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Raising Awareness

As many as 1 in 6 couples will struggle to conceive. This a lot of people finding it hard to be open about one of the biggest challenges they have faced. This is a lot of people feeling like they are alone in their struggles when actually, many, many people will be experiencing the same. We need to normalise the conversation surrounding infertility and the struggle to conceive.

While society is definitely getting better at raising difficult subjects for discussion there is a still a stigma that surrounds talking about infertility and as such we know how hard it can be to open up when you are in the midst of it.

Through our awareness campaigns, social media pages and being open about fertility awareness at any opportunity we have, Tiny Seeds will help those facing struggles to conceive to have a voice and to normalise talking about them. And as well as supporting those who are going through these struggles now, hopefully we can also start to create a better path for those who may find themselves experiencing it in the future too. One where people feel more comfortable with being open about what they are going through, because they know from the start that they are not alone on their journey.

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How to help a friend

If someone you care about opens up to you about their struggle with fertility, it can be natural to want to try and offer advice or give answers. But in most cases, they will simply be looking for a listening ear. Someone to lean on in difficult times.

A few do’s and don’t that may help you to support a friend, family member or colleague who is experiencing infertility are:

Don’t:

  • Say anything that may minimise the pain they are experiencing - for example, don’t tell someone who has suffered a miscarriage “at least you know you can get pregnant” or someone who has one child but longs for another “at least you already have one”. These kinds of statements can feel like they are invalidating the grief of the person on the receiving end.
  • Try to offer advice (unless you are a fertility doctor). You are unlikely to know all that they have tried or haven’t tried, or what their fertility issues are. Trust that they will have researched their issues and will have discussed their options with their fertility clinic.
  • Offer stories of others you know or have heard of who have conceived following X, Y, Z. While you may feel these stories offer hope, they are unlikely do so.

Do:

  • Check-in and ask how they are and let the conversation be led by their response.
  • Be understanding if they turn down invitations or attend fewer social events, but do continue to invite them anyway. Their absence won’t be because they don’t want to see you, it is because they are going through something really difficult and often social events can feel overwhelming.
  • Try to gain an insight of what it is like to go through infertility. You can follow us on social media, read the shared experiences stories on our website and listen when your friend tells you how tough infertility can be.
  • Know that they will appreciate your support and presence even if they can’t always respond.

Telling someone struggling with their fertility that you are pregnant:

Pregnancy announcements can be hard to hear for someone experiencing infertility or loss. While of course being happy for the person sharing their news, it will also be a reminder of what they have lost or are struggling to have. If you are worried that hearing about your pregnancy may upset someone you care about then - while you can’t take away their pain - there are a few ways you can approach it with sensitivity:

  • Tell them by text - it might feel like this would be less personal than telling them face to face or over the phone. But by sending a message, it allows them time to take it in before responding.
  • Send it at a time they are likely to be at home - so that they can digest the news in private.
  • Be understanding - if it takes them a while to reply or if they distance themselves a little for a while, know that it is not a reflection on you or your friendship. “Happy for them but sad for me” is how it is often described.
  • Infertility and loss can feel like a lonely place and one that others often struggle to understand. So showing someone consideration and sensitivity during your own exciting time is something they will always be grateful to you for.
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Infertility in the workplace

Time and time again we hear from those we are supporting that they have felt afraid or unable to tell their employers that they are going through fertility treatment. That they are worried about how it could impact on their career or that it will be difficult to take time off for treatment. We are often told that they are having to time their treatment to coincide with planned leave or that they have used all of their annual leave to undergo treatment, meaning that they then have no time left to take for a much needed break when treatment doesn’t work. Living in Jersey can add an extra layer of difficulty as many higher level treatments, including IVF, are only available if you travel off-island. Often for multiple trips and for a number of days at a time.

It is vitally important that employees are supported by their workplace when facing fertility struggles and undergoing treatment. We would encourage all employers to implement a fertility policy that enables all employees and managers to understand the impact of going through fertility treatment and how best to support their colleagues.

If you are an employer or employee who would like to discuss how Tiny Seeds could help your workplace better support those facing fertility struggles please get in touch.

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Workplace

Fertility Education

“As a young person you are taught (sometimes even scare mongered) not to get pregnant too early, about contraception, the morning after pill, how the body makes babies. But I don’t recall learning about the very many things that can prevent that happening or about fertility in general. I think it would be really healthy if as a society we educated both girls and boys early about fertility and the realities, good and bad, and encouraged future generations to have open and honest conversations about it.”

We need to be giving a more balanced view of fertility when talking to young people. Amongst all the discussions about how not to get pregnant there needs also to be education surrounding what happens when you want to but can’t.

What lifestyle factors can impact your fertility, how fertility decreases with age and how as many as 1 in 6 couples will struggle to have children. Not to scare or worry young people, but to enable and empower them to make informed decisions about their future fertility and to have a better and broader understanding of the subject. In turn this might just help normalise the conversation and lead to those going through it later on in their lives not feeling so isolated and alone in their experience.

If you work in education and would like to discuss how Tiny Seeds can help you to increase fertility awareness in young people please get in touch.

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Education