Infertility: How To Navigate Social Media When You Can't Fall Pregnant

28/04/2016 3:50 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Bad news over the phone


There are no two ways about it: facing the possibility of infertility is really tough.

And the silence that surrounds it only works to enhance the shame people feel when they cannot conceive.

“When someone is challenged with infertility, it’s something that takes up 99.9 percent of their mindspace a lot of the time. It’s a type of grief that they are going through,” Jacqui Manning, psychologist and founder of The Friendly Psychologist told The Huffington Post Australia.

While social media can be a positive source of support during this time sadly, for many, it can make it seem like the whole world is falling pregnant except for them.

“Obviously those struggling to fall pregnant have a selective bias -- other people will probably get the same amount of baby posts however, these people are particularly sensitive to it because of the trauma they are going through,” Manning said.

The topic of social media, particularly Facebook is something Manning often discusses with her patients who are dealing with the challenges of infertility.

“We’ll often talk about how to navigate it. It’s not necessarily about deleting it, but instead taking a break for a while. There’s no right or wrong way of handling it but you have to honour your emotional needs,” Manning said.

All of the feelings are normal

“Grief is not neat and linear, it travels through different phases and these can rear their head at any time. People often feel very angry, too. It’s an irrational anger because the friend hasn’t done anything wrong by falling pregnant. But they are angry at the situation and the friend who falls pregnant triggers that anger. Guilt then follows.”

You are not a bad person

“Many women will often worry about being a bad friend to those who are falling pregnant. As much as possible it’s important to be honest with them. There is nothing wrong with letting them know you may be quiet for a little while. It’s about being selectively honest with those you feel safe confiding over such a private matter with. Most importantly, this conversation need only happen when you are ready.”

Neither is your friend

“She will be going through her own emotional journey of being so thrilled and excited -- and really wanting other people to share in the joy. But you are both experiencing two very different humans emotions simultaneously. It is here where a text message either from you or her, could help alleviate the pressure of the situation. Saying something as simple as ‘I love you, and am so happy for you. I just need some time.’”

It’s OK not to comment and “like”

“The question of how you interact with other people’s celebratory baby posts is something people find very challenging. It brings up a whole lot of decision making processes that you just don’t have the energy for during this time. What some people find useful is 'hiding' people from their feed for a period (without necessarily deleting them as friends)."

Don’t force the friendship

"Some friends will notice that you’re not engaging with their posts like you would have been, but that’s OK. You are doing the best you can. If a friendship is strong enough it will survive. It’s important they know that it is nothing personal and that you are going through a world of emotion you have never experienced before."

Be mindful of what’s intensifying your sadness

"When someone is in this position it could take all their strength and energy just to get up in the morning and go to work. Putting that energy into a friend who has just fallen pregnant just isn’t possible, which is why it is OK to decline invitations to things like baby showers. The same goes with social media. If it is intensifying your grief or your sadness, that’s a message to have a break. Even if it’s just for a week or a day."

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