When you find out that someone close to you is pregnant, you are usually very excited for them and start thinking about them as parents. It is easy to respond when a friend has a baby. However, not all pregnancies are healthy or end with a healthy baby. In the case of ectopic pregnancies, you may not know very much about their situation and feel awkward responding. This article should help you to know how to better respond to help support your friends through and after an ectopic pregnancy.
Most people don’t know very much about ectopic pregnancies. If someone close to you is diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, it’s a good idea to find out more about their condition. Despite the lack of public awareness, about 64,000 women per year in America alone have an ectopic pregnancy. (1) Put very simple, an ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg implants in the wrong place. (2) Finding out about ectopic pregnancies can help you to better understand the physical symptoms, treatment and recovery. For good informational resources on ectopic pregnancies, click here.
Depending on their individual situations, women with ectopic pregnancies may have to be hospitalized, undergo surgery, or receive longer-term care. In these cases, the family may been practical support to help with the recovery. If they have older children, you can offer to babysit or bring by treats for the kids. It may also be helpful to bring by meals or run other errands for them. If the woman is hospitalized, then her partner is probably torn between trying to stay with her, caring for other children (if there are any), taking care of the house, and work commitments. Ask if there’s anything that you can do to help, or simply do small practical things like cut their grass. Even if they wouldn’t have asked you to do them, they will appreciate the gesture and concern. Don’t just pretend that it never happened.
Often the emotional recovery takes longer than the physical recovery. It is easy to focus on the mother’s recovery because she is the one physically recovering from the ended pregnancy. However, both of the parents must recover emotionally from the loss of their baby. Remember to offer support and love to both of the parents.
It is easy to feel awkward or simply not know how to respond. However, most people will appreciate your simple efforts to communicate with them. Most of the time you don’t need to say anything complicated. Simply saying “I’m sorry” is usually enough. Just express your honest sympathy and love. Also, make sure to give them the chance to talk (but don’t pressure them to if they don’t feel comfortable or ready to discuss it yet).
Ectopic pregnancies are not viable; a baby from an ectopic pregnancy has never survived. Ectopic pregnancies either miscarry naturally before six weeks, or are medically terminated within the first trimester because of the serious health risks to the mother (and impossibility of the baby developing enough to survive). Because of this, it can be easy for people to accidentally belittle the loss experienced with an ectopic pregnancy. If a couple has been planning a pregnancy and are thrilled to discover that they are pregnant, this baby has already become a part of their family. No, they will never have a chance to hold them in their arms or raise them. This does not make it less of a real loss, however. It is important to acknowledge their loss and to take it seriously.
Not only does ectopic pregnancy mean the end of this pregnancy, it can also have a serious effect on future fertility and possible pregnancies. The parents will need time to come to terms with these limitations and risks.
Supporting people who have had an ectopic pregnancy can be easier than you think. Find out about their situation (tactfully), talk with them, and offer simple love and support. Simply saying “Sorry” and giving a hug or delivering a meal can really help a couple grieving because of ectopic pregnancy.
(1) “Statistics” American Pregnancy Association
(2) “Ectopic Pregnancy-Topic Overview”, WebMD