How Doulas help moms during their IVF pregnancies?
All pregnancies are special without a doubt but undoubtedly a pregnancy as a result of IVF treatment is a gift that no parent can adequately describe. I have been lucky enough to conceive, carry and deliver four babies relatively easily and I can only imagine the heartache many people go through on their journey to become parents when this doesn’t happen as they imagine.
The moment a pregnancy is confirmed is an unforgettable memory for us all but even more than that I am sure for parents who have had a difficult journey to arrive at that point.
I have been lucky enough to support many parents who have undertaken IVF treatment and have gone on to have healthy pregnancies resulting in the birth of a beautiful baby. Often when I have first met these parents I have found that they are more nervous than other expectant parents for obvious reasons. They have invested emotionally, physically and financially in this dream and they are desperate for a good experience and importantly a happy, healthy baby.
Any pregnancy comes with a variety of risks that any mother will think deeply about, there is no such thing as a pregnant woman who doesn’t consider risks and obviously worries, but an IVF mum can often be weighed down with risks especially if she has previously lost a pregnancy.
Such parents do need a lot of support and I am never happier than when I attend the birth of their baby. I have found myself having to offer a lot of reassurance, often about what would appear to others to be minor issues but to an IVF mum are potentially huge problems in their pregnancy. Worries experienced by IVF parents during their pregnancy can lead them to decide on more medicalized/managed care, not wanting to do anything that they rightly or wrongly feel may jeopardize their longed-for pregnancy.
Here are some of the issues that IVF parents often need to consider:
- Failure of the process to achieve a viable pregnancy plus all the emotional, physical and financial aspects associated with this.
- Talking to friends and family about the process, managing their expectations, hopes, and queries. Having to constantly be ready to answer questions about the process and whether it has been successful.
- Feeling of inadequacy, failure and maybe even shame.
- Financial considerations, how many rounds of IVF can they actually afford?
- Managing the stresses on relationships. I have seen couples struggle with this and it is certainly something they need to be mindful of.
- The possibility of multiple births and the impact this would have on a family.
- The possibility of premature delivery and low birth weight.
- Deciding on a doctor they trust and feel comfortable with. These doctors will become a big part of their lives and they are putting their trust in them completely in order to achieve their dream.
- The risk of miscarriage especially if mum is considered to have an advanced maternal age.
I have found supporting IVF parents throughout pregnancy to be an immensely challenging and rewarding experience. It is incredibly important to offer them complete support with no judgment at all. We have to acknowledge all of their concerns as valid. Every ache, pain or twinge the mums' experience will be a source of concern to them and we have to be there to reassure them all the time.
I would like to wish all those lovely couples embarking on the IVF journey all the very best, surround yourselves with good friends and professionals, people who you can confide in and trust and who can help you through this incredible journey.