You may be hearing more about "fertilty coaches" and "fertility consultants" these days. Ever wonder what one does, and if you could use their services. Janet Chadwick, a fertility/life coach based in South Africa, answered a few questions for ConceiveOnline.com readers:
Q: What is a fertility coach, exactly, and what do you offer that a woman or couples can't do on their own?
A: A fertility coach is a life coach that specializes in working with people who are struggling to conceive or maintain a pregnancy. I work with individuals and couples who want to ensure that they are paying enough attention to their emotional health and relationships through the particular stressors that accompany diagnoses of infertility and recurrent miscarriages. This is a somewhat general statement, as the needs of each person/couple are unique. For some, coaching would entail dealing with a lack of support from family or friends who do not understand; with others, I work on redefining a sense of identity, or it could even be helping a couple bridge the communication gap when people deal with their grief differently. As a fertility coach, I help people find their center of balance in overwhelming situations so that they can focus on the end result. I help people achieve what they need in order to regain a positive sense of self and control over their circumstances, reducing emotional stress
Q: It seems like there are more fertility coaches and consultants out there these days, but they aren't regulated or part of a formal professional organization: What's the best way for someone to choose one wisely?
A: Coaching is a subtle skill, and many people feel that life experience alone qualifies them to coach others. The measure of a good coach is evident in their results, i.e. testimonials, referrals or body of work. There are international coaching associations such as the ICF (International Coach Federation), as well as various national bodies that regulate coaches (such as COMENSA, Coaches and Mentors of South Africa, where I live). Things that I look out for in a coach (and I have a coach too) are personal compatibility, training, and accountability (i.e. which association’s ethics they subscribe to). Compatibility is important because you are going to be dealing with your coach through many personal and private situations, so trust and comfort is crucial. Training is invaluable as a coach because it teaches us what to look for, and what to ask, and how to deal appropriately with sensitive situations. Finally, being a member of a governing coaching body is not a legal requirement for practice, but it is a commitment by the coach to abide by the ethics of that organization.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give women or couples who are struggling to conceive, based on your expertise as a fertility coach?
A: You are in control of who your doctor is, what treatments you choose, and how you deal with your struggles. Things will be overwhelming at times, and I would invite you to be curious – about your body, your medication (and its effects), and your personal needs. If you are not sure why you are being given a medication, ask your doctor – not because you don’t trust their expertise, but because you have a right to understand everything that goes into your body.
Janet Chadwick is a fertility coach based in South Africa. You can find more about Janet and her work at www.fertilitycoach.com