By Kate Brian, journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while and have told your friends and family, you will probably have been on the receiving end of lots of tips, advice and suggestions. It can seem that everyone has a view on fertility, and their own ideas about what could be preventing you getting pregnant and what you should do about it. Sometimes their comments can seem hurtful or judgmental, and can make a difficult situation even harder to handle – but it is important to try to keep their views in perspective and to remember that they are generally just trying to be helpful, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
“Just relax and it will happen”
One of the most common things other people will tell you is that you are too focused on trying to get pregnant. They may suggest that you need to relax and forget all about it for a while, to go on holiday or to take a break from treatment. They may imply that you’d get pregnant naturally right away if you were just able to stop worrying about it, or tell you that you should consider adoption or even getting a dog instead…
Of course, anyone who has any personal experience of fertility problems knows how difficult it is to forget about this for a few hours, let alone a few days or weeks. Trying to relax is never a bad thing, but having a fertility problem is stressful and wanting a baby isn’t something you can switch off at will.
Don’t fall into the trap of blaming yourself; it’s because you have a fertility problem that you can’t stop thinking about getting pregnant – thinking about getting pregnant doesn’t make you infertile!
“Look at the positives”
It can be particularly difficult if people who are already parents tell you that you should make the best of not having children. They may say that you don’t know how lucky you are to be able to go out whenever you want, to escape sleepless nights and nappy changes. They may even ask if you are really sure that you want children anyway and joke that you can borrow one of theirs whenever you like. Although comments like this can seem thoughtless and unkind, try to remember that friends or family are just trying to find a positive side to your situation.
“Learn to live with it”
It is usually people who have children who will tell you that no one has a right to have a family, that not everyone can be blessed with a child or suggest that maybe you simply weren’t meant to get pregnant. They may tell you that infertility is nature’s way of dealing with overpopulation, that it is a lifestyle choice not a medical problem and that they don’t “agree” with fertility treatment.
Comments like this are some of the most difficult to deal with and may leave you feeling angry and upset. If you are aware that people you know hold this kind of ill-informed view, it is often best to try to avoid discussing your situation – or fertility in general – with them if you can.
Generally, friends and family are just trying to help but despite their best intentions they can say things which appear thoughtless or unkind. Try not to let their comments hurt you as they often struggle to know how best to help, and remember that it is very hard for other people to appreciate how overwhelming it feels to have fertility problems unless they have personal experience of this themselves.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.