Suppoting Women Through Unplanned Pregnancy
My Friend is Pregnant — How Can I Help Her?
Wondering what to do when your friend is pregnant? Find out what to say and what not to say to support your pregnant friend through this difficult moment in her life.
My friend is pregnant. How can I help her?
If you’re thinking this, you’ve come to the right article. An unplanned pregnancy will always be a difficult, complicated situation. When your best friend is in this circumstance, you feel for her, wish you could take away the pain, and want to help her in whatever way you can.
So, how do you know what to do when your friend is pregnant — especially if you know her pregnancy is a result of a complicated situation?
How you support your pregnant friend will likely depend upon your existing relationship with her. You know better than anyone else what kind of person she is and what she may be thinking. However, if you’re at a loss for words when she gives you this news, find some suggestions and advice below.
What to Do to Support Your Pregnant Friend
When a friend first tells you of her unexpected pregnancy, you may be unsure of what to say. Women who have clearly planned for and waited for motherhood are easy to respond to — but if you know your friend doesn’t want children now or ever, a “congratulations” won’t fit the bill.
Supporting a pregnant friend is about more than just saying the right thing. It’s about showing her you are there for her, no matter what.
Listen Without Judgment
When a friend’s unplanned pregnancy becomes known to you, do not jump to conclusions — about how it happened, her thoughts on the unplanned pregnancy or anything else. Your friend is already grappling with complicated emotions. By confiding in you, she is looking for support, not for immediate opinions and suggestions.
Give her the chance to speak her mind before jumping into the conversation. In many cases, the best thing you can do is listen calmly and openly to give her the support she may not be finding from her baby’s father, her parents or other people in her life.
One of the worst things you can say about a best friend’s unplanned pregnancy is something negative. Your first reactions may be something along the lines of: What are you going to do?! Oh, no, your life is over. I just can’t believe it.
Do not respond in this way. Odds are, your pregnant best friend has these thoughts already. She doesn’t need to be reminded of how complicated and confusing her situation is. While you shouldn’t necessarily be screaming congratulations at her, responses like “It will be okay” and “I’m here” are often what she is looking for — which brings us to our next suggestion.
Reassure and Comfort Her
Helping a pregnant friend is not necessarily offering suggestions, advice and options. It’s about being there for her in whatever capacity she desires. When she originally breaks the news to you, she’s likely just looking for someone to tell — someone not directly affected by her circumstance and someone who can respond in a nonjudgmental way.
An unplanned pregnancy puts a woman into crisis mode, and what she may need the most at this time is someone to comfort her. Don’t offer her false promises about her situation, but gently reassure her. If she needs someone’s shoulder to cry on, be it; if she just wants a hug before moving on to logical conversation, offer one.
Evaluate her emotional state and offer whatever comfort you think she needs. Again, you are one of the people who know her best.
Offer Specific Ways You Can Help
It’s easy to say, “I’m here for whatever you need” — but when a woman is facing an unexpected pregnancy, she may be overwhelmed with her own thoughts and may not have the energy to properly articulate her needs.
Rather than offering up generic help (a promise which is easily forgotten), make a plan for specific assistance — and stick to it. Ask her if she needs someone to attend doctor or pregnancy counseling appointments with. If she is considering adoption, offer to help her pick an agency and pick a family. If she is considering parenting, offer to create a baby registry or gather supplies for the upcoming baby.
Like with people in other crisis situations, sometimes the smallest acts of support can mean the most to friends facing an unplanned pregnancy.
What Not to Do If You Have a Pregnant Best Friend
On the other hand, there are certain things you should not do if you are interested in supporting a pregnant friend. Because her pregnancy does not directly affect your life in the way it affects her, you will view it slightly differently — which means your initial reactions may be more harmful than helpful.
In general, here are some things to avoid when a friend informs you of her unplanned pregnancy.
Don’t Be Disapproving in Any Way
In the dynamic of your relationship, you may be used to sharing intimate details — but the announcement of an unplanned pregnancy does not mean you get to ask after them or automatically share a negative opinion. This is your friend’s life in question. By coming to you, she trusts that you will provide her support and comfort — not the judgement she may have received from others in her family.
You may wish to ask questions like, “Why didn’t you use protection?” or make comments like “I know that guy would be no good for you.” However, your friend has probably thought the same things to herself, and she doesn’t need to hear them again from you.
Whatever your negative thoughts about a friend’s unplanned pregnancy, please keep them to yourself.
Don’t Bring Up “What-Ifs”
On the same note, don’t bombard a friend with questions right after she has told you her news. Chances are, she’s asked herself the very same questions, whether it’s “What if the baby’s father doesn’t want to be involved?” or “What if you have a complicated pregnancy?”
You don’t need to add to her panic by reminding her of things that could happen because of her unplanned pregnancy. Trust us when we say that she has that worrying handled.
Don’t Share Your Personal Opinion, Unless She Asks for It
When your pregnant best friend approaches you, she is usually looking for comfort from someone she loves and appreciates very much. That said, she may not necessarily be looking for advice.
Your opinion, no matter how calmly and rationally presented, is not relevant in her unplanned pregnancy. The decision of what to do is entirely up to her.
If she does ask for your opinion about her unplanned pregnancy options, proceed cautiously. Feel free to present your thoughts in a calm and honest way, but make it very clear that she should always do what is best for her and that you will support her no matter what. Do not try to sway her one way or another.
Don’t Be Too Happy or Too Sad for Her
Finally, understand that an unplanned pregnancy is a very unique situation for every woman. Even if your friend has expressed a desire to have children in the future, her unplanned pregnancy today won’t necessarily be something she is thrilled about.
Recognize the complexities of your friend’s unplanned pregnancy, and do not jump to conclusions by congratulating her or lamenting her situation. If you do, it’s more than likely that you will end up hurting her already-fragile feelings and make her circumstances even more complicated. Instead, try to present a neutral front before evaluating her emotional state and providing what support you deem appropriate.
If you are still thinking, “My friend is pregnant — what should I do?” remember that you will always know your friend better than many other people. Above all else, the most important parts of how to help a pregnant friend are listening, supporting and not judging. Your friend will thank you for doing so.