A Personal Fertility Coach: Is One Right for You?
For every journey, it helps to have a guide. On the road to parenthood, that indispensable guide is a Fertility Coach.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know what we’re about to say: the fertility journey can be a challenging one. (You may be thinking, “that’s the understatement of the year.”) From the first consideration of whether to try to conceive, all the way through to successful delivery, there are countless decisions to make.
And for every one of those decisions, there are people all too eager to share their advice, their experience, and their recommendations. The fertility journey is one in which friends and family often feel deeply invested. Life partners, parents, siblings, co-workers, friends, and random people on Facebook: everyone has an opinion. Even when their advice is sound, it can be overwhelming to navigate through so many different voices.
It’s not just friends and family: browsing the Internet for help can be a frustrating and bewildering experience. It’s true that there are many excellent sites offering fertility advice. Sometimes, the recommendations are confusing or contradictory – or, worst of all, discouraging. You might wish there were someone who could help you decide whom to trust, and why.
That someone is a compassionate, knowledgeable Fertility Coach.
Who Should Consider Choosing a Fertility Coach?
1. Women concerned about advanced maternal age. If you’re tired of warnings about your “ticking clock” or admonitions that you’re “running out of time,” a Fertility Coach can help. A Fertility Coach knows your fears and concerns, and can and will deal with them compassionately. The right Fertility Coach can guide you towards the right answers about the impact of age on your fertility process.
2. Women who wish they understood more about their own fertility. We don’t do a particularly good job of educating women about their bodies and their fertility. As a result, it’s very easy for women to start the fertility journey with a sense that everyone else knows more about the subject than they do. This can lead to an embarrassment that can make it difficult to ask important queries. A Fertility Coach doesn’t just have the answers – the Fertility Coach makes it her job to help prepare her clients to ask the right questions.
3. Women who are contemplating IVF or other fertility treatments. The good news is that the number of options for improving fertility outcomes is growing every year. The bad news is that sorting through all these options can be overwhelming. Many medical professionals lean strongly towards one or two particular types of fertility treatment, and may be reluctant (or unable) to give you the complete information you need to make the best decision. A Fertility Coach is your informed partner in weighing the dazzling number of alternatives at your disposal.
4. Women contemplating surrogacy. Few reproductive options are as legally and ethically complex as surrogacy. While not the right choice for everyone, a Fertility Coach can help you decide if surrogacy is right for you – and if it is, walk with you through the various stages of the process. The right Fertility Coach will always equip you to ask the right questions at the right time for the best possible outcome.
5. Women thinking about freezing eggs. It’s no secret that women are having children later and later in life. For young women who are not yet at the life stage where they are ready to become mothers, one wise decision may be to freeze eggs. But when is the right time to do it? If you pass a certain age, is it too late? Does it matter where you have your eggs frozen? Is there anything I can do to ensure I have the best quality of eggs for removal? A Fertility Coach can not only help you decide if freezing eggs is a sound decision, but can help you understand when the most advantageous time to do so might be and can help you prepare your body in advance for the best possible outcome.
6. Women who are considering a sperm donor. If you’re considering a sperm donor, you may assume you know what to look for: a preferred height, eye color, educational background, and so forth. As you might suspect, there’s much more to consider. Do you want any future children to be able to contact their biological father if they choose? What’s the difference between an anonymous sperm donor and a known sperm donor? What secrets are sperm banks hiding? An expert Fertility Coach can not only help you decide if conceiving via sperm donation is right for you, he or she can guide you through each stage of the process, ensuring that the right questions get both asked and answered.
7. Women who have experienced one or more miscarriages. If you or your partner has experienced a miscarriage, you don’t need a Fertility Coach to tell you how difficult the experience can be. People process the aftermath of a miscarriage differently. Depending on the circumstances, a miscarriage may affect future fertility choices. A knowledgeable and compassionate Fertility Coach is an excellent, trusted resource as those who have experienced miscarriage move forward on their own fertility path.
8. LGBT Couples. Laws are changing fast, and changing for the better, but LGBT couples embarking on the fertility journey still face unique and rapidly shifting challenges. Outdated laws are still in place creating challenge. A Fertility Coach with expertise in dealing with LGBT issues is an ideal choice to advise individuals or couples on what they can expect.
9. Women who are concerned about the impact of the Fertility Journey on their partners, or who need assistance in talking about fertility issues with a partner. For those who are on the fertility journey with a partner, it’s no secret that the process presents real challenges to most relationships. Hopes and expectations, discouragement and excitement fluctuate for each person. When you’re trying to get pregnant, a partner can be the one person you want to share everything with – until the days that they’re not, and you need someone who has a different dynamic while also being emotionally invested in your fertility. A Fertility Coach is keenly aware of how this process can impact even the sturdiest relationships.
10. Single Moms by Choice. For those walking this path without a life partner, a Fertility Coach can also be an essential resource. A Fertility Coach is – obviously — not a replacement for a romantic partner, but can be a vital aid to anyone considering a solo pursuit of a child. Single mothers need all the support they can get. As they say, it takes a village.
11. Women who are considering shifting their focus to the adoption option. For some, adoption is the first choice. For others, adoption starts out as a “last resort,” the option to which you’ll turn when every other avenue has proven unsuccessful. For those who want to explore their fertility options first, it can sometimes be difficult to know the right moment to make the shift to pursuing adoption. When and how do you know it’s time to change focus? A Fertility Coach is a sensitive, knowledgeable resource through this transition process.
12. Women and couples who want to hear what their doctors won’t tell them. A Fertility Coach is not a replacement for medical specialists. Yet even the best fertility specialists can lack critical information. For example, medical professionals are sometimes reluctant to accept the role that DNA can play in fertility. The right Fertility Coach can help you understand how genetics impacts the pursuit of pregnancy.
13. Women who want to maximize preconception health. Just as prenatal care is vital during a pregnancy, preconception health improves the chances of a successful fertility process. What is preconception health? How best to do it? What to eat, what lifestyle choices to make? An experienced Fertility Coach can design the right preconception health plan for you.
14. Women who want a reliable, expert ally to serve as sounding board and buffer through the fertility process. There are so many stakeholders in your fertility journey. So many people with hopes, fears, and advice. So many professionals to consult, so many things to read. A good Fertility Coach can keep you focused on what really matters, and leave you feeling in control of this process. Additionally, a good Fertility Coach will have done all the research for you keeping up to pace with the latest and greatest in science, genetics, reproductive technologies and reproductive options.
Is a Fertility Coach a therapist? No. Fertility Coaches are not psychologists (though they may have some background in psychology). They are not doctors. Conventional therapy is focused on a client’s past, and how that past impacts them today. Fertility Coaches take their client’s past experiences into account, just as they are devoted to helping clients move towards becoming parents in the future. But the primary focus of Fertility Coaching is the present and the future. A Fertility Coach cares about what’s going on Now; with a Fertility Coach — just like a coach in any sport – the focus is always on doing the next right thing.
If you do have a therapist, your Fertility Coach can consult with your clinician if it should prove necessary.
What Should I Look For in a Fertility Coach? There is no nationally recognized agency providing certification for Fertility Coaches. There are many organizations that accredit personal coaches, but this is no guarantor of excellence. The best way to select a Fertility Coach is to spend some time interviewing a few. Ask them how they chose this field, and what personal or professional experiences brought them to Fertility Coaching. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from other clients if they aren’t available on a coach’s website.
Find out what they see as the key role of a Fertility Coach, and what their general philosophical orientation is. Ask what sets them apart. A successful relationship with a Fertility Coach will require good rapport and comfort; take the time to see how a conversation with a prospective Fertility Coach feels.
How Long Should I Expect to Work with a Fertility Coach? As you already know, it’s difficult to impose timetables on the fertility process. When the intended outcome is a successful pregnancy, there’s no way to predict when that will occur. Yet an indefinite commitment to work with a professional Fertility Coach can be a daunting prospect. In the face of that, some Fertility Coaches work on a month-to-month basis.
When considering the question of how long to work together, it’s important to remember that the Fertility Coach is here to help you take charge of your fertility process. Getting to that point requires education, empowerment, and discernment – and those take time. With that in mind, you might consider working with a Fertility Coach for six months. If pregnancy happens before those six months are up, so much the better – and if not, by the end of that period you will be empowered to take lasting control of your own fertility.