Taking part in the first ever IVF babble fertility event in London brought home to me how the IVF experience means different things to different people.
Embryologists concentrate on the science and doctors look at ways to overcome whatever is preventing people from conceiving but it was clear that many modern couples go into their IVF journey in the same way that athletes might train for the Olympics.
There are diets that many are following, vitamins that people are taking and alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture.
I heard how some people are packing their lunch in glass rather than plastic containers as they believe that BPA in plastic is hindering their chances of conceiving;
The couples are hoping that lifestyle changes might just give them that extra advantage that means their eggs and sperm are in the healthiest state possible when they get to the IVF clinic.
It was good to hear from the doctors at Embryolab in Greece
How they believe many of these changes do make a real difference and they are championing “personalised treatment” to make sure the individual gets the IVF treatment that suits them.
I’m not sure what my mum would have thought of it all. She formed quite a bond with all the other mums at a little clinic in Oldham who were the pioneers trying the treatment for the first time. None of them knew if it would work but they believed in the process and for my mum it worked first time.
That little band of women passed on tips and hints to each other, sometimes even superstitions, but it all helped them cope with the issues they were facing and get a good mindset.
That first successful treatment when I was born led to the whole worldwide IVF industry and the spin-off treatments, alternative therapies and theories of today.
Certainly my mum didn’t do all the right things. She smoked all the way through her pregnancy and carried heavy shopping despite being warned not to by the doctors. But she did stop drinking alcohol, she rested when she needed and above all she believed that the process would eventually work for her.
There were many setbacks on the way, including a letter telling her she would never have a baby. I have nothing but admiration for couples going through IVF and it is fantastic that there is so much help and advice now available.
Each little tip or lifestyle change might shift the odds by a small degree towards conceiving.
So, having heard a lot of the theories, I say to those on the IVF journey – do what feels right for you and keep believing.