You’ve been best friends for years, but you didn’t see this one coming. What now? What can you do? How can you help? You don’t have to be a counselor or an expert to be a really good friend. Here’s five simple ways you can encourage your friend who is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.
Friendship means “I’m here for you because I care about you.”
Texting is convenient, but when life is hard, you need friends that will show up and just be with you. Be willing to be comfortable with the silence. Take time to sit beside your friend and show her that you care about her.
When life is overwhelming, what we need most is someone to talk to. We usually aren’t looking for someone who will give us answers or tell us what to do, but someone who is willing to listen. Verbally processing, or talking out loud, gives us a chance to identify how our minds and bodies are reacting to stressful situations. Ruminating, or repeatedly replaying thoughts and fears in our mind, can be unhealthy. Talking with someone helps us name our thoughts, fears, and emotions.
Again, your friend probably isn’t looking for you to solve her problem. Acknowledging that you have heard and understand the thoughts, feelings, and fears she expressed, validates her and communicates that she is not alone. She may be fearful of how an unplanned pregnancy will affect her future or she is afraid of people’s reactions if they find out. She may feel overwhelmed or anxious. These are normal thoughts and emotions that need to be validated. Statements like “You shouldn’t have…” and “What were you thinking?” are judgmental and will shut down communication between you and your friend. You don’t have to agree with the choices she made, but you can certainly accept her in this present moment, and have empathy for what she is dealing with.
It’s okay to admit, “I don’t know.” If your friend is asking, “What should I do?”, you can walk with her and refer her to outside help. Pregnancy Resource Centers, or PRCs, are a great resource for someone facing an unplanned pregnancy. They provide free pregnancy tests and free limited OB ultrasounds. Ultrasounds confirm pregnancy viability (the pregnancy is in the uterus) and determine gestational age (how far along you are). PRCs employ medical staff that answer questions and provide information about pregnancy, fetal development, and abortion procedures. PRCs also offer information about resources available in the community and referrals to counselors and medical professionals, as well as other services such as food, housing, and government assistance for medical care.
You don’t have to agree with someone or with their decisions to love them. Love speaks the truth in gentleness without holding on to expectations. Love extends kindness and is patient towards others. Love means setting boundaries, “I can’t do that, but I love you.” Love stands up for what is right, even in the face of misunderstanding.
If your friend is facing an unplanned pregnancy and has confided in you, count yourself lucky! You get to be there for her to listen, validate her feelings and fears, walk with her and show her that she is loved.