What to Expect Series: Postpartum after the Fertility Journey
1 in 5 families experiences challenges in fertility prior to conception. This article is to highlight how we can better support mothers and families postpartum, once babe has arrived and hormones begin to normalize within the body impacting the mind and relationships.
The fertility journey
While we won’t cover all circumstances around the fertility journey, we would like to highlight a few common experiences. These experiences include:
- primary infertility
- secondary infertility
- natural and Western fertility treatments
- conception after loss(es)
Every journey is different
Every fertility journey is different. In order to best understand what each journey looks like, we have listed some facts. It is important to realize that each pregnancy and subsequent postpartum can be impacted in a different way, especially when paths cross – for example, secondary infertility after loss.
Primary infertility happens when couples have not become pregnant after at least 1 year having sex without using birth control methods. Primary infertility can affect one or both partners. Difficulties within this space include families may stop dreaming of having children, and thus have a challenging time bonding with the pregnancy/babe(s) because their expectations have changed.
Secondary infertility is “the inability to conceive a child or carry a pregnancy to full term after previously giving birth. To classify as secondary infertility, the previous birth must have occurred without help from fertility medications or treatments, like in vitro fertilization.” (1) Secondary infertility can affect one or both partners. The secondary infertility can be just an emotionally challenging for families who have already had one or more children. Those around them may question why their family doesn’t continue to expand (though it’s really not their business – even when the question comes from a loving place) or why it matters because the couple already has x number of kids.
Natural and Western Fertility Treatments
Natural and Western fertility treatments further exacerbate a family’s need for support. Many couples find that the emotional roller coaster of trying to conceive continues through pregnancy and postpartum.
Conception After Loss
And finally, conception after pregnancy or birth loss is the experience of finally becoming pregnant after one – and perhaps many more – losses. Often those on a fertility journey have not shared all they have endured to become pregnant. With their celebrations, there co-exists a necessary grief.
What supports are needed
Within each space of the fertility journey there is what we refer to as a necessary grief that must be experienced to fully process, digest, and integrate the experience. Grief is a natural human emotion and experience that isn’t valued nearly enough in Western culture. Not only does it teach us how to be human, but it gifts us the other side of the coin… living with and beyond loss.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the foundation of Cherry Blossom postpartum doula care and the sister science of yoga, we tap into 5,000 year old wisdom on honoring grief. Based on it’s principles, some of the following supports are especially helpful:
- Create a support system – for example, sitting in a sister circle, a bereavement group, or taking the time to pursue talk therapy can all be very helpful. Consider sharing with your closest loved ones. Women are natural storytellers; and we grow through the experience of sharing our tales
- Move your body – if it is safe for your body to do so, meet with a somatic practitioner or yoga therapist to integrate your fertility journey into your lived experience. The body keeps score. What we do not process, our cells hold onto for years and years to come
- Consider bodywork and herbal medicine – aromatherapy, acupuncture, cupping, abhyanga, massage therapy, belly binding, yoni steaming, womb healing, and craniosacral therapy are all therapeutic ways to treat the body throughout and beyond pregnancy; these can be especially helpful postpartum when hormone levels shift while you may be simultaneously processing your fertility journey
- Fuel your experience – food is medicine; fueling your body with clean, whole foods in your postpartum will make a significant difference on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being for years and years to come (click here for our most recent post on food). You can also practice the art of making tea as a simple way of coming home into your experience. Tulsi and rose teas are wonderful for those who are integrating the experience of grief
- Rest – while not unique to the postpartum experience for “just” those who on a fertility journey, rest is foundational for our collective healing and the health of humankind for years to come. If rest does not come easy, we suggest finding someone to guide you in your rest through experiences like yoga nidra, sound healing and guided-meditation
When to book support
Doula support augments the fertility journey as we are adept at guiding our clients through fertility, pregnancy, live birth, loss, and postpartum; with a wealth of resources to honor your personal experience. While it may seem “too soon” to book a doula when you have previously encountered loss, it is actually never too early to begin building the support system you will need throughout this sacred time. The wider your support net, the softer the journey can be into motherhood and parenting.
Our Cherry Blossom doulas are well-versed in supporting our families throughout the fertility journey and into the spaces of birth and postpartum. We offer a wide range of services, and we have practitioners available to support you through Ayurvedic consults, meal preparation, belly binding, yoni steaming, womb healing, yoga nidra, sound healing and meditation.
To learn more about Arizona and virtual Ayurvedic postpartum doula care – or for doula mentorship in serving clients through your practice, reach out today. Well women change the world. We believe it, and we get to see it year after year after year.
Your Cherry Blossom Doulas
This post has been written and reviewed by Director of Postpartum Care and Certified Ayurvedic Postpartum Doula, Jennifer Magnano for Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC.
References: (1) Infertility and Mental Health, Cedars Sinai Blog