How to Assemble Your Fertility Journey “A Team”

fertility journey

There aren’t too many life experiences like the fertility journey, don’t be afraid to look into a little professional help

Your fertility journey is one of the greatest challenges you’ll ever face. While you know you have the support from your loved ones, there’s also other resources and professionals who are here to help you. You and your partner should never have to be alone on your fertility journey. It’s important to know that our experts at Robyn can provide you the information and resources you need if you can’t make an in-person or virtual appointment with a professional throughout your fertility journey. There are certain experts that we should all consider looking into when it comes to staying on top of your own personal fertility journey. 

If you do so, you have a team of people that will be there to support you in every way they can. Oftentimes, trying to conceive is not as easy as it may seem in the movies and can be one of the greatest challenges you’ll ever face. However, keep in mind that you’ve already taken a tremendous first step by looking into what options are available to you. We encourage you to get started sooner, rather than later. Making healthy lifestyle choices in nutrition, mental health, acupuncture and exercising can be really important and beneficial during this period of time. Good news is, we have experts in every field to weigh in on what you should be looking for when gathering your “A Team” for this journey you’re about to embark on. 

Nutrition

Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition, a NYC-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness. She is internationally recognized for her individualized, lifestyle-focused approach, which integrates realistic food plans, smart eating habits, and active living. Amy recommends that when putting together your “fertility” team don’t forget to consider your nutrition since what you put into your body plays an important role in your fertility journey. 

Yes, we know during times of frustration food can be a comfort and the last thing you really want to manage but research shows what you do and do not eat can play a supporting role in fertility outcomes for both men and women.  Registered Dietitians like Amy can help with everything from weight management to nutrient balance in order to create the strongest possible environment for conception.  Did you know certain foods can help boost fertility, increase sperm count, and motility while others can improve egg quality?  It’s true! 

By having a professional on your side will put you at ease knowing you are doing all that you can to keep your body healthy.  It also allows you to personalize your meal plan so you get what you need but also eat what you like.  Establishing a relationship with your practitioner allows them to know where you are in your cycle so they can support you at all times and they will even communicate with the rest of your team to make sure everyone is on the same page.  Set yourself up for success right now, but also for years to come, since healthy eating benefits you at all stages of your life!

What to Look For: 

Many fertility doctors and clinics work with and refer to Dietitians like Amy, which is a great place to start. Remember, anyone can call themself a nutritionist so we recommend making sure the individual you plan to work with is a Registered Dietitian and is licensed to work in your state. Sessions range from one to multiple depending on your needs and are often offered via phone, Telehealth and in person to make it as easy for you as possible.  Remember this process shouldn’t add additional stress to your day, you should feel supported and excited about the person you choose to work with.  Although all Dietitians do not take health insurance most can provide you with the diagnostic codes you need to submit to your insurance company for possible reimbursement. Finally, read reviews, talk to friends, do your research and then have a conversation with the practitioner you are interested in.  Make sure you are a fit and they can provide what you want and need with the experience you desire.   Remember you’ll be a team so sign on with someone you can trust.  

Mental Health

Carly Snyder, M.D. is one of a small cohort of medical physicians specializing in reproductive psychiatry. She is in private practice in New York, and is on staff at Weill-Cornell in the Payne Whitney Women’s Program.When it comes to mental health on your fertility journey, Dr. Snyder is an expert to talk to. She believes those who struggle with fertility are often in a great deal of emotional pain. Women frequently remain quiet about their experience, leading to a common sense of isolation and loneliness during the process of trying to conceive.

Failing to get pregnant can understandably lead to many negative feelings such as self doubt, fear, anger, and resentment among many others. While these may be a normal response to a difficult situation, couples who face fertility struggles have been found to be more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety compared to couples who do not face the same issues. Specifically,  15-54% of couples presenting for treatment of fertility issues have symptoms of depression, and 8-28% of couples experience anxiety. Working with a mental health professional who has specific training in issues related to fertility and also to the perinatal period can be incredibly beneficial to help minimize the impact of symptoms. Psychotherapy allows women to explore and express their feelings about their fertility journey in a safe place.

What to Look For: 

Carly says to seek out a therapist and a psychiatrist with training in fertility-based and perinatal mood disorders.  A reproductive psychiatrist can effectively evaluate whether a woman requires additional medication to help address her symptoms, and if so, can work with her to find the optimal medication plan that improves symptoms with the least possible risk for any future pregnancy. Understanding the unique situations and scenarios faced by women during fertility treatments and in a subsequent pregnancy and postpartum allows for optimal care. It is imperative that women seek out help if they are suffering, not only for now but also for the health of their future pregnancy and postpartum period. 

Acupuncture

Aimee Raupp, MS, LAc, is a renowned women’s health & wellness expert and a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in a private practice in New York. Aimee says, thanks to promising research  behind the age-old Chinese medicine tradition of acupuncture, women who are trying to conceive often find their way into an acupuncturist’s office. One thing to know is acupuncture is just one facet of the 5000+ year old practice of Chinese medicine, which also includes herbal medicine, dietary, lifestyle and mental-emotional practices. 

What to Look For: 

Aimee believes it is important to look for a trusted referral to a practitioner who not only understands all facets of Chinese medicine but also has a good grasp on how the women’s reproductive system works. There are certain certifications such as NCCAOM certified (bonus if they’re also a certified Chinese Herbalist) but also that they believe in you and your ability to get and stay pregnant. Going to acupuncture clinics that don’t spend a lot of time with you- or don’t take the time to do a detailed health history isn’t as good as the clinics where you see a practitioner who truly takes the time to understand your case- physically mentally emotionally and nutritionally.  You want a practitioner who can support and guide you while also understanding eastern and western treatment modalities and options.  

Movement

Amy Wolfe is a New York City based yoga teacher who has hundreds of hours and years of experience. Amy is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 500) and a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT). In Amy’s opinion, Yoga is a broad term that can encompass vastly different practices on the mat—from restorative poses, to breath exercises, to rigorous shapes that quite quickly get your heart pumping. 

Amy starts by asking her students “So, right now, what do you need?” Maybe that is vigor, and yoga is your outlet for letting go of built up energy in a positive and healthy way. Or maybe you have a bit too much of that type of stimulation already, and what you need is some stillness, softness, and quiet time. Then again, maybe you’re just trying to stretch and do what your doctor said would help.

What to Look For: 

The starting point is to get a clear sense of what role you want yoga to play in your fertility journey. Funny enough, what you want might be at odds with what you need. Weird, huh? But it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Type A people don’t want to slow down: “Make time to lay on pillows and breathe? Yeah, right. That definitely doesn’t fit into my schedule.” Similarly, when we are in a bit of a lethargic rut, we’re not eager to dive into physical exertion. As you take stock of where you are in life, use that to inform how yoga is going to fit into your fertility journey so that you get both what you want and what you need. 

Then come the more practical questions: how many times a week am I practicing? Am I going to a studio or does virtual, or private, or some other option work better for me and my goals and resources? Then you can explore combinations of all kinds: styles of yoga, types of class, venue, teacher, and so on.

Most importantly though, find a teacher you like, and a teacher you trust. Let them help you talk through different ways of practicing, or different tools available to you that perhaps you didn’t think you’d be interested in trying or didn’t even know existed. Like, say, Yoga Nidra or a simple 3 pose practice before sleep. Remember there is no catch-all answer. Let yoga be your tool. Listen to yourself and be intentional about how yoga moves you forward.

Robyn Provider Network

Our experts in the Robyn provider network specialize in fertility and maternal wellness, collaborate with reproductive endocrinologists, OBGYNs, and other physicians on treatment plans that complement your primary care. These experts recognize that your journey to parenthood is unique, and often offer virtual sessions. Fertility struggles can be lonely and stressful, so it’s important you create the best A Team to be there for you every step of the way. Remember, you and your partner aren’t alone anymore, you have a team. 

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