9 Next Steps for Supportive Friends
So you may have a friend or loved one who has opened up to you about their crisis pregnancy, whether they be a female or male. If not, you may have someone who will in the future. Because knowing how to wisely walk with a friend in these circumstances can be overwhelming and confusing, In This With You has compiled a few points of wisdom to help bring you clarity as you walk with your friend.
With that said, ITWY is by no means the authority on practically, emotionally, or spiritually navigating crisis pregnancies. Rather, our humble perspective is offered with hopes that it will benefit those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, even if they do not share our perspective. ITWY’s resources are works in progress, so if you have any feedback on this resource, please share your thoughts here.
ITWY does not work with individuals one on one. So if you need immediate 24/7 help, you can reach out to our friends at OptionLine, call 1-800-712-4357, text “HELPLINE” to 313131, or click here for a live online chat.
STEP 1 – Understand the Pressures Your Friend is Potentially Facing
The experience of a crisis pregnancy can be a difficult journey for many women and men. To be graciously aware of the deeper experiences of those you know who find themselves in these circumstances, pay attention to the following dynamics that can contribute to the difficulty of your friend’s situation.
Shame and Stigma – A crisis pregnancy can bring on some very difficult emotions. Much of this can be attributed to the social stigma around being pregnant while unmarried. In some instances, pregnancy can bring shame and motivate one to isolate oneself in secrecy for fear of judgment of what their family and community might think. As a person of support, you need to be aware that your friend might have an innate fear that you will judge and label them and perhaps even distance yourself because of the pregnancy.
Life Interrupted – It is hard enough to take care of yourself, so the thought of taking care of a baby as well can be very overwhelming. While life in the womb is precious, there is no doubt a crisis pregnancy is a major interruption to the plans of the parents. Your friend might be feeling like their life is over because the pregnancy could disrupt their education, career, and personal life.
Real Needs – Preparing for a birth and caring for a newborn is a daunting task that requires dedication of time and money. If your friend isn’t in a financially stable situation, the fear of the future could be suffocating. As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child,” but in the experience of many people they are left alone in navigating the pregnancy season and the financial and other challenges that go with it.
Political Wars and Wounding – With the political discussion and debates surrounding abortion often being so argumentative and warlike, many people in crisis pregnancy situations become the unknown collateral damage of the political war. As hurtful words or shame tactics are used by both sides to wage war against the other, it is often the people in crisis in the middle who are damaged the most. As a friend, be sensitive that your friend could be negatively impacted or pressured by much of the political dialogue in today’s news and culture.
To gain a better understanding of the experiences of people in crisis pregnancy situations, ITWY recommends taking some time to read some of the entries on the Stories page.
STEP 2 – Understand Your Simple Role as a Friend
If a friend or loved one has confided in you about their pregnancy, they are sharing from a very deep and vulnerable place of their heart. Honor your friend for their bravery. You might be the person they trust most in the world.
As a friend, it is important to know that you are NOT their counselor, therapist, doctor, or savior. You are a friend with a responsibility to listen, be present, encourage, and love your friend who is working through a tough situation. You are not responsible for your friend and their decisions. Rather, you are responsible for simply loving them and encouraging them in their journey. While other people might distance themselves from your friend because of the pregnancy, you have the opportunity to stay close.
STEP 3 – Point Your Friend to These Specialized Organizations
One of the ways you can support your friend during the pregnancy is by encouraging them to connect with specialized organizations. Below are links to organizations and support groups to help your friend in a crisis pregnancy.
- Your Local Pregnancy Resource Center – Pregnancy Resource Centers are organizations that generally offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, and resources to help you in your pregnancy. These centers are full of dedicated, loving people who want to help pregnant girls in critical times.
- Embrace Grace – Our friends at EG work through local churches to provide a small support group, baby shower, and community for single and pregnant women of all ages. Click on this link to find the local EG group for your friend to plug into.
- YoungLives of Young Life – If you are in high school, hopefully you have heard about the great people at Young Life already. YoungLives is Young Life for teen moms, both pregnant and already parenting with chapters across the nation. YoungLives has regular gatherings called clubs and camps across the country for teen moms and their children each summer. Through Young Life’s time-tested methods and life-on-life mentoring, teen moms are empowered to make positive choices, set and achieve goals, and live a future rooted in Christ.
- National Domestic Abuse Hotline – If your friend is experiencing any kind of abuse in their pregnancy situation, it is critical that they get help immediately. If this is the case, call this hotline.
- In This With You – ITWY’s site has resources including various next steps lists, an adoption guide, bible studies, and more.
STEP 4 – Help Your Friend Open up to Others
Depending on your friend’s situation, they might still need to open up to others about the pregnancy, like their parents. This could be something that they are fearful of, so standing by your friend’s side when they open up is one of the most important things you can do as a friend. Read and also refer your friend to this Guide to Opening Up resource and volunteer yourself to be there when that moment arrives.
STEP 5 – Do The Small Things Well
Through simple and small acts of love, you can significantly impact your pregnant friend for the better. Here are a few recommendations we have for you on how to love your friend well:
Be a Good Listener – Often your friend will need someone to just speak honestly to without judgment. Be ready to listen even when your friend is venting.
Write a Handwritten Note – Many people feel especially loved when you take the time to write a handwritten note.
Be Loud and Proud – One of the hardest things that comes with being pregnant is a social stigma that can exist in culture. People can look down on pregnant single girls and think the guy in the situation is a disappointment. You can help relieve this pressure by being present and proud of them. Practically, this can look like being seen with them in public, posting pictures with them on social media, and hanging out with them on a Friday night.
Hang Out on A Friday – The weekend can be a lonely time for those who are pregnant. Remember, just because they are pregnant doesn’t mean they don’t need to relax with friends.
Send Random Text Messages – Emojis are the best! So are random text messages that say, “I love you. Let’s hang soon.” You can even send them an encouraging bible verse to read.
Give Them Long Hugs – Everyone needs a hug, but even more when you are going through a hard time!
Find Ways to Help in Daily Tasks – Your friend probably has a lot on their to-do list. Look for ways to help them, whether it is helping with laundry, picking them up from work, or helping them shop.
Constantly Tell Them You Love Them – Don’t forget to look them in the eye as much as you can and verbalize to them that you love them and are proud of them.
Bringing Them Their Favorite Dessert – What says “I’m in this with you” more than chocolate, cookies, ice cream, or cheesecake. Pregnancy is a great time to be lenient on calories and sugar! 😉
Sleepovers – Who said slumber parties are only for kids under 12 year old? Sometimes a sleepover might be exactly what your friend needs.
STEP 6 – Pray For and With Your Friend
ITWY believes that God greatly desires to show His grace, love, and help to those who are in walking through a crisis pregnancy. So, spending regular time in prayer for your friend is an amazing way to help. As we pray, the doors of our hearts are opened to the awareness of God’s presence and wisdom in the midst of very real challenges and hardships! 🙂
Also, if your friend is open to the idea, you can pray with them in person! Or perhaps you can set a weekly alarm on your phone to remind you to pray for them at a specific time.
STEP 7 – Be There for the Long Haul
As you know, pregnancy is not a weeklong process, but a 9-month journey. So, being a friend over this period might require lots of emotional conversations, long hugs, and small loving acts over the course of many months. As you support your friend during the pregnancy, your ability to remain consistent, patient, and compassionate are vital. In addition, after you friend gives birth, the needs for loving friends and supportive community will only increase regardless if they choose to parent or adoption. Again, you are not responsible for your friend’s life, but you do have the opportunity to love them well and remind them they are not alone.
STEP 8 – The “DON’T” List
Your friend in going through a hard time, so it is important for you to know some areas of caution when walking with them. Here are a few things to be aware of:
- Don’t verbalize your first reaction flippantly – Our first words can have a heavy impact on our friends in crisis who might be opening up for the first time. If your friend ever surprises you by opening up about the pregnancy, remember that they need a comforting presence and not words of advice.
- Don’t assume you understand – Whether you have gone through this before or not, this is their own journey with their own unique feelings and circumstances. Yes, grow in your understanding, but do not assume you understand the fullness of what they are going through.
- Don’t force your will – While you might not agree with the actions your friend chooses like an abortion, you should not try to force your will upon them. Though there might be appropriate times to share your personal convictions, you must let your friend make decisions for their own life.
- Don’t be political – Your friend does not need to hear your political views during their pregnancy. Rather, they need a friend who will love and listen to them well. That is not to say your political opinion is not important, it just means that it is not the time and place to talk through it.
- Don’t condemn or judge – Be mindful that your words are always filled with mercy, rather than judgment. Feelings of judgment may cause your friend to push you away when they are in need of community.
- Don’t abandon – Pregnancy in a nine month process. Stick around for the ups and downs. While many people may help at the beginning then fade out, be a constant friend throughout all stages of pregnancy and the birth.
- Don’t exclude – If you are planning a hangout with friends, make sure to invite them. Do not allow room for your friend to feel as though you are embarrassed to be with them.
- Don’t gossip or share information without approval – What your friend tells you should be kept confidential unless they grant permission to share it with other trusted people. When others know you spend time with them, they may ask questions, but be careful not to turn their situation into a topic of gossip.
- Don’t forget to take care for yourself – We can invest ourselves so deeply into a friend’s situation that we can forget to take care of ourselves. Remember that you can only care for your friend if you are caring for yourself. Don’t overextend yourself.
STEP 9 – Seek Support for Medical Care, Food, and Other Areas
Because many crisis pregnancy situations are financially challenging, ITWY recommends helping your friend seek out governmental medical and food assistance programs that the mother may be eligible for depending on income level. Honestly, the paperwork process for these programs can be a bit overwhelming and cumbersome, so this could be a great task for you to take on to take a load off her shoulders.
Healthcare – While coverage and eligibility varies from state to state, Medicaid and CHIP are programs that can help cover medical costs for you and your pregnancy. For more information on the application process and eligibility, visit this website and this website.
Food Assistance – A proper diet is important for a healthy pregnancy. To help supplement some of the food costs during your pregnancy, apply for your state’s food assistance program by visiting this site. Also, find your local food pantry here or by Googling “local food pantry” to see local nongovernmental organizations that help with food assistance.
Other Benefits – Depending on your state, there might be other programs that you may be eligible for like breastfeeding support and more. ITWY recommends searching out your state’s various benefits by visiting this website.
Can You Help ITWY?
- FAQ Resource Help – ITWY desires to put together a Frequently Asked Questions resource in the future for those walking through an unplanned pregnancy. Go here to submit as many questions as you can think of that women, men, and their friends would have during an unplanned pregnancy.
- Feedback – Do you have any feedback for ITWY on how this resource can improve? Click here to submitted encouragement, constructive criticism, and/or suggestions.