If you have one child already and have been trying without success to have a second baby, then this can be a very difficult time. If you are ready and waiting for another baby, then the heartbreak of secondary infertility is very hard. Here are my tips based on my experience as a fertility expert:
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Secondary Infertility (SI) is deemed the inability to conceive, or carry to term, a subsequent pregnancy. It affects about 1 in 5 couples trying to conceive and accounts for around 6 out of 10 infertility cases.
Frustratingly SI is often labelled ‘unexplained’ by doctors, or due to a combination of factors in 40% of couples. These range from hormone, egg and ovulation problems to tubal damage in women and sperm issues in men.
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Why Does This Happen After a Normal Healthy Pregnancy?
Aoife got pregnant shortly after her wedding. “It was so easy first time around,” she explains through tears. “We want our three-year-old Ava to have a baby sister or brother to grow up with. It’s failure every month now, time is ticking away.”
Simply put, fertility levels shift after a baby. Pregnancy takes a toll. Ideally a woman’s body needs up to a year to replenish and fully normalise after growing a tiny human.
A study by Bristol University found that C-section birth makes conceiving again slower. Birth doesn’t always go to plan. And if a birth is traumatic – involving an emergency scenario of forceps, ventouse, episiotomy, or haemorrhage it takes longer to recover from anaemia and be ready for pregnancy.
A sick or preemie baby is a huge worry for new parents. Fertility may be on the back burner for a long time afterwards.Thyroid function and insulin processing are out of kilter after pregnancy, affecting ovaries, and egg quality.
Sleepless nights and long days are enough to dampen libido in the early months of parenthood.
Further Down the Line
Rest and recovery after birth are vital in preventing post-natal womb infections. Undetected, these nasties cause infertility by scarring and blockage Fallopian tubes.
Underlying gynae and medical conditions have a habit of flaring up over time after pregnancy. Benign growths in the walls of the womb are common over the age of 30. Although harmless, they make pregnancy implantation difficult, and cause heavier periods.
Age is a factor for women in conceiving again but it should not be a worry. There is far too much to do to boost fertility!
What Can You Do?
Firstly I remind clients to see what’s changed in their lives since the birth of number one. Life is busier, work is mental and there’s a lot to fit in. Baby-making habits get kicked into touch.
Reclaiming orgasm after delivery is well worth the effort. Pleasure aside, a decent orgasm is a ‘workout’ for the womb and tubes.
A quick audit reveals easy changes to make around food and eating, supplements, weight, exercise habits, sleep hygiene, and to manage stress levels.
Time management helps claw back head space for sex and fun. A relationship may have drifted so this is an opportunity to fine tune it. Family life is high octane, and pregnancy requires loads of energy and vitality.
An annual medical and gynae check up is at least as important as keeping a smile white at the dentist. A full fertility work up is a sensible start point for both partners in a couple after 6 months of failing to conceive. Medical fertility treatment or IVF may be the answer to getting pregnant.
The Emotional Cost of Secondary Infertility
SI is lonely and isolating. Not everyone grasps what it’s like. Talking to someone outside of family and friends comes as a relief.
“People asked when we’re going to have another, and everyone I know had that second baby so easily I envied them,” Aoife continues.”I was so wired, totally obsessed with getting pregnant. It took over my life.”
Emotions affect fertility. Feelings of anxiety, sadness, uncertainty, failure, guilt, anger and jealousy are normal when facing SI. It’s hard coping with these feelings and trying to enjoy family life at the same time. Secondary infertility causes unique distress.
In my practice, I blend therapy and coaching to positively resolve a host of life issues. Included are prior birth trauma, relationship and work anxiety, sex and porn use issues, caring for ageing parents. Confidence and self-esteem take a battering when SI continues so restoring a balance is valuable for my clients.
Sometimes there is absolutely no answer to secondary infertility. It’s nobody’s fault.
You can contact me at [email protected]
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Have you experienced secondary infertility? What advice would you add? Leave a comment below and let us know!