Whilst starting or growing your family should be a time of joy and excitement, as many as 1 in 5 women encounter difficulties conceiving and sadly this number is only increasing. Experiencing ‘in’fertility, a fertility diagnosis, miscarriage or navigating assisted fertility treatments like IVF can take a huge toll to both physical and emotional well-being. In fact, research has shown that women experiencing ‘in’fertility have global anxiety and depression scores comparable to cancer, cardiac and hypertension patients!
Whilst in Australia we’ve seen an improvement on mental health support in recent years, Fertility is still a taboo subject and as a result countless women suffer in silence keeping their struggles to themselves. But there is incredible support out there if you know where to look. It’s likely you’ve never heard of a ‘Fertility Doula’ or a ‘Fertility Coach’ before so in this blog we’re going to delve into the benefits of this secret Fertility Fairy Godmother…
What is a Fertility Doula Exactly?
The word ‘Doula’ comes from the Greek term ‘Woman Servant’ and whilst all Fertility Doulas are slightly different in their experience and training, foundationally they are a non-medical companion, often a complimentary health therapist that provides emotional support, guidance, education, empowering their clients with coping strategies for different aspects of the journey and natural fertility enhancement techniques.
Let’s dive in deeper…
- Emotional Support:
Whilst many women have the support of a partner, family and friends, it’s not uncommon for there to be a mismatch in the kind of support that is truly helpful. Common phrases and well-meaning advice like ‘just relax’, ‘stop overthinking it’, ‘just go on a holiday’, ‘stop trying so hard’, ‘a friend of mine had success doing XYZ’, usually misses the mark, leading to a woman feeling at fault, misunderstood, unheard, only adding to frustration and isolation.
Most Fertility Doulas have their own fertility story to tell and as such they deeply understand the feelings of frustration, overwhelm, grief, anxiety, self-doubt and isolation. A doula aims to provide a safe, judgement free zone and ensure you feel seen, validated and heard.
- Expert Knowledge, Guidance & Education:
Fertility Doulas possess a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the intricacies of fertility and reproductive health. Their services commonly include;
- Natural therapies (specific to the Doula/Coach) eg. Hypnotherapy, mind+body / mindset coaching, emotional counselling, exercise therapy etc.
- Guidance on cycle tracking, diet, exercise & recommended standard supplementation
- Understanding and preparing for Fertility testing, procedures and medical protocols including assisted fertility treatments like IUI, ICSI & IVF
- Helping you wade through the labyrinth of medical terminology, information, options and Reproductive Medical Specialists
- Judgement free support in the decision-making process and next steps
- Stress Reduction and Coping Strategies:
The stress impact of a TTC journey can be really complex and the longer a TTC journey continues the more it starts to impact other areas of life. A Fertility Doula understands the highs and lows during the menstrual cycle as well as the impacts of pregnancy announcements, baby showers, births, special holidays and tricky relationships.
Supporting your overall wellbeing with effective coping strategies and stress reduction techniques can minimise your stress load and impact on your conception efforts.
Studies have also shown that ‘infertile’ women who utilise mind and body techniques and emotional support have a 42-55% higher conception rate than those who don’t. Women experiencing depression when treated showed a 60% viable pregnancy rate within 6 months compared to 24% when depression went untreated. And those that used hypnosis alongside Assisted Reproductive Technology like IVF/ICSI/IUI, more than DOUBLED their success rates.
- Support for Partners and Enhanced Communication:
Fertility challenges affects both partners in a relationship often very differently, sometimes couples can be holding onto unspoken fears, concerns and experiences from the journey, their own upbringing or past relationships and experiences. Your doula can provide a safe space for both partners to communicate and support each other whilst being individually supported themselves, as a result this leads to strengthened relationships and improved communication skills.
- Early Pregnancy, Miscarriage & Complications
Once a pregnancy is established that doesn’t mean the support does. Your doula is there for as long as you need them! For those who have experienced or are experiencing miscarriage, anxiety, morning sickness or complications in pregnancy, that added support can be the difference between thriving and surviving.
Choosing The Right Fertility Doula
Majority of Doulas provide a free initial conversation so that you can get to know each other, establish suitability and build rapport. Some things to consider when selecting a doula to support you;
- Training and therapeutic modalities they use
- Are sessions in person, over phone, email or video.
- Is there support between sessions?
- What resources do they provide for clients
- Do they have happy clients and testimonials available?
- What are the costs and inclusions?
At Northern Beaches Integrative Practitioners we have a keen focus on reproductive health and have a range of different practitioners to support you on your journey including acupuncture, massage, naturopathy, kinesiology and our Fertility Doula Kate Walton.
Want to learn more? Head to the website and book in a Discovery call with Kate and find out more about how she can help you on your TTC journey.