A Fertility Coach’s Take on Babies After 40, C Section Recovery & More
EPISODE: 54 | DATE: August 5, 2021
“There are really 3 people in every relationship. There is you, your partner and your relationship. They are all different entities and they all need different nourishment.”
You are a life and relationship and fertility coach. Can you give us an idea of how you came into this line of work?
- I did my life coaching certification in 2008 following my divorce.
- We had gone through marriage counselling for 3 years prior to our divorce.
- We felt like it wasn’t really marriage counselling, but rather it felt like divorce counselling.
- They were not giving us the tools in order to stay together.
- So I made it my mission to work with couples to give them some tools to manage their relationship rather than help them navigate a divorce.
- I really liked the idea of a coach rather than a therapist because it felt much more like going to a trainer. A trainer can tell you what to do and steps to getting a result. I liked that method.
- Since getting my life coaching certification in 2008 I went through my own fertility experience and journey.
- That led me to realize there was this void of support that needed to be there for men and women that were trying to conceive – whether that was naturally or through alternative methods.
- The mental anguish that comes along with conception and fertility wasn’t really recognized and talked about.
- And having experienced miscarriage loss and all of those things that go along with it, I really just felt like I needed to shift my life coaching to focus more on fertility.
- So that’s the space I’ve been in for about 3 years.
- I still do some life and relationship coaching but honestly a lot of the relationship stuff now goes along with the fertility stuff.
- I see a lot of clients that are stressed with timed intercourse and not on the same page with wanting children so I coach couples through those challenges.
I interviewed a friend of mine about her 5 year fertility journey and she mentioned how stressful it can be on a relationship. Can you speak to that a bit more, how going through fertility challenges can reveal the cracks in the foundation of a relationship?
- Whether there are fertility challenges or not, sometimes there is one partner who wants a child more than the other, and that can cause issues.
- When it comes to fertility challenges, this brings a new layer of stress because it becomes a financial issue.
- A lot of times, one partner may not be 100% on board with investing money into this sort of thing.
- And as most of us know, finances are a huge point of contention in a lot of relationships as it is.
- Couple that with timed intercourse which then leads to sometimes performance anxiety which then leads to ego issues which then leads to shutting down for some people, and you’ve got a lot going on.
- And then there is resentment on the other side because if you’re not performing when I need you to perform, then you missed your window for that month and that can feel hard.
- So it becomes this really intense spiral.
- And sometimes you need an outside party to help you see the forest from the trees to remind you that you’re on the same team.
- It’s all about focusing energy in the right direction. That’s what I help couples do.
We know that stress plays a role in fertility. How do you coach your couples to redirect that stress and transcend it into something more positive?
- First I think it’s important to remember that cortisol levels from stress effect sperm quality too. It’s not just a female issue.
- If the male partner is stressed and he’s dealing with high levels of stress or cortisol, that affects the quality of the sperm and thereby the quality of the embryo.
- So you want to make sure that both parties have their stress levels in check.
- I often tell my couples to find something they love that brings them joy.
- That can be anything from yoga, meditation, golfing, horseback riding – whatever it is for each unique individual.
- I also recommend that my couples also find the things that they can come together on and enjoy together. That relieves stress.
- You still need your independent time to figure out what grounds you.
- But then you also need your grounding time as a couple.
- A relationship has 3 different entities: you, your partner and your relationship.
- Each entity needs different types of nourishment.
- It may seem daunting but the fact that you guys chose to be together means that you have something in common that you can find common ground on.
- That said, covid has caused quite a lot of relationship challenges in the fertility realm because people aren’t able to come to doc appointments together, so there is a separation of the whole experience.
- It’s almost like the woman doesn’t want to explain what happened at the appointment so the partner feels out of the loop.
- Unfortunately that just pushes the other person that much further away from the experience.
- But it takes two to make a baby, so it’s important to make sure that communication is open and the couple iself is doing the best they can individually and together.
I just want to reiterate the importance of the male sperm in conception, as you mentioned, because I don’t think it’s very common for people to think about. Thank you for bringing that up!
- As far as sperm quality goes, we now know that up to 30% – or 1 in 4 miscarriages – are due to poor sperm quality.
- And it used to just get chalked up to poor egg quality.
- Some things that can negatively impact sperm quality are smoking, drinking, staying in the hot tub, long bike rides, having your phone in your pocket, and having a laptop on your lap.
- Sperm counts are lower than they ever have been in the last 100 years.
- I believe it’s not just because of stress, but also because of some of the things I just mentioned.
- It’s not something that men are talking about amongst themselves, unfortunately. I think that’s because it’s kind of ego driven.
- Most men don’t really want to talk about it.
- But with the research coming out it’s hard to avoid talking about it because it’s such drastic numbers happening now.
- If you’re trying to conceive and you’re guy does partake in any of those things I mentioned above, I would recommend having a conversation with him about stopping for a while.
- There are also a lot of supplements that help to increase male fertility.
At what point does a couple come to work with you when they’re trying to get pregnant? Also do people come to work with you strictly for IVF or do you coach couples through natural fertility as well?
- I do both. Ideally we work together before you’ve gone down the road of IVF and all that stuff.
- There are a lot of things you can do before going down the IVF and IUI path first. Things like checking your cycle and making sure it’s healthy, making sure you’re on supplements for 120-150 days before trying to conceive, making sure your ovulation is healthy, etc.
- And this is all assuming that you have no underlying diagnosis.
- So if you have something like PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) or anything structural, we also can work through that with your team of practitioners.
- I always help people get a team around them in order to get to their finish line.
- That looks like a physical therapist, occupational therapist, acupuncturist, reproductive endocrinologist, immunologist, etc.
- I also look into food allergies and sensitivities, diet, etc.
- A lot of times people come to me when they have already spent thousands of dollars on fertility diets and it’s causing them so much stress.
- At that point, I help couples figure out what’s best for their body and work with them to incorporate foods that we know will support and help their fertility journey.
- Because if you’re coming to the table and you already have a history of body issues or weight and food issues, that’s just going to cause you more stress.
- And we’re trying to avoid that as much as possible.
- There is a reason that people joke that you’ll get pregnant when you’re not stressed. That’s all to do with your adrenals and your cortisol levels.
- So we do everything to try to get you in the best mindset in order to conceive.
- For some people meditation works. For other people it makes them insane because they feel like they can’t do it.
- For some affirmations work, for others it’s a waste of time.
- So we really look at what works for each individual to get them to feeling really good about where they are at with their journey.
Would you mind telling us about your journey? Because it morphed into fertility coaching so there is a story there.
- Yes. I froze my eggs at 36 because I wasn’t trying to conceive then and I knew I wanted children.
- I met my current husband when I was 39 and we started trying to conceive right.
- But then I found out I had fibroids in the lining of my uterus. They were preventing me from conceiving because the embryo wouldn’t implant.
- So I needed to have surgery to have those removed.
- Some people are able to do that through diet and other things. It depends on how large they are, where they are located, etc.
- I always recommend seeing a specialist before you make any decision whether it’s surgical or non surgical because we don’t have time because of our age.
- So I had my first son after that fibroid surgery and then after that I had my first loss.
- And that’s really what put me into realizing that we needed to support women going through miscarriage loss.
- And then I went through trying to conceive again and considering IVF.
- I was just getting ready to go do that and pick up my meds that day and I got the call that I was pregnant.
- After having my second child, I decided to thaw my eggs. I only ended up with 3 viable eggs of the 11 that thawed, but they didn’t fertilize, so I ended up with nothing.
- So then again we considered doing either IVF or IUI. I ended up with my last one again after another miscarriage in between.
- And we ended up doing IUI.
- So in between that I had seen 4 different doctors and at this time I was already practicing as a fertility coach.
- So I had seen some of these doctors with clients of mine.
- How it worked is I would go in as with their consultation to help them ask the right questions.
- So I already knew what I wanted to get out of the meetings with the doctors.
- But it was interesting from a client’s perspective versus a consultant’s experience.
- As a patient going in, they don’t look at your history. They just look at your age and say you need to do egg donation.
- For me, I didn’t think that made sense because I had just had a healthy baby. Even though I was 42, that seemed to be enough evidence to me that I could use my own eggs.
- That’s when it really hit me that when my clients go to see these doctors, if they’re not equipped with the right information and feeling empowered to push back on some of the doctor’s recommendations, they are basically shuffled down whatever agenda the doctor has.
- So this particular doctor knows his level of success for his stats will be best if he takes me on as a client with using donor eggs because my chances of conceiving a healthy baby with donor eggs at age 42 are much more likely than me doing my own route with my own 42 year old eggs.
- So everybody has a little bit of a niche in that realm as far as what they specialize in and what they want.
- And ultimately I feel like as much as I possibly can, I want to get people to feel empowered. And if they can do it naturally – unless there is really something truly causing them not to conceive naturally – then they should have the chance to try.
I seem to be hearing about more and more women who are experiencing fibroids. Is it on the rise?
- It is happening more and more too and that’s another thing that’s been looked at as to why this onset of more people showing up with this than they had in the past.
- And they are noticing that a lot of it has to do with some of the toxins that are estrogen producing things in our environment that we didn’t have before.
- And that ups the ante on whatever is going on in our uterus which can in turn produce these benign tumors.
What are some examples of estrogen-producing toxins or products?
- Drinking water out of plastic can be an issue, though I don’t think anything I’ve seen has been proven towards that.
- But in my opinion, whether you’re in the realm of trying to have a baby or you’re post trying to have a baby, it’s best to safer than sorry.
- And then of course there are cleaning and beauty products as well.
Do you have any tips for older moms who are wanting to start trying for a family? Do you recommend any specific supplements, or nutrients, or things they can do to help with fertility after 40?
- And it’s true that our fertility starts to wane after 35.
- Although we now know that we’re able to affect our eggs and that was left out of the equation when the medical community made it so that anybody over 35 was consider to be a geriatric mom.
- So it kind of depends on who you talk to.
- Most western doctors will tell you you’re born with the amount of eggs that you have.
- Your 20 year old eggs are 20 years old and 40 year eggs are 40 years old.
- However you can test your AMH level to determine the quality of your eggs, and you can positively impact the quality of your eggs.
- I always tell people it only takes one egg to make a healthy baby.
- So you may not have a lot. That’s ok. But if your quality is ok then you’re good.
- Some people may be young but egg quality may seem older or vice versa.
- And that’s why I just want to tell people that you kind of need to get that number out of your head and make sure you’re doing all the things that are good for you and your body.
- Because if you’re taking care of your body, you’re taking care of your insides as well.
- So if you are taking the supplements – and I have a list on my website of supplements that women can take – I do give the caveat though that not all supplements on a fertility journey are equal for everybody.
- You want to make sure you don’t have any other underlying conditions that may be undermining some of the supplements you’re taking or depleting you in other ways.
- Because if, say, you’re on a different type of medication or you have an autoimmune condition or if you’re taking one supplement that might not be good for you, you’ll want to work with a coach or a doctor to make sure what you’re taking works for you.
- But really – I sound like a broken record – the stress hormones are huge.
- And we see that in people who age well.
- I’ll never forget when one of my sisters got diagnosed with cancer and I came home from studying abroad for a year and my mom had aged so much because she was so stressed about my sister.
- And what stress does to the outside body and the cells is the same thing that it does to your inside body and cells.
- So making sure that you’re doing some sort of practice around that as well as working out – some sort of movement and mind wellness – meditation or swimming or reading or hanging out with a friend.
- It’s a conscious time to know that your brain is shutting off and that’s your healthy time.
- So whatever that looks like for you is going to be key over 40 to make sure that you show up as younger in your egg area.
- And if you talk to people in other countries, I remember having my first client who was in Jamaica and she was like in my country there are some villages where women have babies at 60!
- And another one in Africa was saying the same thing – 65-70 in some of these tribes.
- They are eating from the land, they have no stress, their cycles are regular and all of these things for all intents and purposes – why wouldn’t that be the case!
- It’s only because of our modern society that causes so much stress.
- And now people are living longer whereas hundreds of years ago they didn’t live that long so we didn’t know if they were able to procreate much later. So it’s really interesting.
Can you share your experience with your pregnancies and your births?
- Pregnancy was never really easy for me.
- I feel like I had all those random side effects of pregnancy (nose bleeds, etc.).
- I wasn’t the one on bed rest at all thank goodness but I did struggle with each one of my pregnancies.
- My first was the easiest but I had him as a scheduled C section because I had just had my fibroids out and that puts your uterus in a compromised state when you go into labor.
- So they don’t want your uterus to contract because it has been compromised and if it contracts too much it could potentially burst or explode and then you’d have bigger issues.
- With my second and third pregnancies, I had severe placenta previas.
- My second wasn’t as bad as the last but when you have a little one and you can’t take care of them or hold them because you can’t pick them up, that makes it hard.
- And then you feel guilty because of that.
- And then I had my scheduled c sections because of that.
- And that was pretty scary, especially with my last one because I had had the losses.
- So my mind was consumed with making sure I wasn’t picking up either of the boys.
- I did see a disconnect with my second and me.
- He was more attached to my husband because he was the one that had to get him in and out of his crib all the time and pick him up because I literally couldn’t.
- And it basically says that if you start to bleed at any point with the previas it’s an emergency 911 call and you need to get there as soon as possible because you can bleed out and die.
- So it was always feeling like you’re constantly concerned.
- And am I going to have to be on bedrest because you’d go in for weekly check ups as a high risk patient and every week you’d wonder if you were ok, every time you wipe to go to the bathroom you’re looking for blood.
- Having these scheduled C sections wasn’t easy on my body either.
- And I know for a lot of people they love to have a scheduled C section because they feel like they know when they are going in and it’s easy to recover.
- That wasn’t the case for me.
Do you have any tips on C section recovery? Did you do anything to help with the scar and then the emotional and spiritual aspects of it? How was it for you and how do you coach your clients around the recovery from having a C section?
- First because of my experience I give my clients my side of it because I hadn’t heard of that before and I wished someone had told me what it would feel like.
- I had only heard good stories. I don’t want to scare anybody, but it was hard for me.
- The meds didn’t work during or after surgery so I felt pain.
- And when you’re in pain it’s hard to focus on a new baby because you can’t get in and out of bed.
- I couldn’t stop shaking. I wasn’t in control of my body at all.
- With baby 2 and 3 they were both taken to NICU after they came out.
- So again I’m struggling with physical pain and now emotional pain because I’m concerned about my children.
- And it’s one thing to have them taken away when you’re feeling ok because you can at least decipher between what’s what.
- But when you’re not feeling well yourself – so you’re not in control of your body and you’re not in control of any aspect of what’s happening – where your child is, how they are doing – emotionally. It’s hard.
- Sure they come out of your womb for 10 months and then all of a sudden they are under lights and getting tests done and not breathing and things pushed up them. So you have this feeling of they are a part of you and all of a sudden that part of you is ripped from you.
- I feel like nobody talks about this but it’s really almost like an out of body experience where you just have to surrender and trust the universe that it’s going to be ok.
- And that’s really hard when everything is out of your control.
- You have no feeling in your body.
- And then there is the spiritual aspect of the womb energy and being cut into your body.
- And if you recognize your body as a spiritual being itself you really have to go back and do some healing work.
- For me it’s not “I’m sorry that I did that to my body” but rather “I’m sorry to my body that it had to have that experience.”
- It doesn’t feel good to have to be cut into 7 layers of abdominal muscle and wall and all of that stuff.
- And just going through the spiritual aspect again and again of womb massage.
- And I say this to my clients even that are trying to conceive – doing the womb massage.
- But also once you’ve had any sort of surgery or trauma down there whether it’s physical, surgical, etc – really acknowledging your body and trying to heal it from the inside out because the outside does take a long time to heal.
- But really having that compassion and empathy and love for your body of what it’s gone through is super important.
- And I know we can all say but look at your healthy beautiful children.
- Yes – it gave me that.
- But I don’t want to discount the heartache and the pain and the suffering that my body went through.
- And so part of that is just really being kind and choosing the right words.
- Conscious languaging for my body and like we talked about with the relationship of my body is its own entity for me personally because of all that it’s done for me and how it’s served me.
- It brought me 3 beautiful children over the age of 40 which is amazing.
- And it’s gone through such trauma in order to get those guys here.
- Emotionally and spiritually.
- And I do a lot of work around that to have the healing.
- And I ended up having to do a 4th C section because I had some scar tissue nerves intertwined into scar tissue after having 3 back to back surgeries.
- And I had that in March and had complications with that.
- I then had to do even more work because I’m of the mindset of why is it that there is this happening down there? It’s almost like a deeper something going on.
- But healing that really does release your mind from the experience of the heartache and trauma and brings healing to everything and everybody around.
- So I really recommend anything that people can do around womb healing for spirtual healing around C sections or even rape and other things that may have happened to you – anything in that chakra area that you feel needs love an attention.
- To really lay on the floor flat. Your put hands on your stomach and just be.
- You don’t even have to say anything. Just send love to that area and gratitude and when all else fails just be with your body in gratitude I feel is the go to.
Elizabeth King is a Certified Fertility Health Coach, Master Certified ICF Life Coach, Birth & Bereavement Doula and New Parent Educator. Her mission is to help people of all backgrounds conceive a healthy baby and carry to term.
After having 3 children of her own after the age of 40, Elizabeth believes taking a more holistic approach is the lynchpin to success when attempting to conceive. Now she has helped hundreds of women achieve their dreams of conception and parenthood in 20+ countries around the world. She supports clients through natural fertility, infertility, IVF, miscarriage loss, early pregnancy PTSD, and new parent support.
Elizabeth is the host of Podcast, Pretty Little Tribe and has over 20k followers on Instagram. For her expertise, she has been featured on ABC, in Parade Magazine, Business Innovators and on podcasts, The Transition Channel, The Bachelor to the Burbs and she is a contributor to the book Naturally Conceived.