We are passionate about supporting people and guiding them through the fertility, conception and childbirth maze. We know all too well the increased anxiety, stress and at times pain, sadness and heartache associated with the long road of trying to start a family.
Jo explains the whole fertility journey, and it really is a journey, can engulf us completely when trying for children. Jo herself had tried to conceive naturally for many years and, as time passed, more and more intervention was used.
She now has two little boys both born with the help of IVF and significant intervention. This rollercoaster journey was filled with loss, sadness, grief, disappointment, anger and joy, in honesty simply too many words to note in an introduction.
It is for this reason that Jo wants to offer others in similar situations the opportunity to look holistically at body and mind. Using her personal experiences, and her expertise as a clinical hypnotherapist. Jo works with clients a safe and confidential space looking at a different aspects that may impact our fertility and conception.
Pre-Conception and Conception
For some there is preparation – getting fit, healthy, financially stable enough to afford time off or giving up work, planning childcare, even moving house. Some plan to the ‘nth degree to have everything in place, and that is simply part of their make up – the discussion and planning when you are trying for a family is often a natural step in a loving relationship. Sometimes, magically, all goes perfectly: pregnancy, straightforward birth and happy ever after. For many others though, the story is not quite as straightforward, and support may be required at different or perhaps all stages.
For some couples conception is really easy; they decide to have a baby and the next month – just like that, pregnant! Many women fall pregnant each year by accident, with little or no intention of having a baby – for some, coming to terms with this is a challenge in itself; others take it in their stride and make changes easily and without too much stress or anxiety.
Then there is the other side of the coin. Current figures suggest that about 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving (i.e. do not conceive within two years of trying), and for them having a child is not at all straightforward. The emotional turmoil and distress associated with yearning for a child simply makes matters worse.
What we know is that every one of us is unique, every relationship is different; our environments, our experiences and our beliefs all form a melting pot which can support or hinder us.
It’s usual to be told to just keep trying for a couple of years before seeking any form of medical intervention but, after a few months of trying, those little doubts begin to creep into your mind – what if there is something wrong with me, him, us; what if we can’t have children. And the process of catastrophising, negatively forecasting the future as stress moves into anxiety, raising hormones, creating a more hostile environment for fertility and therefore a healthy and successful pregnancy. Every month of negative pregnancy test results or another unwanted period tops up our worry bucket just a little more; so, by the time we seek help, our anxiety alone can be having a dramatic negative effective on the environment where our new life is meant to grow and thrive.
There are occasions when medical intervention is required in order for conception to take place. A huge range of different treatments is now available to support would-be Mums in fulfilling their wish to have a baby. Some fertility tests and treatments are invasive, and simply the thought of them and the potential negative results can affect your mental health and wellbeing. This anxiety may then impact on you physically; various chemicals may be introduced into your body to mimic what would normally be natural processes, and sometimes our reactions can be difficult to deal with, as they make big changes to our familiar bodily cycles. Techniques like IVF take their toll on our bodies physically too.
So how can hypnotherapy potentially support fertility, conception chances and the pregnancy?
The key here is that it plays a ‘part’ and it’s a part that is often overlooked by many women and couples seeking to improve their chances of conception. When couples seek hypnotherapy for fertility from The Good Therapy Works, we look at the whole picture, or as much as is available. Fertility is improved when we consider the effects on both the mind as well as the body; the hypnotherapy will work with the mind, aiming to create a relaxed state in which the body is best able to work to ensure that the most natural environmental balance is created, giving couples the best chance of conception.
Frequently, the first thing people will look at is their lifestyle – so one obvious thing women planning a family will say is ‘Am I eating the right things?’, ‘Is my diet correct?’. Food, caffeine, alcohol, prescribed and recreational drugs and smoking are all things that enter your body and to a degree can have an impact on fertility and conception. There are various schools of thought around the use of BMI (Body Mass Indicators) but, whatever the debate, it remains a useful guide as to what would be considered a healthy weight for conception, but perhaps not followed to the letter, or more accurately ‘number’!
The external environment is often one of the last factors to be considered, and this can be the one that is most difficult to change as so many other factors influence it. A stressful job will often impact negatively on your natural fertility and, this being the way you earn money, it is often not an easy thing to change, and this in itself can generate anxiety and feelings of helplessness. There may be other financial constraints too – there may be physical reasons why conception is difficult or not possible.
There are now a myriad of variations on IVF treatments but it is still a postcode lottery and, even if funded treatment is available, it comes with limits on the number of attempts. Private treatment is often expensive and puts even more pressure on couples; the anxiety created then simply compounds an already challenging environment.
Then we move on to the real you, the person you are, the thoughts and values and beliefs you hold that make you the unique individual you are. Limiting beliefs can be extremely powerful blocks that stop us achieving things that we want – ‘I’m too old to have a baby’, ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to cope with the pain of childbirth’, ‘I don’t deserve to have a baby’, ‘Nothing positive happens to me’, ‘I never get the things I want’. Thoughts like these conspire to create a downward spiral, leading to a catastrophising stage which further compounds our anxieties and stresses, adding more stress hormones to our body and making us unreceptive to a successful conception and pregnancy.
We have the power to be able to manage so much more of our fertility than is often thought at first glance, so it makes good sense to look at each and every aspect of our lives, get our body and mind in the place so we maximise our chances of a successful conception and pregnancy?
Loss, Grief and Acceptance
Fertility and conception can often be fraught with loss and grief. Some women may never conceive, others may suffer from miscarriage, some may carry a baby to term only to have a loss in the very early stages of their child’s life. Some people have a combination of these tragic events to cope with and ultimately some women may decide to stop their plans for a family and have to come to terms with the acceptance of a childless life. For every woman seeking to have a child it can be an emotional, physical and financial rollercoaster.
Every acceptance of loss comes with a state of mourning that requires understanding and support.
6 Staged Holistic Programme
At The Good Therapy Works we follow a basic but structured therapeutic framework made up of 6 non-linear stages for clients to work through with the guidance and support of their therapist.
|One||Goals and Desires||
|Two||Wellbeing Assessment and Balance||
|Four||Maximise your thinking||
|Five||Plan, Support and acceptance||
Although a seemingly rigid framework, it provides a guide or compass to help provide a staged approach for client therapy sessions. It takes into account a whole range of variables that will be considered during treatment. Hypnotherapy for conception and fertility is designed specifically for the client according to where they are on their fertility journey.
Many chemical changes occur in our bodies all the time, controlling our moods and emotions. The ability to understand what is going on when, and what we have control over through our conscious and unconscious thought, is key to clinical hypnotherapy in terms of fertility cycles. For example, studies have shown that the hormone prolactin, which is altered during times of stress, creates a hostile environment for conception and has been found to cause fallopian tube constriction.
Where medical test results show that conception may not be possible without intervention, and treatments like IVF are considered, research suggests that hypnotherapy can be an invaluable and extremely effective tool during IVF embryo transfer – “Hypnosis can effectively double the success of IVF treatments” *. Professor Levitas studied the effects of hypnosis for IVF and embryo transfer because prior studies had shown that the stress of the procedure created small contractions of the uterus thus preventing successful implantation of the fertilized egg. Of 185 women; 28% of those hypnotised for IVF became pregnant, compared to 14% in the control group. Tranquilizers had been used in prior studies, but nothing worked as well as hypnosis. Levitas concluded that “performing embryo transfer under hypnosis may significantly contribute to an increased clinical pregnancy rate”.
* Levitas, E. et al 2006 ‘Impact of hypnosis during embryo transfer on the outcome of in vitro fertilization–embryo transfer: a case-control study.’ Fertility and Sterility Volume 85, Issue 5, Pages 1404 -1408