When a woman is diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy or delivers early, her world is completely turned upside down.
But she is not the only one who is affected.
Partners, family members and friends are all shaken by this new reality. And they respond in different ways.
Some go silent because they don’t know what to say and think they should give the mom some space to process everything.
Some go into action mode and want to do things for her. They drop off food, come by to clean the house, or offer to take care of the other children for an afternoon.
Others take to Dr. Google to inform themselves about the hardships that lay ahead of their loved one whose vision of her healthy pregnancy and blissful birth has now been shattered.
And then there are some who inadvertently say something hurtful.
They have the best of intentions to help this scared, stressed mom but it just doesn’t quite come out right.
No matter how you cope with knowing how hard your partner, friend, sister or daughter have to fight for her baby, there is one thing you should never say to her when trying to console her.
It comes in the form of 4 words:
"It could be worse." (Tweet that!)
I understand that the comment is meant as a way to cheer her up. To help her see the bright side. To give her perspective so she can feel a little better about her situation.
But as well-meaning as that comment may be, the effect is anything but.
Here’s the brutal, honest truth.
Telling a mom who is fighting for her baby that things could be worse shuts her down.
She starts to doubt all of her feelings, no matter if she is angry, sad, frustrated, grieving or jealous.
She feels judged that you thinks she is overreacting.
And she’s less likely to talk to you about her experiences and how she’s doing because she feels like you won’t listen.
If you want to support to a mom who is fighting for her baby's life here are few things to say instead that will help her feel safe to talk to you:
I’m so sorry to hear this. How can I help?
I don’t know what to say.
I want to make it better for you and I don’t know how.
I wish I could make this all go away for you.