Compassionate Care & Respecting Choices
An unexpected pregnancy can flip life upside down, potentially creating an overwhelming and challenging decision for mothers. An unintended pregnancy’s emotional, financial, and logistical implications can seem neverending. However, there are ways to support friends and loved ones through difficult pregnancy decisions to ensure they feel good about the outcome and are supported throughout the decision-making process.
While deciding whether or not to keep a baby is never easy, there are ways friends can lend a helping hand to alleviate some of the stress and fatigue that accompany that difficult decision.
Understanding Your Friend’s Situation: How to Listen and Show Empathy
Most people assume they’re good listeners because they can hear words and make sense of their meanings. In reality, listening and hearing are far from synonymous. Good listening requires undivided focus, comfort with silence, and the ability to suppress the urge to relate the speaker’s experiences to your own automatically.
Empathy and listening walk hand in hand. Attentive listening gives way to empathy because it makes space to let feelings flow freely, unimpeded, and interrupted. However, empathy doesn’t always lead to problem-solving immediately, so try not to offer solutions unless asked and show your understanding with nonverbal cues.
Providing Resources and Information: Helping Your Friend Make an Informed Decision
Many free resources and information about pregnancy options, family planning considerations, and decision-making guidance for unplanned pregnancies exist. Assist your friend by gathering and organizing helpful resources to enable informed decisions.
Your First Look is great for collecting information and weighing options with your friend. HeartBeat of Toledo also offers appointments for free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds while providing access to a friendly staff of nurses and consultants ready to discuss the next best steps in a safe environment.
Practical Support: Ways to Help Your Friend with Day-to-Day Tasks
Making a difficult pregnancy decision can profoundly impact your friend’s ability to keep up with her daily routine. Luckily there are a bunch of simple ways you can provide support. Offer to clean and cook one or two nights per week. Make yourself available for walks, talks, or movie nights. Help manage the administrative tasks accompanying a pregnancy decision and the daily tasks daily life presents.
Remember, asking how you can help puts another task on your friend’s plate. The goal is to help them conserve energy, not spend it thinking up ways for you to assist them.
Respecting Your Friend’s Decision: How to Be Supportive Regardless of Their Choice
Respecting your friend’s final decision, regardless of how it aligns or conflicts with your own views, is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. It shows that you value their right to decide for themselves, allowing your friendship to co-exist with your principles.
Respecting their choices doesn’t mean you have to agree or accept them. It doesn’t mean you take responsibility for them. But respecting their choices means you’re not judging, guilting, or shaming them for making the right choices for themselves. And the beautiful thing about letting people make their own decision is that it clears the path to make choices for yourself.