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Managing Pregnancy Jealousy During Infertility

It’s completely normal. These six tips can help.

CREATISTA / Shutterstock
Source: CREATISTA / Shutterstock

By Patricia Harteneck, PhD

Feeling jealous of another woman’s pregnancy is common and normal when you are experiencing infertility. So the first thing to know is that you don't need to feel guilty about having these feelings. What you need to do is give yourself a break.

It's OK to wish a friend well and, at the same time, feel sad or disappointed about your own loss. A compassionate thought to have about your feelings could be: "I'm happy for my friend but sad for me." Ignoring the harder feelings, pushing them away, or feeling guilty about them does not change the fact that you are upset. You have to honor those feelings. Try to understand that you are upset about your own situation and that makes it difficult (or maybe impossible) to feel happy for your friend right now.

And then try these six suggestions to relieve your frustration and jealousy.

Talk to your friend. Be honest with her and tell her that you're happy for her but also a little jealous at the same time. Communicating your feelings in a constructive and honest way can help you—and those who want to support you. Most likely, your friend will understand what you're going through.

Take a pass on baby showers. If certain gatherings or celebrations are too painful for you, give yourself permission not to attend. You can be honest about why you need to take a pass or just decline the invitation without giving a reason. Sending a gift will help avoid hurt feelings. Choose children's books or an online gift certificate to spare yourself a visit to a baby products store.

Try a support group. Experiencing infertility while your other friends are getting pregnant can be very isolating. Cultivating relationships with women who relate to your struggle will help you realize that you are not alone and that your feelings are normal. Resolve: The National Infertility Association offers a list of support groups by state.

Keep active in other interests. When you focus attention on just one aspect of your life, you can burn out in that area while other parts suffer. Give some attention to other things such as your family, work, or hobbies. Trying new activities can also distract you from the stress and disappointment of infertility. Although it's important to acknowledge those feelings, it can also help to reengage with other rewarding parts of your life.

Talk with a therapist. Struggling with infertility or undergoing treatment for it is stressful and time consuming. Having a safe place to discuss everything you are feeling with a professional who understands what you are going through can make the process much more manageable. A therapist can also help if you are struggling with a specific issue, such as whether to stop or escalate treatment. Look for a therapist with expertise in reproductive medicine. Resolve also offers a list of mental health professionals.

Control what you can. One of the most difficult aspects of infertility is feeling completely out of control of your body. But you can take control of your response to that by communicating your needs with friends, reaching out to a support group or therapist, or focusing on other parts of your life. All these things will help you realize that you still do have a lot of control during this process.

It’s good to remind yourself that your fertility problem is not your fault and find ways to bring positivity and resilience back into your life. If that seems unmanageable on your own, reach out for professional help. Even though this is a very difficult time in your life, you can feel better and move through it with strength.