Lubricants and Pregnancy

We were recently asked if personal lubricants were safe to use during pregnancy. Personal lubricants and pregnancy advice has been hard to find.

In recent years a range of fertility specific lubricants have come to the market. These are made to allow the free passage of sperm and have studies showing they are less harmful than normal personal lubes. Some have active ingredients to promote sperm motility, such as Zestica. All are safe to use during pregnancy.

Most water based personal lubricants should be safe to use during pregnancy, check the specific manufacturers web site for details on clinical trials but also ensure that the lubricant is fresh and clean. Safest practice would be to disgarded after 3 months to reduce the risk of contamination but most do not suggest this.

There is no evidence to suggest oil based personal lubricants are harmful in pregnancy. It is suggested that any lubricant containing stimulant agents should be avoided, this includes heating and cooling lubricants and local anaesthetic agents. There is no clinical study evidence for this advice, and it probably stems from healthcare professionals having no clear guidance as no study would ever be approved to prove or disprove the facts unless a problem had become apparent or comes to light in the future. As there is no reason to use these products, then avoiding them in pregnancy probably makes good sense.

Spring News From Amy Marner

Birth Preparation

Relaxation For Pregnancy and Childbirth

Life Upgrade for Pregnancy and Childbirth

Maternity Leave

Feels funny calling this a Spring newsletter with this fantastic warm weather we are having!  I hope you have all had a chance to enjoy the sunshine.

Birth Preparation

I have now begun to support women in preparing for their birthing experience.  As some of you already know I am keen to support women to have a positive birthing experience and now, as well as providing positive birthing stories, I am also offering Tracy Holloway’s ‘Relaxation for Pregnancy and Childbirth’ Hypnosis CDs and Life Upgrade sessions for those women who wish to address their fears during pregnancy and childbirth.

Relaxation For Pregnancy and Childbirth

“By taking time to relax deeply, women can tap into their innate wisdom, trust their birthing body, remain calm and feel confident – throughout pregnancy and birth.” Tracy Holloway.  For more details about the benefits of these Hypnosis CDs please visit my website.

Life Upgrade for Pregnancy and Childbirth

Life Upgrade is a great for women who have fears about pregnancy and/or childbirth.  It is an effective system for addressing fears and allowing women to live in the moment happily without letting their worries take over.

Life Upgrade is helpful for any fears, which pregnancy and childbirth can bring up however I have experience working with women who fear miscarriage, have fears surrounding the birth, and fears that may arise for those who are pregnant due to IVF treatment.

It’s also a great system for use during labour to remain focused and in the moment clearing any fears that may come up.  What’s more the tools are extremely helpful for the parenting to come!

My Website has more details:

Maternity Leave

As I am currently 8 Months pregnant I am planning to take some time out from clients as soon as my baby is born.  I will be back in October 2011.  If you know someone who you feel needs some support before I am back feel free to get in touch as I do have a couple of excellent practitioners I can refer them to.

In the meantime the Hypnosis and Meditation CDs will still be available from my website.


The Fertility Focus Telesummit is underway. but there is still time to join in!

The second interview of the Fertility Focus Telesummit was mine, on how “Creating an Effective Support Network Can Make All the Difference When Trying To Conceive.” I’m really excited by the response I have had, with many listeners emailing me afterward to thank me and/or tell me that what I shared really resonated with them. The Telesummit is completely free to listen to the live presentations, and the replays for 24 hours after each interview. If you didn’t know about it before, it’s not too late to get involved.

The 2nd Fertility Focus Telesummit, created and moderated by Sarah Holland, is running this week.  Twelve fertility experts from around the world, and 3 fertility bloggers, are speaking throughout the week on various aspects of fertility health and support.  Sarah started things off on Sunday, the 20th of March, with an introduction to the Telesummit and an explanation of how to get the most out of it.

Yesterday, Monday the 21st, saw the first two interviews; Dr Marion Glenville spoke on the nutritional aspect of fertility health, giving much of her hour-long presentation over to listeners’ questions and providing really comprehensive responses.  The second interview of the evening was mine, on how “Creating an Effective Support Network Can Make All the Difference When Trying To Conceive.”  I’m really excited by the response I have had, with many listeners emailing me afterward to thank me and/or tell me that what I shared really resonated with them.

The Telesummit is completely free to listen to the live presentations, and the replays for 24 hours after each interview. If you didn’t know about it before, it’s not too late to get involved.  Click here to register for the Fertility Focus Telesummit FREE!  You can listen live, and submit questions for each of the speakers, or listen at your leisure to the recordings afterward.  If you are really busy this week and know you won’t be able to listen in, OR you just want to have all 17 audio files to refer to over and over, Sarah provides the option of upgrading to a Golden Ticket so you can purchase the whole Telesummit’s talks, which will be emailed to you as an MP3 file afterward. This is an incredible value, this week only while the Telesummit is running, at US$67, including several bonuses. You can find all the information at the Telesummit website.

Because I’m a bit late in letting you know about the Telesummit and my own presentation on creating a support network, I’d like to share some of that information with you here.  Having been through several challenging years of recurrent miscarriage and secondary infertility myself, I have the benefit of hindsight telling me that I really could have coped far better if I had been more proactive about getting myself, and my husband, the right balance of emotional and practical support.  Infertility put a big strain on our marriage, and I felt very alone and fearful that I would not be able to have the children I had always dreamed of having.  We are fortunate to have come through those rough times, and to have our two children.  Using my training and experience as a fertility coach, I have developed a system to help each of my clients create a support network for their unique needs, thus easing their experience of infertility and efforts to conceive and helping them to feel less isolated and stressed.

During the call, I explained:

  • Why infertility support is so important;
  • The 5 most essential types of support every infertile person needs;
  • Why your partner is not always the best source of support;
  • How you actually create your personal support network;
  • What you can do is someone you expected to be supportive has turned out to be the opposite; and
  • How to maintain a really effective support network over a long period of time.

I’m also offering a Free Bonus to Callers from the Telesummit! I’ve created a comprehensive Worksheet that takes you through the process of creating your own infertility support network, step by step. So, if you haven’t already registered, don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

I’m listening to the other speakers throughout the week myself. I have to say, I’ve been very impressed so far. I’ve learned a lot already from both Dr Glenville and Andrew Loosely, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist. Other expert speakers during the week include Sarah Holland on using EFT for conception, Kristin Hayward, Zita West, Gabriela Rosa, Toni Weschler, Sue Dumais, Nicola Smuts, Deirdre Morris and Cindy Bailey. Then, you can listen to talks from 3 prolific bloggers, including the authors of “From IF to When,” “Eggs and Sperm” and “Survive and Thrive.” I’m really looking forward to the rest of the week.

How do you begin again after a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle?

How do you begin again?

After a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle, there is the inevitable question hanging in the air: Are we going to try again? It may be a given that you still want a baby, however the criteria for whether you are going to try to conceive and carry a pregnancy will have been affected by the recent lack of success with IVF, or the terrible end of your pregnancy. Whether you are on your own, or with a partner, the criteria you use to make your decisions may have changed and need to be looked at again.

If you are on Twitter, or you follow some of the infertility blogs, you may be familiar with some of the abbreviations used by women who are trying to conceive and have a baby. One that frequently tears at my heart is BFN:( . It means “big fat nothing,” as in not pregnant this month.  You examine and re-examine the dates on the calendar, plan your activities around the possibility that you might be pregnant by then, and spend money on pregnancy tests that you know are going to come out negative.  You may also have experienced the elation of finding out you were pregnant and whispering it to the chosen few you trusted to support you through those intial, very secretive and exciting days, only to have to return to them weeks later and explain that the pregnancy was over.

How do you begin again?

After a miscarriage or failed IVF cycle, there is the inevitable question hanging in the air: Are we going to try again? It may be a given that you still want a baby, however the criteria for whether you are going to try to conceive and carry a pregnancy will have been affected by the recent lack of success with IVF, or the terrible end of your pregnancy. Whether you are on your own, or with a partner, the criteria you use to make your decisions may have changed and need to be looked at again. You must consider your current health, age, fitness, need for medical intervention, financial position, other commitments and your doctor’s advice. Assuming that you have decided that you do want to try to conceive again, naturally or with assisted reproduction techniques, the next set of decisions will be about when you begin trying.

Your timing

“When can I try again?” is one of the first questions that will come up in a woman’s mind once she has determined to pursue another pregnancy. Opinion, even among medical professionals, varies. Some doctors will say that, all being well, 3 months is a good amount of time to wait after a miscarriage. Others will suggest that an otherwise healthy patient wait until after she has had one menstrual period before trying to conceive. I believe that readiness is a combination of having had a check-up by the doctor or nurse a few weeks after your miscarriage or IVF procedure, feeling well in yourself physically and determining that you and/or your partner are both emotionally prepared to take the risk again. Why do I use that word “risk?” While many women go on to achieve a healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage, and IVF can certainly be successful on a subsequent attempt, there is a risk that they will not be successful. Can both of you gather all your resources together and steel yourself against that possibility or do you feel painfully vulnerable?

Are you up to it?

Miscarriage and fertility treatment are both hard on the body and can cause you to feel physically depleted.  This is exacerbated by the emotional toll that they take. It isn’t unusual for a woman to feel that she wants to, or has to, jump right back in and try again and simultaneously think that going through this process again is the last thing in the world she wants to do at that moment. Have you ever felt torn in that way? The reason for this dichotomy can be that you have not recovered fully and need to build up your strength and stamina. It may be worth asking your GP for a once-over health check, paying attention to your appetite, sleep, energy levels and hormone levels.

Your emotional wellbeing

It could also be that you are putting on a front, trying to fool yourself and others about how you are really coping. What you say and what you truly feel must be congruent, or the result could be additional stress, sleepless nights and high emotion.  There may be no doubt that you want a baby, but being pregnant may be another matter entirely. Do you feel resilient; as if you have been able to pick yourself up, put your disappointment aside and look forward to the future? Or, do you feel fearful or hopeless? Your thoughts will affect your behaviour and very possibly, your outcome.

If you are trying to conceive, while simultaneously thinking that it will never happen, or that it will end disastrously, you are draining your positive energy away from your goal. You are literally telling your body, that it will not function the way it is meant to do and reinforcing that message every time you let your mind obsess in this manner. Ovulation does not occur in a vacuum; it is dependent upon signals from your brain to your ovaries. Additionally, the stress caused by negativity has been known to interrupt reproductive function, which may affect your periods, ovulation, fertilisation and/or implantation of the embryo.

Your negative thoughts, sadness, anger and stress are all understandable responses to either a miscarriage or the disappointment of a failed IVF cycle. How quickly you move through various feelings or thought processes to a state of readiness is unique to your circumstances and how you respond. You may feel conflicting emotions and be confused as to whether you are ready to try to conceive again. If so, a fertility coach can help you isolate your feelings about your miscarriage or IVF experience. This can help you prevent or reverse the spill-over into your abilities, body, medical treatment, relationship and future.

Are you both ready?

It isn’t unusual for two people in a relationship to have different ideas about whether they are ready to try to conceive again. On the one hand, the woman may (erroneously) believe that the previous attempt is her fault and feel the need to make up for it or prove herself. She may be itching to try immediately, in contrast to her partner’s more measured approach. Even if this self-blame is not present, she may feel there isn’t any time to waste. Only she can truly know how strong and physically healthy she feels, so her partner is reliant upon the information she provides.  A partner may be concerned about her health and want to ensure the safety of a subsequent attempt to conceive.  On the other hand, I have had female clients whose partners want to sweep it all under the rug and move forward as if nothing has happened. She may be unready; lacking in self-confidence and feeling unsupported.

Marriages have broken down from the stress of trying to conceive. One party may feel less committed to the idea of having a child than the other, so that when the disappointments, difficulties and costs are tallied up, they decide that they don’t want to put everything into the attempt.  The sacrifices necessary to divert money from other dreams to fertility treatment may be more than one is willing to make. To contemplate trying to conceive only for your partner’s sake, or while you are unsure, will only add to the stresses you will have to endure.

The best advice I can give any couple in this situation is to talk. Be open about how you feel, what the loss meant and how you want to proceed now. If either of you are unable to communicate effectively without someone teasing the words out of you, get someone to act as a facilitator. A good fertility coach will help the two of you say what you really think and feel; not imposing her own ideas or taking sides. Perhaps a joint visit to your GP or gynaecologist will help the two of you find mutual ground.

Just knowing when it’s right

As quickly as it came over, an emotional cloud can lift. A new day, an overheard inspiring word, reassurance from someone you trust or just some release inside of you; any of these can shift how you feel about beginning the process of conception over again.  You may not be able to explain it to someone else, but you just know you are ready.  If trying again feels right and you can maintain that feeling for a few calm days (no roller-coaster emotions and changing of mind), trust your instincts. Only you can know for sure.

Lisa Marsh is the owner of Your Great Life, a fertility coaching and advocacy business in Stanmore, North London. She also writes for her own blog;   You can follow her on Twitter @yourgreatlife. Contact Lisa for individual or couples fertility coaching, via phone or office visits, or to find out about educational workshops on fertility issues from menstruation to menopause: Tel #011-44 (0)20 8954 2897 or email

Diary of trying for a baby and eventally having a baby

13th September 2005 Miscarriage @ 6-7 weeks (First) 5th July 2006 Miscarriage @ 12 week went for 12 week scan told called a blighted ovum there was a sac and no baby but the sac was still producing the pregnancy hormones (Second) 9th November 2006 1st appointment at hospital- history 13th November 1st 2006 blood test x7 Inc rubella test @ day 3-5 plus sperm analysis  

December 6th 2006 2nd blood test @ 27 days 

December 2006 18th  Internal scan all ok,  

4th January 07 2nd consultation said it’s not ploy cystic ovaries and that, send us for chromosome tests and said about having scan to check my fallopian tubes appointment never came through and I never chased as I do seem to ovulated as have fallen pregnant before .all tests have come back normal. 

8th March 2007 all test have come back normal, now prescribed clomid to take on day 2 of my cycle 

31 March 2007 pregnant again 3 time lucky 

30 May 2007 went for 8 weeks scan baby only 2.3 mm and no heartbeat told to come back 06 May 2007 started to bleed slightly, called hospital told to wait!! 

08 June 2007 another internal scan baby now 6mm still no heartbeat advised to wait a week again. They say it’s suspicious as baby grown, don’t know how has grown as no heartbeat detected. 

08 June 2007 Miscarriage @ 10 weeks Same day very bad pains and bleeding later on in evening lost a big clot so have miscarried again at 10 weeks. (Third)  

13 June 2007 another internal scan to check everything came out, and everything has so I don’t need to have a D & C. 

15 June 2007, another appointment to see Consultant, got questions to ask don’t seem to have trouble falling there must be something else going on have read about this condition called ,Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). A couple of blood test would rule this out, and will ask about embryo screening is suitable. Ran these tests all normal again. 

25 July 2007 saw dr. again said that the tests for asp came back normal and that he cannot find anything wrong! He has put me on clomid for another two months. I was supposed to have another scan but he had not made arrangements for that so will have to have in few weeks to rule out or diagnose poly cystic ovaries again! Asked for test for thyroid and blood sugar. Will next see him 25 October unless I fall pregnant in between, and if I do need to call up straight away! He said would treat me differently next time, I will definitely push for blood tests next time. 

18 October 2007 another scan to check for poly cystic ovaries, I was supposed to have this re checked 4 months ago; I am starting to get really annoyed. Cont.- saw consultant and was too upset to ask about the embryo screening, asked for blood test for Antiphospholipid (test came back ok) syndrome. Want to see me in 6 weeks to have a scan again for poly cystic ovaries really confused don’t have a clue why he doing that again when he ruled it out months ago. 

I will be seeing Dr a again, in 3 months time, let’s see was he says or does this time, I am staring to lose confidence in them at the hospital 

I have just read every something on the internet that said with every miscarriage chances of a successful pregnancy go down with 3 miscarriages go down to 60%. 25 October 2007 saw Dr a again told him I was a bit fed up, he said that understandable. Has requested I have a laparoscopy to see what going on and if need be drain my ovaries. Won’t bill until January time. And just realised have no follow up appointment. No more medication given so will just have to wait until the operation. 

3rd January 2008 had laparoscopy and they drilled my ovaries and checked my fallopian tubes, (was very painful on the night I had it done) the following days then started to feel a bit better until it got infected., was given another course of anti bionics, but 2 day after needed stronger ones. My ovaries were poly cystic, but have sorted that out, hopefully. Has prescribed 2 months of Clomid.    Feb. 2008 still not had period yet done 3 test all negative, but boobs feel bigger, will probably come on in next few days I really hope I do fall pregnant soon think Mike and I would be good parents.  

05 February 2008 came on, and on day 2 started to take clomid again. 

29th February been feeling ill all week migraine and or sickness and today upset stomach, been hoping because I am pregnant but probably just due on. Going to have this every month. 

5 march 2008 came on! so not preg, 2nd lot of clomid, finger crosses for this, month. Have good new mike and I are now engaged. 

15 then 22 May now 29 2008, 3rd time they have changed it!!  To see doc A again, it’s so far away, thought I may have had an appointment sooner, but I guess he feels I will fall pregnant in mean time. 

 29th may went to see doc a again now given me another drug similar to clomid called  letrozole that is not licence as a fertility drug which is really scary.. But seem to only be a problem if taken when pregnant not before, as does not stay in body long and it’s a steroid… Scary stuff  Next appoint been sent through 4th sept then changed again already too  11 th September!! Let’s see if they change it again. And guess what yet another letter they have cancelled it again now 18th sept getting stupid now, unless I fall pregnant between then o=and now I will not be happy as it will be13 2-3 months without any treatment. 

July 22 2008 have been on first course of Letrozole and still not come on, on 42 days now, I have done a pregnant test and not pregnant. Though the tablets were supposed to make me more regular, but did the ovulation test and they came up negative so looks like I did not ovulate this month. Had second course cycle getting longer not good not at 47 day 

4 sept saw doc a little bit worried why my cycle are so long especially when on those tablets going to sent me for another scan on 2nd and follow up appointment on 9th October 2008 to see what is going o and whether pco have come back. 

2nd October had scan and poly cystic ovaries is back that if it every went away going back to see doc a next week  

9th October 2008 dr given me metformin and letrozole again double the dose , the tab make me feel ill, the met are also an appetite suppressant great 

Wrote to dr as losing weight now under 6 stone, have brought forward the hospital appointment to 22 Jan 09 which is good. Told him I have taken my self off the tablets now.( mike having problems happened a few time  think it’s the stress so let’s see what he does next) 

220109 referral for ivf. Was really shocked did not think they would offer that yet. Think I need to put to weight, I weight 6 stone 4f 11 think I need to be at least 7 stone. Over-wise they may refuse to do ivf. Do not want to delay any longer. Both have to go for blood test. 

25/01/09 blood tests mike hep bcore antibody and hiv antibodyMe same hep bcore antibody and hiv antibody and fsh lh and oestradiol 

01/04/09 Went for first appointment up BARTS in London, mike sperm count down so have to go back on, did Rubella test which should have been done at Southend hospital 2/5 years ago!! And been told been put on waiting list 1-4 months! Want to start now really fed up with waiting. May have to do icis as low sperm count 

07/04/09 re do sperm test, results back and all ok 

15/05/2009 shock horror ect I am pregnant without treatment, called Barts but they said as I have not started I  there not responsible for my care and told me to go to gp asap to get some progesterone 

15/05/2009 when to doc refused to give me progesterone, sent me around to see nurses who were annoyed that doc p had sent me around there… Told me to see midwife next Wednesday 

20/05/2009 saw midwife was really nice and said may be if you see another doctors he may prescribe progesterone, so saw another doc and he refused as well, so annoyed I could cry. He has fax my original doc dr A and asked him to contact me, we wait and see; (by the time I get a prescription it will be too late thanks NHS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!!!!) 

22/05/2009 dr A prescribed the progesterone yippee told too take 2 every day u to 14 weeks. 

10/05/2009 first scan 8 weeks and 1 day baby 17 mm heart beat 181bpm
10/07/2009 12 week plus 3 days nt scan. Heartbeat 158bpm. Belly at 12 weeks and 2 days 

The NT scan showed a very increased fold which could indicate down, so referred to kings on Monday 

13/07/09 they did another scan baby and fold had grown 1 in 5 chances of downs. Had cvs sampling down were they take some of the baby placenta, really hurt. Have to wait up to 3 weeks for results. 

17/07/2009 first lot of tests to rule out in rule out down triomsy 13 and 18, going to check for more condition wait again. 

31/07/2009 brought a heart beat monitor so I can hear baby’s heart beat. 

03/08/2009 2nd lot of results in and all ok for what they tested for. Yeah can believe it. 

04/08/2009  now weigh 6, stone 12 so put on 8lbs already still don’t feel pregnant boobs are bit bigger and tummy pocking out a bit. 

07/09/09 kings again heart scan seems to be ok and baby growing as it should not she on length but weight is 15 oz nearly 1lb, got to go back in 4 weeks to check growth, been given 10 – 15 % chance something is wrong but will not know until baby is born, they’re going to test for one more condition but will not tell us what it is because we would find out the sex if I then came how and goggled it! Not sure how long I have to wait, here another picture.  

23/09/2009 had pre term scan and uses what everything ok. Cervix 31mm which is great anything fewer than 15mm would mean high risk of prem birth. Also blood pressure risk also ok.  

05/10/2009 hospital again baby grown they say bigger than average at 2lbs 1 oz already. Ouch, said slightly more amniotic fluid, and said the condition they were testing fr is Noonan’s but this affect both sex so a little confused, as he said last time that he would not tell us the condition as we would then know the sex of baby.    

20/10/2009 called kings to chase results of the above test, they said they have cancelled the request for the test as felt baby does not have that condition. Would have been nice to have been told 

26/10/2009 glucose test all ok yippee, made me feel so sick 

27/10/2009  28 week scan all ok say baby is now 3lbs 3 oz, still say rather large for dates. Still say something may be wrong so no update yet, still have to wait until baby is born.  

18/11/2009 fundal height measures at 32 cm= 32 weeks and iam 31 weeks and 1 day so slightly bigger than I should be. (37 inc belly measurements.)Picture of my belly at 30 weeks pregnant. I weigh 8stone now, so put on 1 stone and 10oz 

2/11/2009   32 weeks scan up to kings again. Baby now 4lbs and 10oz. 

09/12/2009 when to see consultant said may not be able to have epidural because of nf so shocked said only way would be to have MRI scan, he will look into whether it’s safe to have when you’re pregnant. 

18/12/09 scan and consultant. Baby now 6lbs and 6 oz they concerned so big so re doing that horrid sugar test asap. Recon at this rate will be 8/9 lbs 

22/12/2009 mri scan to see if any lumps in spine so I can have epidural if I need it. Had scan got to wait for results, was scary so confined. Belly at 36 weeks. Then few hours later had bleeding so went into hospital.Dr R actually came to see me!! Talk about concerns may be having c section at 39 weeks! Which would make it 12 Jan time? 

23/12/2009 sugar test again and midwife all ok 

08/01/10 scan and consultant will be 38 weeks plus 3days. Baby estimated weight is 7lbs 7oz. Said best to try for normal birth and they will monitor baby and me closely, if not had by due date will be induced on 20th at 8am 

19/01/2010 baby due. Called hospital at said to wait so called back 2 hours later as in so much pain, told to wait again and on 3rd call they told me to come in. I was examined by one midwife who said I was sonly 1cm dilated and said I would have to go home! Told her there is no way I can go home as I was in so much pain, she got a 2nd opinion and I was in fact 8cm dilated!!!! There was no time for pain relief just gas and air and baby Charlie born on due date at 5.11pm weight 8lb 10oz. and all seems ok. 

Facing Many Crossroads, Together

Part Two: Coming upon a Crossroads, What You Need To Make Your Decisions

The first crossroads is likely to be when you decide to see the doctor because, despite your efforts, you have not conceived.   It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, or culture, to expose their intimate life to the scrutiny of doctors or undergo blood tests and scans, checking for something “wrong.”  Some uninformed men may be unwilling to provide a semen sample, for fear of what the results may suggest about his manliness.

Both the woman and man may feel some anxiety about whose family line may be to “blame” for their inability to become pregnant.  If this pertains to you or your partner, you must cast these outdated stigmas aside and take some relatively simple tests to discover the cause of your infertility.  If having a baby is your ultimate goal, your value system may have to adapt to accept the help that modern medicine and technology offer.

The second crossroads is deciding whether to pursue more invasive medical investigations and/or treatment.  With a clear diagnosis and readily available treatment, it is easier to decide what to do because the options are more clearly set out.  Your personal life may present the deciding factor: your relationship, finances, career, religion or emotional wellbeing may all be taken into consideration.  Many couples have to contend with unexplained infertility, where early test results were ambiguous.  If you (or your doctor) are operating in the dark, it won’t do much for your confidence.  In this case, the dilemma about which treatment to pursue may be decided by not knowing what else to do. 

Whatever your decision, the most important factor is agreement between the partners, not only because cooperation, understanding and support are vital to keeping stress levels down, but also because it could mean the difference between having a genetic child or not.  From the point that you choose assisted conception you enter a different world; one where your daily life centres on the fertility clinic. For working men, the clinical, inconvenient scheduling, financial and sexual aspects of trying to conceive while being treated, put them into unfamiliar territory and cause stress.  Women will physically experience all of that, and possibly, mood swings, pain, invasive procedures and fear that time is running out as well. 

The decision-making shifts to:

  • Are you happy with the doctor/clinic you started with?
  • Should you try less invasive treatment first, or go straight to IVF?
  • Should we try complementary therapies before, or alongside, traditional medical treatment?
  • How will you pay for your treatment?
  • When should you begin treatment?
  • Can this be managed around your work and/or other obligations?
  • How many embryos do you want to implant? 
  • How many times will you undergo treatment?

These questions may have the two of you at a new crossroads every week. While some people may sail through and others agonize, it’s more likely that some decisions will bring up unexpected issues.  Pay really close attention how you are both functioning.  Your emotional state is important: Do either of you feel stressed, resentful, guilty, desperate, depressed, or hopeless?  Is one of you leaning one way and the other in another direction?  Are you fighting? That is where mutual respect, communication and agreement come into play.

Lisa Marsh is a Fertility Coach working with people on all aspects of fertility, including female and male infertility, pregnancy loss, assisted conception, alternative means of family-building and menopause.  Visit her blog or her website for more information.  For coaching, email

Chemicals are ‘feminising’ unborn boys & may affect male fertility

Just read this article in Daily Mail online

Chemicals in food, cosmetics and cleaning products are ‘feminising’ unborn boys and raising their risk of cancer and infertility later in life, an expert warns today.

Professor Richard Sharpe, one of Britain’s leading reproductive biologists, says everyday substances are linked to soaring rates of birth defects and testicular cancer, and to falling sperm counts.

The government adviser’s report published today is the most detailed yet into the threat posed to baby boys by chemicals that block the action of the male sex hormone testosterone, or mimic the female sex hormone oestrogen.

Professor Sharpe says many could be harmless on their own – but warned that their cumulative effect could be devastating for developing foetuses and warned women trying for a child to avoid them.

‘You can’t do anything about chemicals in the environment but you can control what you expose a baby to through your lifestyle choices,’ he said.

Read the full article here

Are home births as safe as hospital births ?

‘The largest study of its kind has found that for low-risk women, giving birth at home is as safe as doing so in hospital with a midwife’

The new research is from the Netherlands which has a high rate of home births. The research which was published in the BJOG (British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology) found no difference in death rates of either mothers or babies in 530,000 births.

The safety of home births issue has long been debated both in the UK and abroad.

The new research has been cautiously welcomed by UK obstetricicians but may not be applied universally.

Read more about the new home birth research at BBC online

Have you had a home birth ?

Are you planning a home birth ?

Have you say-please tell us about your experiences, good or bad in comments section

A tentative link between exercise and miscarriage has been proposed

Just also found this article from September 2007 while researching miscarriage on the website (a very useful site for information on health issues inthe news)

Pregnant women who do strenuous exercise, such as jogging or playing racket sports and ball games, more than treble their risk of miscarriage, newspapers reported.

The newspapers said vigorous high-impact exercise within the first few months of pregnancy was associated with the highest risk of miscarriage. Exercise in the later stages of pregnancy did not affect the risk.

The reports are based on a study on more than 92,000 women in Denmark that looked for a relationship between exercise and miscarriage. The study performed different analyses on the results, which resulted in conflicting findings. As a result, the researchers are themselves cautious about suggesting a link between exercise and miscarriage.

The relationship between exercise and miscarriage has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt by this study.

Click here to read the full article

Caffeine may increase the risk of miscarriage

While I was researching miscarraige on the net I found this article from 22 January 2008 on which i thought may be useful to some of you. This may be why so many pregnant women go off coffee & tea

Drinking coffee can double the risk of miscarriage reported The Guardian and many other news sources yesterday. “Pregnant women who consumed two or more mugs of coffee a day were twice as likely to miscarry than those who abstained from caffeine,” The Guardian said. The media coverage suggested that pregnant women may wish to reduce or stop drinking drinks containing caffeine, including coffee and tea.

The newspaper story is based on a study in 1,063 pregnant women in San Francisco. The study found that women who drank more than 200mg or more of caffeine a day – the amount contained in two or more regular cups of coffee or five 12oz (330 ml) cans of caffeinated drink – doubled their risk of miscarriage compared with women who drank no caffeine. However, this study has some limitations, including difficulty in making sure that the results are not affected by other factors that are known to increase the risk of a miscarriage.

Overall, the advice that pregnant women should avoid drinking too many drinks containing high levels of caffeine while they are pregnant seems sensible. Currently in the UK, the Food Standards Agency recommends that women limit their caffeine intake during pregnancy to 300mg a day.

Click here to read the full article

Miscarriage-the facts and where to go for support

I have just googled miscarriage and found a very useful website from the Miscarriage Association with lots of information and support-link below. 

It seems miscarriage occurs in about 1 in 4 pregnancies. In the UK there are approximately 250,000 miscarraiges a year.

Another 1% of pregnancies are ectopic ie the pregnancy occurs in the wrong place-outside the uterus usually in the fallopian tube-we will talk about this another time as that is a whole other subject in itself

Considering how common miscarriage is women do not talk about it that much, so where do you go for information and support. I will put some information below, for more info and support visit the miscarriage association website

When do most miscarriages occur ?

 Miscarriage usually occurs in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and miscarriages later than this are thankfully uncommon, although they can occur up to 24 weeks. Miscarriage after 24 weeks is called stillbirth.

What causes a miscarriage ?

Usually the cause is unknown which can be very frustrating and distressing for the couple. This does not mean that it is your fault-it is extremely unlikely to be anything that you have done that has caused the miscarriage.

Here is some information I got from the miscarriage association website on the causes of miscarriage :

The main causes of miscarriage are thought to be:

Genetic: In about half of all early miscarriages, the baby does not develop normally right from the start and cannot survive.

Hormonal: Women with very irregular periods may find it harder to conceive and when they do, are more likely to miscarry.

Immunological: Problems within the blood vessels which supply the placenta can lead to miscarriage.

Infection: Minor infections like coughs and colds are not harmful, but a very high temperature and some illnesses or infections, such as German measles, may cause miscarriage.

Anatomical: If the cervix (neck of the womb) is weak, it may start to open as the uterus (womb) becomes heavier in later pregnancy and this may lead to miscarriage. An irregular-shaped uterus can mean that there is not enough room for the baby to grow. Large fibroids may cause miscarriage in later pregnancy

Click here to visit the Miscarriage Association Website

How long should we wait after a miscarriage before trying again ?

There does not seem to be a definite answer to this. Everyone reacts differently to a miscarriage and some may take longer to grieve than others. For some the urge to get pregnant again straight away is very strong.

If you wait until after your next  normal period then this makes dating your subsequent pregnancy easier for medical staff as well as giving you time to come to terms with the loss of the baby and for your body to return to its pre-pregnant state.

According to the miscarriage association there is no evidence to show that when you conceive makes any difference to the risk of miscarriage in the next pregnancy. In most cases, the couple themselves are the best judges of when to try again

The good news is that most women who have a miscarriage go on to have a successful pregnancy next time.

Symptoms and Signs of Pregnancy

I was thinking about this very subject this morning.

 I am one of those people who gets symptoms very early as I seem to be sensitive to the hormone hcg. Good thing about this I know fairly quickly when I am pregnant. Having said that I do seem to have symptoms that I associate with being pregnant when I am pre-menstrual to so this can be confusing.

Here are some common symptoms of early pregnancy. You may have some of them, all of them or none of them. The important thing to remember is we are all different. I have met a girl who honestly did not know she was pregnant until she was in labour. Now while I find that hard to imagine as I get multiple symptoms all the way though pregnancy, some of us fly through the whole thing with very few symptoms.

Most of the very early pregnancy symptoms are due to increasing levels of hcg (human chorionic gonadotrophin) in early pregnancy following implantation, and can be mistaken for a severe dose of PMT. When I was pregnant with my first pregnancy I did not realise straight away and thought I was pre-menstrual.

Often for many the first thing they notice is the missed period. I am just going to cover the most common symptoms and those that I experienced.

Common early pregnancy Symptoms:

Nausea & vomiting (although nausea alone is probably more common)

This varies greatly from person to person, some getting little , while others get quite severe symptoms. Interestingly nausea and vomiting is often worse in twin pregnancy due to higher levels of hcg.

This often improves from about 12-16 weeks gestation. I was very lucky and never vomited although the nausea was fairly unpleasant

 By 16 weeks I had very little nausea and could enjoy my pregnancy more. My friend was not so lucky and had quite severe nausea and vomiting all the way through her pregnancies. Occaisonly for some women this can be so severe that it necessitates hospitalisation (this is called hyperemesis gravidum I think)

Heightened sense of smell & taste

This is an interesting one. For me it meant that I went off large numbers of food groups. I found Thta I only wanted bland foods like mashed potatoe and roast chicken. I also went off coffee completely (which I love normally-even the thought of it made me feel sick and I could not enter a coffee shop nwithout feeling sick from the smell.

I alsio found the smell of my partner made me feel nauseous. Now he is not a smelly guy, but my sense of smell was so acute he had to shower as soon as he came in from work or I could not go near him. He also had to stop using his favourite after shaves as these made me feel ill. I still associate one particular mens perfume with that time of heightened sense of smell and nausea. I know how my dog must feel now !

There is a theory that this heightened sense of smell is protective during pregnancy to try and prevent us eating rotten food or toxins and making ourselves & are developing baby ill. It is interesting that many of the foods that I went off have since been found to be best avoided during pregnancy-there is non way I could have eaten stinky blue cheese for example.

Breast tenderness

This is a common experience & is one that is really confusing for me as I get this exact symptom with PMT. It is important to wear a well fitted supportive bra as this seems to help with the symptoms. Make sure your bra is big enough for you-most women are wearing the wrong bra size and a ill fitiing bra can dig in to your breast tissue and harm it as well as hurting .


For me tiredness was pretty extreme in early pregnancy and started from about 5 weeks and got progressively worse up to about 10 weeks . It then improved and was ok until about 26 weeks when I found I had to sleep in the day most afternoons-which was tricky with working full time-lol. That first 12 weeks for me was long due to the extreme tiredness. Everyone is affected differently. I am usually a pretty energetic person so for me it was very hard to deal with

Faintness and Dizziness

For me this started around the same time as the tiredness. Having low blood pressure I am very prone to faintness at the best of times ( for exampole if I stand up too quickly or get up out of a hot bath), and have fainted on many occaisons when I am really hungry or been standing for too long.

Mood swings & irritability

This is fairly common in early pregnancy and in fact through most of pregnancy. In the early stages it feels just like PMT.

Later on you find you get tearful at the smallest provocations, watching a sad film, seeing small children singing, anything to do with small children or babies in fact. I found it impossible to watch the news without bursting into tears during pregnancy (although I do cry in sad films-by the way have you seen ‘ps I love you’-I blubbed all the way through)

Changes in your skin on your face

OMG for me this was greasy skin & spots. I have always been prone to spots pre-menstrually but in early pregnancy I got more spotty. Good news is that by about 16 weeks they had all cleared up and I was glowing with not a spot in site for the rest of the pregnancy-phew


This is fairly common . I have never beeen prone to this normally as I eat a fairly high fibre diet, but during pregnancy this was an issue for me. I simply upped my fibre intake with a high fibre breakfast cereal and tried to eat even more fruit and veg-quite tricky when your feeling sick but needs must. if it is a problem and you can’t deal with it by diet alone it is worth mentioning to your doctor or midwife. Last thing we want is piles caused by constipation !!


Some women experience heartburn due to acid reflux .I was lucky and did not experience this. If you do it is worth talking to your GP or midwife for advise on how to relieve it. In early pregnancy I think it may be caused by the relaxing effect the pregnancy hormones have on the muscles in the gullet, allowing the acid to come up. In later pregnancy everything is displaced by the bump so heartburn can be quite common then to.

Phew this was long-apologies for going on so much. I was hoping to cover signs of early pregnancy as well but I think this is enough for today. I am getting repetive strain from typing so much

Fathers genes may influence sex of baby

Just read this interesting article at bbc online . here is an extract from the article below.

A man’s genetic make-up may play a role in whether he has sons or daughters, a study of hundreds of years of family trees suggests.

Newcastle University researchers found men were more likely to have sons if they had more brothers and vice versa if they had more sisters.

They looked at 927 family trees, with details on 556,387 people from North America and Europe, going back to 1600.

The same link between sibling sex and offspring sex was not found for women.

The precise way that genes can influence baby sex remains unproven.

Click here to read the full article online

Zita West Pregnancy Plan Vitamin & Mineral Supplement

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Pregnant women told to limit there caffeine intake

Just read an intersting article online from Sunday Times 2/11/08 saying that the government is revising its guidelines on how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy.

Strangely enough when I am pregnant I completely go off coffee, although I love it normally. However I did not go off tea, chocolate & cola which also contain caffeine . Here is an extract from the article below:

Pregnant women will be warned this week to limit their caffeine consumption to two cups of coffee a day or risk giving birth to underweight babies.

The government’s food standards watchdog will issue guidance to coincide with a study linking caffeine to low birth weight. Scientists have previously linked it to miscarriages.

The advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) comes a week after scientists found that a weekly glass of wine during pregnancy could help boost a baby’s behaviour and vocabulary.

The FSA is lowering the current recommended caffeine limit of 300mg a day to 200mg, the equivalent of two average-sized mugs of instant or two cups of brewed coffee a day.

It has also identified other products containing caffeine that count towards the 200mg total. The limit is equivalent to four cups of tea, five cans of cola, three energy drinks or five bars of chocolate.

Andrew Wadge, chief scientist at the FSA, said: “This is new advice but these are not new risks. I want to reassure women that if you’re pregnant and have been following the previous advice, the risk is likely to be tiny.”

Coffee shops have higher levels of caffeine in their drinks than assumed in the FSA guide-lines, which state that an average mug of coffee contains 100mg.

A small cafe latte in Starbucks contains 240mg of caffeine, meaning a pregnant woman would exceed the recommended daily caffeine intake in one drink. A new generation of energy drinks, including Spike Shooter, contain up to 300mg of caffeine in a single can. The mass market drink, Red Bull, typically contains 80mg.

Click here to read the full story

Too much weight in pregnancy leads to heavy babies, and could even cause childhood obesity

Just read this interesting article in the Daily Mail.

In my last pregnancy I gained well over 40 lbs and the baby weighed just under 10 pounds-he looked like a mini sumo wrestler. Fortunatley he is now slim and so am I, but it took years of dieting for me to shift the post pregnancy weight. He just slimmed down naturally as we eat a fairly healthy diet when I am not pregnant and I breast fed!

Talking to my mum her last 2 babies were both big. Both of  them then were chubby as a children, and one has gone on to have a weight probelm as an adult.

 It has really made me think, as I have always seen pregnancy as an excuse to indulge myself foodwise. The whole’eating for two’ thing I found very appealling !

It never occurred to me until reading this article, that I could be setting my kids up for problems in later life by gaining too much weight during pregnancy.

Here is an extract from the article below:

Women who gain more than 40 pounds (18kg) during pregnancy have nearly twice the risk of delivering a heavy baby as those who gain less, U.S. researchers have announced.

The study of more than 40,000 U.S. women and their babies found as many as one in five women gains too much weight during pregnancy, doubling the chances her baby will weigh 9 pounds (4kg) or more.

And they found women who gain more than 40 pounds during pregnancy are more likely to have a heavy baby even if they do not have gestational diabetes, a short-term form of diabetes linked with pregnancy that is known to increase the risk of having a big baby.

‘Because there are so many women who are gaining more than 40 pounds during pregnancy, it’s an important health message for most women to avoid excessive weight during pregnancy,’ said Dr. Teresa Hillier of Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Oregon, whose study appears in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Hillier said gaining extra weight during pregnancy increases the risk for having heavy babies, and studies suggest these babies are programmed to become overweight or obese later in life.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, babies who weigh more than 9 pounds at birth are considered heavy.

A large baby can pose risks for a difficult delivery – increasing the chances of vaginal tearing, bleeding, and Caesarian-sections for the mother and the risk of stuck shoulders and broken collar bones for the baby.

Click here to read the full article

New UK research on possible effects of small amounts of alcohol consumed during pregnancy

This surprising article below was from yesterdays Telegraph. Here is an extract from the article below. The Department of Health last year advised women trying to conceive or who are pregnant that they should avoid alcohol completely, so this new research finding is interesting in the light of this.

Drinking a small glass of wine a week during pregnancy does not harm children and may actually improve their behaviour and vocabulary, British scientists have found.

Conflicting guidance has been issued by different health agencies to women about whether it is safe to drink small quantities of alcohol during pregnancy.

There has been little evidence of harm to the unborn child of drinking small amounts, but many experts feel this cannot be proven conclusively so it is better to be ‘safe than sorry’ and not drink at all.

Researchers at University College London studied data from 12,500 three-year-old children, looking at their mother’s drinking patterns during pregnancy and assessment of the behavioural and mental capacity for thinking and learning.

They found that children born to women who said they drank ‘a glass of wine’ very occasionally or up to two drinks once a week throughout pregnancy were less likely to have conduct problems, hyperactivity and emotional problems than children of abstainers.

Click here to read the full story online

The research is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Caesarean rates worryingly high say midwives-from the Guardian Friday September 26 2008

Caesarean section rates show no signs of coming down, according to official statistics, in spite of concern that they are too high.

The NHS Information Centre said yesterday that just under a quarter of deliveries, 24%, were caesareans in 2006-7, as they were the year before. About half of those were emergencies and the rest pre-planned. Efforts to persuade more women and their doctors to attempt a normal delivery seem to have had little impact. The UK rate is considerably higher than the World Health Organisation’s target for no more than 10-15% of deliveries to be by caesarean section.

The Royal College of Midwives said the rate was “worryingly high” and linked it to a shortage of midwives. “There is clear evidence that some caesarean sections are unnecessary and put women and babies at risk,” said Cathy Warwick, general secretary designate of the RCM.

The National Childbirth Trust agreed the rate was too high. It was also concerned by figures from the NHS Information Centre showing women were going home sooner after caesareans – just over a quarter spent four days or more in hospital, compared with just under a third in the previous year. “Women who are recovering from caesareans will need more help and support and guaranteed midwife home visits, especially if they have had previous health problems,” said chief executive Belinda Phipps.

Listening to your unborn baby’s heartbeat is easy now with a fetal doppler

When I was pregnant with each of my children I was very anxious, and worried a lot. I used to worry that the baby had died, which resulted in several trips to hospital to be reasured by hearing the babies heartbeats. My other half was very patient throughout as there was no other option at that time.

In the last couple of years fetal dopplers have become available for home use and at very reasonable prices. I just wish they had been available when I was last pregnant-would have saved us a lot of trips to hospital.

A work colleague of mine whose daughter is pregnant has been using the Angelsounds Fetal Doppler and has found it very good. It has also meant that family members can also listen to the babies heartbeat.

Click here  to buy pregnancy products in UK 

The Sex Education Show Channel 4 Tonight-Dont Miss It

Episode 3 of 6

Time 8pm Tuesday

I have watched the first 2 episodes with great interest, and found them to be highly informative and very graphic (you have been warned)

Childbirth is the subject of tonights show with Anne Richardson visiting the maternity ward at The Countess of Chester Hospital to reveal the realities of the delivery room. Gordon Ramseys wife Tana, mother of 4, also describes her personal experiences of childbirth.

 Previous episodes of The Sex Education Show may be viewed online here

What Foods Should I Eat & Avoid When I’m Pregnant ?

This weekend I went out to dinner with a friend who is newly pregnant. It is a much longed for pregnancy after many years of TTC.

I was talking to her about which foods she has to avoid and realised how much more complicated the whole issue had become since I was last pregnant. I decided to do a little research on the subject and found this great webpage that I wanted to share with you all

It is a very comprehensive and imformative guide to which foods to avoid during pregnancy & breast feeding from the Food Standards Agency, and is presented in an easy to follow question and answer format. You also have the option to e-mail questions in and have them answered if you can not find the answer to your question there.

Click here to visit Food Standards Agency Pregnancy Page

Pregnancy products UK