No matter the reason or the source of the issue, infertility is a difficult problem for any woman to face, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
And it can be compounded when well-meaning, well-intentioned people who want to help say the wrong thing.
Coming from a place of experience, I’d like to share this little list with you in order to help you should you ever feel the need to encourage a woman who’s dealing with this issue.
This list is meant to educate and encourage women who are struggling with any form of infertility and those who want to help, encourage, and love them through it.
Here’s my top 6 list of what NOT to say:
6. Getting pregnant is so easy!
Must be nice. My husband says that ‘must be nice’ is my go-to response for everything, but the other day when I was talking to an acquaintance about our struggles with infertility and she commented that she got pregnant while on birth control, I held my tongue. (Actually, I bit it. I know she didn’t mean for it to come out the way it did.) Some people can get pregnant by just being in the same room with their spouse, it seems, but for some of us, it’s not so easy. So we’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t rub it in that you’ve had 18 children in the past 5 years and gotten pregnant each time while using 10 different forms of birth control.
5. Have you tried _____?
(Fill in the blank with various drugs, treatments, herbal remedies, etc.) Please don’t offer medical advice. When a woman is struggling with infertility, she usually becomes a self-professed expert on all possible ways to get pregnant. Let her work with her doctor and let them come up with the proper plan. I can’t even keep track of how many times it was suggested that we try herbal remedies and cough syrup. And how many times I smiled and pretended it was that easy.
4. God told me it’s going to be okay.
Unless God has directly shown/told/spoken to the couple to whom infertility is affecting, this is not a good thing to say, mostly because it might not be okay. For reasons only He understands, they might not have a child. And if not, your message from God doesn’t bring the peace they’ll need to seek from the Lord on their own.
3. But you already have a child.
Wow. This one is like a knife in the heart. No matter whether you have zero children or ten, the desire to have a child is the same. Secondary Infertility affects women who have been able to have one (or more) children with no problems, and then suddenly, and most often inexplicably, find themselves facing infertility. Just because a woman has one or more children doesn’t mean she’s not dealing with infertility, so please don’t assume that because she’s got kids she’s not dealing with this issue. Any time a couple has to resort to using medications and procedures to get pregnant, infertility is an issue. And no matter whether it takes 6 months or 6 years, emotionally, it wreaks havoc on the heart. So please don’t tell a woman she should forget about her desire to have more children because she already has one. That one (or more) is a blessing, but the ache to have another will be the same as her ache to have the first.
2. Just adopt, then you’ll get pregnant.
This is not a good thing to say for many reasons, but let’s narrow it down to two. First, this cheapens the glorious blessing that is adoption. When a couple chooses to adopt, in my opinion, God sows that family together in bonded love the same way as He would if giving the parents a biological child. So when you encourage someone to adopt “just so” they can get a biological child, it’s like equating that adopted child to an item you can pick up at the local grocery store. Not special. Not valuable. Not as important as a biological child. Secondly, while I have heard stories of women who have gotten pregnant while going through or just after the adoption process, this is a very, very infrequent occurrence. So it’s not a good idea to encourage a woman with this statement.
1. Just relax and it will happen.
No it won’t. 99.9% of the time, relaxing has nothing to do with fixing an infertility issue. If it were that easy, those of us struggling with infertility would definitely try that well before working with doctors and medical experts to try to get pregnant. Relaxing is not an option when it comes to getting pregnant when you’re struggling with infertility. “Relaxing” doesn’t make the problem go away. So please understand that when you tell a woman to relax, it’s likely that you’ll only increase her level of stress.
If there’s a person in your life who’s struggling with infertility, there are lots of good and helpful things to say. Here are some suggestions:
1. “I’m praying for you.” And do it. Actually pray. Even better? Pray out loud with that person so that they know you mean what you say.
2. “I can’t imagine how hard this must be. I’m going to be here for you if there’s anything you need.”
3. Encourage the woman to read 1 Samuel 1:10-11 and pray the prayer of Hannah.
4. If you know someone else who has struggled with infertility, put them in contact with each other. Speaking from experience, having someone to encourage you who’s had a similar experience is incredibly helpful.
5. Don’t say anything. Just love her, support her, and listen when she needs you to.
Share with me: What can you add to these lists?