We pile pressure on ourselves when trying to get pregnant, but a new support group for women having IVF aims to change that
When US actress Elizabeth Banks opened up to the media about her fertility struggle, her words would have resonated with many women experiencing similar problems. ‘The one true hurdle I've faced in life is that I have a broken belly,’ she told media. ‘After years of trying to get pregnant, exploring the range of fertility treatments, all unsuccessful, our journey led us to gestational surrogacy.’
Feeling on trial
Brave as this was, she announced it only after she’d actually held her new baby – that had been carried in another woman’s womb – in her arms. So, what about those of us who are still in the thick of it? As well as feeling broken, it can seem as though your credentials as a woman are being challenged. ‘There’s a belief that it's perfectly natural to have a baby, so therefore, it should happen easily, and if it doesn’t, you are somehow less of a woman,’ says fertility expert Emma Cannon. ‘It’s common for women to experience a mixture of emotions including shame, anxiety and pressure.’
To combat this, a new support group for couples having IVF launches today, called Fertility Circle. Hosted by London Fertility Centre, one of London’s leading fertility clinics, the aim is to provide free and confidential support to help couples and single people cope with the stress. It’ll do this partly by providing an opportunity for people to share their experiences with others who have had similar ones.
Be kind to yourself
Whether or not you’re having IVF, when you’re dealing with that agonising monthly wait to find out if you’ve managed to conceive, it can be hard to keep your spirits up. ‘We are used to achieving things in life by "doing" and I notice that there is a mentality of not wanting to fail, and also needing to find something pro-active to do about it,’ says relationship psychologist Anjula Mutanda. ‘But pregnancy isn't something that is achieved by doing more and is often achieved by a softening in our approach. I'm not saying women just need to relax more as that is unkind and patronising – just that we need to soften our attitude and be less hard on ourselves. We are at times out own worst enemies.’
One of the most simple things you can do, according to Emma, is be more positive and change the way you talk about your fertility. ‘I hear lots of women saying things like: ‘My body is a disaster, it always lets me down!’ or ‘I have always known I’d struggle to have a baby,’ says Emma. ‘This is then compounded by medical professionals using words such as incompetent cervix, low ovarian reserve and poor responder.’ Emma says we should remember that how you talk about your quest to conceive will affect your mood, which then has knock on affect on your fertility.
This week, we launched our It’s Not Just You #fertility campaign to help support you through the trying to conceive journey.
How did you cope with pressure of trying to get pregnant? Tell us in the comments box below, or email us at [email protected]