child.

You’re young it will be ok!

The reality is you don’t know what the outcome will be and you probably don’t know their exact situation and medical history. Again, it may be an innocent comment but best to avoid these sorts of statements.


How best to communicate with a couple that’s having difficulties starting a family

If you are talking to a woman or a couple that experience difficulties conceiving a baby, recognise that the person you’re talking to may be grieving.  Comments that you make, may minimise, or even dismiss the experience that they are going through. Better to say nothing at all or acknowledge that there is nothing that you can say, than to make light of what can be a very painful situation.

Be open to communication and truly listen when they feel like talking – listening means not giving advice or judging their decisions. Allow them to raise and change the subject.

Always think before you speak. They are in pain. If you realise you may have made a tactless remark, apologise, and keep listening. Be honest, just tell them you don’t know what to say.

Keep information confidential. Infertility is a very private matter. If they trust you enough to share, do not betray this trust.

Remember what they need may change over time and be sensitive and reactive to this. Remember your support to them will make a world of difference!

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