The following are just some of things that triggered me personally during my own unique fertility battle (read more here). Everyone is different and so will have different triggers. I think it best to tread very carefully when discussing it.
- Place too much emphasis on the power of attraction because it can make you feel like a failure or that you are being punished if it doesn’t work.
- Tell them you intuitively feel they will be pregnant soon (even if you do…).
- Say ‘It will happen’ This kind of fake positivity used to irritate me so much. I am an extremely positive person but in this instance I found being a realist more of a comfort. There is no guarantee that it will work, it may happen — it may not and either way we will be ok.
- Say ‘Just relax and it will happen’ (FYI it takes a lot more than just relaxing to get pregnant — sex ed 101 ha ha).
- Say ‘I wish I could do it all for you’ as it suggests that their body is not capable.
- Say ‘Enjoy your time alone, kids are annoying, hard work, exhausting’ because we would swap anything for some of that.
- Don’t ask too many irrelevant questions. You wouldn’t ask questions about their sex life and fertility feels like an extension of this.
- Don’t pity them by saying things like you feel sorry for them or that you wish you could take it all away — this keeps them in the victim state rather than the strong enough to cope empowered state.
- Try to avoid telling them what to do. If they ask for your ideas or a referral help them, otherwise lay off.
- As much as you want to, please refrain from saying something along the lines of ‘my friend couldn’t get pregnant and she did this….. you should too’. If someone is having issues, trust me they have researched and googled and have tried everything they possibly could. Assume that they know much more than you do about the subject. If you are adamant to tell them, test the waters first with an open question like ‘Have you ever had acupuncture?’ and judge by their answer whether or not it’s a good idea to mention. Just keep in mind everyone struggling with fertility has a unique set of issues affecting them so what worked for one will not necessarily work for another.
- NEVER bitch about your kids to them. Don’t say ‘Do you want to borrow mine? They are all yours’.
- NEVER say why don’t you just adopt — FYI we looked into the adoption and did the training and it’s not an easy process in any way WHATSOEVER.
- NEVER say anything at all about their age — BTW don’t assume age has anything to do with it because it’s likely to only be a part of the issue.
- NEVER say anything about test tube babies — btw there are no test tubes used in the process.
- NEVER use the words ‘infertility or infertile or barren’ instead go for something like fertility struggle, fertility challenges, journey to motherhood, bumps in the road towards making your family, mountain to climb to make your dreams a reality….
I used to hate it when people used the wrong terminology as it just showed just how little they understood. Read about IVF terminology here.
- Ask if you can help in any way.
- Empathise without offering solutions.
- Keep them out of the victim state — gently and sensitively reframe or steer conversations to gratitude.
- Remind them how lucky they are to live in this day and age and that medical science is awe inspiring.
- Just keep reminding them to listen to the wisdom of their body and that they know what is best.
- Remind them how capable they are and how much wiser and stronger they will be for going through it.
- Encourage them to focus on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ — quite often we have a tendency to attempt to force it to happen by trying too hard to eat perfectly and ‘do’ all the right things.
- Remind them that nothing outside of us can make us happy and that no matter what happens we will be ok.
- Remind them of the stillness and peace that always lies within and how to connect with it — this is absolutely priceless and will help them more than you will ever know.
I hope sharing this helps you to more confidently help your students with fertility challenges.
Please feel free to ask me any questions or bounce any ideas off me.