With A Little Help From My Friends
Undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be stressful. Some people may find that opening up to others about such a private struggle can be difficult. However, family and friends can be a great support network during this time. Having a friend to confide in or someone to offer a helping hand during IVF can be extremely beneficial. Communicating up front about how best to help can ensure that well-meaning friends are involved in a way that benefits the patient the most.
Making a baby
Choosing the IVF route is often the last resort for many women after years and years of trying to get pregnant. During the procedure, a woman is given medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. Once extracted, the eggs are combined with sperm to make an embryo. The embryo is then transferred directly into the uterus. IVF can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy but also involves frequent appointments, expensive medication use, and high stress. A support network during IVF can be hugely rewarding.
1. A friend to confide in
Friends are there through the highs and lows of life, and IVF is no exception. Whether the patient needs to confide about the uncertainty of IVF success, fear of pregnancy loss, or financial stress, a trusted friend can be a great confidant. Telling a close companion about important dates, like when the transfer will happen and when a pregnancy test can be performed, may be helpful. Explaining upfront how best to offer support, whether the outcome is positive or negative, can also guide well-intentioned friends. Some women grieving an unsuccessful transfer may prefer to be left alone, while others want to be surrounded by people. Communicate ahead of time what works best.
2. A helping hand
Anyone who has undergone IVF knows treatment can be all-consuming. From the bloodwork to the ultrasounds to the medication schedule, every last brain cell is focused on the procedure. Often this means other life tasks fall by the wayside. Having a trusted friend help run errands like grocery shopping during this time can greatly help. For those facing secondary infertility, an offer of childcare services or school pick-up can decrease stress significantly. When a friend asks how to help, provide specific tasks that can be done.
3. Avoiding triggers
Even the most well-meaning friends can say the wrong thing. Being told to just relax during a high-stakes procedure like IVF is the last thing any woman wants to hear. For others, talk of babies can be a trigger. Friends who are cued in can offer support by steering clear of emotionally difficult topics. Women undergoing IVF should be as direct as possible. For example, explain that attending a baby shower right now is not an option. Share with friends that any texts asking if the pregnancy test is positive will be ignored until ready to share. Each situation will be unique, but by setting boundaries upfront, any topics or questions that may be triggering can be avoided.
A reliable support system
Sharing the journey with others can make IVF more manageable. By explaining the procedure to friends and communicating how best to help upfront, fertility treatment doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Good friends will be just as excited as the mom-to-be about the prospect of a baby, and a sound support system during IVF can decrease stress substantially.