What Not to Say to an Infertile Friend

Sasha Brown-Worsham

For those of us who conceived with ease, the pain of infertility is hard to grasp. Some explain it as a loss and must grieve. Others say it's just an emptiness. For others it can cause deep depression, further exacerbated every time a friend announces a pregnancy.

This weekend, a newly pregnant mom-to-be wrote to the Washington Post seeking some advice on breaking the news to her infertile friend.

She worried that her friend would feel humiliated and angry that she was pregnant before her.

It's understandable. I've seen many friendships end over this issue -- shower invitations returned, baby presents that don't arrive, congratulations that never come. It's painful on both sides.

Carolyn Hax at the Post offered the following advice:

Ideally, your best friend will have the presence of mind to be your best friend: to express happiness for you, and save her own frustration for later -- even if "later" is your honest and compassionate conversation two minutes after your announcement.


Rising above our personal pain to be happy for friends is difficult under the best of circumstances. With swirling emotions, it can be even worse. I have seen friendships simply end over the hurt feelings on both ends. One woman feels her best friend abandoned her when she needed her most in early pregnancy, the other feels like her feelings were not validated.

But if we want to keep our friendships, we have to.

Pregnancy is a great time to weed out your Rolodex. But good friends will be honest with each other. If it's too painful for a friend to attend your shower, she will tell you, and if you feel awkward talking about your good news, you will tell her. Give and take.

Some of the most painful things that have happened to me in my life have come along with enormous pain and anger. I was angry at anyone who hadn't suffered my same loss. But I got past it. It took work and effort, but I got there.

It isn't easy when two friends want the same thing and only one gets it right away, especially when that "something" is a child. But it isn't a deal-breaker. The friendship need not end. If you feel pain, tell your friend. Hopefully if she does, she will feel the same.

Some things not to say (abbreviated from Resolve.org):

  • "Just relax."
  • "Just enjoy the fact that you can sleep in and have parties."
  • "It's not THAT bad ..."
  • "Maybe some people aren't meant to parent."
  • "Maybe you should consider adoption."
  • "Oh pregnancy is SO hard."

If you can avoid some of these pitfalls and you can be honest and open with your friend, you can both get through it.

Did you have an infertile friend with whom it was hard to discuss your pregnancy?


Image via Eggybird/Flickr


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