At last year’s Fertility Fest I was lucky to be in a session with mother and daughter, Anna Furse and Nina Klaff, who gave an amazing performance about their experiences of IVF as a parent and as someone born through IVF. It was incredibly moving, and I was delighted to hear that Anna and Nina will be back performing at this year’s Fertility Fest at the Barbican where they will be joined in discussion afterwards with Channel Four News Health and Social Care Correspondent, Victoria MacDonald and Ann Daniels, a polar explorer and mother of IVF triplets.
The performance takes place on Friday 26 April at 7pm and you can book tickets here
You may have heard that having IVF brings a slightly increased risk of giving birth early and having a premature baby, but new research suggests that this may not be to do with the IVF itself. This large study was the first time researchers had used information from Finland about children conceived using IVF who had siblings who’d been conceived naturally – and found that the naturally-conceived siblings had just as great a risk of being born prematurely. It’s really interesting research as there are often questions about whether adverse effects which appear to be related to IVF are actually to do with the treatment itself or whether the underlying causes of infertility may be the real link.
You can read more about the study, which was published in the Lancet, here and here
If you are based in or near London, you may be interested to know about a very special parents and babies group taking place on Wednesday lunchtime at the Bush Theatre as part of the amazing Fertility Fest. The Life and Lunch meeting is just for IVF parents and babies and is an opportunity to discuss candidly and confidentially, how it feels to become a parent after you’ve struggled to conceive. It is being facilitated by Saskia Boujo, Founder of My Beehive and creator of the ‘IVF and Proud’ merchandise brand; Helen Davies, author of More Love To Give about her story of secondary infertility; and Gabby Vautier, Co-Director of Fertility Fest and mum of IVF toddler twins.
I’ve heard from so many people recently who are pregnant after fertility problems who are full of anxiety and feel their pregnancies, which ought to be joyful, are being tainted by the worries from the time spent trying to conceive. Women then blame themselves once again for not being “normal”, but this is a perfectly understandable response to finally finding yourself pregnant after fertility problems. You may find it hard to have faith that things are going to be all right when you have become so accustomed to them not being all right.
The other resource which may be helpful is a book I wrote because I felt so strongly about the lack of understanding for people who are pregnant after fertility problems. It’s called Precious Babies – Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting after Infertility and you can buy it from Amazon. It goes from the positive pregnancy test right through birth and early parenthood to interviews with adults conceived by IVF and I hope it helps you realise that you are not alone and that others feel the same way after fertility problems.
If you are pregnant after fertility problems, there is a brand new closed Facebook group that you can join. It is a closed space to talk to one another, to share experiences and to find news and information about pregnancy, birth and early parenting.
Did you know that the charity Fertility Network UK now has a special online group meeting every month for those who are pregnant after fertility problems? The group is open to everyone and will have expert speakers from time to time who will can offer tips and advice and answer questions.
Many people feel anxious when they finally discover they are pregnant after some time trying to conceive, and it can be hard to relax and enjoy your pregnancy. Talking to others who really understand how you feel can be hugely beneficial and the group is online so you can join from wherever you are based. Although it is run via Skype, it is just like a conference call rather than a video conference so you don’t need to worry about being seen. You can find the details and information about who to contact to join here
I’m really interested in the subject of pregnancy after fertility problems – there’s often an assumption that the years of trying to conceive disappear the instant you see a positive pregnancy test, but I think there’s a growing recognition that maybe it’s not quite that simple.
I was really delighted to be asked to speak at a workshop in Haywards Heath called Time to Heal organised by local midwives there – you can find them at @@BSUH_TIME2HEAL on Twitter. There were so many fantastic speakers and the audience were very receptive and interested.
When I was pregnant after IVF, I had two brilliant midwives who made me realise that just because I’d had problems getting pregnant, it didn’t mean that I was automatically going to have problems being pregnant. I went on to write a book about this – Precious Babies: Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting after Infertility – because I felt so strongly about the issue. I think my main feeling about this is that pregnancy after fertility problems is different but that it doesn’t mean a woman necessarily needs additional medical support – but what many of us could do with is some additional emotional support and understanding. This was a theme very much reflected by many of those attending the workshop, and I hope that going forwards this will be better understood.
If you are pregnant after fertility treatment and live in the South East, would you be willing to help with a research project?
Liz Gale, a Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at the University of Greenwich, is interested in the experiences of parents to be who are expecting their first child through IVF. This study is open to prospective parents who live in London or the South East and are expecting their first child, conceived using IVF or ICSI, genetically belonging to both parents. Full ethical approval for the study has been granted from the University of Greenwich research ethics committee.
Involvement in the study will entail 3 interviews, one antenatally at 34 weeks, the second when the baby is six weeks old and another 3 months following the birth. Interviews will take place in participant’s own home or somewhere convenient to you. You will also be asked to keep a diary to complete at your own convenience; this will not be onerous but will allow you to record your early experiences of parenthood; the diary will be reviewed by the researcher but will be yours to keep as a record of your early days with your baby. Anonymity is guaranteed and if you choose to participate you would have the right to withdraw at any point.
The study is undertaken as part of Liz’s PhD and once completed, the findings will be used to improve the care and support for parents with an IVF baby. If you are interested in taking part or wish to find out more information, please contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org
The week seems to have started really well with lots of social media conversation about fertility. I marked it by going to talk to staff at a City law firm about fertility and about how to help colleagues and employees who may be affected. It was encouraging that the subject had generated so much interest, and there were a number of questions and issues which came up for discussion at the end of the talk. It’s something many more employers could consider as increasing understanding about fertility problems can make all the difference.
I was also delighted that Piatkus, who publish my books, are offering five free copies of Precious Babies (the book about pregnancy, birth and parenting after infertility) to celebrate the week – all of these things help to raise awareness.
If you’re pregnant or a parent after fertility problems, Precious Babies is written just for you – and Piatkus are kindly donating a copy each day of National Fertility Awareness Week.
If you’d like to be entered into the draw for a copy – you can use the contact page on this blog or on my website giving me your details – and you may be one of the lucky winners of a free copy of the book.