Counselling for Infertility and Miscarriage
I have been practising as a Specialist Fertility Counsellor since 1996 and work privately from my practice room in Bristol. I also offer counselling by Skype or phone.
Whilst working for twelve years at the Centre for Reproductive Medicine, a private clinic in Bristol, I gained a wealth of experience in the field of fertility counselling. In 2008 I continued to practice in this area at BCRM, a state of the art specialist fertility unit based at Southmead Hospital, Bristol.
I also see patients privately who are attending the Bristol Fertility Clinic - a new private fertility unit based at The Spire Hospital.
Experiences associated with being unable to have the baby you desire
Undergoing fertility investigations and treatment or experiencing the loss of a much wanted pregnancy can engender powerful and sometimes overwhelming feelings and affects so many aspects of your life. If you recognise any of the feelings or experiences listed below, you might find it helps to talk it through with someone who is impartial and understands:
Tearfulness, unable to control emotions
Overwhelming feelings of sadness and loss
Distress and jealousy when friends and relatives become pregnant
A sense of failure and inadequacy, loss of confidence
Feeling left out, left behind, isolated, not part of the mainstream of life
Anger, bitterness and frustration at a situation you cannot control
Sex is no longer fun — it’s a baby-making process
Feeling out of control of events and emotions
Loss of identity, purpose, meaning
Stress and strain within your relationship and communication difficulties
A sense of being punished, singled out
Not able to decide when to stop treatment
Being in limbo, life on hold
Earlier feelings of disappointment or loss resurfacing
Family pressure to have children and/or produce a grandchild
~ HOW I MAY BE ABLE TO HELP YOU ~
Talking things through with an impartial third party who has expertise in this specialist field can help you to find ways of coping emotionally; explore the way forward when you don’t know what to do; make difficult decisions; and gain understanding and insight into yourself, your relationship and your situation.
The experience and empathy I have developed from my work over many years may be of help to you by providing the kind of support that enables you to face and manage the worry, disappointment, stress and grief that is associated with trying to have a baby – or having to move on if the longed-for baby does not arrive.
I have listed below the range of situations you may be finding yourselves in and for which you may be considering getting emotional support.
Fertility tests, investigations and treatments
Having counselled people who are undergoing investigations or who are going through various fertility or assisted conception treatments I have developed a considerable understanding of the emotional difficulties that such treatments engender and the way in which it can affect so many aspects of your life.
If you are in a relationship and you are feeling the strain, I can help you understand yourself and your partner better - and explore how the different ways in which you may be coping with what you are facing is affecting you both.
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy or recurrent pregnancy loss
I also support women and their partners who have had a miscarriage or who are suffering multiple miscarriages. People’s feelings vary after a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, so what the loss of your baby means to you will be very personal to you. It can be extremely sad and can also be traumatic and frightening, and for some the grief is very hard to bear. So I offer you the opportunity to talk freely and openly about the loss of your longed-for baby or babies, and to mourn that loss in your own way.
Trying for a baby as a solo mum
I support women who have chosen to try for a baby without a partner, using donor sperm . Often the decision to go it alone comes about from them having delayed parenthood for various reasons until their mid to late thirties and early forties, finding themselves without a partner when the desire for a child is growing by the day and will not go away. For older women this may also involve the need for double donation (donor eggs as well as donor sperm) if her own fertility is now waning.
Deciding on single motherhood can be a difficult and sad decision for some, and emotional support may be helpful to work through the various ethical, emotional, financial and practial issues associated with such a major life decision. I can offer support whilst women think about what to do, what clinic to use, and help them explores their feelings about being a single mum using a donor. This can include how she plans to balance her family life with her career, what support she has, and her hopes that, despite having no partner at this time, a relationship can and will still happen in the future.
Undergoing assisted conception or donor conception treatment outside the UK
Often clinics abroad do not offer counselling. There are some important issues and implications that need to be considered if you are having or considering having treatment outside of the UK.
You may feel you do not need to speak to a counsellor about your decision, but there may be things you have not considered - or feel you can face later if ever the need arises. However, it never hurts to have a counselling session just to ensure you have explored everything thoroughly before going ahead with such an important step.
Having to make the difficult decision to terminate a much wanted pregnancy
Each year 1,800 pregnancies are terminated due to foetal abnormalities but those who have faced such an agonising decision find it is it is rarely discussed. And yet couples do want to talk about it and so find themselves feeling lonely and isolated in this tragic experience.
No couple wants to make such a decision and the depth of pain and guilt can be indescribable – and even more so if the couple had finally conceived after a number of unsuccessful IVF treatments.
Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) offer specialist support in this field (click here for the ARC website for specialist support) but I will be very happy to offer counselling if it can be helpful to you.
I offer counselling to women and their partners who have one child but for whom a longed-for second child is eluding them. This is a difficult position to be in in society because a woman will often feel guilty that she already has one child and feels she should be grateful for that (after all, some people are struggling to even have one baby).
And yet, I know that the desire for a second baby and a sibling for your child is the most natural thing in the world – and the feelings of grief can be almost as powerful and palpable as they are for someone trying unsuccessfully for their first baby.
Women with a toddler or young child cannot avoid witnessing all around them the joy as the mother’s of their child’s friends get pregnant with their second and sometimes third babies.
There is little recognition for women and couples who find themselves in this situation and so I can offer a chance for you to express your sorrow and guilt – or whatever feelings you may be having - about not being able to have another baby.
Ending or not starting fertility treatment
It can be very difficult if you find you are unable to conceive a child either because you have decided not to have treatment at all, or because you need to decide to stop having any more fertility treatment, or because you may be finding that you are unable to have fertility treatment at all for some reason. All of these possibilities can be hugely challenging emotionally and so you may find it helpful to talk everything through with someone who can support you through such a difficult time while you grieve and then find a way to move on.
Considering adoption or deciding not to adopt
I have a great deal of experience working with couples around the emotional difficulties facing them if the wanted baby never came, and exploring with them the grief they experience for the lost family of their own.
Although well-meaning people may assume that if you can’t have a baby the natural solution will be simply to adopt, this does not acknowledge what it means to have to let go of ever having a child or family that is genetically yours, or for a woman to accept that she will never experience pregnancy or giving birth and that she will never be able to share the joy of that life-event with all the friends and family around her.
Nor does this simple piece of advice recognise that creating a family by adoption is not necessarily an easy decision to make or simple step to take – or even that both of you want the same thing in terms of adoption. If you and your partner find yourselves in this position I can support you as you work your way through the emotional issues associated with this difficult decision and process.
Some couples may decide in the end that adoption is not for them, or may sadly not be accepted as adoptive parents. And so, after many years of trying for a baby, they find themselves having to face the fact that they will never have the family they wanted or be the parents they always imagined and hoped they would be.
The grief of finding yourself in this position whilst all around you are are giving birth to their first, second and sometimes third children, cannot be underestimated. And if I can offer emotional support at such an incredibly difficult time I would be very glad to do so.
Facing childlessness and experiencing the grief of having no children in the later stages of life
If you never had a child and you are finding it hard at a particular stage of your life, then please don’t hesitate to contact me to make an appointment to talk through what it means to you not to have had a family.
Fertility and Miscarriage Support
Many couples feel the pressure and stress when trying to conceive or when suffering ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.
I can explore with you a range of tools and coping strategies to help you help yourself during what can sometimes be very emotionally challenging times.
These can be tailored to suit your own situation and needs and include: -
Exploring and improving your own natural coping mechanisms
Developing strategies to deal with particularly challenging aspects of fertility treatment or pregnancy loss
Looking at ways to cope with other problems in your life, work, family etc that are impinging on or affecting your fertility treatment or your ability to have a baby
Mindfulness breathing for stress reduction
Self-hypnosis to help with sleep, anxiety and low self-esteem (see below for more
If you are in a relationship, exploring the differences in the way you and your
partner cope in order to understand yourselves and each other better
Communication techniques to help improve communication between you as a couple so as to help reduce any stresses and strains in the relationship
You can come for a session or two of stress support as and when you need to or I can provide a specifically designed programme tailored to addresses the aspects in your life you are finding difficult.
I use hypnosis both to heighten the therapeutic benefit of counselling and also as a stress management self-help tool.
In particular hypnosis can help:
Alleviate the stress, distress and worry that can accompany fertility treatment or fears that a baby will never come after a miscarriage or miscarriages
Improve difficulties with sleeping due to worry and anxiety; and can also be used to help with fears of needles and anxiety around medical procedures.
Work on your self esteem that may have been damaged by the inability to become a parent in the way that seems so effortless for others
Build self-confidence in anxiety-provoking situations
Reduce and even eliminate self-limiting fears in a simple, natural and effortless way.
Feel free to enquire for more information or make an appointment:
Telephone or text: 07847 263 794
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