Fertility

What does a fertility doula do?

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Full spectrum doulas are becoming more common in Toronto - as are folks looking for doula care beyond birth and postpartum. We thought we’d take a moment to explore fertility doula care - one of the full spectrum services we provide.

What is a fertility doula?

A fertility doula is someone who supports people in their journey to become pregnant, regardless of what that journey looks like. Whether going the fertility clinic route, at home monitoring and insemination, or a mixture of the two - a fertility doula provides you with support best suited to your needs and wants.

This can look many different ways: in person or phone check-ins to process procedures, emotions, and information. It can also include unlimited text support, attending clinic appointments alongside you, providing you with resources and referrals to complementary health care modalities, helping you in formulating a fertility plan. Depending on the doula, they may also offer mindfulness session as well as fertility yoga.

If you’d like to learn more check out this guest blog post from one of Corina’s former fertility clients where they talk about the care they received during their IVF journey.

How DO YOU BOOK A FERTILITY DOULA?

At Spectrum Doula Collective you can book fertility support hourly or you can purchase a package. Check out our prices here.

Who hires a fertility doula?

Anyone who needs and wants one! At Spectrum Doula Collective we have worked with the whole spectrum of families (including single parents as well as queer and straight couples) who were trying to conceive. 

Want to learn more? Drop us a line and in the meantime, enjoy these 5 grounding fertility practices.

xo,

The Spectrum Team

Five podcasts we *love*

birthpodcast

Not a lot of people listen to the radio anymore - and a lot of TV programming nowadays is lacking (or did it always lack?). So what do you do - if you’re on a run (or on the run), driving, doing chores, or relaxing with a hot cup of something and want some mental stimulation but don’t want to read?

Well, we are big fans of podcasts at Spectrum Doula Collective - whether for work or for fun! You can learn so much from podcasts, especially as it relates to your perinatal journey and parenting journey (regardless of whatever stage of that journey you’re in).

Below are a few of our favourite podcasts on fertility, pregnancy, and parenting (with a couple bonus ones - just for fun!):

1) Evidence Based Birth Podcast

Pure gold! For those of you unfamiliar with Evidence Based Birth - it’s a fantastic project (website and podcast) started by Rebecca Dekker, PhD where she presents evidence based information about pregnancy and childbirth. This includes presenting information from peer-reviewed scientific articles in an accessible, critical, and non-biased way. We can go on and on and on about how much we love this podcast.

2) The Birthful Podcast

The birthful podcast is inspiring - both for expectant/new parents and birth professionals alike! Hosted by Adiana Lozada, every episode is an interview with either a birth professional or new parents (sometimes they’re both). The purpose of these interviews is to both educate and inspire. We’re not gonna lie - we’ve cried more than once while listening to this.

3) The Longest Shortest Time

Speaking of crying - have y’all listened to the longest shortest time?! This is a podcast about parenthood - but it’s so much more! Topics range from having babies and raising a family while trans to parenting in the animal kingdom to imaginary friends! We’ve cried and laughed while listening to these episodes - they are honest, genuine, and humanistic. Above all, they make us feel connected to people. For an extra treat, check out This American Life.

4) Unladylike (bonus)

We could spend all day telling you how much we love Cristen and Caroline - the hosts of Unladylike and the former hosts of Stuff Mom Never Told you. This is an unapologetic feminist podcast that inspires, challenges, and entertains us! For an extra treat, check out older episodes of Stuff Mom Never Told you with Cristen and Caroline as hosts! They cover a wide range of topics, with a good chunk of episode focusing on body politics, reproductive justice, and parenting.

5) Secret Feminist Agenda (bonus)

Secret Feminist agenda is a podcast about everyday feminist - with a focus on Canada! While Hannah McGregor (the host) cover a wide range of topics, some of them focus on parenting, infertility, and If you’re a Harry Potter fan, for an extra treat, check out Witch, Please!

Do YOU have a favourite podcast, or two?

Let us know!

Love,

The Spectrum Team

5 Grounding Practices during your Fertility Journey

ground practice

As full spectrum doulas we work with many people at different points in their perinatal journey. This includes supporting folks through their fertility journey - this includes anything from attending appointments with our clients, providing information, as well as providing a listening year when needed. We love to equip our clients with coping strategies for all (if not most) situations - whether we are there or not. 

 

For those times when we may not be there, here are 5 grounding practices you can do on your own:

1) Drink a warm beverage

Hear us out - we live in Canada and about now (mid-February) we are only drinking warm beverages - tea, coffee, hot chocolate, warm smoothies, hot broth, etc. It just makes us happy and we think you may enjoy it too. It's cosy and hygge. It makes us focus on the present and warms up from the inside out. 

2) Count your breaths

Give it a try - try counting 100 or 150 breaths. It doesn't matter if you think about other things - go back to one and remember it's not a race or a test. Pay attention to your breaths as you count them and as you reach close to 100 or 150 you may notice your breath pattern changing and your nervous system calming. 

3) Dance* for 5 minutes

Set your timer and (without music) dance - hardIt releases tension from both your body and your mind. (Meredith Grey does it)

*If dancing just isn't for you, job quickly on the spot or air punch forward and sideways #accessible

4) Get outside for an hour or two

We know it's cold outside but you could bundle up! Take a walk in a park, on a trail, on a busy street - whatever works for you (but watch our for that ice!). The change of scenery, air, and pace might get you thinking about other things - or about nothing at all. Consider it your pause and recharge. 

5) Call/meet a friend

We are social creature - even those of us who are introverted benefit from people around other people. Be mindful of when it's time to leave the social interaction for self-care. 

We hope you gives these practices a try and see what works for you! 

Love, 

The Spectrum Team

5 ways to improve sperm health

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Recently, we attended a seminar on Sperm Health at the Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic to learn more about improving sperm health and how important this is when trying to conceive.

Improving sperm health is so important when trying to conceive whether or not you are undergoing fertility assistance. Often when talking about fertility and conception the emphasis is placed on the health of the egg and/or uterus. This can put a lot pressure on people with these organs and make them feel solely responsible for challenges in trying to conceive and guilty when it doesn't go quite as planned. It was refreshing to see a seminar focused on sperm health! 

Improving sperm health can be both simple and accessible since you can do this mostly through lifestyle changes. Here are a couple of easy to implement strategies to improve sperm health:

1) Eat foods high in zinc

Foods high in zinc, such as pumpkin seeds or oysters, can boost testosterone and promote sperm count and motility.

2) Eat foods high in antioxidants

Eating foods high in antioxidants, such as almonds, walnuts, or pomegranate juice, help improve overall health and increase blood flow (meaning better erections).

3) Ejaculate often

Out with the old, in with the new - based on an Australian study frequent ejaculation decreases sperm DNA damage and maintains fertility range. Pretty easy, right?

4) Have good oral health

A 2014 study linked poor oral health and periodontitis with low sperm count! 

5) Use sperm friendly lubricants

Enough said! 

If you would like to learn more, read their blog on Semen Analysis which contains information on what factors impact sperm health and the full list of diet and lifestyle recommendations.

Naturopathic strategies (acupuncture; herbs and supplements; nutrition and fitness planning; etc) can be extremely beneficial for reproductive health. Individualized health and wellness support is essential in trying to conceive and can have positive impacts on the overall experience.

We are thrilled to find resources like the Toronto Reproductive Acupuncture Clinic! We encourage you to check out everything they offer, whether you are just starting trying to conceive or hoping to complement your ongoing fertility care! 

At Spectrum we understand how challenging this journey can be and offer emotional support and provide education and information to help you have the best experience during this time. Fertility Doula support is for anyone who could benefit from support throughout their conception journey. Contact us to learn more about how we can support you in your fertility journey.  

Love, 

The Spectrum Team

Finding my support through IVF

I never thought I'd have to go through IVF. I suppose not many people do - but work gets busy, life gets busy, and having a baby remains a nebulous possibility. Until it doesn't.

At age 39, after several years of trying (naturally) and IUI (intra-uterine insemination) attempts, I finally relented and agreed to try IVF. I wasn't sure what to expect and my husband knew even less. We went through several clinics and we felt lost in the sea of people trying to have a baby, with doctors and nurses always too busy to answer all of our questions and to hold our hands through the process. 

And so I did what I do best - research! Throughout that research though, I still felt like I wanted support, not just information. That's how I came across Spectrum Doula Collective. I knew about birth doulas but I didn't know about doula fertility support! My doula, Corina, has been invaluable throughout the whole process.

Corina's help was crucial on two occasions that many of you may not even think of as traditionally associated with a doula. First, she accompanied me to my hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test, which I was convinced - based on Google searching - would be one of the most terrifying experiences on earth. I had postponed this visit for over a year and if it hadn't been for Corina I would have never moved forward in my fertility journey.

Corina squeezes my feet in encouragement

Corina squeezes my feet in encouragement

But she was there for me and she did a great job of explaining the science behind the procedure and all possible outcomes and, most importantly, comforting me when I was scared. As a result, the entire experience was positive and our bond grew from it.

It was thus no surprise that she was the person of choice to accompany me to the fertility clinic for an egg retrieval operation. I wasn't nearly as scared going into it because I knew I would be with someone who not only cared, but was also cool-headed and knowledgeable as to how to best handle me before, during, and after the procedure.

My husband and friends also care, but they aren't as great on the other two counts (needle-phobia, anyone?) and the least thing I needed on that day was worrying about someone ELSE's experience.

The procedure wasn't easy but Corina's presence made a huge difference. She made me relax, she made me laugh, and above all she made me feel safe. The picture is an 'after' shot in which she is squeezing my feet in encouragement. About an hour later we were at laughing at the outrageous, 'under sedation influence' topics we had covered while I was on the operating table. I felt relieved and hopeful.

I still do - and I am wholeheartedly (and bravely) navigating the rest of my fertility journey with Corina (and my loved ones by my side). 

Written by Spectrum Doula Collective Client

 

At Spectrum Doula Collective we work with the whole spectrum of families (including single, LGBTQIA+, and polyamorous folks) who are trying to conceive. We will attend important appointments at the fertility clinic for uncomfortable tests, such as the egg retrieval process, hysterosalpingogram (fallopian tube test), and insemination/in vitro fertilization. Our goal is to instill confidence and provide emotional and physical support for clients who are trying to conceive, or hope to be a parent later on.