Pregnancy is a miraculous journey filled with remarkable changes in a person’s life. However, it’s not unusual to experience some level of discomfort, especially during the first trimester. Among the many challenges expectant women and people face, pregnancy nausea is one of the most common. It can vary from barely noticeable, mild to severe, and in some instances, it may require hospitalisation. While there are conventional treatments available to alleviate these symptoms, more and more people are turning to therapies like acupuncture for pregnancy nausea. Are you interested to explore how acupuncture can provide relief from pregnancy-related nausea?
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves the gentle insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body’s skin. These points, known as acupuncture points, are believed to be connected to energy channels or meridians within the body. Utilising Chinese medicine diagnosis techniques and thorough case history taking, acupuncturists choose points specifically for you. By stimulating these points, acupuncturists aim to restore balance to the body’s energy flow and promote a natural healing response.
How Can Acupuncture Help Alleviate Pregnancy Nausea?
Pregnancy nausea, often referred to as morning sickness, affects a significant portion of expectant individuals with some experiencing it severely. Acupuncture has gained recognition as an effective natural remedy for managing pregnancy nausea. While the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges acupuncture as an effective treatment for morning sickness, the positive experiences of many people also speak to its effectiveness.
Why Choose Fertile Ground for Acupuncture During Pregnancy?
If you’re experiencing pregnancy nausea and seeking a natural remedy to ease your discomfort, Fertile Ground is here to help. Our experienced practitioners are experts in providing acupuncture treatments during pregnancy to help people overcome a wide range of pregnancy-related symptoms, including morning sickness.
Our acupuncture team is dedicated to providing safe and effective treatments tailored to each individual’s needs. They use sterile, disposable needles and follow strict safety protocols to ensure both the patient and the baby’s safety during treatment.
In addition to acupuncture, our practitioners’ comprehensive approach to pregnancy care may also include safe Chinese herbal medicine, moxa, cupping, and diet or lifestyle suggestions to help individuals achieve optimal health during this crucial period. Over the years, our practitioners have helped literally thousands of people overcome pregnancy-related symptoms and achieve a healthy, happy pregnancy.
A Safe and Effective Natural Remedy for Nausea in Pregnancy
Acupuncture is a safe and effective natural remedy for alleviating pregnancy nausea. By stimulating the body’s natural healing mechanisms, acupuncture helps restore balance to the body’s energy flow, promoting relaxation and symptom relief. If you’re experiencing pregnancy-related nausea, consider seeking our Fertile Ground acupuncture services. Our treatments are safe and tailored to your individual needs, ultimately helping you achieve a healthy, happy pregnancy.
Your well-being and the health of your baby are our top priorities, and we are here to support you every step of the way. Embrace the healing power of acupuncture and enjoy a smoother pregnancy experience.
Cooking up a hearty breakfast of poached eggs with kale and walnut pesto is a great way to stabilise your blood sugar and fuel up with nutrient dense delicious veggies in the morning. It’s a super easy, quick and convenient option.
Important note – if making this dish in pregnancy be sure to poach the eggs until hard, as a soft yolk increases the risk of salmonella poisoning.
INGREDIENTS: Poached eggs, Mushies and Toms
- 2 eggs
- 4-8 cherry tomatoes (halved)
- ½ cup raw mushrooms (sliced)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Boil water in a small saucepan for the eggs.
- Once the water has boiled, poached eggs for 4 minutes or until yolk is hard (in pregnancy).
Pan fry cherry tomatoes and mushrooms in some butter with salt and pepper.
INGREDIENTS: Kale and walnut pesto (1 serve = 1-2 tablespoons)
- 1 cup raw kale
- 1 cup fresh basil
- ½ cup walnuts (toasted)
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180 C. Spread walnuts evenly on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook for 5 minutes or until golden.
- Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blitz until smooth. Season as required.
- Store in the fridge.
Drizzle the kale and walnut pesto over the top of your delicious eggs, mushies and cherry toms for a breakfast that gives you a great supportive start to the day.
This Poached Eggs with Kale and Walnut Pesto recipe is brought to you by senior fertility naturopath and nutritionist, Georgia Marrion. Keen to get some dietary support in your fertility, pregnancy or postpartum journey? Book in with Georgia for a free 10 minute telehealth consult to find out what’s possible for you > navigate to heading Naturopathy – Fertile Ground > 10 minute Free Naturopathic Introduction
As we launch ourselves into Spring, let’s let our cells and microbiomes sing with dietary delight and variation – and what better way to do that than putting your feet up with a Springtime Raspberry Lime Smoothie Bowl and bringing the essence of beachside Bali to your living room. Organic frozen berries are a beneficial and nutritious addition to your plate, bowl and drink all year round. Spring heralds the bonus of using fresh berries, with fresh raspberries starting to hit the shop shelves in the third month of Spring in Australia (early November). This recipe is safe and delicious at all stages of your fertility journey, whether you are trying to conceive, pregnant, or have already birthed your bub.
(1 serve = 250mL)
INGREDIENTS – Springtime Raspberry Lime Smoothie Bowl
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- ½ frozen banana
- ¼ raw zucchini
- ½ cup raw almonds
- 1-2 tablespoons protein powder
- ½ cup Greek, natural or coconut full-fat yoghurt
- Juice of 1 lime
- To serve: ¼ cup each of toasted nut, seed and coconut mix and fresh berries
- Add all ingredients to blender and blitz until well-blended.
- Serve with yoghurt and toasted nut, seed and coconut mix and fresh berries sprinkled on top.
If you’re in the postpartum stage, add in 1 serve of collagen powder along with your protein powder for tissue healing support.
This Springtime Raspberry Lime Smoothie Bowl recipe is brought to you by senior fertility naturopath and nutritionist, Georgia Marrion. Keen to get some dietary support in your fertility, pregnancy or postpartum journey? Book in with Georgia for a free 10 minute telehealth consult to find out what’s possible for you > navigate to heading Naturopathy – Fertile Ground > 10 minute Free Naturopathic Introduction
Miscarriage is a difficult yet (unfortunately) very commonly experience during pregnancy where a loss occurs prior to 20 weeks’ gestation. Recurrent miscarriage, where 3 consecutive miscarriages occur, while less prevalent, is still common and a condition we see and help manage in our patients frequently at Fertile Ground.
While in some cases the cause is unknown, there are many reasons associated with an increased risk and incidence of miscarriage including: anatomical, age, genetic, autoimmune, infectious, endocrine, chromosomal abnormalities, lifestyle and environmental factors. (1,2)
Following a thorough investigation to assess potential causes in each individual case, we usually recommend a broad range dietary, lifestyle, nutritional and herbal strategies to ameliorate the specific risk factors that may be contributing to miscarriage specific to each person/couple.
Dietary strategies we frequently recommend include reducing your consumption of refined sugars, processed, fried and vegetable fats, ‘junk’ proteins and processed foods and increasing your intake of vegetables, fruits, beneficial fats and whole food protein foods.
Why? Because such a dietary pattern will support both egg and sperm quality and many aspects of hormonal health (we know that this along with other therapeutic strategies is effective based on the many couples we have helped become parents).
Recently, a study has come out confirming what we see clinically in regards to diet quality and miscarriage – so let’s review what the investigators looked at and what they found:(Chung 2023)
What was the study asking?
The study was a systematic review and meta-analysis (which is an analysis of the findings of multiple studies) to summarise the association between preconception dietary intake and miscarriage risk in women of reproductive age.
What did they find?
It was found that eating a wholefood-based, seasonal, antioxidant-rich diet comprising increased consumption of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and protein foods (eggs, seafood, dairy, meat) reduced the risk of miscarriage and was associated with good pregnancy outcomes.
They also found an association between a high intake of processed foods and increased miscarriage risk.
So quality matters – but so does timing and duration, as they also found that such benefits for miscarriage and pregnancy outcome involved following such a dietary pattern for between 1-4 years prior to conception.
If you have experienced miscarriage, or are starting out on your journey to conceive, preconception health for both females and males can make all the difference to your fertility and pregnancy outcomes. If you feel you need some help improving your dietary intake for fertility or general reproductive health, reach out and book an appointment today so we can help!
Written by Senior Fertility Naturopath & Nutritionist, Georgia Marrion
MHNut, BHsci (Comp Med), Adv.Dip HSci (Nat)
MNSA, MANPA, MFSA
1. Hecthman L. Advanced clinical naturopathic medicine. Elsevier: Chatswood, 2020.
2. Chung Y et al. The association between dietary patterns and risk of miscarriage: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fert Ster 2023 Apr; S0015-0282 (23) 00296-0. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37061157/
We’re thrilled to announce that Rhea Dempsey (renowned counsellor, best selling author and childbirth educator) is offering a wonderful free event to all practitioners about understanding contemporary birth culture and its impact on birth experience.
Register your spot for this free 45 minute webinar with Rhea Dempsey, going live on Wednesday July 27, 2022 at 4pm AEST.
“I hear far too often of the dismay you feel as a practitioner when the pregnant woman, whose body and being you have been treating and preparing for birth returns with a distressing birth story. A birth story filled with interventions and just-in-time emergencies, leading to distress and trauma – and you wonder what on earth happened?
In this free 45-minute webinar I will introduce you to the key structural factors in contemporary birth culture that hijack so many women’s birth dreams and leave you puzzled.”
This webinar is open to all health professionals
In particular, this webinar is for those counsellors, psychologists, naturopaths, acupuncturists, doctors, birth workers and all supporting practitioners who are integral to the healthcare team of patients moving through pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.
You’re most welcome to register for this event. Please share it with any colleagues you believe would also benefit.
Rhea’s classes and workshops have long been held in high regard by practitioners and patients alike. She has been doing incredible work in the birth space for decades and we’ve no doubt you’re already a raving fan (as we are).
We are honoured to be launching this digital offering with Rhea and creating a reservoir of her wisdom for people to access. It will feature in the Fertile Ground Legacy Series – an initiative we are creating to translate the decades of collective wisdom that Fertile Ground practitioners have amassed, because we want to ensure that this important knowledge is passed on to you and the next generation of practitioners to come.
Looking forward to seeing you there.
Charmaine Dennis & Carly Woods
Directors | Naturopaths
Fertile Ground Health Group
PS – Register now for the Free Webinar with Rhea Dempsey – going live Wednesday, July 27 at 4pm.
We have the delightful privilege of introducing you to our unique new practitioner – Katy Woods. Katy joins our Fertile Ground team as a Movement and Embodied Dance Coach.
Katy’s passion is working with people who want to cultivate a deeper connection within and to their bodies.
This can be at any stage of life, and is particularly useful when preparing for and experiencing all the physical and emotional changes that fertility, pregnancy, new parenthood (and other life-changing times such as peri-menopause and menopause) bring the body and mind.
Why are we offering this new modality?
In early 2020 we were aching for something that would not only help us navigate our own emotional integration through the ever changing terrain of COVID, to keep us moving through Melbourne lockdowns and also to bring us joy.
Katy came to our rescue and AbunDance was birthed – a weekly online facilitated dance and movement group session that helped all of those in attendance move through their emotional landscapes and find connection and uplift too.
When the AbunDance series finished, we continued to have private sessions with Katy, focusing on feminine embodiment practices along with emotional processing. We did solo as well as couple’s consults, which offered a layer of deep connection as we rolled the shapes of our bodies through time and space together.
We found these sessions to be such an incredible asset to our personal resilience and capacity to navigate our lives through COVID that we just knew we needed to offer this widely to our community for all the benefits it brings.
Book for Telehealth/Zoom sessions with Katy on:
Thursdays 10am – 7pm AEST
Fridays 10am – 7pm AEST
Sundays 4pm – 7pm AEST
Katy Woods is passionate about offering practices that nurture your connection to yourself and your surroundings. She works with a movement-based approach to investigate issues related to your body, your emotions, and how your relationships to self and others are formed from that. Her coaching uses guided improvisations, rich imaginings and meditations, authentic movement discovery, and body science to give you long term-tools to become stronger, more confident, and help you refine a deep understanding of self.
Katy is like an old friend, welcoming, insightful, and attentive. She is currently running free toe-dipping 10 minute consults to help you get a sense of what this new connective practice could be like for you.
Read more about Katy in her practitioner bio and book in to get started with a new practice of self care and connection.
We look forward to seeing you at the practice soon,
Charmaine Dennis & Carly Woods
Bachelor of Creative Art & Contemporary Dance
Movement & Embodied Dance Coach
Fertile Ground Health Group at The Melbourne Apothecary
a: 33 Smith Street, Fitzroy
We know that around 80-84% of couples with healthy and fully functioning reproductive systems will be pregnant within 12 months, and 93% within two years. These couples have a 20% chance of conceiving on any one cycle and the chance is not cumulative ‒ it is a 20% chance each time. We also know that a variety of factors can affect your chance of conceiving, including your age, diet, lifestyle, fitness and stress levels. We will get to all of that, but let’s focus on sex first!
A fertility equation
If 100 couples try to get pregnant in January, about 20 will conceive, leaving 80 to try again in February. If another 20 per cent (or 16 couples) conceive, then 64 will be trying again in March. Continuing the one-in-five success rate, by the end of April roughly half will have successfully conceived. At this rate, after seven months 78 couples would have conceived (leaving 22 not yet pregnant).
Trying to conceive (TTC) takes time – it is like predicting the weather really. It can look like rain, feel like rain, even have lightning and thunder and yet still hold off. It will rain eventually in most cases, but we can’t say exactly when. When you start TTC, if you can, try to keep hold of the understanding that you would like to conceive sometime over the course of the year. This will help avoid what many couples experience as the roller-coaster ride of TTC – the highs and lows that come with expectation and disappointment if you don’t have a positive pregnancy test; feelings that are often compounded by PMT!
Having said that though, research shows that if you can interpret your body’s signs of ovulation and time your sex and conception attempts to the fertile window, your chances of conceiving on any one cycle are significantly higher.
When is the best time to have sex?
Every pregnancy truly is a miracle of its own. When it comes to getting pregnant, it seems that many couples aren’t doing it right. A recent Australian study of women trying to conceive found that although more than half (68.2%) thought they were timing it right for conception, only 13% accurately estimated their day of ovulation.
Understanding the most fertile time of the female cycle is critical for conception to occur and it is so important to get good education and advice about this. An inaccurate understanding may contribute to delayed conception and many cases of ‘unexplained’ infertility. Women only have a small window in each reproductive cycle to conceive so it is important to get the timing right. While you can feel like you have been trying for months and months, if you are not focusing your efforts on this optimal window of time, the likelihood of conceiving is slim.
Jane had been trying to conceive based on when her app told her she was ‘flowering’. Sure enough, as her cycle was irregular (31-45 days), it was way off, saying that she was ovulating a lot earlier than she was and hence missing the fertile window for healthy conception. This couple tried the next month at the right time, and low and behold it worked! Jane also made diet changes and had started herbal medicine, but the timing was an important factor.
The Fertile Window
We know that eggs only live for 12-24 hours while sperm may be viable for up to five days (although most have very little vitality left after three). For optimal chances and the healthiest conception, ideally sperm will be ready and waiting in the fallopian tubes for when the egg is released by the ovary (ovulation). The best chances of conceiving occur with intercourse within the two days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. These three days are called your ‘Fertile Window’.
Technically, you do have a small chance of conception from five days prior to ovulation but you have the highest probability during this three-day window. This is also the best time for insemination for same sex couples or single women who are planning to time insemination at home. In most cases you don’t need to rely on technology or your doctor to tell you when this is occurring. Happily, there are signs to indicate the fertile window and that the egg is about to be released.
When is my fertile window?
To improve your chances of conception, have sex during the two days prior to ovulation and the day of ovulation. e.g if you ovulate on Day 14 of your cycle, your most fertile days (and also the best to have sex) are likely to be days 12, 13 and 14.
Having said that, ovulation can be affected by many factors – stress, weight (over and under), excessive exercise, excitement, travel, thyroid problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome and anaemia (as well as all the various types of infertility). Read on for more information on how you can understand how to determine your fertile window, but it is important to seek guidance with a qualified and experienced fertility professional if you are confused.
Where time permits, it is useful to check and record the signs and symptoms of your reproductive cycle for a few cycles before you try to conceive
Knowing your signs of ovulation and timing your sex with understanding of your cycle will give you an increased sense of confidence in your conscious conception. Marking secondary symptoms like headaches or fluid retention will give your fertility practitioner team very useful information about your cycle and hormones to assist with providing the best treatment for your individual needs.
Make sure you scan and email or bring your charts to every fertility related appointment where possible. Your practitioner will help you to understand and interpret your chart with ease. It may seem confusing at first, but within a few cycles it will become clear – a free and easy method to understand your cycle for your reproductive life.
For more information or to get help on your fertility or pregnancy journey, book in with a Fertile Ground Naturopath
Crosignani P, Rubin B, The ESHRE Capri Workshop Group. Optimal use of infertility diagnostic tests and treatments. Hum Reprod. 2000;15(3):723-732. doi:10.1093/humrep/15.3.723.
Fritz MA, Speroff L. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. 8th edn. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011.
Gnoth C, Godehardt D, Godehardt E, Frank-Herrmann P, Freundl G. Time to pregnancy: Results of the German prospective study and impact on the management of infertility. Hum Reprod. 2003;18(9):1959-1966. doi:10.1093/humrep/deg366.
Hampton K, Mazza D. Fertility-awareness knowledge, attitudes and practices of women attending general practice. Aust Fam Physician. 2015;44(11):840-845.
Jansen RPS. Elusive fertility: fecundability and assisted conception in perspective. Fertil Steril. 1995;64(2):252-254. doi:10.1016/S0015- 0282(16)57718-8.
Manders M, McLindon L, Schulze B, Beckmann MM, Kremer JAM, Farquhar C. Timed intercourse for couples trying to conceive. Cochrane database Syst Rev. 2015;3(3):CD011345. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011345. pub2.
Sharma R, Biedenharn KR, Fedor JM, Agarwal A. Lifestyle factors and reproductive health: taking control of your fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013;11(1):66. doi:10.1186/1477-7827-11-66.
Te Velde ER, Eijkemans R, Habbema H. Variation in couple fecundity and time to pregnancy, an essential concept in human reproduction. Lancet. 2000;355(June):1928-1929. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)03202-5.
It’s important to explore your options for mind and body support during the two week wait, as this is the time between ovulation or transfer of an embryo during IVF, to when you find out the outcome of your pregnancy test. It can be a time of great anguish, as you wait (for about 2 weeks) to find out if you are pregnant.
Many women that have been on a fertility journey for a while often say they are living their life in 2 week increments. The 2 weeks leading up to their ovulation are filled with planning, and lots of sex in the days before ovulation, which then moves into stress and anxiety post ovulation, followed by a depressed few days when their period comes, to be repeated over and over.
To help support you in this time, here are a few tips to help optimise your body in lowering stress, improving your mood and as well as optimising your body to hopefully lead to a positive pregnancy test.
- Reward yourself with a massage, a shopping trip or a delicious meal out with your partner (no wine though please). There is some evidence that supporting dopamine can help support implantation. Dopamine is produced when we feel a ‘reward’, so no better excuse to treat yourself than this. It doesn’t need to cost money either, it could be running a bath for yourself with some candles, chatting with an old friend on the phone or anything else that feels good. As well as supporting dopamine, it can also help as a point of distraction during the two week wait.
Sex for everyone
- Commonly, when couples have been trying to conceive for a long time, sex can become a little mechanical and left for just the fertile window. However, studies show that a woman being exposed to a male partner’s semen post ovulation or transfer can actually help implantation. When an embryo implants into a woman’s uterus, her body has to perform a miraculous feat of down-regulating her immune system to allow the foreign cells from the embryo to join into her body and allow her blood supply to continue to nourish and grow the embryo. In no other time does this happen, think of how many immunosuppressive drugs a person must take in an organ transplant. It is believed that a woman continuing to be exposed to a male partner’s cells through contact with semen, this supports that down-regulation of her immune system to support the embryo’s implantation. Sex can also be a wonderful way to boost dopamine, see above, as well as to strengthen the connection between a couple.
- When going through the fertility journey, allowing sex to be for pleasure and not just baby making, can be a wonderful way to maintain your connection in any context you choose – be it to yourself, to your partner or otherwise. Sex can be supportive whether you’re conceiving naturally, through IVF or in a heterosexual or same-sex couple. For single women, self-pleasure can be just as beneficial.
When is sex not recommended?
The only time I may consider sex may possibly not be safe during the two week wait, is if you have a significant vaginal infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis. Hopefully this has been looked into and treated prior to conception but if you are unsure, speak to your naturopath practitioner.
Nutritional & Medicinal Support
- Eat nitric oxide rich foods such as berries, beetroot, dark chocolate, pomegranate and leafy greens. Nitric oxide is a chemical in the body that helps to open blood vessels and promote blood flow. Increasing blood flow is important for implantation to help nourish the uterine wall and embryo. Some examples of how to include these foods could be a berry choc smoothie with cocoa and organic raspberries, or a roasted cauliflower and beetroot salad with a yogurt dressing and pomegranate sprinkled on top. The other benefit of these foods is they are often feel-good foods, boosting your mood. Another fantastic way to support blood flow can be getting acupuncture, and many studies support acupuncture for not only improving implantation but also relieving stress and anxiety.
- Take your progesterone or progesterone supportive herbal medicines. Progesterone is produced in a natural cycle post-ovulation from the corpus luteum, the temporary gland that is produced once an egg leaves the ovarian follicle. Progesterone supports implantation by down-regulating the immune system, lowering inflammation and maintaining the uterine wall for implantation. If during your preconception work up, your naturopath has found you have low progesterone, they may have implemented strategies through nutritional supplementation or herbal medicine to increase progesterone levels. If this is the case, please remember to take your medicines in this time as it is important to continue to work on your progesterone. During an IVF cycle, progesterone pessaries are very commonly prescribed, and please continue taking these as prescribed by your fertility team. There are other benefits too – low progesterone can increase anxiety and insomnia, so by supporting healthy levels of this hormone you can also support a happy mood.
- Take your probiotics: some strains of probiotics can support progesterone production which helps with implantation as well as supporting good bacteria that support implantation as well. Bifidobacterium strains, in particular, have some research they can increase progesterone, while the lactobacillus species are the beneficial species in the vaginal microbiome. As mentioned above, vaginal infections can possibly affect the implantation process, by increasing inflammation, and triggering the immune system, so support a healthy vaginal flora while helping to boost your progesterone levels. Speak to your naturopath about which probiotics are right for you, as different species have different roles in the body.
These strategies can be really helpful in supporting your body to increase the chances of falling pregnant and lowering your stress and anxiety during the two week wait, but the real work comes in preparing your body BEFORE conception. Working with your naturopath for at least 4 months prior to conceiving, can increase your chances of pregnancy through natural conception or IVF by improving egg and sperm quality, supporting healthy nutrient levels, looking at microbiome issues and addressing hormone imbalances (just to name a few). There is a myriad of things we look at improving for people who are struggling to conceive.
If you would like to find out more how I can help you, please book a free 10 minute consult and we can have a chat about your current fertility struggles and make a plan to move forward.
Yours in wellness
Tess Doig is a highly skilled degree qualified naturopath with over 9 years of practice specialising in the areas of fertility, pregnancy, women’s health and mental health. She is skilled in complex infertility cases, helping support many women and couples through unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, IVF, male factor infertility and more.
Along with supporting singles and couples with fertility, she also has a passion for all areas of women’s health including hormone imbalance, gynaecological disorders, vaginal infections, autoimmune conditions and mental health.
As a counsellor, listening to and being present to the unfolding stories after a pregnancy ends too early, or when a baby dies, requires me to hold space for another’s sorrow in a way that can seep in, grow, and be held as a deepening sadness. This impact can be felt, yet remain as invisible and silent as the way society responds to these unspeakable losses.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Supporting someone after a baby dies as a loved one requires holding compassion for any perceived failings in supporting the unravelling of another in sinking downwards into an unfamiliar terrain. Allow them to decide whether to rise again or not and just be there alongside, being the doula for the other side of birth where a baby is missing in every part of their imagined shared futures. It is bleak and dark and unbearable and yet bear it you must as it is only a fraction of what the other carries.
Often the joy of having babies is preceded with experiences of grief, and yet we only see the images around us of blissfully expectant mothers and smiling parents with their children. So rarely do we see the stories of loss, often born shrouded in silence such as with miscarriages, terminations or when a baby dies in utero, during birth or shortly after.
If you visit a maternity hospital, you will likely see image after image of the joy of having a baby. Go seeking a visual representation of the babies that will never be born, die in pregnancy, in labour or shortly after birth and you will notice little to no representation for this reality. With life comes death and the lifetimes in between the two are varied and many, yet we only champion live births and happy parents.
Being alongside such experiences is profound in its sadness, and yet there is honour in being a companion to such grief. Sitting with the love lost and the agony felt in letting go is an enormous task to hold. Forgiveness is needed when you fear you might get it wrong as it comes with the territory where ‘getting it right’ does not really exist. It is as much a fantasy as being a perfect mother. There is only what is.
Be present when others cannot be. Be there because there is a need. Hold self-compassion as you cannot be blamed for any failings as who taught you to hold the unbearable? Who taught you to know what to say, not say and when to do and give instead of speaking? When you cannot ‘fix it’ there is no room for questioning, only sitting with, being with, sharing the uncertainty.
Allow the depth of despair to be felt and be held. Give them an anchor to secure themselves to. Let them know their rights in honouring the loss, speaking of their loss, to expect to be heard for as long as they need to speak of their pregnancy, their baby, the child missing from the dinner table. Speak their baby’s name, ask them about their cherished one. Find ways to honour this experience, a tree that blooms at this time of year, a memory box full of all that is known and not yet known about their pregnancy, their baby. Allow for meaning making and disbelief to coexist.
Let them know it gets easier, you get to know the grief, recognise its needs, make room for it, be forever changed by it. Know your limits and encourage professional support so they can become more than the sum of their broken parts. Seek help yourself as you begin to feel that deepening sadness seep in and start to grow. You and I cannot ward this off for we are human, and it is too big to wriggle our way out of it. When attending to another’s grief we must attend to our own breaking hearts.
Know that a parent that has endured suffering on the path to parenthood will be better equipped to know something of their child’s suffering and may pass to them what has been learnt in reaching rock bottom and rising again.
What a gift to give to another to reshape suffering into a way to comfort even if you have never received that yourself. Hold light where there is darkness and know if you only offer kindness, it is enough where there is sorrow.
Perinatal & Fertility Counsellor & Supervisor
Fertile Ground Health Group
If you would like help navigating grief and loss please feel welcome to make a booking with Suzanne.