Struggling to be a Mum! Advice from a Fertility Specialst

Mums day is both a day of joy day and one where  those struggling to fall pregnant are constantly reminded of their desire for children. It can be a tough day for women who have been unsuccessful in conceiving, so here is some top advice from those who have walked the path before.

Demeter Fertilityís Dr Sonya Jessup knows exactly what it is like to be a woman trying to fall pregnant. Having gone down the IVF path herself whilst in her 40ís, last year Dr Jessup gave birth to a beautiful healthy boy Samuel.

Dr Jessup and her husband, Dr David Knight are both fertility experts who live in Connells Point, and work at Demeter Fertility in Sydney. Dr Jessup consults at the Medica Centre in Hurstville and will soon consult in The Shire, empathises with couples trying to fall pregnant, especially around Motherís Day.

The couple managed to conceive using a frozen embryo after three cycles of IVF. Dr Jessup, who has four children from a previous marriage, and Dr Knight who has three older children, said the process was a difficult, emotional rollercoaster but was completely worth it, and gave them both a first-hand experience of what their patients go through.

-          What was it like being on the other side and going through the process of IVF?

The process was sometimes a difficult, emotional rollercoaster but was completely worth it, and gave us both a first-hand experience of what our patients go through. It made me realise that the needles and the technical side aren't that bad at all, it's the emotional side. You are always wondering, 'Am I going to get pregnant this month?', and then it's disappointing when you arenít.

Both David and I already had children from previous relationships but Sam has been this wonderful little binding light for everyone in our family. The decision for me to have IVF was a no-brainer. It was a positive thing and I thought, arenít we lucky that we have this technology to allow us to have another child? I fell pregnant after my third IVF attempt, and didnít expect to get pregnant the go, as I know that in most cases it is just a matter of time before it happens.

-          Was the decision for you to go ahead with IVF a difficult one, given you work in the field?

For me, it was a positive thing. I thought, ĎArenít we lucky that we have this technology to allow us to have another child?í I also had an AMH [Anti-Mullerian hormone] test, which indicates the reserve of eggs in your ovaries. My AMH was less than one and this meant there were not a lot of eggs left but there were still eggs!  Itís amazing how many people are told they wonít get pregnant once they discover their AMH is very low, but this isnít always the case. The process of going through the hormone treatments and then waiting for the results at each stage was often the hardest part, I understand what my patients go through!

-          What is a fertility management plan?

Having a fertility management plan in place allows for maximising natural fertility, so you give yourself the best chance of falling pregnant on your own. It is also a jointly agreed intention to start assisted treatment if not pregnant by a given time, and therefore having such a plan in place reduces many of the pressures that couples often feel in their relationships when trying to fall pregnant. It gives peace of mind that there is a next step if things donít go to plan.

-          Whatís the first step couples need to take when they realise they are having difficulty conceiving?

If you have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive and are concerned, regardless of how long or your age, my strong advice is to see a fertility specialist. Itís important to receive tailored information to your specific situation and to ensure you are making the most of your natural fertility. Then, if any significant problems are identified, they can be dealt with immediately rather than waiting for precious months to pass.

-          For couples having difficulty in conceiving, whatís the best advice for this Mothers Day?

Do everything in moderation. Donít be too strict on yourself or make such dramatic lifestyle changes that the quest to fall pregnant takes the joy out of sex, work, socialising and everyday pleasures. Anyone under the age of 35 who has been trying to conceive naturally for 12 months without success, and anyone over 35 who has been trying for six months should consider seeking fertility advice from a specialist.

-          Tell us a bit about Demeter Fertility.

Demeter Fertility is a Sydney-based fertility clinic that has all the expertise of a large clinic, but is small enough to treat every patient as an individual. We use a technique called Mild Ovarian Stimulation (MOS), which means lower hormone doses for patients and most of the time they donít even need blood tests, which is a lot easier and less stressful for our patients. We maintain a philosophy of close personal contact with our patients and a policy of keeping them informed about how everything is progressing, every step of the way. We try to respect and understand every coupleís journey to make it as successful as possible.