When you’re trying to support a friend or family member who’s finding it hard to start (or add to) their family, it can be difficult to find the right words—especially if you’ve never dealt with infertility yourself. To find out what likely won’t help, we spoke with Andrea Syrtash, founder of pregnantish, a wonderful resource on infertility, with insightful stories, videos and more.
“Like many of our readers at pregnantish, my path to parenthood was windy, bumpy and tough to navigate! I first found out I had an infertility diagnosis (endometriosis) at 14 years old and the doctor told me I may have issues with fertility later. When I got married to my husband I told him it may take us a year or two to conceive. I never imagined it would take about 8 years and involve 18 fertility treatments, pregnancy losses, open stomach surgery (for fibroid removal) and a gestational carrier to carry my baby to term.” Now mom to a newborn, Andrea is balancing new motherhood with helping those on their paths to becoming parents through pregnantish. Here’s how she says you can, too—starting by avoiding these phrases.
“If you relax it’ll happen.”
Why? The CDC and World Health Organization recognize infertility as a disease. If you have issues like blocked tubes, for instance, no amount of relaxation help that disappear. Also—don’t tell someone not to stress. Infertility and treatments like IVF are very stressful, so the person going through it has every right to feel some stress. A better thing to say is, “This must be so stressful. How can I help?”
“At least you got pregnant.” [after a miscarriage]
Miscarriages are common but they’re heart-breaking. When you have infertility or got pregnant as the result of an expensive fertility treatment, it stings badly because it was a big struggle to get to that point…”
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
Adoption isn’t an easy path, either, and it’s a different decision from trying to have a biological child. Using the word ‘just’ undermines the journey to parenthood for someone who is struggling with infertility.”
“Have you considered changing your diet or tried acupuncture?”
Saying something like this unintentionally casts blame on the person with the issue, as if she hasn’t done enough to make this happen. The reality? People trying to get or stay pregnant already put so much pressure on themselves, and they don’t need to hear that from others. Anything you’ve thought of they’ve likely thought of 10x over.”
About Andrea Syrtash
Andrea Syrtash is the founder and editor-in-chief of pregnantish. She is a relationship expert and coach regularly featured on national TV shows including Good Morning America and The Today Show, and in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Women’s Health magazines. She’s the author of five popular books including He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s A Good Thing) and Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband). For more infertility content, visit @pregnantish!