Is your friend pregnant? Here’s how you can help
I am mom to an absolutely adorable girl who brought light to my life in a dark time. She gives me a sense of life every day and the energy to build a new life in a new country. I am a forced immigrant who lost a lot because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and she encourages me not to give up. Holding her, looking into her eyes, and listening to her laugh, I know that my challenging pregnancy was 100 per cent worth it. I just wish I had known this two years ago when I felt like the loneliest person in the world.
When I learned we were expecting a baby, none of my friends had children. After the first congratulations, I felt a distance grow between us. I understood: they were around 25, and they didn’t know what to say, what to do, and even what to expect from me. My husband and therapist were there for me, and they were doing their best to support me. But looking back, I have so many insights that might help people like my friends know what to do when their friend is expecting a baby.
How do I support my pregnant friend?
Your pregnant friend doesn’t want someone talking to them as if they are sick or have some “special situation.” It’s 2023. Pregnancy lasts 40 weeks (most of a year) and no one wants to drop out of life for nine months before becoming a parent. For most of their pregnancy, most people feel relatively fine — they can travel, meet friends, work, launch projects, and enjoy life. So, please, do not pay too much attention to the pregnancy unless your friend wants this. Your friend is still the same person, even with a baby inside, and is still your friend who cares about the same things and who knows and values you.
From my experience, a great idea is to take your pregnant friend out for a walk, for coffee, to the cinema, or for a short trip. Their biggest fear might be that they will never be able to do this again. They will; it just might take some time. It’s worth reminding them of this.
Gifts for your pregnant friend
You might want to start buying some gifts for the baby, but don’t rush, unless you are attending a gender-reveal party or baby shower. Instead, bring something for your friend, not for the baby. It’s really important for parents-to-be not to feel they’ve lost their personalities when expecting. Does your friend love flowers, creams, chocolate, vinyl, or hats? Small gestures go a long way.
How to make your pregnant friend feel special
- Talk to your friend as much as possible. Even a quick daily check-in might help them not feel lonely and feel that you care.
- Ask them what they are afraid of. Listen. Ask if there is anything you can do to help them overcome those fears.
- Do not downplay their fears. Ever. You might believe everything will be fine, but your friend needs time and room to share their concerns. Pregnancy is a super-emotional period of life. Your friend is growing a new life inside, and their body is producing and activating many hormones to achieve this. But these hormones can also bring a mix of fear, anger, and panic. (Even if you’re super calm, wouldn’t you panic somewhat upon the realization that you are now responsible for a tiny person inside yourself?)
- Bring some relevant books (but please ensure these books won’t hurt or make things worse).
- Suggest talking to a therapist who works with pregnant people. A professional who knows the best way to calm emotions and talk about fears might be the right shoulder for your friend to lean on.
- Set up an appointment for a massage or a safe spa treatment. Your friend needs to treat themselves before the baby arrives.
- Definitely don’t forget about hosting or attending a gender-reveal party and a baby shower when it’s time for them. These events will make your friend feel special and loved and will help them enjoy their ability to bring a new life into this world.