Up until a year ago, the idea of a Fertility Doula was alien to me. It was a total aha moment for me when I heard about it. Yes, genius! How did I not know about this! So now you're wondering, what the heck is a Fertility Doula?! You're likely familiar with Doulas in the context of birth and postpartum, but Fertility whaaat?? Bear with me here and I'll lay it all out.
Just like a Birth or Postpartum Doula, a Fertility Doula will offer non-judgmental emotional and physical support, evidence-based information and resources, and be an objective and caring part of your care team to assure that your desires and needs are being met every step of the way. But when you are dealing with issues of infertility and the ability to get or stay pregnant, your needs for support may be more nuanced. In these cases, a Fertility Doula will offer a holistic approach to what may otherwise be a highly managed and medicalized experience.
When you feel as if the process of fertility treatments is overwhelming your life and ability to focus on anything else but your desire to have a baby, a Fertility Doula can be an invaluable asset. They can help you process the situation, look at it with a different lens, acknowledge and validate your experience, and offer guidance and support toward utilizing mind/body relaxation techniques that may help the situation feel less heavy. Your Fertility Doula will hold space for you and be fully present for you if you are working through a recent loss or failed treatments.
Fertility Doula support offers truly holistic care for your whole person or couple, so that you can better manage the impossible situation you find yourself in.
Infertility struggles aside for a moment, what about the fertility side of things? What about those people who want to better understand their cycles and manage their fertility without pharmacological methods? What about women who want to feel more connected to their bodies or balance out their hormones? A Fertility Doula can help out in this area as well, offering guidance and support as you learn to understand your cycles, work with them to harness your energy and creativity, and feel more comfortable in your own body.
For many people, this is uncharted territory and quite contradictory to everything they’ve been taught about their bodies and cycles. It can be confusing and lonely to be on a path of naturally and conscientiously managing your fertility. For many, this path doesn’t jive with their family, friends, co-workers or culture, and that can be really isolating. A Fertility Doula will encourage your own growth and exploration, offer suggestions and resources as you delve into understanding your fertility cycles.
When you are on a path of naturally and intuitively understanding your reproductive health, there is great potential for deeper self knowing, appreciation, love and acceptance.
I’ve had several friends and clients share with me their struggle with getting pregnant, having multiple miscarriages or pursuing infertility treatments. And in all of those cases, when we would speak about their struggles, I felt in over my head. All I could say was “I see how hard this is for you, this sucks and I’m here for you.” It didn’t feel like enough for me, though. I wished I knew more about what they were experiencing in order to support them more completely. But I had no resources or knowledge to share, and as a doula and an empath that was really hard for me. I wanted to do more, but didn’t know what to do.
Fast forward to the present day . . . I am really excited to be pursuing a wonderfully balanced, culturally informed and really well researched Fertility Specialist Certification program! Everyday I am discovering new aspects of fertility, infertility, loss and grief, ART and fertility treatments, medical and alternative, as they relate to every family configuration. The struggles with infertility affect anyone, and everyone, hoping to grow their family. And the effects of infertility cut deep from feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation, decreased overall life satisfaction, struggling with relationships, and total overwhelm. This burden is too heavy to carry all on your own! And the crazy thing is that not all fertility treatment centers offer complementary therapy or counseling support.
This last part has really struck home for me. I’ve seen in my own Birth and Postpartum Doula practice how beneficial support groups, therapy, mind/body relaxation techniques and generally strong emotional support can be for people dealing with the stresses of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Teaching emotional grounding and offering a safe space to express their feelings around their experiences is really a crucial part of how I work with my clients. You can’t go through these profound physical, emotional and spiritual experiences of pregnancy and birth without complex emotions and feelings. And those emotions need to be expressed, felt, processed and incorporated into your being.
In the words of Ina Gaskin: “Wherever and however you choose to give birth, your experience will impact your mind, your body, and your spirit...for the rest of your life.” And I believe It’s no different with your fertility goals and challenges. Enter Fertility Doula care!
I’m excited to be adding Fertility Doula care to my comprehensive Childbirth Services offerings later this Spring! It feels really right, complete. From pre-conception through postpartum care, I am working toward a truly complete network of support for all people who have uteruses! And for this, I think I’ll do a little happy dance right now.
Arielle is a Certified Labor and Postpartum Doula, and a Certified Childbirth Educator. In her role as Doula and Educator, she promotes a sense of curiosity and exploration during pregnancy, provides evidence-based education for childbirth and postpartum, and offers support services guiding expectant families to claim their pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences as their own. Arielle offers comprehensive Childbirth Services South Bay Area, Santa Clara, Palo Alto and San Jose metropolis areas, and virtually wherever support is needed. She welcomes your questions about her Fertility Doula California, Birth Doula South Bay Area, Virtual Doula San Jose, Postpartum Doula Palo Alto and Prenatal Consulting Santa Clara services.
To read more, check out Arielle's Philosophy page.