Investing in Women. My Story, My Mission, by Elizabeth Willetts

“It doesn’t look good”. I can feel the doctor moving his cold, hard probe around inside me. He’s trying to get a better look

I stare up at the plain, white ceiling.

My heart is beating so loudly I am surprised no one else has mentioned that they can hear the thud, thud, thud pounding from my chest.

I wish with my entire being for the doctor to take those words back. I start praying to a God I don’t believe in that I misheard the words.

I continue to lay in silence, clutching my husband’s hand so hard, my knuckles turn white.

Finally, the doctor says the words that I have spent the three weeks since my positive pregnancy test dreading to hear – “I can’t find a heartbeat.”

Happy ever after?

Our wedding day three years prior to that grey, August day in a non-descript Harley Street clinic had been a joyous affair. We, like all newlyweds, had been full of hope of what our future would bring.

We both wanted children. We had spent many of our early dates in London bars or just walking along the Thames planning their names, the family holidays we would take, the hobbies they would enjoy.

We painted pictures in our mind of the types of parents we would be. I knew I wanted to be a hands-on mum. At the time of our wedding, I worked as a Recruiter for a large Recruitment Agency. But the hours were long. Factoring in my commute, I could easily be out of the hours 13 hours per day.

I knew these days would be too long when the time came for me to be a mum. I decided to switch career before I had children to self-employment, doing something more ‘family friendly’.

So – I quit my job and started to work from home doing Beauty Therapy and Image Consulting. The hours were less demanding than my previous role, and I knew they would fit perfectly around a growing family.

Everything was set up, ready and waiting for our bundle of joy.

Or not…

We had been married for about a year or so; my business was growing steadily, our puppy was fully grown – the time seemed perfect to start putting our baby plans into action.

I remember the first night we had sex without protection. Laying back in bed wondering if that was it – was I pregnant? Sex Education teachers had taught my teenage self it would be that easy to fall pregnant, so two weeks later, when my period arrived, I was devastated.

The following month my period arrived again like clockwork. We were on holiday, and I kept checking my knickers in the hotel bathroom, willing that I was imaging the blood.

And again, my period continued to arrive every month, like an unwanted guest in my knickers

We were about six months in to ‘trying for a baby’ – friends seemed to be falling pregnant everywhere I turned, gleefully telling me they had fallen pregnant their first month of trying when I decided we needed to get more serious. Maybe we weren’t trying hard enough?

I spent a small fortune on ‘his and hers’ fertility vitamins, ovulation kits and sticks, organic food, reflexology. I exercised, I stopped exercising, I only drank caffeine at certain times of the month, I thought ‘f*ck it’ and drank alcohol the whole month through. Nothing seemed to work, and every month we would start the entire cycle again.

After a year, we admitted defeat and made an appointment with our GP. She tried to reassure us it could take up to 2 year’s to fall pregnant and booked some basic fertility tests.

Everything came back normal – our infertility diagnosis was ‘unexplained’

In some ways, this diagnosis is reassuring. There is nothing physically preventing you from becoming pregnant. But in other ways, it is incredibly frustrating as there is nothing to fix. Maybe if we ‘just relaxed’ – as so many people had told us to do, we would fall pregnant. But these thoughts made me even more stressed that I couldn’t remove the constant anxiety that seemed to live permanently in my stomach.

Our unexplained infertility diagnosis meant we had to wait for two years to be referred to a fertility clinic by our NHS GP. This seemed like forever, so about five months after our ‘unexplained infertility’ diagnosis, we took matters into our own hands and delved into the sometimes murky world of private fertility clinics.

Living under a rain cloud

The first private fertility clinic we visited was a converted office block not too far from where we lived in Essex.

We both had more extensive tests. Again – everything came back as unexplained. Like our GP, the doctor advised us to wait until the two-year mark before starting any fertility treatment.

It was at this point I decided to return to my old Recruitment job. I had found being a Beauty Therapist hard. Not because of the work (although being honest, I was pretty rubbish at painting nails), but because it is so female-centred and intimate. Clients constantly asked me – ‘so do you want children’ or ‘when do you think you will have children’.

These questions felt like death by a thousand cuts. I knew working in a corporate office; colleagues wouldn’t openly ask me my baby-making plans. So I sheepishly rang my old Manager, who was delighted to welcome me back.

On a cold, wet December morning, just one week on from that phone call, I was back on the 7:00 am train to London.

The crushing disappointment to be back in my old corporate office, with no baby, just shattered dreams, was possibly one of the lowest moments of my life.

I felt so lonely

I didn’t confide in anyone why I had left and why I had returned. I was guarded and remote. I would ring my mum every lunchtime walking around the gardens outside St Paul’s Church crying, before quickly drying my eyes and heading back into the office.

A few months later, my Auntie called. One of her colleagues had fallen pregnant after years of trying for a baby. She had visited a doctor who had a theory that the reason she wasn’t becoming pregnant was due to an overactive immune system that prevented an embryo from implanting. The doctor had prescribed immunosuppressant steroids to prevent her body from attacking her baby, and now she was finally pregnant.

Could this be what was happening to us? There was only one way to find out

Could this be it?

Harley Street – one of the most expensive streets in London. Synonymous with the medical profession. Grand houses turned discreet, anonymous clinics with tiny brass plates. And that is where my husband and I found ourselves one spring lunchtime.

Yes – the doctor told us across his desk. You could have an overactive immune system that is preventing your embryos from implanting. But it will cost you to find out.

At this point, we were desperate – desperate to know and desperate to avoid a grueling IVF treatment I had read so many horror stories about.

So, I took the blood test forms and told my husband to pay the £1,500 bill.

A couple of weeks later, we got a call – yes, you have an overactive immune system. Steroids may help. We started treatment the following month.

The first month nothing happened. The second month I took a pregnancy test as instructed, and for the first time in my life noticed a faint second line. It was so faint and only visible in certain lights. The following day I took another test. This time the second line was darker. Finally, after two horrible years of trying, I was pregnant.

Three weeks later, we were back on Harley Street, in the doctor’s clinic, staring at the white ceiling. I could faintly hear him telling us how to have a ‘blighted ovum’ removed and what to do with the remains.

Miscarriage – no one really tells you about the practicalities involved. You hope it will never happen to you, and it is something women don’t openly discuss

My miscarriage was as follows – there was no pain (well, no physical pain), no blood and no warning. At the appointment where I had hoped to see my baby for the first time, I was told that my baby had stopped growing very early on and that if my body didn’t expel it on its own, I would need medical assistance. Still, the doctor couldn’t be sure, so I would need another appointment with my local hospital to confirm my baby was ‘not viable’.

The following day I made an appointment with my GP. As we had been with a private clinic, she had been unaware of our treatment and pregnancy. She called our local Early Pregnancy Unit, who had an appointment, but not until the following week!

I would have to wait a whole week, not knowing if the baby inside of me was alive or not

I confessed to my Manager what had been happening. She confided in me that she had suffered a miscarriage the previous year. And to this day, I am still grateful; she allowed me to stay off work the entire time on full pay.

So the following week, my mum and I arrived at the Early Pregnancy Unit. It was full of anxious patients. We waited for what seemed like forever. Finally, the nurse called my name.

Heart pounding, I pulled down my knickers and laid on the couch. “I am very sorry”, the nurse said softly, “but I can only see an empty sac, but as we haven’t seen you before, you will have to return next week for us to confirm.”

In total, I had three agonising scans, each a week apart, to confirm what my fertility doctor had told me that very first cold afternoon in Harley Street. That my baby had stopped developing very early on, and I had had a ‘silent miscarriage’.

After my final scan, the nurse told me to come back the following day to start the process of miscarrying my baby

The following day I was given a couple of tablets to start the process off and told to return to the hospital two days later to miscarry. I was warned I could miscarry at home.

The following evening I started bleeding – lightly at first, but it got heavier. Too heavy for the sanitary towels I had at home – my mum rushed to the supermarket to buy some incontinence pads.

That night none of us slept. We arrived back at the hospital, my mum, husband and I, as instructed. The midwife inserted some suppositories, and a couple of hours later, I miscarried our baby, our longed-for baby, in the hospital toilet.

A couple of months later, we started the steroid treatment again. We went on a dream ‘holiday to Mexico, but no matter how far we traveled, the pain didn’t leave. It lingered like an unwanted ghost on both of our shoulders.

After six months of trying and the inevitable weight gain due to the steroid treatment, we finally took a break

We moved house from our family-friendly new build estate with all the carefully planned playgrounds and growing baby bumps back to London to a decidedly non-baby-friendly home and area.

I managed to switch jobs and moved to one of the Big 4 and start my dream job as an In-House Recruiter recruiting their Consultants. My husband managed to land his dream job at a similar time.

And, slowly, but surely we pieced ourselves back together

Life really does have rainbows

So, on the outside, at least, we look like a typical professional high-flying couple.

But the yearning to become parents doesn’t leave.

So we visit a different Harley Street fertility clinic.

Thankfully the doctor doesn’t repeat the pricey tests but prescribes a less aggressive immunosuppressant treatment – an egg-white drip. We try it a couple of times, but no cigar (as they say).

And so finally, almost four years to the day of ditching our condom packets, we admit defeat.

We visit our GP, who refers us to our local NHS fertility clinic – Guys Hospital. The Fertility Consultant is straight to the point.

“You have been trying for four years – if you were going to fall pregnant, it would have happened by now. The time has come to start IVF”

He is no-nonsense. He doesn’t buy into any of the immunosuppressant theories the Harley Street doctors sell. He is also the first doctor I have ever met in my life who says, “I’m sorry” when I tell him I have had a miscarriage.

A couple of months later, our IVF drugs arrive. I buy a fridge thermometer to keep them all at the correct temperature. I confide in my Manager about our upcoming treatment. He is brilliant, allowing me time off for appointments and to recover after egg collection.

Our first IVF treatment fails, but the doctor manages to freeze my four spare embryos successfully

So after a holiday, we are back in the fertility clinic trying again. Even though my first IVF treatment had been ok (and not as brutal as I feared it would have been), the doctors tell me that a frozen cycle is even easier.

And you know what – it is. I have none of the side effects the doctors warn me about. I feel entirely normal. I continue running until the day before my embryo transfer. We have two embryos put back as this is our last go on the NHS. We are throwing the kitchen sink at this. We will have to pay for further rounds ourselves if this fails.

And despite everything, how much is riding on this, I feel relaxed(ish). I continue working and living life as usual. I go to work, I come home, we watch tv, and we wait. We wait until test day finally arrives.

I wake up early, lying in bed wondering shall I test, shall I wait, shall I test, shall I wait. Until I can’t wait any longer – the suspense is killing me.

I go into the bathroom, pull a test out of the packet, wee and wait

I don’t have to wait very long. Almost straight away, a dark 2nd line emerges. It is like it is saying to me, ‘Don’t worry – I am here’.

We call the fertility clinic and make an appointment for our first scan – which will be in 4 weeks. It seems like a lifetime away. Can I hold my nerve?

But pretty soon, my morning sickness arrives, which I find hugely reassuring.

And in between the bouts of sickness, on a cold December afternoon, my husband and I are back at the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy’s Hospital.

I am back, laying on a couch, eyes fixed on a dark ceiling, clutching my husband’s hand, a cold, hard probe inserted inside me. And then I hear the sound I never thought I would hear – the sound I have dreamt of my entire life, the gallop, gallop, gallop of my baby, MY baby’s heartbeat.

Nine months later, I am back on a hospital couch, and my daughter, my beautiful daughter, is finally in my arms

It took me five years to become a mum on a journey I never anticipated I would have the strength to make. It was a journey that changed every piece of me and undoubtedly made me a different mum to the one I imagined I would be. The journey has left a mark on my soul that will never leave.

But, despite it all, it is a journey I am so grateful to have made

Not just because my daughter is the daughter I was always meant to have, but because I have become more empathetic and aware of other’s suffering. And because I, like all my fellow IVF and fertility warriors, have discovered an inner strength and resilience I never knew I had. A strength and resilience that will serve me for the rest of my life.

And when my daughter was ten month’s old, I discovered I was pregnant again. Naturally. Dreams really can come true.

 Investing in Women

Investing in Women is a brand new job board run by me, Elizabeth Willetts, to help you find your dream part-time or flexible job with the UK’s most female-friendly employers in:

Banking
Finance
FinTech
Accounting
Insurance
Consulting
Legal
Real Estate

Our exclusive jobs board will help you find a professional and rewarding job on the hours that work for you and your circumstances

So, whether you want more time to spend with your longed-for Rainbow baby or need a flexible job to accommodate fertility treatment, our jobs site is for you!

We ask all employers to detail their fertility and miscarriage policies.

And questions about maternity pay – we’ve got you covered there as well. Employers provide details of what they pay during maternity leave and when you are entitled to access any enhanced schemes.

Because here is what I believe:

Women shouldn’t have to choose between a successful career or time for life’s curveballs.
Just because you had kids doesn’t mean you gave up on ambition.
Connecting through community and supporting other women is key.

And here is what I hope Investing in Women will do for you:

Help you find the right job – one that works for you and your family, challenges you (in the best way possible), develops your skills and experience and allows you to continue to progress up the career ladder on terms that work for you.

Why? Because you are too talented for your skills to go to waste!

Are you ready? Search our website to find your next flexible or part-time job today

Liz xxx

p.s. – I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn. You can connect with me here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cherish - UK

Diana and Jacqui are Consultant Nurse Sonographers and Directors of Cherish-UK.  They specialise in Gynaecology, Fertility and Pregnancy and both worked for the NHS for 30 years. They recognised a gap in care and decided to start trading as Cherish-UK in April 2011. Since opening the Cherish-UK team have helped hundreds of clients during their fertility journey.  They pride themselves on their professional, efficient and hassle free service which aids clients treatment requirements.  Many clinics abroad and in the UK recommend Cherish-UK to their patients as they recognise the high-quality service which is provided.

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Best Fertility Now

Best Fertility Now is a fertility media company, writing all about male and female fertility factors, global and personal interest stories, science, mental and physical health, all to give access to support and advice on fertility journey.

Lucy Livesey

Lucy Livesey is the founder of Relax with Lucy & Co. Lucy is a bereaved mother, a Mindfulness Meditation teacher, Mental Health Nurse and Well-Being Practitioner. Her work within the mindfulness field is becoming widely recognised around the globe and she has been using her own experience of suffering to help others. Lucy’s experience of bereavement from the loss of her twin brother and also her daughter, motivated her to help others. It was through her own self discovery that Lucy went on to complete additional training to be able to teach people to find a sense of calm and balance.

Nicola Carter

Nicola Carter

I work to provide you with high quality fertility, birth and postnatal doula services across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, as well as online.

I am passionate about supporting you with your emotional wellbeing. I offer non-judgemental support along with unbiased, evidence-based information, so you can make the best decisions for you, your baby and your family. I am also the founder of Fertility, Birth & Beyond.

Nishta Patel

Nishta Patel - “The Gut Expert” Nutritionist

Helping patients regain their health after years of misery resulting from various ailments and diseases is my passion. I help people overcome their health problems by identifying and treating the root cause.

Using integrated Functional Medicine and Nutritional Therapy, my speciality is in gut related problems, which include Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis, Crohn’s Disease an IBS.

Kelly Da Silva

Kelly Da Silva is a Fertility Support Expert, Writer, Speaker, and Founder of The Dovecote: Childless Support Organisation. Inspired by her own personal experience of infertility, Kelly specialises in developing and delivering ‘Emotional Support’ for those experiencing infertility either during treatment or in their own childless journey. Working with a leading UK Fertility Provider, Kelly has developed and continues to deliver a range of emotional and support offerings to improve the ‘Patient Experience’ to a level recognised by the HFEA as a ‘Gold Standard for Support’, using the knowledge, strategies, research and tools attested through her own personal journey.

Fertility, Birth & Beyond

Giving birth and/or the early stages of parenthood should be your biggest achievement, not your biggest fear.”

Welcome to Fertility, Birth and Beyond.
Birth Doula, Postnatal Doula, Hypnobirthing Teacher, Placenta Remedies Specialist and Holistic Fertility Coach across Nottingham, Derby and Online.

They provide 3-Step Rewind sessions for Traumatic Birth Recovery.

The Dovecote Fertility Support

Supporting, enabling and inspiring people dealing with involuntary childlessness to reconnect with their daily lives and rediscover a passion and purpose.

Relax with Lucy & Co

Relax With Lucy & Co was set up to offer well-being and mental health support through the provision of mindfulness & relaxation interventions. The organisation was set up by our founder Lucy Livesey – mental health nurse and bereaved mother following the loss of her daughter Ellie in 2017.

Lucy and her team of instructors deliver projects to help support the baby loss community through the development of mindfulness & relaxation resources. They offer both well-being baby loss tailored support in addition to general well-being support to help people improve their overall sense of wellbeing.

Nurtured Munchkin

Nurtured Munchkin offers antenatal classes and Hypnobirthing courses as group sessions, private classes in Woking and surrounding areas, and online all over the world. All the courses are run by Paula Lavandeira, senior midwife and DipHB(KG) hypnobirthing teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

Fertility Issues in Teaching

Fertility Issues In Teaching

Fertility Issues in Teaching are the first and only organisation that delivers specialist consultancy and training exclusively for schools. Raise awareness around the mental, emotional, social and financial impact of staff experiencing infertility and pregnancy loss in an environment where 75% of teachers are women.

Desi Radio London

Desi Radio is a registered Charity working to promote the Punjabi language, culture and the integration of the Punjabi Community in the UK. It airs Educational topics for its listeners and Fertility First UK will be sponsoring and featuring in their Radio Listener Call-ins focusing on Infertility and the A-Z Journey of IVF.

Andrew Coutts - CEO of the International Fertility Company

Andrew Coutts is one of the fertility industry’s best travelled individuals having visited and worked with over 180 clinics worldwide. He is a regular speaker, writer and commentator on cross border fertility treatment and male fertility. Andrew is the CEO of the International Fertility Company (IFC), an independent consultancy which offers a concierge service to patients seeking Fertility assistance both overseas and in the UK. He is a PhD researcher at the Centre for Reproduction Research at the De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester, UK, working on his specialist area, male factor fertility.

The Fertility Foundation

The Fertility Foundation is a UK Charity which aims to provide support and help to individuals and couples with advice, information and ultimately , practical assistance in accessing fertility treatment. The Foundation was created with the overwhelming desire to help as many people as we can to either start or extend their Family.

With the NHS funding cuts showing no signs of stopping they are creating a fund to provide financial assistance to individuals and couples who are struggling to afford treatment. They are more than a Charity that provides IVF Funding as they also run educational events across the UK.

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Enhanced Fertility Programme

Enhanced Fertility Programme was founded by Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc, Fertility Nurse Consultant. Their vision is to improve global accessibility to personalised fertility care, at minimal cost to populations. Enhanced Fertility use research, clinical skills and technology to create products with global reach to make personalised fertility care accessible to all.

Natalie Coghlan

Having encountered my own fertility struggles in my mid-thirties, I took a deep dive into understanding how diet and lifestyle can support my desire to start a family. This resulted in me having two healthy children, one via IVF and one natural conception. Now a nutritionist and fertility expert, I help women going through their own fertility struggles, to realise their dream of a healthy pregnancy.

Work with me to gain the knowledge and strength to take back control of your fertility and feel empowered in knowing you are doing everything you can to increase your chances of a successful pregnancy.

Ian Stones

Ian Stones is considered one of the UK’s leading fertility experts helping couples wishing to start a family. Ian has extensive experience and training as a fertility acupuncturist with over 15 years in practice. Ian also works as a male fertility coach offering 1:1 support to men allowing them to properly understand their fertility and options.

Through his unique system, Ian helps couples to improve their lifestyle, diet and overall health to enhance their fertility. Ian is a passionate campaigner for equality in fertility services, recognising from over 15 years’ experience the unspoken toll on men going through fertility treatment.

Ian is also co-director of testhim, a unique platform offering men essential guidance around their fertility, testing and treatments.

Examen

Examen is a world leader in male fertility testing, based on its heritage of over 25 years in male reproductive health and fertility treatment research. We specialise in measuring sperm DNA fragmentation (known as sperm DNA damage) to help predict the likelihood of conception, miscarriage and the success of fertility treatment.

Sperm DNA damage is one of the most important factors causing male infertility. Examen has developed the Exact test to empower men to take control of their own fertility.

The Mancave

Kevin Button - "The Mancave"

‘The Mancave’ @them_ancave was created through personal experience and was to help break the stigma around male infertility. Why should we suffer in silence?!

“I believe anxiety and depression go hand in hand with fertility issues, and I honestly believe men have taken their own lives due to the fact they have had very little or no help or support after being told they are infertile. Because of this, I plan to make a difference and I want you guys to come along on this journey with me. Let’s do this together; for us, for those that have suffered in silence before us and for the men of the future, who hopefully won’t have to suffer alone.”

Kevin drives “The Mancave” project and is an Ambassador of Fertility Network UK.

ExSeed

“We’re on a mission to change fertility. At ExSeed Health we’re male health experts on a mission to address the 40% of all infertility that’s male related but currently remains largely neglected across the globe!

We built our company to utilize the latest scientific advances in fertility and health research to offer a range of innovative products, enabling men and couples to take ownership of their reproductive health in the comfort of their own home.

We’re also proud to break unnecessary taboos and create awareness around male fertility in the process by making the conversations on the male part easier and straightforward – as they should be.”

UR Vistahermosa

UR Vistahermosa is part of the UR International Reproduction Group, which currently carries out more than 11,000 reproduction cycles in Spain and boasts clinics in Alicante, Madrid, Malaga, Valencia, Murcia, Granada, Almeria, Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Zaragoza, Oviedo, Cartagena and Lerida. It also has international units in Latin America in Managua and Mexico City.

At UR Vistahermosa we have multidisciplinary teams made up of gynaecologists, embryologists, geneticists, andrologists, anaesthesiologists, psychologists, nursing staff and assistants, so each case can be approached uniquely to achieve our goal – pregnancy.

When it comes to international patients, we know that setting off on the journey towards pregnancy means adapting to their needs. Our entire team works together to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.

Tambre Fertility Clinic Madrid

More than 40 years of experience, our extensive career in the world of reproductive medicine has allowed us to achieve the highest success rates not only in Spain but throughout Europe. The latest technology to guarantee you a healthy baby. We have the latest technology in assisted reproduction: GERI, Time Lapse, Fenomatch, PGS, Chip Fertile, RI Witness, ERA, etc.

Dr Belinda Coker

Belinda has had an extraordinary career overcoming adversity whilst shattering the glass ceiling. Belinda completed her medical degree at the prestigious Imperial College School of Medicine. After spending three years training in obstetrics, gynaecology and sexual health at the highly-regarded Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, Belinda then spent two further years working in sexual and reproductive health and community gynaecology before training to become a GP.

A few years later, Belinda started to work in healthcare management, specialising in service design, patient experience, and safety, alongside her clinical practice. She was soon promoted to senior leadership roles within the NHS. After completing an Executive MBA program in Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Design at Imperial College Business school and winning the IBM prize for innovation, design and entrepreneurship, Belinda reached the executive level and became a board director.

During the last 10 years, Belinda provided advice and expertise to highly reputable healthcare organisations and innovative digital health companies that have created tech apps, gadgets, products, and online healthcare services. Throughout this time, she continued to practice as a GP in London.

Yemi Adegbile

Yemi Adegbile

 I am a Fertility Clinic Lead nurse with over 20 years in the fertility sector. I have worked in both the NHS and private sectors, including 17 years at Barts Centre for Reproductive Medicine and 5 years at the Assisted Conception Unit of Guy’s and St Thomas’.
My area of interest and passion is raising awareness in the black and minority ethnic communities about fertility issues, accessing fertility care and organising local forums to help singles and couples B.A.M.E patients navigate through their fertility journey.

  • Executive member of Nigeria Nurses Charitable association UK.
  • Organiser of bespoke packages for BAME patients who need Egg or Sperm donation both home and abroad.
  • Founder of Fertility Support Hub, a charitable organisation who raises awareness to the ethnic community about fertility issues.
  • Executive member of London Fertility Nurses Forum.

Dr. Zara Hosany - Psychologist, HCPC - Clin. Psych.

I am Dr Zara Hosany, a Clinical Psychologist with over 20 years experience working in mental health. I offer a range of interventions: individual work with adults, young people, parents, couples, family therapy; supervision for qualified professionals and trainees; coaching and mentoring, consultation work with organisations, and reflective spaces for groups.

I use a variety of approaches in my work, which includes CBT, DBT, IPT, Systemic, Narrative, Solution-focussed, Psychodynamic, Play and Attachment based therapies. I welcome explorations of race, culture, spirituality, sexuality, and other aspects of identity.

Andreia Trigo

Andreia Trigo

“My name is Andreia Trigo and I am a nurse consultant, researcher and founder of Enhanced Fertility. My passion for working in this area comes from my own diagnosis of infertility at a very young age

The journey to finding out what was happening in my body took years, several medical appointments, blood tests, invasive treatment and even surgery.

My goal is to help people be diagnosed sooner, get referred to fertility specialists that can help them and create a personalised treatment plan that increases their chances of conception.”

Natural Fertility Healthcare

Have you been trying for ages with no success? Have you had poor fertility test results? Are you feeling desperate and like you left it too late? Maybe guilty for having a career or not looking after your body? Do you feel like hope is fading and in a panic to find a solution quickly? Do you feel alone and fearful much of the time? You’ve tried so much as a couple and feel you failed in some way?

Do something really positive now to overcome the challenge and desperation you feel.

​Mama Be works with and through these issues to help restore your body’s natural health and fertility.

Regardless of whether you have suffered from unexplained infertility, secondary infertility, low AMH results, failed IVF, PCOS endometriosis, hormone imbalance, have poor hormone and/or sperm results, or even miscarriage issues treatment is possible.

International Fertility Company

The International Fertility Company (IFC) is a concierge based service assisting patients to identify and access the most appropriate fertility treatment at home or abroad. Working across 24 countries and with 180 clinics. IFC has an experienced team of former patients, medics, therapists and coaches who provide bespoke packages of care, support, treatment and information.

Caroline Biddle (Med)

Caroline worked as a secondary school drama teacher for 9 years. During a period of three years, she went through fertility treatment before becoming a mother to her son. She experienced two very different styles of support, where neither school had a fertility policy in place which left her feeling both vulnerable and frustrated.

Caroline is committed to changing the way fertility issues in teaching are managed.

Since her career in teaching Caroline has gone on to deliver training to staff across NHS Trusts. She is also a visiting lecturer at two Universities.

Caroline blogs weekly about fertility issues. She supports a community of teachers across various social media platforms and regularly interacts with them.

Your Trusted Squad

Your Trusted Squad is on a mission to transform the experience of infertility for women and couples who are trying to start or grow their family.

​Your Trusted Squad was founded by Dr Belinda Coker, an experienced GP and Medical Director with a wealth of expertise in fertility, women’s health, customer experience and clinical quality spanning 20 years.

Many of Belinda’s personal experiences of seeking healthcare for infertility, recurrent miscarriages, endometriosis and adenomyosis were difficult, disappointing and sometimes traumatic. After speaking with so many women who complained of their experiences when trying to receive help for fertility and matters related to their reproductive health and after following her heart, Belinda decided to build a unique service that delivers on excellence, quality and encompasses a personalised, holistic experience for clients.

Prof Peter Hollands

Professor Peter Hollands PhD (Cantab)

Peter trained at Cambridge University under the supervision of the co-inventor of IVF and Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Bob Edwards FRS. His PhD was in stem cell technology with a focus on the transplantation of stem cells from the developing mouse fetus. His post-doctoral position was as a Senior Embryologist at Bourn Hall Clinic which was the first IVF clinic in the world. Peter has been the Scientific Director of Cells for Life in Toronto and Smart Cells in the UK and was HTA Designated Individual for Smart Cells. He has carried out research and clinical practice in stem cell technology and IVF and has written numerous papers and book chapters on stem cell technology and IVF. Peter has written a book on stem cell technology for the general public called ‘The Regeneration Promise’ which was published in December 2020. This is the first of a series of books on medical science. His second book ‘The Fertility Promise’ was published in 2021 and is an explanation of IVF and assisted reproduction for the general reader.

Nadine Baynes

As Director and Head Psychotherapist of not-for-profit organisation, Lighthouses Therapy Services, I have met with and supported hundreds of bereaved parents of baby and infant loss. Grieving the loss of a pregnancy or a baby can be very complicated – parents can feel confused, angry, isolated, mis-understood and overwhelmed. I can relate to this having been through a miscarriage many years ago.

With therapy you will realise you don’t have to suffer or feel alone with your pain.
Whether you are grieving an early pregnancy loss, still-birth, failed fertility treatment, ectopic pregnancy or compassionate induction, we can help and are here with open arms and big hearts.

Member of National Council of Psychotherapists (Accredited)

Professor Joyce Harper - Author/Educator/ Academic /Scientist

Joyce Harper is Professor of Reproductive Science at the Institute for Women’s Health, University College London. She is head of the Reproductive Science and Society Group and leads the International Women’s Day events at the Institute. She has worked in the fields of fertility, genetics, reproductive health and women’s health for over 30 years. She is passionate about education and discussion of all aspects of women’s health but especially at three key stages: puberty, the fertile years and the menopause. She regularly appears in the press, on radio and TV. She is the mother of three sons born through IVF. Her latest book – Your Fertile Years – was published in 2021. She is founder of the International Fertility Education Initiative.

Sheila Lamb

Sheila Lamb - Author of the 'This is' series and Co-author of 'Infertility doesn’t care about your ethnicity'

“As a previous fertility patient who finally had my rainbow baby through donor egg ICSI, I am writing and publishing the ‘This is’ series of books sharing honest, raw emotions of those going through infertility, IVF/IUI and loss for three different but connected audiences.”

Marcin Smietana - Reproductive Researcher

As a sociologist, I have been doing research with LGBTQ+ families in the UK, US and Europe for almost a decade and a half now. To further the cause of reproductive justice, I have also been using my research for the benefit of LGBTQ+ families as well as people who help them have children, such as surrogates, donors and others. I am a senior research associate in the Reproductive Sociology Research Group at the University of Cambridge, where I have been since 2016, following my postdoc research at UC Berkeley and PhD at the University of Barcelona. I have done research first of all with gay men who create families through surrogacy and adoption, but I have also worked with lesbian and trans parents. I’m also part of the LGBTQ+ community myself. I’m happy to share my knowledge and experience with LGBTQ+ intended parents and families, or direct you to relevant resources and organizations, so do feel free to email me at ms935@cam.ac.uk.

Lisa Allison - Fertility First Surrogacy Ambassador

Surrogate mother, specialist fertility counsellor in training, surrogacy mentor and advocate.

Passionate about practically assisting and emotionally supporting those struggling to make families or suffering with fertility issues. You can email me at Lisaallison@hotmail.co.uk

Two Dads UK

We (Wes and Michael) are Dads to our children, Katie, Talulah and Duke. Talulah and Duke were born with the help of our amazing Surrogate Caroline, (and our incredible egg donors). We’re on a mission to help raise awareness of Same-Sex Parenting and help normalise our own modern family, as we hopefully help shine the spotlight, positively on families like ours, with either two Mummies, two Daddies, one Mummy or one Daddy.

The foundations of TwoDads UK were firmly created by us speaking out, and campaigning for change for not only us, when we were on our quest to become Daddies, but for all those that follow us on their own route to parenthood or fertility journey. We also believe that through our work on social media – we can use those platforms to raise awareness of particular causes, charities or interests – which later become our missions.

My Surrogacy Journey

Michael and Wes are the co-founders of My Surrogacy Journey and are Dads to their two children born via UK independent Surrogacy- Talulah in 2016, and Duke was born in 2019.
They understand that there is a growing need for Surrogacy support globally, with surrogacy births growing year on year in the UK, and parental orders of those children born abroad also reflecting similar increases.
Michael and Wes are also no stranger to campaigning for change, in relation to the Surrogacy Law Reform in the UK , Government policy related to surrogates and intended parents and also educating Healthcare professionals in relation to UK Surrogacy.

Claire Caldow

Emotional health and wellbeing support whilst trying to conceive can be incredibly valuable to reduce overwhelm, to regain hope, process feelings, build resilience and improve relationships and to move more peacefully through medical investigation or procedures.
For individuals and couples who are pregnant following a difficult fertility journey, with experiences of loss or ready to take a healing journey to parenthood, emotional wellbeing support offers a safe, growth filled space through to the fourth trimester.

I offer a blend of coaching, counselling and therapeutic support with embodied and expressive approaches for those who wish to explore this way. My training and background is in Psychology, Counselling/ Psychotherapy and Coaching working in the UK and overseas for over 15 years. Experiencing my own fertility challenges, IVF and pregnancy loss led me on my own healing and therapeutic process.

Sian Elizabeth

Sian is the founder of Renew Holistic Health and takes a keen interest in helping women restore their metabolism and support hormonal health. This can mean finding relief from issues such as PCOS symptoms, Endometriosis symptoms, addressing digestive issues, supporting clients to sleep better, have more energy that’s sustained throughout the day, create better habits, mitigate stress as much as possible and learn to manage it, improve mindset to reach goals, help clients show up better for themselves and their loved ones and achieve overall vitality in a non-restrictive way. Supporting our hormone health, breaking through these barriers, preparing our bodies for pregnancy, birthing a nourished baby; everything from conscious pre-conception to birth and the years after, requires this whole-body health approach. As a qualified Health Coach Sian’s role is to motivate, empower, and educate along the way, so clients feel empowered to improve their reproductive and overall health.

Sarah Byrne

I am a Menstrual Cycle Coach who teaches women business owners how to harness the power of their natural energy cycles to avoid overwhelm and burnout and create more success in their lives and businesses.

Joanna Sinclair, FF UK Founder and CEO

I am a lecturer, fertility coach and practitioner that helps support and educate both men and women on a journey to create a family. Helping to optimise your physical and emotional health and wellbeing, enhancing your fertility to give you the best chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy. I have lived and experienced a long fertility journey, I remember only too well the emotional impact and the pain. I help reduce the stress and anxiety, maximise the benefit of nurturing the physical and emotional health together, share tools and techniques for this journey, and beyond to reach the goal of a family. 

Vanessa Hurrell

I am a psychotherapist registered with the International Council of Psychotherapists.
I have a Diploma in Transpersonal Therapeutic Counselling from Clearmind International Institute and a Certificate in Psychodynamic Counselling from Chichester Counselling Services.
I have attended local and international workshops on leadership and purpose and have supported others in their workshops.
I am currently studying and working towards incorporating shamanic healing into my therapeutic work and I am training as a trauma informed specialist. I have been through my own fertility journey and have come to understand that my experiences have been a gift to me and have given me an awareness of some of the challenges that life can bring.

Jo Dalziel

I am a fertility coach and hypnobirthing specialist. After facing my own uphill struggle to conceive, many aspects of my life were affected and during this time no emotional support was available. I believe the mind body connection and your emotions play a crucial role in your fertility success, be that naturally or through assisted conception. When I heard about the Freedom Fertility Formula I wanted to train so others could feel less anxiety on their own fertility journey.

Steven Britton

Steven Britton

Fertility intelligence coaching can directly impact egg health, improve sperm mobility, boost fertility, healthy pregnancy and much more.

How does this work?
The process starts by firstly assessing you and your partner mental & physical wellbeing.
This is then followed by eliminating any misconceptions of actions and influences that hinder your fertility, thereby also revealing the genetic setpoint to influence/control positive outcomes.

At this point the foundations are set, we then focus on optimising relationships with yourself and others (romantic or otherwise) emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.

Finally diet and nutrition can play a very important role in the quest to getting pregnant so I will make sure that even this area you will feel confident and more in control of your body.

Sarah Laver

After working as a clinical embryologist for many years, seeing couples struggling with their fertility, Sarah was driven to find alternative ways to support them on their journey. Through studying Psychology, and Personalised Nutrition, she discovered the transformational impact that diet and lifestyle changes can provide, especially when behaviour change is supported. She is now on a mission to share her knowledge, supporting those trying to conceive.

Sarah is now a BANT Registered Nutritionist and Registered Nutritional Therapist, specialising in fertility. She is the founder of The Embryologist Nutritionist, helping couples, and single females, regain control of their fertility, and maximise their chances of a healthy pregnancy. Sarah takes a holistic view of a couple, or client’s, situation and, together, they create a bespoke, personalised plan that works for them and their needs.

Salma Khanom - Counsellor and Psychotherapist (BACP)

Life events, experiences and relationships can have an impact on how we feel within ourselves making it difficult to cope day to day. Therapy can help us understand these experiences, helping one gain insight and perspective. Finding understanding can be powerful in prompting change. I work with my client to identify issues within their life that may contribute to distress or problems.

I am BACP accredited Counsellor and Clinical supervisor. My core training is in the Integrative model, since qualifying I have completed further training in CBT, CfD, EMDR (all nhs approved) models. I take a flexible approach when working with clients adjusting my approach according to my clients needs. I aim to work in a collaborative way with clients as I believe this can help my clients feel safe and held.

Aisha Balesaria - mindbodyrevival_coach

Aisha is a Certified Transformational Coach and the founder of mindbodyrevival_coach Aisha spent ten years trying to conceive – she underwent surgery for endometriosis, had over 11 failed rounds of IVF and multiple miscarriages. Eventually, she left the process without a baby. “Involuntary childlessness is very misunderstood and most individuals don’t receive the support, empathy and acknowledgement they deserve”. Moving forward, Aisha wanted to use her experience to empower others on a similar journey to her own. Aisha is a writer and Co-author of the book entitled, ‘We Are One in Eight’ she has written numerous blogs and articles about her personal healthy journey and experience with infertility. She has spoken on global platforms and several podcasts to raise awareness about childlessness.

Theresa Davies

Theresa is a fully qualified Counsellor and is registered with both the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) and the British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA). Each fertility journey is unique and different people respond to fertility issues in different ways. In fact, the way you feel may change over time – sometimes even hour by hour – which is why the fertility journey is often described as an emotional rollercoaster. Our counselling sessions will help you to understand these feelings and gain a sense of acceptance of your feelings whatever they may be.

Paula Lavandeira

Paula is an International Fertility Coach and Hypnobirthing Teacher, and a Diabetes Specialist Midwife. She has been a passionate midwife for over 11 years now and with another 10 years as a nurse previously. Her passion is to help mums to overcome their fears and preconceptions about childbirth and motherhood so that they can have the best experience. Hence, she founded the Nurtured Munchkin, to provide full antenatal and postnatal courses for parents. Paula worked as a Senior Research Midwife at UCLH for 5 years, participating in multiple studies, including a pilot study NIPT which was later introduced to the NHS. She also offers baby massage and yoga. Paula recently received an award for Best Antenatal and Hypnobirthing Courses Provider 2020.

Manali Hirani

Manali Hirani - Fertility Coach and Podcaster

Helping women and couples get pregnant naturally, in a healthy way and with minimal medications to enhance their fertility.

“Women accessing a supported mind-body program were over twice as likely to conceive as those who didn’t. Of those women that got pregnant, 76% did so naturally (without medical intervention) within 12 months despite their age, the number of years of trying and diagnoses” – As per the study conducted by Harvard University.

Manali is also the head of IVF Babble in India.

Lighthouses Therapy Services

We are here to offer support to those who have been through miscarriage, still-birth, neonatal death, SIDS, ectopic and molar pregnancy and for those who need support, post-termination.

For women, men, couples and grandparents just like you who are hurting and feel that no one understands the deep psychological pain you are experiencing, we are here.

Theresa Davies Counselling

Sometimes life can feel overwhelming and often, when we speak with our friends and family, we worry about how being honest about our worries, thoughts and feelings may effect them.

​I understand that for many people, seeking out a counsellor can feel very daunting. Maybe you feel that you should be able to cope on our own, or that other people have worse problems that are more worthy of counselling. However, sometimes we all need some extra help, and I am here for you during those times.

Belle Birth & Fertility

Fertility coaching – Your Fertility Journey Is Unique.
Leave anxiety behind & hold on to your dream.

Hypnobirthing – Calm & Relaxed Antenatal Education.
Embrace the beauty of birth with confidence & composure

The Embryologist Nutritionist

Harness the power of nutrition and lifestyle to regain control of your fertility.
Stop feeling exhausted, alone, and frustrated with your body. Are you embarking on IVF / IUI and desperate to maximise your chances of it being successful, but feeling overwhelmed about how to do so?

​We hear you!

​After seeing many individuals go through assisted conception treatments, as an embryologist, we can empathise with what you’re feeling. We are here to share with you the transformational impact that nutritional and lifestyle changes can have, so that you can maximise your chances of achieving a healthy pregnancy, naturally or through assisted conception, even if you feel like you’ve already tried everything.

Nua Fertility

Deborah Brock the founder of Nua Fertility states her mission is “To provide education and innovative products with a microbiome focus which will support people on their fertility journey. We focused on our nutrition, lifestyle, fitness, emotional and overall, well being. This combined with the help of science (and some amazing doctors), culminated in the arrival of our beautiful daughter.

My experience gave me an insight into the reality of fertility problems that many of us face. My search for solutions grounded in science led to the importance of nutrition for fertility and the amazing world of the microbiome and microbes and how they are a key determinant of our fertility health.”

Endometriosis South Coast

The charity Endometriosis South Coast was born out of a need for support on a grass roots level. We have online support groups and now the world is opening up again we are going to train support group leaders to provide in person groups.
We regularly hold educational webinars, and make sure we are at all of the conferences to ensure we have the most up to date information about endo.
We are developing educational resources for businesses, schools, and GP’s.
But our ultimate goal is to ensure all people with Endometriosis and Adenomyosis are receiving the best holistic care and support for their conditions, and know that there is more than just surgery needed to help.

Jodie Hughes

I’m Jodie and I am a Health Sciences Research PhD student that is focussed on Health-Related Quality of Life in people with Endometriosis (crazy I know right) and founder of the charity Endometriosis South Coast.

In 2014 at the ripe old age of 30 after spending the entirety of my adulthood as a chef, I drunkenly applied for university because Endometriosis changed my life. I couldn’t work, I was a single mum. And quite honestly, I was at the lowest I had ever been with depression eating at my very core.

I am researching how Health Related Quality of Life differs in a range of sample groups of Endometriosis patients.

Dr. Amina Hersi

Dr. Amina Hersi - General Practitioner and Expert on PCOS

“When I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) over 10 years ago I remember it being such a confusing time. Through my years as a doctor, I came to understand the importance of diet and lifestyle in managing such a complex condition.”