While the word doula may be most commonly associated with birth support, the word itself actually comes from the Greek word for servant or "one who serves."
What, then, is a fertility doula? A fertility doula is a trained professional who provides preconception support to individuals and partners as they follow their path to parenthood. Just as a birth doula brings non-medical, non-judgmental informational, emotional, and physical support to the time around labor and birth, a fertility doula brings that same model to preconception and (in)fertility.
Just as birth brings options for choices, so does the path to conception. For clients just beginning their conception journey, a fertility doula provides evidence-based information on tracking and charting fertility as well as holistic resources to support you along the way. Making sure you and your partner are on the same page with understanding how fertility works and maximizing your fertility window can save you stress and guesswork at the start!
For those couples who have been trying to conceive for 6 or more months, a fertility doula can be a lifeline as they navigate options for medication and reproductive technology. Your fertility doula is nonjudgmental and always in your corner - meaning you can feel free to express your concerns and wishes without the pressures that can come from others. Navigating options for infertility treatment can be overwhelming, as can finding supportive practitioners you can trust. Your doula is with you every step of the way, helping you evaluate your options and tune into you intuition as you make these choices which are so important to you and your partner.
As a trained Fertility Specialist, I bring a host of tools to support my fertility clients in their journey. These tools include a mind/body approach (which research suggests aids in conception). A mind/body approach complements any treatments you may receive and also provides you tools that can help you navigate the experience with less stress.
And, as a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Advocate, I understand that your journey to start and grow your family may have included experiences of loss. I understand, too, that pregnancy after loss and/or infertility comes with different emotions and challenges. Because of that understanding, I also extend my doula work to include early pregnancy support - providing the informational and emotional support you need as you move through the early weeks of pregnancy.
For many, experiencing pregnancy after loss or infertility comes with a desire to keep this stage of pregnancy more private, but this can also result in feelings of loneliness - with fertility doula support and early pregnancy support, you don't have to go it alone.
So, when should you hire a fertility doula?
When you first consider trying to conceive or intend to start your journey in the coming months, your fertility doula provides you the insight and the support you need to feel confident planning for this journey.
When you feel frustrated after a few months of trying to conceive and want some holistic tools, your fertility doula equips you with an evidence-based understanding of fertility and fertility tracking education to support this stage of your journey.
When you begin to investigate infertility options, your fertility doula provides the informational and emotional support you need to fully explore your options with no judgment.
When you are navigating fertility treatments, your fertility doula support includes a mind/body approach to complement and support these treatments.
When you are experiencing loss or conception after loss, your fertility doula provides wholehearted support and connection to resources - and most importantly, makes sure you don't feel alone in this experience.
When you move through early pregnancy after loss or infertility, your fertility doula offers continuity of support, walking with you in these challenging and exciting days and weeks of early pregnancy.
No matter where you are on your path to grow your family, your fertility doula will meet you there with empathy and understanding.
Want to learn more about fertility doula support? Reach out for a free discovery call today!
I can't help it - I'm a serial learner. Before starting Nested Mama, I was an academic, and I thrived devouring books and articles. I loved the work of teaching at the university level because I was constantly learning from my students as well as uncovering new depths in the subjects I taught.
Becoming a doula and educator in sleep, childbirth, and breastfeeding hasn't changed my insatiable desire to learn. If anything, the one-on-one support of parents as they navigate one of the most beautiful and challenging transitions of their lives heightens the need to bring more knowledge and skill to the table.
While welcoming a new bundle into the home can be a time of joy, it can also be a time of remembrance where old hurts or the empty arms of loss come alongside those waves of joy.
Statistical estimates of miscarriage suggest that 1 in 4 women will experience a loss.
1 in 4.
And, this number doesn't include stillbirth or those who lose a little one in the days or weeks after birth.
That means if you have not experienced a loss yourself, you won't have to look far for a family member or a friend who has or will experience loss in pregnancy or shortly thereafter. And, because our culture offers little space to speak about and process and remember these losses, you may not even be aware the full extent of the losses experienced by those you hold dear.
That also means when we support families, we need to do better.
I need to do better, too.
This winter and spring I'll be working my way through a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Advocate (P.A.I.L) Training. Once complete, this will count toward certification as a Loss and Bereavement Doula. On this topic, I know I have so very much to learn, and as I do, I hope to share a bit from time to time in this space.
Because we can all do better.
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.