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Suddenly it dawned on me, or rather it dawned on me again: the words and the concept of the IVF Doula.

Years ago, when I birthed my company Birth Wish, I had put it on my to-do list: Write a blog about the importance of doula support for women who have become pregnant with the help of fertility treatments.

Having experienced a long fertility journey myself, I didn’t only miss psychological support during the fertility process, but also I also knew:

  • how vulnerable the beginning of pregnancy feels with a history of previous failed pregnancy attempts and miscarriages,
  • how you want the best for your baby after longing for it for so long, and
  • how much you direly need a strong trust in your body during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period.

That blog ultimately wasn’t written as I felt that my doula practice should embrace a broader public than only couples with fertility challenges. This is how my fertility coaching and doula services have each led a life of their own until recently.

Yet Birth Wish's birth wish was actually to support women starting from their fertility journey up until postpartum, to assist them in this special, vulnerable yet empowering journey, from getting pregnant to becoming a mother. A huge time of transition and growth for a woman, as these beautiful images made by Lisanne for my working space.

Birth Wish by Lisanne (@liefste.pennen)

Speaking of growth: It has been almost 10 years since I embarked on my path as a fertility coach, doula, and photographer. It always made sense to me that I was offering all these services. This is the continuity and trust I want to offer to my clients. What was crystal clear to me was perhaps not so obvious: How can you be a fertility coach, a doula, and a photographer at the same time?

Now the time has come, and I am ready to explicitly explain what, how, and why I do what I do:

  1. As your fertility coach, I support you during your fertility journey. While we are working towards fulfilling your wish for a baby, I envision the end of the tunnel. I see you as a pregnant woman, and I am ready to support you through the insecurities of pregnancy after a tough fertility journey. I am also here to remind you to relax and to feel the gratitude, and joy, instead of worrying for 9 months.
  2. I see our journey together as a continuum. We build your trust in your body and your connection with the baby that is growing in you, even before the conception. With fertility treatments, you are consciously conceiving your baby and can start bonding with her/him right from the conception, right from the start. I am here to offer you the tools for making this special connection, instead of solely focusing on the medical procedures.
  3. When you're living your dreamed pregnancy, you also want to have safe and peaceful birth. I will be by your side as your doula, helping you prepare for birth, as well as holding your hand and having your back during your long awaited birthing day.
  4. And if you’ve waited to have your baby in your arms for so long, I suspect that you also want your beautiful pregnant belly and the birth of your child documented. In that case, I pack my camera and photography skills in my bag for you.

To put it shortly: I want to be there for you from the beginning till the end of your journey towards your baby.

Why an IVF Doula?

On being a Doula

I realize I still haven’t really explained why I opted for the label ‘IVF Doula’.

We live in a society where specialization is important. At the very begging, I have followed separate trainings for counseling, doula, and photography, and each field has its own focus and working ways.

Over the years I have increasingly discovered that I am above all a doula and that everything comes together beautifully in how a doula works:

  • intuitive
  • present in the here & now
  • fully focused on the client’s wishes
  • holistic attention to physical, practical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues.

Being a doula actually best covers what I love to do most.

Yes, I am a doula at heart.

For me personally, doulaing is more than work. It’s a way of being. Once a doula, always a doula. The very first day I stepped into my doula training, my life changed forever. It has opened so many doors to wisdom, knowledge, body consciousness - taught me to just be fully present in my body as well as being fully present for others.

The choice for becoming a doula was the eye opener, the awakening of the female in me. The transition in my case was radical – from the world of academic research – working with and from the brains – to caring for people, feeling, holding, touching, and working with my heart and hands.

And I can’t and don’t want to reverse that transformation.

I keep on growing through being a doula. I believe that the loving attention of a doula, with aromas, massages, rituals, hugs, tears, and laughter, shouldn’t only belong to birth coaching, but should also be at the heart of fertility coaching.

I make sure that you don’t have to walk this territory alone, starting from your journey to become pregnant. I’ll be there for you, when you need me, from the beginning till the end: your support person, just for you and your wishes, from pregnancy to birth.

Why did I wait 10 years until ‘owning’ the label IVF Doula?

Why do I embrace the IVF Doula now?

Last but not least, I would like to make a confession: a confession about why I resisted using the label ‘IVF Doula’ for so long.

After all, I was just as proud to be a doula 10 years ago as I am now, so that wasn’t the issue at all!

But the IVF part... Yes, while I am grateful for this technology (after all, I used it for our first child), I believe that IVF is ultimately only a means to an end and that the real power lies with a woman. I believe it is more sustainable in the long run for us women to first try to find the answers to our questions within our own bodies, minds, and souls before we turn to technology as a quick fix/rescue.

That is why for years (and still partly) I didn’t feel fitting to carry such a medical label. In the end, a doula is certainly medically informed to a certain extent, but doula care is not medical, even in a medical setting such as the hospital.

Now, I choose for the label IVF Doula:

  • because I observe that many more women rely on IVF to get pregnant
  • because I am convinced that doula support offers the ideal, holistic support during a fertility journey (with or without IVF)
  • because fertility treatments can be physically and mentally traumatic, the effects of which can be long-lasting and manifest themselves later
  • because I notice that women who ultimately become pregnant after IVF treatment spend months in fear and as a result do not come to on childbirth and postpartum.

For these major reasons (and more!) I now choose the label IVF Doula, simply because this is a go-to term in the world of fertility.

This is my life mission, and more than ever I want to:

  • reach more women,
  • offer more women long-lasting, continuous support,
  • help more women fulfill their wishes.

It’s with a reason that Birth Wish has a shooting star as its logo.

I stood there in your shoes, and I wished on a shooting star (never waste a good superstition!) when I was trying to conceive, and my wish came true! Twice!

Now it’s YOUR turn!


Birth Wish logo

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April 22, 2024 • 8:01AM


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