What is IVF Coaching?
I get asked a great deal, just what is it that you do? Well, when I am not podcasting and interviewing for the show, I help clients who want to have a baby and/or maybe embarking on their fertility treatment or have already had fertility treatment and no success.
We have all heard of Life Coaching and Wellness programs in the corporate world and coaching when it comes to athletes and sport.
Coaching is a method of learning and for having a baby, we are focussed on the much the needed support for the emotional side of this process.
Clinics will advise that they have a counsellor or psychologist who talk to their patients, which is fantastic for the patients who want to talk about their problems. Coaching is not that at all, it is a completely different concept.
Time with a coach is not only the booked in weekly session, it included messages, tasking, follow up and communication throughout the week until your next appointment together.
When I speak to clients, I have many who have been to see the counsellors and dedicated psychologists for support and they still come away feeling unfulfilled.
The association that many people conjure up in their minds when they think of counsellors or psychologists is negative – as in – they have a problem.
Coaching is entirely different, a coach is there to work with a client, it is training and preparation and has a positive association for most people.
For many clients, they have only just started trying to have a baby and do not know where to start looking for help and this is the best time for me to help.
I have an equal mix of clients, of those trying to get pregnant and those who have already attended the fertility clinics. Ideally, I would love to work with clients before they even get to the clinics.
My role as a Scientist and Coach is to take clients through their cycle, being there to virtually hold their hands during the process. So, how am I doing this precisely?
IVF Coaching is a 1:1 VIP support service, you always get more than what you expect in terms of conversations, messaging, texts and calls throughout our time working together.
To start let me give you a little background about me, I have worked within the fertility space for 25 years, as a specialist fertility scientist. My specialty areas of embryology, andrology and biochemistry mean that I can discuss your particular situation with you at many levels.
I have personally had over 10,000 conversations with fertility clients, so there is not too much that anyone can tell me, that I have not heard before. That being said, every client is unique and this is where coaching is designed to be fit perfectly to your individual circumstances.
The process of trying to conceive and fertility treatment is a very clinical one and the emotional journey is one that is not covered by the clinics during the process. This is where I can assist, helping you with coaching through the often times, daunting emotional process.
Our emotions are extremely important when it comes to conception. Really, you might be thinking, why is this the case? Well the emotions that you feel will cause changes in your body chemistry, which in turn, change the environment in your body and make it more or less conducive to conception.
For example, let us imagine that you are feeling fearful and anxious about a work situation. You can feel a sense of dread when you have to get ready for work in the morning, you may not have slept well because you were thinking about the situation the night before. All these emotions, fear, anxiety and apprehension all have a physical consequence on your body.
It is the same when you are trying to conceive, some women will go to the lengths of monitoring their temperatures daily, taking ovulation tests often, scheduling intercourse (so it becomes almost a chore) and then taking multiple pregnancy tests, often days earlier than they should be testing for more definitive results. The stress this causes and the associated body chemistry is not a friendly environment to conceive.
The physical consequence of your hormone levels changing in these times of heightened stress is cortisol and adrenaline which is coursing through your body, this causes an increase to your heart rate and respiration, pupil dilation, and this fight or flight response is ok if there is a physical threat, however, most times this response is not required.
The fact that we can switch this response on at will and remain in highly stressed and anxious states, often times when just thinking about something that is bothering us, is a major problem for humans, and ultimately not good for our bodies or our reproductive health.
Speaking to clients this week, they were all searching for some new thing, the silver bullet answer, some magic fix that will help them achieve pregnancy. With a few clients it is almost to the point of distraction from everything else in their lives, doing all the things, every possible thing to assist them on their journey and it has become an obsession.
Whilst all other modalities may help you in some way, ultimately your mindset and in particular your thoughts patterns and emotions, will determine your state and at the end point, your bodies chemistry.
One man I spoke to recently had cut out all the alcohol, sugar, gluten and preservatives from his diet, also had acupuncture and energy healing sessions. However, still he had not achieved a pregnancy with his partner. Physically he was in optimum health and so was his partner, they had idiopathic infertility, which is unexplained, and this was somehow tougher to handle given all the extra effort they had both put in to their healthy lifestyle.
Whilst all the things this man was doing were extremely beneficial, he had not undertaken any mindset work. In particular acknowledging emotions as being completely normal, identifying negative emotions and clearing these out, looking at thought patterns, focusing on outcomes and the process to get there.
Coaching is ultimately a model of learning, whilst this man had done many of the things, he had not addressed this one central thing – mindset.
It is important to discuss some of the exercises here – Mindfulness and meditation, are exercises to bring you into the present moment, this is not the deep mindset work, which will ultimately alter your health and your lifestyle.
These tools are an important part of the training, I generally give these as tasking, much the same as journaling, simple exercises used as part of the process, this process involves change, the exercises are not the outcome or focus of coaching though.
The clinics have scientists and counsellors who speak to their patients. However, many of the clients that come to me have attended clinics and often will change clinics, because of the lack of emotional support.
Scientists generally will give you information based on their observations in the laboratory, this is a clinical conversation. Counsellors differ vastly to coaches, I will list some of the differences shortly and neither Scientists or Counsellors as stand alones, will spend the time with you that a coach will do.
Generally, each session with a Coach is an hour, then there is messaging and tasking, so the amount of contact with a coach cannot be compared to what you will receive either on your own or at the clinic, it simply does not exist.
This is the reason that I started the IVF Coaching Clinic, because there is a huge gap in the support that is offered and what is needed in terms of emotional support.
Clinics in the UK have recognised this deficit and actively address this with specialist staff for emotional support programs and they have a register of their commitment to the same with the Patient Pledge.
Officially the Patient Pledge is a commitment to provide exceptional emotional support throughout all stages of fertility treatment.
So, if we go back to how Coaching is vastly different to Counselling.
Counsellors typically work with the patient and will talk about issues in their lives, with ‘why’ questions and the ‘reasons’ behind the problem and seek healing/resolution on those issues. The clinic will have regulatory reasons for the Counsellor to discuss treatment options with you especially when using donor gametes.
An IVF Coach works with the client and will ask the questions of ‘what’, ‘what if’ or ‘how’, they are interested in your present situation and work with you to create a compelling future. They are focused on results and will help you discover the process which is preventing you achieving goals and objectives. This is achieved by removing past obstacles, negative emotions and limiting beliefs.
An IVF Coach should have a strong background in Fertility treatment, specifically the Science – Embryology, Andrology, Chemistry and Biochemistry and have modern coaching techniques, in order to give you the emotional support you need with an in-depth understanding of the biology.
FERTILITY COACHING OBJECTIVES
Understand that Coaching is a model of learning
Will assume the client is healthy
Will assume emotions are natural
Looks for the intention and purpose of emotions
Will offer techniques and encourage client to find out their own solutions
Will focus on outcomes
Will focus on process and actions
Will set tasking
Has an equal partnership with the client
Will discover the process preventing achievements/goals/objectives
Will introduce new ways of thinking
Will empower the client
Will support the client
Will help the client to understand the past
Will help the client create a new future
Will assist the client to see new ways of looking at things
Will identify the challenges
Provide coaching to move beyond challenges
The client will be responsible to achieve the outcomes
Ideally will see you before you start your treatment and after each cycle
The client has direct control over the results
These are the primary objectives for coaching.
I wanted to tell you about an experiment which shows that negative emotions, particularly fear, is passed down from generation to generation.
In this experiment with mice, the mice they exposed to a smell and then trauma (electric shock), scientists were able to show that fear can be passed down trans generationally at behavioural, neuroanatomical and epigenetic levels in mammals. I will put a link below if you would like to read this study.
The mice who experienced a scent (cherry blossom) and then trauma, were traumatised at just the smell of the scent of cherry blossom, even when the trauma was not present, let’s call this generation A. Their offspring generation B were also fearful when they experienced this smell, even though they had never been subjected to the trauma, ever. And their offspring, generation C, were also fearful with just the scent. So, 2 subsequent generations were impacted by the fear, that was inherited, but never experienced first hand … imagine that and how that could potentially impact us … hmmm.
Now that is pretty incredible and a great experiment to show the impact of negative emotions.
Epigenetics is another great topic, which we will delve into in another blog, but briefly, the study of epigenetics looks at the ability of genes to be switched on or off without altering the DNA sequence.
What this means is that expression of genes can be changed naturally or by toxins and other environmental factors, it is a truly fascinating topic.
If you would like to talk with me, to see if we would be a good fit, you can also book a free introduction call with me to discuss how I can help you.
And finally, I would like to leave you with my quote for the week –
Knowledge is not power, it is simply potential power, it is only powerful if you use it.