Self-Compassion – An Important Part of the Fertility Journey

Don’t miss a self compassion exercise by Dr. Kristen Neff at the end of this article!

A friend once told me that she was mad at herself for arguing with her husband the night before an embryo transfer. She felt that she had single-handedly sabotaged the procedure as a result of her actions.

It’s not uncommon for people dealing with infertility and/or taxing fertility treatments to put a lot of pressure on themselves. After all, the stakes are high. But, if you’re going through medical treatments with the hopes of creating a child, you are already putting your body, your spirit, and your bank account through a lot.  As much as possible, it’s important to be kind to yourself.

Dr. Kristen Neff is a leading researcher and educator on the relatively new practice of self-compassion. Essentially, self-compassion is treating yourself with the kindness and care that you would extend to a good friend.

Self-compassion is treating yourself with the kindness and care that you would extend to a good friend.

According to Dr. Neff: “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings. After all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”

On this note, Dr. Neff shared her self-compassion exercise with the pregnantish community, so that we can all be kinder – to ourselves.

How would you treat a friend?

Please take out a sheet of paper and answer the following questions:

First, think about times when a close friend feels really bad about herself or is really struggling in some way. How would you respond to your friend in this situation (especially when you’re at your best)? Please write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you typically talk to your friends.

Now think about times when you feel bad about yourself or are struggling. How do you typically respond to yourself in these situations? Please write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you talk to yourself.

Did you notice a difference? If so, ask yourself why.

What factors or fears come into play that lead you to treat yourself and others so differently?

Write down how you think things might change if you respond to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when you’re suffering.

Be kind to yourself. This path isn’t easy.

See what happens when you treat yourself like a good friend.

Dr. Kristin Neff is Associate Professor, Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin, and the author of the book, Self-Compassion.  This exercise was published with Dr. Neff’s permission. 


Andrea Syrtash

Andrea Syrtash is the founder and editor-in-chief of pregnantish. She is a relationship expert and coach regularly featured on national TV shows including Good Morning America and The Today Show, and in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Women's Health magazines. She's the author of five popular books including He's Just Not Your Type (And That's A Good Thing) and Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband). She's passionate about helping people live and love authentically. For more, visit

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