When thinking about starting a family, or actively trying to, support from loved ones can make a world of difference. Family and friends can provide support and help navigate uncharted territory; however, these interactions can also lead to you to feel overwhelmed. To set yourself up for success in relationships during this time, it is important to assess what you need from those around you and when to set boundaries.
Get comfortable establishing boundaries
Everyone is going to have different comfort levels when discussing personal subjects such as trying to conceive and parenthood, and conversations that are easy to have for some might be off-the-table for others. Getting to know your “green” versus “red” subjects is helpful when learning how to set boundaries with others and can also be a great way to learn more about your own emotional needs.
Regardless of people’s intentions, it can be frustrating to feel as though your body is consistently the topic of conversation. Comments like “when are you going to have kids?” or “stress won’t be good for the baby” might seem innocent, but the implication that your body and reproductive journey are up for observation can be overwhelming, and even triggering for some.
When it comes to fielding unsolicited advice or prying questions from others, a simple response like “I’m not comfortable discussing this right now” or “I’d prefer to keep this information private” is great to have on deck. If you know the person will be receptive, it may be worth explaining why this topic feels difficult to talk about, and that you will let them know if things change.
If you find yourself repeating the above to someone, another great option is to set boundaries proactively before seeing them. A simple text or email to thank them for their support and advice is a great opening for instruction on what conversations you are interested in having, and what you would like to avoid. This might sound like “I am so excited to see you this weekend! Your words of advice last time meant a lot, but this time I would prefer not to discuss ____. ”
Ask for what you need
Knowing how to advocate for yourself by communicating your needs is a critical skill that will serve you well in the future. Setting expectations across your relationships about what support looks like to you can save you discomfort later on. For example, when communicating with friends and family, first explain to them whether you are looking for advice, or to vent. Another helpful tip is to share how you would like to be communicated with, such as phone calls, text messages, or email, as well as the cadence that works for you. Try something like, “it really helps when you talk with me. If you called once a week to check in, that would be helpful.”
If you are navigating mixed emotions on your road to parenthood and are having a hard time addressing them with your partner, try sitting down for 10 minutes and allowing one another to each speak uninterrupted for five minutes about your needs. During this time, you can explain what is working and where you would like to see more support.
Progyny provides a fertility and family building benefit and understands the path to parenthood can be more challenging for some, which can open up other conversations both at work and at home. We are always here for you, no matter where you are on your journey, and encourage members to reach out to their Patient Care Advocates (PCAs) who can provide emotional support, as well as education and guidance.
Please note this content is for informational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider about your specific journey.