ConceiveOnline.com: What’s the most common difficulty or concern you hear from your patients dealing with difficulty conceiving-and how do you typically address or answer it?
Barbara Blitzer, LCSW: The most common issue that women with fertility issues face is lack of control over a very important part of life. If you’re like most of the women I’ve met in my practice, you have learned that with hard work you can achieve most, if not all, of your goals. You’ve most likely worked for good grades in school, found a job, and a life partner. Now you are ready for the next stage and hard work doesn’t seem to count. You worry, research, and try various approaches and still you don’t know whether you will be able to have the baby you are dreaming of. There’s a lot of investment -- emotional, financial, personal -- without knowing what will happen and lots of ups and downs emotionally.
What I generally recommend is a two-pronged approach. The first is to gain control wherever you can. Become informed about fertility issues, learn techniques to help you reduce excessive worry, evaluate your relationships, and strengthen those that are supportive. Wherever possible, take control of your time and activities. More often than you may realize, it’s okay to say no to events that make you feel bad and to focus on things that nurture you and make you feel good. Of course, none of us has a crystal ball and none of us can control everything, so the other approach is to practice mind-body techniques such as meditation, journaling, imagery, and mindfulness. These practices will help you reduce your stress and to take pleasure in the moment. Mind-body practices combined with appropriate medical care have been shown to reduce stress, and increase fertility in many research studies so you really have nothing to lose by practicing them and everything to gain.
ConceiveOnline: There are lots of books out there about fertility, as you know. Your new book, The Infertility Workbook: A Mind-Body Program to Enhance Fertility, Reduce Stress, and Maintain Emotional Balance, is just out. What does it add to the conversation about infertility and its mind-body component, and who is the reader you think will get the most out of this resource?
Barbara Blitzer: This book brings it all together in a way that I haven’t seen elsewhere. It can help everyone trying to conceive because it includes so much. The Mind-Body Fertility Workbook: A Mind-Body Program to Enhance Fertility, Reduce Stress, and Maintain Emotional Balance discusses the issues you face if dealing with fertility, gives you the information you need, and at the same time provides practical, step-by step instruction in mind-body skills that can increase your chance of success and reduce your stress. It doesn’t focus on any one approach like books that talk only about yoga or Chinese medicine. It talks about everything: working with your thoughts, choosing your doctor, figuring out what to eat, learning to meditate. It can even help you strengthen your marriage and get along with your mother. Most women I’ve met want a baby, that’s number one, but they also want to feel more in control and more peaceful. I wrote this book to help you achieve both of those goals. It’s a complete mind-body program designed to be your confidant and guide. It’s like having a mind-body teacher, a therapist and a fertility coach at your fingertips. It will put you in the driver’s seat. And if you want support working with any of the issues or exercises, I’ve also designed The Infertility Workbook Program, one-on-one coaching with me in person, by phone, or by Skype.
ConceiveOnline: Treating infertility is often so incredibly expensive, and seeking help from a therapist or counselor can just seem like one more expense or to-do on a long list.
Barbara Blitzer: It’s exactly because you put so much financial and emotional energy into your fertility goals that you will want to do everything you can to make sure you have the result you are going for. Research has indicated, repeatedly, that mind-body stress-reducing approaches can increase your chance of a successful pregnancy and also improve your emotional well-being. I often ask women this question: If your doctor told you that for another $1,500 you could try a new protocol that would significantly increase your chance of getting pregnant, make you feel happier, and provide you with skills that will help you for your whole life, would you go for it? If you, like many women dealing with fertility, are feeling depressed or anxious, getting help isn’t a luxury. In some studies, the women who were most depressed at the beginning of mind-body programs conceived at the highest rates after learning to use mind-body techniques and reducing their depression. The Infertility Workbook will help you explore your personal issues and learn the techniques without a lot of expense, but if you still are feeling bad, seeking the right kind of help might be just the thing that tips the odds in your favor.
Barbara Blitzer, LCSW-C, M.Ed. is a psychotherapist and coach who has been a pioneer in the integration of psychotherapy, coaching, and mind-body practices for fertility.