Elizabeth King, Fertility Coach: Podcast Episode #137
Elizabeth King, Fertility Coach, shares helpful tips and resources for those who are struggling with conception and loss. You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Welcome. You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting. Let’s chat!
Kristin: Hello, everyone. I’m here today with Elizabeth King, and she’s a certified fertility health coach. Welcome, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth: Thank you so much. I’m happy to be here.
Kristin: Love to hear more about your background as a coach and some of your related certifications.
Elizabeth: Yeah, so I have been a certified life coach since 2008 and focused on that side of things in relationships, body image issues, things like that. And the reason I stayed that versus a business coach, it was very much more mind, body, spirit mental health related, and when I was starting the process of my own journey through fertility at age – well, really 39 – well, actually 36 – at 36, I froze my eggs. I was single at 36. So I guess it depends on how far you want to go back. But at 39, I had a fibroid surgery in order to remove some fibroids, and at age 40, I started to try to conceive after that was done and had got pregnant with my first son and had a loss after that, and that’s really when I had the lightbulb moment of, you know, women, and men for that matter, need to be supported through this journey. There’s nothing really that prepares you for this experience. I was in one medical bed getting ready to have a D&C and four feet next to me between a drape, a fabric drape, was another couple that was getting ready to do their first round of IVF. So they were so excited. We were so devastated. And that huge difference really hit home to me of, you know, there needs to be support for both ends of this, right? I had been there. I had been at a point where I had eggs retrieved, so I knew what that was like, and I now was in this other situation that no one in my life had ever told me about before. No one had said to me that they had had a miscarriage or knew somebody that did. Of course, after I did, I heard it a lot, but it was really a new conversation for me to have and new feelings to have. So that’s really when I shifted all of my energy to focusing on this community, of supporting women through their fertility journey. And through that and the losses and whatnot, I had had some clients that – really, how it worked, I should say – I should stop myself – was a friend would say to another friend that just had a loss, you should contact Elizabeth. She’s a life coach. She can help you through this. And that’s – the ball started rolling from that. Prior to that, I would visit doctors with clients for their IVF consultations to help them to determine what questions to ask, help them figure out, is this a right fit for them because, you know, most of the time, we think our first stop is where we need to be when that’s not the case. You know, you are interviewing the doctors, and sometimes to have somebody with you who’s educated in that realm helps you to have a little bit more confidence and power in doing that and making those decisions to say no, this isn’t a right fit for me or whatnot. And then going through late term losses with some of my clients really is what pushed me to do the birth and bereavement certification, so you asked about that. That’s – and having a good friend also go through a 23-week loss really made me realize, as much as I had been helping women that were going through early losses, the late losses and the stillbirth was, like, a whole different ballgame. So I spent some time in that a little bit, and then new parent education. So being a mom of three within three years and hiring a lot of people myself and going through a lot of things to try to figure stuff out, I now kind of help men and women, again, who are third trimester just to tee them up for success before baby comes. So that’s the umbrella of all of that stuff. Sounds like a mouthful.
Kristin: I love it. What an amazing journey. And it seemed like you got into coaching very early, and it’s so popular now. And, you know, fertility doulas and coaches are a newer profession, so I love that you got into this work very organically versus just taking a training, and you have that personal experience to be able to relate to your clients.
Elizabeth: Yeah, it’s funny. When I first did it, it wasn’t really popular. I’m from California, live in California, and we would joke that people would think you live in California, you eat sushi and you have a life coach. And now it’s like, you know, every other person is a life coach, which is great. I’m all about the more the merrier to help people in whatever way that that looks like.
Kristin: So I would love to – we’ve had quite a few clients request our support pre-conception, and we don’t have fertility doulas at Gold Coast. So we’ve always given them resources, but we’ve had clients with secondary infertility that had no problem conceiving the first time and then they’re struggling with fertility the second time around. So I’d love for you to address that issue.
Elizabeth: I’m happy to. Secondary infertility is tough because it comes with a lot of different aspects that most people don’t really think about as far as, there’s judgment from outside people that you already have a baby, so be happy with what you have, essentially. You’re very consumed with trying to conceive when you have another little one, which then you have this guilt of, why am I not just present and grateful for the one that I have. And at what point should I keep going on this or not keeping going on this, even though my heart is telling me that I should keep going? So it’s a fine line to walk for some people, and my thought on it all is, one – having one child doesn’t discount the yearning for another. So if that’s what’s in your heart and what you’re being called to do, don’t let anybody or anything tell you anything different, right? And it can be very confusing and hard mentally for people because they feel like, my body did this before. I know what to do. Like, it should just happen, right, and why isn’t it happening? And that can be a whole other level of working through self-love and working with connecting with your body and figuring out what may have happened between pregnancy number one and now that could be blocking you, and there’s a lot of things. You show up so different after you’ve already had a baby. You’re tired. Your body has been drained in a lot of ways. And there’s also – we hear so many people that are like, you know, I wasn’t even trying, and I got pregnant right again after my first baby, and it was so easy. I always say to people, you can’t undo what you hear or read, so you take that on of, like, this expectation on yourself that it should be something that it isn’t, and it’s not so easy to take somebody away from that perspective of what they think in their head of what it should be. So it comes with a very heavy heart and a heavy situation with somebody that’s going through secondary infertility, and I only say that so that anybody who’s listening who is going through that, they realize that, don’t downplay it if you’re feeling stressed about not being able to get pregnant. It is hard. You have the right to feel not okay in this situation, but at the same time, there’s a lot of things that we can do to figure out what’s going on. And I’m the first one to say, don’t waste time, if you don’t want to wait a long time to do that, and a long time is a year if you’re under 35, six months if you’re over 35. And, you know, when you want to have a baby, six months feels like six years before you’re supposedly able to go see a doctor. Especially, again, with secondary infertility. There’s usually something going on, and you can either tell how your periods have come back. So are they regular? Are they heavier, not as heavy as they were before? What was your birth situation like? Could there be scar tissue there? And there’s other things – and there’s ways that you can figure out what’s happening that way.
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Elizabeth: But I’m all about going to see a fertility doctor, getting a baseline, see what’s in there, see what’s happening in there. Is there something that you don’t know that you’re not working with? And people have this fear around that sometimes of, well, if I go to a fertility doctor, that means I’m going to be doing IVF. Absolutely not. But they do specialize in this, so compared to going to your OB who didn’t do that extra bit of studying around this, they’re going to be able to tell you exactly what you need to be doing and whether that’s, like, no, everything’s good; it’s unexplained infertility; or, yeah, there is scar tissue there, or you do have a blockage, or, you know, something like that. So you’re not banging your head against the wall wondering what’s happening because you know what your baseline is. You know where you’re starting from. And people think they’re not entitled or able to go to a fertility doctor if they already have a baby because they feel like they’re not worthy enough, right? Who am I to go in that door when these people can’t even have one child, and I already have mine here sitting next to me, you know? So I just want to tell people to be easy on yourself with that, and don’t let – don’t take any of that in.
Kristin: That’s perfect advice. It’s so challenging. And with the fertility centers around us in Michigan, they had closed down during part of COVID, so there was that stress. I was leading a fertility support group, and women were in the process of treatment and had to delay things, and there was that added stress. So are you noticing more emotionally or any fertility issues with your clients related to the pandemic?
Elizabeth: Yeah. I mean, for sure. That’s the first time I’ve heard anything where people had to stop mid-cycle because most states, you know, they would finish out who they were already doing, and then unfortunately, yes, they had to take, like, a six- to eight-week break in between, but that’s heartbreaking to hear for people. Yeah, it has, because – so studies show that you’re 55% more likely to conceive if you are doing some sort of mental work, which is why I stress that so much with my clients. That’s a huge part of what we do. After we figure out, are there any red flags on your blood work, what are your supplements looking like, what’s your lifestyle looking like, all of that, and then we circle back to, 95% of it around the mental, because studies show that you’re more likely to conceive, hence the fact that people are always like, oh, just relax. But when you’re trying, you want to punch someone in the face because it’s not possible, right? So we go through tools to help them through that. And through COVID, because so much of it was out of our control, and a lot of people lost that little support that they did have from their partners. So they would go into their appointments with their partners. They would have that support of somebody holding their hand and being next to them, that whether that person really was engaged or not engaged or understood what was happening or not, physically having someone there is a calming agent and does help you figure out, okay, what did they just say when we walked out of this doctor’s appointment and you can bounce it off somebody. So the level of stress in regards to the pandemic in that regard, of feeling even more isolated than you would normally going through infertility, has been – you know, it’s substantial. And whatever – you can say whatever, but having your partner on facetime when you’re in the doctor’s office is not the same, especially if you have PTSD from a previous loss and you’re trying to go through, you know, the ins and outs of bloodwork and ultrasounds and then subsequent pregnancies and hoping that that one is viable and all the things. It’s been really sad, in my mind, to know that these people have to be going through it themselves. I would get calls from doctors’ offices that I partner with of, you know, we just did an ultrasound, and unfortunately there was no heartbeat, and the husband’s in the parking lot on facetime. Can you please – you know, here’s their number; they would like you to call them. And that’s heartbreaking. I mean, I can’t imagine going through my losses without my husband next to me. To think, like, he’s in the parking lot in the car getting this information? It’s hard for both. It’s isolating for both. The partners feel even more distant from the females that are going through it that are actually in the offices and whatnot. So yes, to answer – to very long answer to your question, it’s been a difficult aspect, for sure.
Kristin: So walk us through – you’ve described a bit about the coaching process, but yeah, if you’d fill our audience in on what it’s like to work with you, how you begin the process, and how long the average client stays with you.
Elizabeth: Yeah, so it all depends on what stage they come to see me. So I have some that are trying naturally, and they’ve been trying for six-plus months and just feel like nothing’s really happening, so we really hone in on, again, looking at their blood work. Is there any red flags there? So is the thyroid normal, their D3, is their testosterone, everything in line? And if there’s something that looks like it might be a little off, to send them back with that question to their doctor. Can you rerun this panel? Can you look to see if this is fine or not fine? And surprisingly enough, they don’t notice it as much as they should. I hate to say that. As well as getting their bloodwork done on the correct day. So as you know, it should be day 2 or day 3 of your cycle in order to really get an accurate picture of what’s happening from your reproductive hormones and everything. So we make sure that everyone has everything in line for that, and that’s just across the board, whether you’re trying to get pregnant naturally, if you’re going to do an IUI cycle, or you’re getting ready to do an IVF and cycle with retrieving eggs, et cetera. And then we tailor everybody’s protocol for their supplements to each person. So based on what that is – so some people may have low D3 and some people have normal to high D3, but everybody needs it, so we make sure that that’s in line. Are they taking CoQ10 for egg health? Are they already taking things that they shouldn’t be taking, and they need to be replacing it with something else? Is their testosterone high? So we want to make sure they’re not taking something like DHEA because that’s going to cause it to be even more so. So we look through all those things. We do a food sensitivity panel so that we eliminate any foods that would be causing inflammation in their body. I’m a big, big proponent of not doing strict fertility diets because most of my clients have some sort of issue around food. So if we’re restricting them in some form or fashion because they’re trying to get pregnant, it causes their body more stress because they’re holding on so tight to, I can’t have dairy; I can’t have gluten; I can’t have sugar; I can’t have any of these things. When in fact, unless you have an underlying condition or a food sensitivity to some of those, they’re fine for you, right? So they can spends tens of thousands of dollars on fertility diets, but then come to me, and we work through, again, the mental aspect of that, and they end up pregnant within one to two cycles. So it’s really about, what is going to balance those cortisol levels and the adrenals and make sure that they’re at a balanced place because, again, those hormones that signal from your brain to your reproductive system matter so much, and the fertility clinics and whatever, they don’t focus on that. They focus on, what does it look like inside in there today, and what does your bloodwork look like. They don’t ask you, how stressed are you and what are you doing to prevent your stress. So we talk about that. I send people to acupuncture that, you know, of course, fertility acupuncture to – we work through whatever tools work for that particular person, so for some, affirmations work or vision statements. For some it’s like, you may as well tell me I’m going to the grocery store. Like, that does nothing for me. Some people, it’s journaling. Some people, it’s meditating. Some, it’s – I have some clients that love cooking, so when they are triggered, they go to look for a recipe, and then they know they’re going to be cooking that later. I really focus on creating, because when you are trying to create a human being, you want your body and your soul and your spirit to be in a space of creating every day. So I’m not trying to conceive myself right now, but I choose to color or do coloring books or dance. So I really focus in on all of my clients, what is going to be their creative outlet, because we are going to create a baby, and in doing so, we’re putting it out there that you are creating.
Kristin: I love it.
Elizabeth: Yeah, so that’s a big focus on what we do, and I work with them through their whole process. So unlike therapy where you’re talking on Tuesday at 3:00 every week, it’s via Voxer, so, yes, we do meet once weekly, but we also talk in between. So if you’ve ever experienced – you know, maybe you’re taking the pregnancy test that day, and you’re super depressed because it came back negative. So we work together via voice memo to say, what do we need to do to pull yourself up because we don’t want to stay in that space too long. Yes, it’s disappointing, and yes, we’re going to be sad about it, but we’re not going to be sad about it all day. And so we go through a certain program that helps them consciously choose the thoughts that they have in their brain to help them to get through that. And that can be working with weight loss or relationships or whatever. I use this same model through all of those things. And that really is kind of the game changer with people, having the tools so that they can pull themselves out of situations. So, again, if their sister-in-law announced that she’s pregnant, you know, that’s a trigger for a lot of people. Or the back to school stuff or Christmas cards that are starting to come soon with everybody’s families on them. So it’s knowing what works for you to keep you in a space of knowing, okay, this is what I need to start doing now. And also we work through a deep dive session where they have a plan. So it’s either based on time frame, so we’re going to give ourselves two months, six months, whatever, or based on procedure. So we’re going to do two IUIs, and then we’re going to go to IVF or whatever. And then I help work with them to make those decisions of what the right place in time to shift to the next thing may be. So if they’re told that they need to do an egg donor, perhaps, that’s a really big decision to come to. So we work through a lot of that as far as connecting them with other people that have had donor conception, so they see, you know, that love does not change. It’s much easier than you expect it to be. And really working through a lot of those heavy things that come up when you are going through alternative methods, again, whether that’s egg donor, sperm donor, embryo adoption, or regular, traditional adoption. So everybody comes with something different, so I meet them wherever they are in different aspects, and we work from there.
Kristin: It sounds like your clients are all over the country versus local to California?
Elizabeth: Actually, all over the world, yes. I have two new mamas that just delivered in Israel the last month and a half, which is awesome. One’s a single-by-choice mama, which is so cool to see. I’m all about, you know, not letting that pass you by just because you don’t have a partner. And I have a lot of clients in the UK, in South Africa, in Australia. So, yeah, all over the place.
Kristin: That’s so lovely. And so how do our clients through Gold Coast and, of course, our listeners through the podcast reach out to you? I know you’ve got a lot of different channels, but what are your preferred methods of contact?
Elizabeth: Direct contact for us to meet on my website would be a ten-minute discovery call, and that’s basically if you – we meet and discuss what your issue is and see if that’s a good fit for you, for both of us. And, again, I just want to reiterate, too: find the person, the coach, that you feel comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be me, but there’s so many amazing people out there right now that are willing to help you, and you don’t have to be going through this alone. So search somebody that you find, and you’re like, oh, my gosh, this is my person, and I want them to be supporting me through that. But you can find me on my website, and there’s a ton of resources there as far as free downloads to get information, to book a ten-minute free call to see if there’s a good fit, and also sometimes I have people where all we need is that ten-minute call, actually. Granted, it goes a little bit longer than that, but we can kind of nail down things a little bit, and then we circle back a few months later and see how it goes. So I’m also on Instagram, @elizabethking_coaching, and I have a podcast called Pretty Little Tribe.
Kristin: And I noticed through some of your downloads, you have so much great information on everything from understanding the fertility language to, yeah, just some of the emotions surrounding. So your site is a great resource for information on your journey.
Elizabeth: Thank you. We actually have a new program, too, of certifying other fertility coaches. As I just mentioned before, I’m happy to have as many out in the world as possible because, unfortunately, it’s such a common thing, infertility. So if anybody’s listening and feels like they’re on the other side of their journey or they want to add this to what they’re already doing to serve women and support them in that way, we’re now doing the fertility coach academy to certify other fertility coaches.
Kristin: Well, I will have to spread the word to the doula community. Thank you so much for sharing.
Kristin: Well, it was lovely to talk with you today, Elizabeth. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day!
Elizabeth: Thank you for having me! You, too.
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