One in six people worldwide will be affected by infertility, but undergoing treatment for fertility problems doesn’t have to be a lonely, or isolating process, say Jude Fleming, Chief Operating Officer of The Fertility Partnership and Tracey Bambrough and Sara Marshall-Page, co-founders of IVF Babble.
Q: Why is there a need for good information about sources of support for fertility problems?
A: (JF) When people first seek help for infertility, they are usually nervous and unsure of the process. There is a lot of information available online but the problem is knowing which sources are reputable.
As well as accessing credible facts and information about the medical process ahead, people need to feel that they are not simply on a ‘conveyor belt’; they often need an ‘emotional cuddle’.
At a good clinic, people should leave feeling that they are not on their own and that there is someone available to answer their questions. People need to be able to communicate their goals and aspirations. If people are left thinking ‘What if?’, without getting the information that they need, they can come away feeling unsupported and uncertain of the best course of treatment for them.
Q: Why do people struggle emotionally with fertility problems?
A: (JF) Most women grow up thinking that having a baby is ‘what women do’. So, when conceiving proves difficult, many people can feel like they have let themselves, and others, down. It’s important that people are supported during their treatment to get the care they need. The reality is that not every fertility story ends in success. People need to feel that they did everything they could. We know this helps people to get closure.
Q: What can people do to help themselves on their fertility journey?
(TB/SM-P): At IVF Babble, we often hear how mental wellbeing is as important as physical health during fertility treatment. Practicing mindfulness is increasingly recognised as an important part of your health and wellbeing and it will be a better experience for people if their journey is as supported as possible. Looking after your overall health from eating the right foods, keeping fit and taking time out to relax can help you to be as physically and mentally strong as possible.
Q: How are you working to promote a feeling of community?
A: (JF): We are delighted to have teamed up with IVFBabble to create a pack including small gifts such as a pineapple-shaped lapel pin, that we will give to people on their first appointment. We feel that the pin is a subtle but meaningful symbol that creates a sense of community and solidarity among people who are affected by infertility: many people describe themselves as grieving for the loss of a child they have never had. We feel that the ‘Pineapple Pack’ can help people to start to talk about how they are feeling, and that it will help them to feel more supported and cared for on their fertility journey.
The Fertility Partnership