Supporting a Friend Through Infertility



When you and your partner start to think about having children, you usually fall into three different categories:

  • You pick the date to conceive and voila!
  • You toss out the birth control, and three to six months later you are pregnant.
  • You try and try and try and nothing happens.

We fell into the third category, and it was so lonely. The three and a half years that we struggled to conceive were by far my darkest days as a woman.

How do you support someone through infertility, especially if you already have kiddos or are swollen with pregnancy? Being a friend of someone struggling to conceive can be tricky. Here are some things that I found helpful (and not) during my darkest days.

Be careful when sharing your happy ending.

No two stories are the same, and they probably do not have the same ending. While I appreciated people sharing with me, my feelings were always: But you have your happy ending. When someone is in the middle of the infertility battle, her destination is unknown.

Sure, we hear of all the happy endings — from our doctors, friends, family. We see them with our own eyes. But that notion is hurtful when you are in the midst of darkness. Instead of sharing your ending, share the struggle. Talk with your friend about how much it sucks to get stuck with needles day after day. Laugh about how “undress from the waist down” is as common a phrase as “nice to meet you.” Confirm that the unknown is an especially hard place to live. Meet your friend right where she is and relate with her, cry with her, pray with her, carry her burden for a few minutes. That is so much more meaningful than hearing about a happy ending.

>> RELATED READ :: My Broken Road to Motherhood :: A Story of Infertility <<

Do NOT offer “If you do this, you will get pregnant” advice. 

Believe me when I say that a person who is struggling to conceive has read or heard EVERYTHING (and tried it). Here are some nuggets of wisdom that I was offered: Eat more carrots. Rub this oil here, here, and here. Make sure you turn upside down for at least five minutes. Take your temperature. Go on vacation. Don’t think about it. Stress is causing it. Make plans to adopt, and you will surely get pregnant. Make sure he is wearing boxers, not briefs.

I know it is in our nature, especially as moms, to fix everything. But your friend does not want to be fixed by you, I promise. She needs a shoulder to lean on, not a “I just read this article that says if you do this, this, and this, you will get pregnant,” mouthful.

Keep conversations confidential. 

Opening up and sharing one’s struggle of infertility is a hard thing to do, especially among other mothers. If your friend has chosen you to have these conversations with, do not abuse this gift. Don’t share her struggles with other friends or family in the hopes of helping. Infertility is a lonely journey, and it is an honor to carry this burden for a friend. I promise that your relationship will be so much richer if you walk with her and not out in front.

>> RELATED READ :: Some Doors Close on Their Own {Letting Go of the Struggle with Infertility} <<

Involve her in your life. 

Your friend is struggling to conceive. You have two kids and just found out you are pregnant with your third. I understand this is a hard place to be, and you want to be sensitive. Avoiding your friend is not the answer. Infertility is so lonely, and the last thing your friend wants is for you to avoid her. Please think about your words before you say them, but include her.

I had people avoid me completely, only to find out through others that they were pregnant. I had people preface their news with “I don’t want to make you mad, but I’m pregnant.” People blurted it out at the most inappropriate times. All of those scenarios were hurtful. My advice is to use common decency and think about how you would want to be treated. It really is that simple.

Respect her choices. 

When you are faced with infertility, you are also faced with some tough choices. There are lots of roads that you can go down including (but not limited to) Clomid, IUI, IVF, embryo adoption, surrogacy, and regular adoption. Whatever decision your friend has made, be respectful of her choice. Educate yourself and find ways to converse about it, but be careful not to judge.

Above all, do not assume that you know how your friend is feeling. Even if you have walked the exact same path to motherhood, your friend’s thoughts and feelings will be different. Everyone knows what assuming does to you and me. So don’t do it! Instead, ask your friend meaningful questions. Let her know that you want to hear how she is struggling — not in a gossipy way, but because you care about her journey.

The friends who supported me through infertility will be in my life forever. They have known (and loved) my son since he was the size of a poppyseed. It is such a blessing to have friends like this when struggling with anything hard in life. I hope you get the honor of being that friend to someone.


  1. Elisa, I am grateful to have been one of those friends who walked — and continues to walk — with you on your journey. I am even more grateful for the way you have walked beside me in MY dark season of waiting. You have lived out every piece of advice you give in this blog. Love you, friend!

  2. There are some friendships that won’t survive. Some women don’t want to be included. Even with careful words. It is heartbreaking and hurtful for both sides.


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