A guide to being a fertility friend: some "do" and "don't"s

Whether it's taking a little longer to conceive than she'd hoped, or she's going through the ups and downs of treatment, it can be hard to watch a friend struggle with infertility.

As a friend, there isn't much you can do to help out in the baby department, but these "do" and "don't"s will help you negotiate the minefield of supporting your pal through IVF.

DO offer to talk about it

Whether or not she admits it, her fertility struggle will often be on her mind. Tell her that you're there for her if she wants to talk, but don't force her to confide in you if she doesn't feel like it.

DON'T exclude her

Continue to invite her to baby showers, kids' birthday parties or naming ceremonies, but quietly explain that you understand if she doesn't feel like coming.

DO offer practical help

Going through infertility can be a complicated business. Offering a lift to an appointment or some help with work could be both invaluable and stress-relieving.

DON'T tell her to relax

She will already know that being relaxed can help with fertility. So you telling her to do so won't help, especially if she is going through a treatment cycle, or the dreaded 'two week wait' after ovulation.

DO understand if she snaps

Some fertility hormones can cause terrible mood swings, especially when combined with stress. Do understand if she's a little more impatient or argumentative than usual.

DON'T tell her it's not the end of the world

Whilst many come to terms with infertility or learn to accept that they may never conceive, at times the struggle can feel all-consuming. Right now, the idea of remaining childless may seem terrifying.

DO tell her stories of friends who have struggled

But only if they have eventually succeeded, and if their journey has been similar to hers - otherwise you may simply make her feel worse.

DON'T tell her horror stories

The internet abounds with stories of early menopause, botched treatments and side effects. Believe me; she doesn't want to hear any of them.

DO help her to get her mind off it

Arrange to go out for a meal, a walk or to see a movie - little distractions can prove invaluable to someone going through an uncertain or stressful time.

FINALLY, JUST BE THERE

Fertility struggles and the uncertainty that comes with them can be heartbreakingly difficult. Above all, just make sure she knows you're there for her, whatever happens.


Gillian Harvey is a freelance writer, qualified counsellor and mother-of-five young children, currently living in France. Follow her on twitter: @GillPlusFive