It's one of those big, ugly words that you don't know much about, and you hope you never have to find out.
Then if it does happen to you, you're suddenly thrust into a world with way too much information.
The worst part? Most of your family and friends are still in the don't-know-much-about-it camp and it's hard for them to relate or understand.
I put together this very basic guide to help give you an idea of what the infertility world is like. If you're starting to think that you may be having fertility struggles or if you have a loved one who is currently suffering from infertility and you just want some information to help you understand, I hope this helps.
This information is compiled from the following websites (plus a little touch of my own personal experience): Coastal Fertility Specialists, Resolve: The National Infertility Association, and the American Pregnancy Association.
What is infertility?
Infertility is a disease which causes an inability to conceive a viable pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sex. This can also include the ability to achieve pregnancy but suffering from recurrent miscarriages.
This disease affects 1 in 8 couples, so there's a good chance you know someone who suffers from infertility - even if you're not aware of it.
There are also families who suffer from secondary infertility. In this case, the couple is suffering from infertility after successfully conceiving previous children without medical assistance.
What causes infertility?
Infertility can be caused by a wide range of underlying issues from physical problems to hormonal irregularities. It can be caused by issues with either the female partner or the male partner or a combination of both.
For men, there's really only one thing that needs to be checked: the sperm. There are 3 characteristics of semen that are checked when a couple is facing fertility challenges -
1. Sperm Count: Are there enough swimmers?
2. Sperm Motility: Do they swim and function correctly in a healthy/normal way?
3. Sperm Morphology: Are they shaped correctly or are there abnormalities/deformities?
For women, fertility challenges can be more complicated. There are several different checkpoints in the reproductive system where things could go wrong. The uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries all have specific parts to play in the reproductive process - not to mention the hormones that keep it all working.
This is just a short sampling of the possible causes for female infertility: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis, uterine abnormalities, fibroid tumors, luteal phase defect, ovulatory disorders caused by hormone problems, premature ovarian failure, a blockage in the fallopian tubes, etc.
When should you consider seeking medical help?
There are some symptoms and conditions that may warrant medical help sooner, but the general rule is:
If you are under the age of 35 and have been having regular, unprotected sex for at least 1 year without successfully conceiving,
If you are over the age of 35 and have been having regular, unprotected sex for at least 6 months without successfully conceiving, you may want to speak to your OBGYN.
The first step is usually the OBGYN. He or she can often run some preliminary tests to rule out any obvious issues and can sometimes treat more minor causes of infertility. If your condition requires further assistance, you will be referred to a fertility specialist.
What is a fertility specialist?
A fertility specialist is a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE).
REs are experts in the field of infertility. Just like any other field of medicine, different doctors will have different approaches and treatment plans. You will want to find the RE that you feel most comfortable with.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask about success rates and treatment options. Ask about the embryologists, ultrasound techs, and other medical professionals involved in the process. Ask about ANY concerns you have. This is a huge decision and not one you should take lightly.
What can you expect when you first visit a fertility specialist?
Your first visit will likely be information overload. Bring something to take notes and a list of questions you might have.
You'll go over your medical history and the events that led you to the fertility specialist's office in the first place. They may have further questions about other medical events, like thyroid problems, that could be related.
The doctor should go over all of the tests you will need and the possible treatment plans. You may also meet with the financial advisor in the office who will go over typical treatment costs as well as any possible insurance coverage and financing options.
What treatment options are available?
Treatment will be entirely dependent on what is causing the infertility in the first place.
Many people have heard of in vitro fertilization (IVF) where sperm and eggs are retrieved and embryos are created in a lab before being transferred back to the mother's uterus, but they may not know that there is a whole battery of other treatment options depending on the situation.
There are surgeries available that can correct uterine abnormalities. Medicines can be used to treat hormone issues or some ovulation disorders.
A procedure called intrauterine insemination (IUI) is sometimes used where sperm is taken from the father and injected directly into the uterus of the mother, who has sometimes been given medication to induce ovulation when necessary.
The most invasive and most expensive treatment is the one most people have heard about. IVF is a long process of hormones, egg retrievals, and sperm samples followed by creating embryos. Then if all of that is successful, the mother has to prepare her body with hormones for the implantation of the embryo.
There are some diagnoses that require skipping straight to IVF, but often couples who are going through IVF have tried other treatment options first.
This information is just a very small glimpse into the world of infertility. The truth is every case is different because every couple facing infertility has their own unique combination of medical causes. Some couples will respond well to less invasive treatments and conceive quickly with treatment. Others will go through years of different treatments before finally finding something that works.
If someone you love has trusted you enough to share their plans to seek fertility treatment, the most important thing to know is that they have likely already been through a lot of frustration and disappointment and heartbreak before coming to this point. You may only see this one part of their story that they are sharing. You may not know everything that has been going on under the surface.
A little bit of grace and a lot of love and support go a long way.
If you are in the beginning of your infertility journey and have any questions, please reach out. I would be happy to answer any questions I can or tell you the best person to ask if I can't!
Alright, show of hands...
Have you ever suffered (or are you currently suffering) from any of these problems during pregnancy?
-Back and hip pain
-Round Ligament Pain
-Pubic Symphysis Pain
I'm guessing every woman who has ever had a baby is holding her hand up right now, am I right?
In our society today, we have normalized the idea that pregnancy is just painful and uncomfortable and generally just unpleasant.
But what if I told you, it doesn't have to be that way?
What if I told you there was a way to help reduce many of those symptoms and, in some cases, eliminate them altogether?
What are some of the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy?
Decreased stress, stronger immune system, increased blood flow to the baby, reduction of hormonal symptoms such as nausea and fatigue, reduction in labor time, avoidance or reduction of common pregnancy complaints such as reflux, carpal tunnel, sciatica, dizziness, and constipation, and giving the baby the maximum amount of space to move and rotate.
Everyone experiences pregnancy differently so the adjustments we do will depend on what's going on with the individual mom!
When is the ideal time to begin getting adjusted in pregnancy?
The most ideal time is before you get pregnant! Starting pregnancy with your body in a state of wellness sets you up for the healthiest pregnancy possible.
The next best time to start is today! Don't let your pain get crippling before you seek care. Take action right away and end the suffering.
We also take proactive measures to prevent intrauterine constraint and focus on getting your pelvis ready for labor.
Pregnancy should feel amazing!
How often should a patient get adjustments during pregnancy?
This is super dependent on your state of health and your goals. If you are super healthy and want to get your body and nervous system ready for labor, your adjustments will probably be once a week.
If you're in pain and there is stress on your nervous system, you may start at a few times a week.
Pregnancy has a finish line, so it also depends on how much time you have left in the pregnancy. If you come in with big goals and only a few weeks or a month left, we will see you much more often than if you came in with those same goals at 20 weeks.
Is it ever too late to start getting adjusted?
Well, if you're in labor already...
Your body takes time to heal. You can see improvements with a few adjustments, but there are limitations to what we can get done in a short amount of time. It's better to start earlier and make sure there's enough time to reach your goals.
What should an expecting mother look for or ask when searching for the right chiropractor?
Ask if pregnancy is a main focus of their office. We all took that one pregnancy adjusting class in school. You want a doctor who has gone above and beyond with their education geared around pregnancy and post-natal care. Also, you want a doctor who has the right tools and equipment to accommodate your growing belly!
What should someone expect when they come to see you for care during pregnancy? What does a typical visit look like?
We always start by assessing your nervous system and adjusting your spine. These adjustments may be with our hands, using the table's drops, or using an adjusting instrument.
The type of adjustment we utilize all depends on your body and your comfort level. All the adjustments we do are completely safe for you and your baby!
As we adjust, we take a look at important soft tissue structures on your back, around your pelvis, and in your belly. Releasing tight and stiff muscles can be the key to not only helping you hold your adjustments, but also to help in reducing any tension on your uterus.
We look at not only the soft tissue connecting the bones and uterus but also any soft tissue around the pelvis that could prevent it from opening symmetrical. Having not only the hard tissue but also the soft tissue alignment can help reduce labor times by making sure that baby engages the cervix symmetrically.
Everything is super gentle - not painful - and we explain and discuss everything with you as you go.
What about postpartum? What are the benefits of continuing care after birth? How soon after birth can a mother begin getting adjusted again?
I always joke with moms that after you have the baby, everything has to "fall back" into your pre-pregnancy position. Although, if you've been through this postpartum stage, you know that things never go back to the same place.
Adjustments do help your body recover and find balance again after you bring your little baby into the world. Helping your body realign after nine months of really big changes can be a game changer for some women.
A lot of postpartum women tell me that they recover faster and easier than their pregnancies where they didn't have chiropractic care afterwards.
This is also a great time to get the new little baby checked too. Birth is super stressful, not only on mom, but on our tiny babies too. Getting your kiddo checked early can help them avoid problems later.
You can get adjusted as soon as you feel ready to come into the office after having your baby. I have women wait anywhere from four days to up to two weeks to come in and get their next adjustment.
I personally know I was adjusted the day I gave birth and so was my baby!
A huge thank you to Dr. Angela for taking the time to answer my questions! I highly recommend her and her husband, Dr. Chris, if you're currently searching for a chiropractor for your family. Their office is located in West Ashley and my whole family has come to love their practice.
And if you take anything from this interview, let it be this: DON'T WAIT! I'm one of those people that waited until I was suffering every day before seeking help. I wish I had taken action sooner and saved myself the pain!
We’d been researching all of the latest baby stuff for months and we had just found out that our first precious baby was going to be a girl!
We excitedly headed to our store of choice to register for all of the things we needed to take care of our new precious bundle.
After we filled out all of the pertinent information, we were handed a welcome packet that included a registry checklist - presumably a guide to all of the things you NEED to have on your registry for your baby.
My jaw nearly hit the floor.
This thing was several pages long.
I couldn’t help but think, do I REALLY need all this crap?
It’s been over 6 years since that first baby registry experience and I’m now expecting baby number 3.
I’ve got a few more gray hairs and an undisclosed number of extra pounds - but I’ve also got more experience and a little more wisdom (or at least that’s what I’m calling it).
I can now answer that burning question - do you really need all that crap for a baby?
The short answer is - no, you really don’t.
I’ve compiled a much more realistic registry checklist to get you started with the basics of what you’ll really need in those early months with a new baby plus a few things you really don’t need (although they might be really nice luxuries if you choose to get them anyway).
1) Some Way To Feed Them
Breastfeeding moms who are planning to go back to work or will need to be away from baby sometimes may want to register for a good pump; however, many health insurance companies now provide pumps, so check with your insurance provider before registering or purchasing.
You’ll also want to consider bottles, bottle brushes, and possibly some storage solutions for keeping all of that stuff organized.
What you don’t need: Don’t get caught up registering for too many of one type of bottle or cans of one specific formula. Some babies are picky about bottles or have dietary concerns and you don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of something you can’t use. Also, while fancy formula mixers, bottle warmers, and bottle sterilizers might be really awesome conveniences, they aren’t totally necessary.
2) Something For Them To Wear
I’m a sucker for cute baby outfits. Even when not pregnant, I have a tendency to wander baby aisles to look at the cute baby clothes.
Here’s the problem: as soon as you put your baby in that super adorable outfit that you’ve been obsessing over, they’re going to spit up on it or have a major diaper blow out. Murphy’s Law is brutal in the world of parenthood.
I’m not saying don’t get some of those adorable outfits, just make sure you have plenty of basics: onesies, pants, sleepers, etc for every day life.
And don’t forget a few blankets and burp cloths too.
What you don’t need: A bunch of clothes in the wrong season. For example, if you’re expecting a winter baby, don’t get winter clothes in size 6 months. It won’t be winter anymore! And don’t go crazy with clothes in any one size either. Babies grow at all different rates. You might have a super chunky baby that is a few sizes ahead of what’s expected or a little peanut that stays in one size longer.
3) Something To Catch The Poop
Whether you use cloth or disposable, you’re going to need diapers and wipes.
Poop is just a fact of life and parenthood. Honestly, all moms have a different preference for brands. Some diapers fit certain babies better and some diapers work better for babies with sensitive skin. What diapers you like best will likely be a matter of trial and error once your little poop factory arrives, but stocking up on a few different brands and sizes beforehand is never a bad idea!
What you don’t need: A wipe warmer. It sounds nice to pamper that sweet tushy with warm wipes during changes, but eventually you’ll have to change the baby while out and about and a cold wipe is going to be a rude awakening.
4) Somewhere To Sleep
I’m not here to debate sleeping arrangements - that’s up to each parent to make the most informed choice for their own family. However, baby is still going to need somewhere to sleep. There are plenty of options: bassinet, bedside co-sleeper, pack n play, crib, etc. You don’t need all of them. Pick one or two and go with them.
If you are planning on having more babies in the future, keep longevity in mind! This 3rd baby will be sleeping in the same pack n play with the bassinet attachment and crib as my older two. My son (second baby) is still sleeping in our crib converted to a toddler bed. When this baby is ready, we’ll get my son a new bed and convert the crib back.
What you don’t need: A matching nursery set with crib bumpers and quilts and all of the other accessories that come with it. Some sheets that fit your sleep surface of choice and possibly a mattress cover are all you really need. Plus, it's not recommended to have any soft bedding in with baby, so those bumpers and quilts would be useless.
5) Some Way To Carry Them
Babies want to be held - a LOT - in the first few months. They go from being in your warm, cozy tummy to suddenly being in this bright, loud world. It’s overwhelming and they find comfort in being close to mom.
I’m all for taking time to just kick back and snuggle with your baby whenever possible, BUT sometimes we need to get up and do other things. Having a carrier of some kind that allows you to use your hands and still snuggle baby will be a lifesaver.
There are many different types of baby carriers to choose from: wraps, slings, soft structured carriers.
Again, every mom has a different preference. Personally, I like a ring sling for the first couple of months and then a soft structured carrier for when they’re a little older. However, if you have a friend who uses baby carriers, ask if you they can show them to you and try them on and see what you like. There are also some local babywearing groups that love to show new moms the basics of the different types of carriers.
What you don’t need: A ton of different carriers. Once you figure out what works for you, just go with it.
6) Something To Wash Them
Baby’s going to need a bath, so you’ll need baby wash. There are tons of different brands on the market to meet any priorities and preferences. Whether you want something organic and made with natural ingredients or something specifically for sensitive baby skin or just something that smells nice and is easy to find in a local store - you’ll find anything you could possibly want.
What you don’t need: This might be an unpopular opinion, but you don’t need a baby tub. I know some moms swear by their baby tubs. For me, it was just another item that I had to find a place to stash when I wasn’t using it. I either used a baby bath sponge or a folded towel in the bottom of the bathroom sink to wash my newborns. When they outgrew the bathroom sink, I washed them in the kitchen sink until they were big enough to sit in the full size bath.
7) Some Way To Ride In The Car
Choosing a car seat might be one of the most overwhelming items to choose. There are so many different brands and options and bells and whistles.
The good news is that all car seats have to go through safety testing before going on the market, so as long as the seat is being used properly, your little one should be safe.
There are pros and cons to choosing an infant bucket seat that snaps in and out of the car vs. going straight to a convertible seat. I had an infant bucket seat with my first two. My first loved it. Second hated it and screamed every single time I put him in it.
This time we’re skipping straight to the convertible simply because with two older kids, I’m not going to have the free hands to be lugging a heavy infant bucket seat around everywhere anyway.
What you don’t need: All of the fancy car seat accessories, toys, strap covers, etc. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t use anything in the car seat that was not included by the manufacturer. It could void the warranty of your carseat or even cause unintended damage in case of an accident.
Also, I highly recommend spending some time on www.thecarseatlady.com Pretty much any information you could possibly want to know about car seats and proper usage and installation can be found there. Keep in mind that a car seat is only really safe for baby when being used correctly!
8) Some Way To Organize It All
This will entirely depend on your living situation. If baby will have an entire nursery, then you’ll have more opportunities for dressers and furniture and closet space.
If, like me, baby will just have a small area in your master bedroom until it’s old enough to share a room with one of its big siblings, your options might be a little more limited, but still entirely doable! There are tons of storage solutions for small spaces, and I could spend hours on Pinterest just looking at nursery organization ideas.
What you don’t need: A fancy matching nursery furniture and storage set. I’ve collected furniture pieces and baskets and bins from a variety of different stores over the years for my kids’ rooms that were eventually used in other areas of our house. I like having things that are multi-purpose because my kids are only going to use them for a short period of time.
And that’s the gist of it! Now there are tons of other things that you’ll probably really want and find useful: pacifiers, baby seats/entertainment centers/swings, a high chair, swaddles, baby monitor etc. However, keep in mind that a lot of those things will entirely be up to baby’s preferences and your lifestyle.
For example, I know a lot of moms that never would have survived the newborn days without a swing, but BOTH of my kids absolutely hated baby swings. Some babies love pacifiers. Some hate them. Some like to be swaddled. Some don’t.
Also, since the AAP recommends not introducing solid foods until 6 months, certain items like high chairs and feeding utensils will need to be stored somewhere until you need them, so you might want to hold off and get those items later.
So other veteran mamas: did I leave anything out? Is there any baby item that you recommend to everyone around you because you love it so much? Let’s hear about it in the comments!
I get a wide variety of reactions when I tell people I'm a birth photographer. I hear everything from "Ew... isn't that weird?" to "That's AMAZING! I wish I had photos of the day my baby was born!"
Our society has always painted birth as something gross and unpleasant - a necessary evil in order to keep the population going.
However, in recent years, the view of birth has started shifting. People are realizing that their baby's birth day is one of the most important days of their life and one that they're going to want to remember!
For other major events, like a wedding, everyone plans and invests in professionals to make sure their memories are preserved for them.
But, for some reason, when it comes to the births of our children, we just wing it and hope someone with an iPhone will remember to take a couple of pictures.
Think about this for a minute: this is the day that you're going to meet the little human that has been growing inside your body for 9 months. This is the story of the day a totally new person came into the world. You have planned and waited for this person - wouldn't you love to have photos of this life-changing day?
I get it, though. Really, I do.
Birth photography can be expensive. It's certainly not an amount of money that I spend without lots of thought and planning and budgeting - but I ABSOLUTELY think it's worth it!
Birth photography is not your standard portrait genre. There's a lot more included in the price than most people realize.
Just imagine this scenario:
Think about the photographer you hired to photograph your wedding.
Now imagine you call them and tell them you are planning a wedding, but you don't have a specific date. It will be happening sometime within a span of 3-4 weeks, and you probably won't notify them until it actually begins. It could potentially be at 3 AM with little to no available light. Again, no way to know.
Also, you're not sure how long the wedding will last. You might only need the photographer for 3 hours, but they might need to be there for 23 hours. You'll just have to wait and see how it goes.
Now, what do you think your wedding photographer would say to you? I'm guessing they'd think it was a joke and hang up on you! But if you think about it, this is what a birth photographer does!
So what's included in a birth photography package? I'm glad you asked!
This is what all of my birth clients get from me:
-Consultation during the third trimester to get to know each other and your expectations before the birth of your baby.
-On-call 24/7 for your birth starting at 38 weeks until the birth of your baby (and yes, that means I'll jump out of bed at 3 AM for you if that's when your baby comes!)
-Unlimited time present at your birth. I don't have a cut-off time for how long I'm willing to be at a birth. If you have a long labor/birth (Mama, I can so relate!), you don't have to worry that you're running out of time or that I'm adding a fee or anything like that.
-A slideshow and a gallery of your images, so you will get to see all of the moments - even the ones you weren't aware even happened!
-A backup photographer in case of emergency. I only take a limited number of births per month to make sure I'm available to my birth clients whenever the big day comes. However, I like to partner with other local photographers in case of emergency, so you'll have someone there for you, no matter what!
I really do love my job and I feel so fortunate every time a family allows me to be a part of the birth of their new baby.
Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting blogs answering some of the most common questions I get about birth photography. If you have any questions you'd like answered, leave them in the comments!
Think you might already be interested in birth photography and just want to know more now? Fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page and I'll email you more information. We can even set up a totally free consultation, so you can get to know me and we can talk and answer any questions you might have.