Welcome to the latest series of Fertility Foundations, where we speak in depth with expert guests about how to prepare the foundations for healthy pregnancy. This week Sandra Greenbank is talking to Stephanie Foxley about her fertility journey and what she learned from working with Jennifer Walpole, Nutritional Therapist.

On discovering fertility issues, Stephanie and her husband were to undergo IVF treatment and sought help from the Fertility Nutrition Centre‘s Practitioner Jennifer Walpole prior to starting. Here, she shares her personal experience of addressing the underlying root causes of their infertility issues, taking control of nutrition and lifestyle, and considering the impact of diet and lifestyle on fertility. Throughout the episode Stephanie and Sandra discuss the benefits of holistic approaches and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle during conception, pregnancy and postpartum.

This podcast is sponsored by Invivo Healthcare, a human microbiome company. They specialise in accurate testing of different microbes such as the gut, vagina, oral and urinary, as well as a range of specially curated supplements focused on the microbiomes. They support healthcare providers and their clients navigate the complex world of the human microbiome and it’s one of the most used labs and supplements by our own fertility specialists at the Fertility Nutrition Centre. Visit the Invivo website for more information at www.invivohealthcare.com

Podcast transcript

Sandra  00:04

Hello and welcome to the Fertility Foundations podcast where we go into detail about how to prepare the foundations for a healthy pregnancy. We dive deep into the underlying root causes for fertility issues and natural solutions. I want you to know that you’re not alone and you’re not broken. I hope that by sharing these episodes it will help you move from feeling overwhelmed and lost to feeling hopeful and empowered to take charge of your own path to parenthood, because there are actually lots of things that you can do to help rewrite your own story. I’m Sandra Greenbank, nutritional therapist, functional medicine practitioner, coach and educator, specialising in fertility, pregnancy and postpartum health. I’m also the founder of the Fertility Nutrition Centre, where you can find fully trained experts in nutrition, lifestyle and functional approaches to healthy fertility and pregnancy. You can find out more information over at www.fertilitynutritioncentre.organd also book in a free strategy call with one of our experts. 

Today I’m speaking to Stephanie who shares her experience working with Jen Walpole on her journey to eventually becoming a mum. 

This podcast is sponsored by Invivo Healthcare, a human microbiome company. They specialise in accurate testing of different microbiome such as the gut, vagina or a urinary tract, as well as a range of specially curated supplements focused on the microbiomes. They support healthcare providers and their clients navigate the complex world of the human microbiomes and is one of the most used labs and supplements by our fertility specialists. Visit their website for more information at www.invivohealthcare.com.

Now let’s get into today’s interview with Stephanie. Hi, Steph, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m really looking forward to our chat today and hearing all about your work with Jen. Would you like to introduce yourself briefly first?

Stephanie Foxley  01:55

Yeah, absolutely. So I am Steph. I am 36 years old. And I worked with Jen during my fertility journey. And I started working with her, yeah, a few years ago. And then I went on to work with her throughout my pregnancy. So spoiler alert, everything has a happy ending. Yeah. And so, I’m really passionate about how much she helped us and how much her recommendations and support influence the outcome of our journey. So it’s great to be chatting with you about that now.

Sandra Greenbank  02:29

Right. So are you happy to share your journey?

Stephanie Foxley  02:33

Yes, yeah. I’m also very transparent about all of it. Because I do think that the more people, I understand lots of people want to keep these things private, and I totally respect that as well, but from my perspective, I feel like the more I can share things that helped us, hopefully that will help other people in their path to becoming parents. So yeah, we’re really happy to be super transparent and get into all the gory details.

Sandra Greenbank  02:59

Right, thank you. What happened when you started trying to conceive? How was your experience? Yes, absolutely.

Stephanie Foxley  03:08

So me and my husband and we started that we’ve been together a really long time. You know, we’ve met at university and we, we got married by by the time we got married, we’d already been together 10 years. And we’d always spoke about wanting a family we knew that was very much on our path. And around about 2020 before the whole world shut down. We started thinking like, now’s the time that start trying. And so you know, we we did as couples do and started trying, got, you know, try not to be too crazy about it. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t say that. Try not to be too specific about ovulation states twice, just go with the flow a little bit, for example to begin with. But the world was also going a bit bonkers. So our journey kind of was a bit stop start. We were going into lockdown everything was it was like, oh, what’s going on? So but we kind of carried on down that path for probably about looking back. It was like a year, year and a half actually, before we realised this is not going the way we hoped we’re not getting the outcome that we wanted. Let’s go and speak to the GP about it. So in about like Tober autumn 2021. We went to the GP explained our situation, and they kind of referred to the usual tests, etc. And it was at that point, though, that a friend of mine had worked with Jen not for fertility, we use it for hormonal health reasons. And so I was following Jen on Instagram because she’d recommended her and I’d always I’m really interested in the power of food, and I noticed them and myself how different Wi Fi Eat can make me feel kind of like my energy levels, like how sluggish I feel, how my skin looks, all that kind of thing. And, and so I thought I’d get in touch with Jen, I saw that she was posting things about fertility and I just kind of, in my, in my gut, if you’ll pardon the pun, knew that, like, if we’re going to be going down this journey, I want to make sure that I’m fully optimised, you know, that I’m doing everything I can to make sure this journey is as successful as possible. So actually, we were in touch with Jen, throughout, you know, right from the very beginning, as it were, like, right when we were having our initial tests with the GP. And, and it was so useful to have her as well, because she’s so knowledgeable, and she was actually able to guide us, as well as the nutrition side of things she was able to recommend like, oh, you know, make sure you ask for this test as well, that might not be a standard tested offer, but they would still be prepared to offer because our pathway, we went down their NHS pathway. And so she Yeah, there was still other options or exploratory routes that she was able to recommend, for example, even in those very early stages. So yeah, so we had those additional tests and really had like the full works done thanks to Jen kind of encouraging us to ask for specific things. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, do you. So you’ve got to be told what to ask for support it, because it’s a new experience for us. And the test results showed that there was difficulties on the male side, so male factor issues, that meant that we were referred for refer to the Fertility Centre, straightaway, so recommended for further investigations. So we ended up with that referral in where we had our first appointment in February. So it was quite quick, especially because there was Christmas in the middle, something we’ve gone from October to February, or they, at the time, it felt like oh my god, we’ve got to wait till February. But really, with hindsight, it was quite Swift. And so at that point, we decided, right, this, there’s something that’s not going to work here. Let’s make sure we’re really fully optimising. And we signed up to work with Jen on one of her sort of programmes. I think up until that point, we’ve been having like ad hoc sessions with her like, consultations. And then we signed up to work on her couples programme, which we then worked on with her. Throughout our fertility journey, I think I can’t remember exactly what the packages were. But it was like a series of consultations, and looking at your food and lifestyle as well. So beyond just that nutrition, and you know, and it was, as I say, really helpful throughout that journey. And so I’m just trying to think what happened next after that. So yes, we were recommended, again, really straightforwardly, because of the test results that we went for XE. But we actually decided, rather than going straight in for an egg collection in February, we decided that we wanted to give it a couple of months to work on our lifestyle and make sure we were as healthy as possible. We also decided to go and see an anthropologist privately, just to make sure that my husband had had, you know, we’d had everything checked as thoroughly as possible. And we’d like fully optimise for one of a better word, because I think we’d heard some stories of people starting IVs it not working in that first cycle, and then having doing a bit further investigation, and then having a successful second cycle. And I think we decided we didn’t really want to put ourselves through that. So we wanted to put ourselves in the best position possible position for the first cycle. So yeah, we took a few months to really work on what we were eating. And I remember my husband saying, like, well, whatever happens, we’ve never been this healthy, like, you know, you can always say, we’ve won in that respect, you know, we’ve really kind of improved we didn’t have a bad diet before I would personally say we’ve always enjoyed cooking and always enjoyed, like preparing our own foods, you know, avoiding processed foods, like that kind of thing. But there are a lot of hacks that Jen was able to give us like increasing the number of colours in our diet. Looking That kind of Mediterranean food structure, it was very much focused on adding things rather than taking away. So, you know, we pretty much I feel like we’re practically keeping like the seed industry in business at this stage, because I’m just like every salad, every cereal, put some seeds on it swimsuit mix. See, it’s messy. It’s got all those healthy fats. And yeah, so we went through that process, just trying to think what happened next, because as I was saying to you, just before we joined the call, it’s almost feel so surreal that we went on this journey now that we are in like the trenches of parenthood as it were. And, and actually the support that we got from Jan, I do remember, because so the, the male factor issue in particular was to do with the morphology results. So my husband had some very, very excellent sperm, but not quite enough of it, which is why xe was recommended, because they were able to hand select the top notch sperm as it were. And but I do remember that, within a couple of months of some of the changes that Jen had recommended, specifically relating to his diet, his morphologie, results actually doubled. I mean, they were still below the optimal rate. So et Cie was still the preferred choice. But I just remember looking at those test results and thinking, Oh, my God, like, it’s amazing that those lifestyle changes have had that impact. And so it was really encouraging as well, because you feel very helpless on that journey. You feel like everything’s like, you know, you’ve got this thing that you want so much. And you’re in this free medicalized journey. And the doctors and nurses, they’re all fantastic on that journey. And they were very knowledgeable and supportive, but you did feel like they were, you’re in their hands, whereas taking control of the nutrition, and it did make me feel like I was having more saying things. So we then went through this process, we ended up, I was looking back through my photo albums on my phone to try and remember exactly what the journey was that we went on. And we had our my collection and embryo creation, at the beginning of August 2021 2022, sorry, 2020. And we that was very successful, we ended up with five really good quality embryos. And again, we decided to just take a break. At that point, I felt like I’d been really pumped full of hormones and everything. So I didn’t want to go straight to a transfer, I wanted to do full frozen transfer process. I’d also seen some stats around them having slightly better results, but I’m not an expert on that. So I then had what I called my party month in August, kind of went out for lots of dinners, let my hair down a little bit, had plenty of wine, caught up with loads of friends.

Stephanie Foxley  13:04

Yeah, and then went back into kind of being a good girl, and preparing myself for the embryo transfer, which we had in the end of October. And then in the middle of November, two weeks after that. And we did our test, and it was positive. And we found out that we were expecting our little boy. So it was practically a year from getting in touch with the GP to getting that positive test. But that was I mean, that, to me felt like a really positive timeframe. Because we’ve, we’ve taken it steady, we’d kept our you know, we kept our health, our mental health as well at the forefront of what we were doing. And it had, you know, the best possible outcome that we could ever have imagined. So yeah, that’s

Sandra Greenbank  13:57

such a nice, this is such a lovely thing to hear. And I mean, you were also quite lucky to get NHS treatment, which I think is so yeah, more and more rare now, isn’t it which is so upsetting? For people

Stephanie Foxley  14:11

who absolutely not? I mean, I think our clinical commissioning group, I believe the NICE guidelines recommend that everyone should have access to three or everyone that requires it should have access to three cycles. Our clinical commissioning group only offers one cycle so it’s still billet below the recommendations, which as you say, I think is really sad. I do think it’s unfair that there’s a postcode lottery. It was part of my motivation for really wanting to make sure that we were as well optimised and made the most of anyone going into any journey whether it’s NHS funded or privately funded. I’m sure you want to make your make sure that you are and your chances are as good as possible. But I was very mindful of how lucky we were to have access to that treatment as well. We had that We met at Kings, Kings Fertility Centre, who I have to say were really, really excellent. I know they offer private treatment as well. And yeah, we will hopefully be going back there to try for number two, because we still have some little embryos in the freezer there. But that’s probably a story for another day.

Sandra Greenbank  15:23

Yeah, I mean, I agree that, you know, regardless of whether it’s free or not, you know, it’s not like the free cycle is kind on you physically, emotionally, mentally, you know, and there is that element of making every cycle count, which absolutely, and you’re and you mentioned a couple of things. You mentioned that you sort of felt empowered, and that you were able to take charge of something where so much was being done to you. And genuinely, it was also kind of done to you on behalf of your partner. And that can be quite disheartening for the partner as well to kind of go, I’m the one with the sort of slightly below par span, but and then watching their partner have all this treatment, actually, it’s something cooking together and going for walks together or exercising together doses. So there’s a nice things that connect you. And also it’s a nice way to support each other without necessarily having to talk so much or sort of go over things, which I think man’s some struggle with just sort of, you know, we like to talk that way, about, you know, but actually, just that silently, sort of being able to like, do a shop and do make a nice meal and sort of look after you in that sense. It’s a really nice way for men to actually involved in the process.

Stephanie Foxley  16:49

It definitely became like a project that we were doing together. And I think if we hadn’t been making the lifestyle changes, and nutrition changes together, it would have felt much more one sided. And yeah, I think you’re right, I think from his perspective, I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think it made him feel that he was doing everything that he could as well to, to put his best foot forward as it were. But yeah, so but we were very lucky to have the outcome that we had. But I do think that, I mean, there’s no way of knowing what would have happened if we hadn’t made those changes. But I personally feel like I can 100% say Emotionally, it wouldn’t have felt like such a positive process. If we hadn’t made it would have felt a lot more harrowing, frankly, if I hadn’t, if we hadn’t felt that we had this thing that we could focus our energy on, and this opportunity to implement it that we could be in control of. But I just personally think, you know, we physically, that outcome was so superb for us in terms of the quality of our embryos, the number of embryos, the success of the transfer, that the nutrition and the lifestyle changes must have implements that I mean, it certainly didn’t have any negative impact did it? So you know, if it feels Yeah, right, to have that journey,

Sandra Greenbank  18:23

it’s a risk free approach, the worst thing that’s gonna happen is you’re gonna feel a bit better.

Stephanie Foxley  18:28

Exactly. From from, like an emotional resilience perspective, because as well as the physical side of things. And I think this probably applies to like, men and women, again, without putting words in my husband’s mouth, but just reflecting on the conversations we had, you know, we were like anyone in our 30s You know, if you had a hard day, or you’re a bit stressed about something, often it’s a bottle of wine that you open or you slob and we get a takeaway song from the TV. And we all know that that’s not the best for your body or your mind. And that actually, you know, going for a swim, going for a run, going for a walk, having a really nutritious meal, having an early night, whatever it might be. Those feel you feel you emotionally for the process as well as physically. Because it’s, there’s a lot of appointments, there’s a lot of things to do. There’s a lot to keep track of, there’s a lot of medication that you’ve got to know remember which you’re doing well there’s, you know, you you need to be emotionally and mentally tiptop as well as physically.

Sandra Greenbank  19:37

Yeah, absolutely. And I think the way you took time, you know, because like sometimes or your own sort of, you can do it to yourself almost it’s sort of like stress. You’re kind of thinking I’m gonna you know, I’ve got to get in there. I’ve got to do this round you know, the quicker I do it, the quicker I’m going to get pregnant. I just want to be pregnant now or you know, yesterday, but actually taking that time because you And the reason why we do it in programmes, like the way you worked with Jan is because it takes time for the egg to kind of develop from the embryonic stage to being ready to ovulate. And that time takes about three months. And during that time, it’s influenced by everything that you come into contact with, whether it’s the air that you breathe, the emotions you feel, the hormones, the food that you’re eating, or, you know, any toxins that you come into contact with. So we want to optimise that, and it’s the same for the sperm as well. So, you know, that’s why we always advocate taking time if there is some time, and you mentioned also you did your collection, and then you took some time out before instead of going straight into transferring it straight in, and that there’s some research that shows that actually, it can have, it can increase your chances of success. And I think, probably that’s because your body gets that chance to recover and replenish before from from this sort of fairly gruelling treatment that you’ve had in the run up.

Stephanie Foxley  21:06

Yes, I felt that instinctively. Again, I had read some research about that. But I also No, just tried to really tune into my own body throughout this process and kind of really think about how do I actually feel like, what do I actually need. And I think when you’re on, you can feel like you’re on a bit of a hamster wheel of the tests and the this and that and other people telling you about your body. And, you know, IVF is an absolute miracle there are there is no two ways about it, I would not have my little boy, if it wasn’t for IVF. And the doctors that do it are so incredible. And the whole thing just blows my mind. But I’m also a person and an individual. And I need to, I felt that I needed to remember that and be able to advocate for myself and kind of be true to what, what I was feeling. So yes, you know, I think when we first were referred for XC, and we said, we would like to just take a little bit of time, I think that the doctors were quite surprised at us for saying that. Because I think, you know, there’s this thing if you want to get those eggs as quickly as possible, because you know, the younger you are the better quality and I was cutting like, yeah, all of that science, fine. But we’re talking three or four months here, we’re not talking three or four years. And for me, I just had to follow my gut instinct on that. And they were supportive of it. They didn’t try and dissuade us from it. But it wasn’t something they suggested it was something that we needed to advocate for ourselves. And working with Jen did help us to do that. Likewise, I found that very interesting, perhaps not surprising, but the clinic was very much taking a female focused approach to the fertility journey. And so, you know, I think the people that work, basically, they kind of looked at my husband’s results, and it was like, that is what it is. And it was asked that said, Actually, we’re gonna go and see them and geologist, and again, they were quite surprised when we asked for that we did ask for an NHS referral on that it had quite an a waiting list. So we actually decided to see someone privately, just to kind of speed things along, because, you know, as much as we were taking our time, we were a little bit impatient. And, and they they were quite surprised that we kind of wanted to go down that path as well. But I think it is important to remember that it takes two to tango. It’s not necessarily just or a just a female issue. Whereas I like to say I think that process when you’re in the fertility treatment journey is very female focused. Yeah, so it was good to take a breath, I think and follow our gut instinct and but also follow different advice from knowledgeable people. Because there are more there is more than one way to skin a cat and everyone’s got their own pathway, is it work that works for them?

Sandra Greenbank  24:19

I think that clinics generally certainly private clinics are they are quite good, you know, because they do have the eye on the bottom line. And they have like key performance indicators they have to follow and all this and I think, you know, if you say I want to take three months off, they might be thinking, Oh, they’re going to go and talk to other clinics and we need to get this going so that we don’t lose this. And probably not so much in the NHS but also you know, this idea of working on sperm health, you know that I think that generally, they believe that there’s nothing you can do So they’re not advising you kind of against, I suppose, you know, they’re not advising you falsely, as it were, they just advise you on based on what they know, which is, yeah, we know we can do this and that would drugs, but we can’t change the sperm health, we just know how to pick the better looking ones. Inject that. But, you know, we know now there’s so much data out there that shows that there’s so much you can do to improve so many parameters. And not everything, you know, depends on what the root causes. But, you know, the fact that they don’t even look for the root cause. You know, it could it could be infections, or it could be something structural, it could be, you know, it could it could be something to do with your lifestyle, like, but just having some taking some time to think about what’s going on for this person, and can we fix it, because, you know, you did end up having IVF. But I’ve noticed people actually, once we do address these things, they actually end up not needing any treatment at all, because we fit. So, but it’s just like you said, it’s just a completely different approach, and not necessarily one that a clinic is going to even be familiar with.

Stephanie Foxley  26:13

Yeah, I think it was, it was quite, I found that quite interesting how little consideration they were giving to the male side of things. But like you say, it’s, they’re not necessarily in advising. It’s just that’s like, not their area of expertise. But I suppose that serves into why is important, what I, you know, appreciated and felt it was important to have a bit more of a diversity of thought in our journey and kind of speak to other professionals, you know, qualified, the agenda has studied extensively, and I’m sure everyone in your network has, I don’t know anyone else, any of them personally. But, you know, she’s not just some women on Instagram saying, like, do this, and it will help everything, you know, there is science and data in what she, what she does. And I remember we’d have conversations, and we’d come to her with results and challenges. And she would go away and and look at sort of scientific papers that would would come back with, you know, recommendations and support the work back to the base. And interestingly, there were, even when I sometimes bring, I’ve mentioned these things in the clinic, to the doctors, they would sort of say like, yeah, we’re actually there is some evidence to suggest that, but that’s not strong enough yet that we can recommend it. And so it’s your kind of, I think some of the things that are being recommended, like wood that Jen was able to advise us on were, like, say certainly risk free. I mean, no one’s ever going to be in, you know, health issues, because they had a few extra tomatoes or whatever, but had the potential to make positive impacts. And I think it might be interesting to see, you know, how things kind of get implemented more widely over the future in future years. So I think, as an example, I didn’t end up having a vaginal birth, because I had no line for centre, I had to have a planters Aryan, but there’s something around eating dates in the run up to your, your vaginal birth that can help, I don’t know, ripen the cervix or something like that. Anyway, and I think it’s really interesting that now, that is something that midwives will mention, as well that like, oh, yeah, there’s enough evidence coming in, and they’re kind of talking about it. Whereas maybe a few years ago, that was a bit more on their, quote, unquote, old wives tail end of the spectrum, or just something that our nutritionist might recommend. And now it’s seeping into kind of wider public knowledge. And so these things get there. And it’s quite interesting to just be a little bit ahead of the curve. And also engage with all the old wives tales, like, I know that even Jan would say, there probably wasn’t any evidence for eating a pineapple on the day of your transfer, but pineapples, delicious. So I was just going to do it anyway. Just in case. Yeah.

Sandra Greenbank  29:07

Yeah. I mean, the British Medical Journal wrote about this a couple of years ago, and this is sort of a this is a very well known fact that research doesn’t make it into clinical guidelines for about 20 years, wow, new piece of research will come out and then it takes, you know, then we need more research and more research. And then who might change their guidelines, the NICE guidelines might change, but they’re not reviewed. You know, they’re reviewed once in a blue moon, and then each wants the NICE guidelines to change. Each hospital then might take few years to change their guidelines. And so, by the time you know, you know, from our point of view, we’re looking at the research that’s coming out now we’re thinking, okay, you know, we’ve seen this thing about using, you know, for example, saffron for depression at the moment is sort of, there’s quite a lot of research coming out and as some point in the future drug companies might even begin to use saffron as a sort of basis for their drug manufacturing or whatever. But you know, we don’t have 20 years to wait on we’re trying for baby. So what we’re doing is looking at what’s what’s going on looking at, you know, grocery routes and research or things that are coming out, and we’re implementing it now. And we might even be asking questions, so sending, you know, a letter to your consultant with a copy of my studies and say, hey, you know, in your opinion, do you think we should try this for this? Yes. Because it has to also be individualised. You know, it might be important for one person, it might not be for somebody else. So, yeah, it’s, it’s really,

Stephanie Foxley  30:44

I had no idea it was 20 years. I think I, as I was saying that I was imagining it would take three or four years, maybe? And that seems like long enough, but 20 years is, that is a very long time, isn’t it? That’s like, Yeah, wow, I didn’t realise that.

Sandra Greenbank  31:02

Yeah, I mean, that’s why, you know, it’s so important to sort of, I think, speak to somebody who can dissect and look at you, as a couple, look at what’s going on for you your history, your presentation, consider what’s going on, you know, and look at the, you know, what might possibly work? And, you know, a lot of the time it’s like, we don’t know if this is going to work, but it sounds quite good. Would you like to have a go? And you know, making those decisions together? Or, you know, should we have a conversation with your clinician, or, you know, like you went to see an anthropologist, which, you know, there are a few that we work with a lot that are just incredible. But again, there’s sort of so few and far between that knowing somebody who knows the right person is different.

Stephanie Foxley  31:47

Yeah, I can recommend someone that, you know, is actually going to engage with the approach that you’re taking as well. Yeah, the I can’t remember the name of the chat that we went through, but he was recommended by Jen and he was fantastic. And, yeah, it’s just you don’t know what you don’t know. Like, I didn’t even know the word geologist before. She suggested we should see, you know, and I don’t know about gynaecologists. Like, I don’t I didn’t know that. I mean, obviously, there’s not there’s an opposite, equal and opposite to that, but I didn’t really think about it before this situation. Yeah. And I think the support that Jen was able to give as well was like, so practical, like, even when we’d sort of say to her, like, I think because I think perhaps it maybe before speaking with her, I might have been sceptical that she was going to say, like, basically, you just need to eat, like brown rice and broccoli and nothing else for six months, and just don’t leave the house and only drink filtered water and blah, blah, blah. And instead, it was much more, you know, we’d say to her, Oh, we really like batch cooking, or, you know, my husband’s a big snacker we need some advice on what he can snack on. It isn’t like a Mars bar or something like that. And she’d come back with like, loads of recipe suggestions, and, and it made it kind of practical and realistic for kind of our actual, our actual life. Because you know, we are, you still have to live throughout this process. Because as I say, our journey was a year, and then it could easily a bit longer and like, you’ve still got to write for me, I still had to live and carry on with, you know, real life as it were. Because you just don’t, nothing is guaranteed either. Unfortunately.

Sandra Greenbank  33:32

Yeah. And I think that if you’re going to make changes, make chain changes are hard. It’s really, really hard. And there’s no point recommending things that you are not going to be able to stick to this and it’s not going to happen, you know, and it’s that, like, it’s that emotional piece as well of, you know, feeling like you’ve failed or, you know, that’s another reason why it’s so good to see someone regularly because you can go through everything regularly check in how did that go? You know, what can we do differently? But I think also, I think a lot of people just go Why would I see a nutritionist or they already vegetables, but there’s actually so many other things that happen that yeah, you sort of you’ve taken a leap of faith and you didn’t know before. You know, I wish I wish I could sort of find a way to explain to people what it is that we do because even the name and nutritional therapists it’s like or a nutritionist, it just it it it infers that you’re just talking about food, which is not even true. Yeah, I

Stephanie Foxley  34:31

know. Because I think that’s why it always talks about the lifestyle changes as well and kind of how because food is like part of the part of your life I think is the way that it kind of looks that just like not just the actual food it’s you know, when you eating and then kind of what exercise are you doing and how is that impacting on your hormones and you know, what other Are you having acupuncture or are you doing x y Zed or but it’s interesting as well because As I said before, my husband said, like, well, whatever happens, we’ve worked healthier than we’ve ever been. And so many of those changes that we made, essentially, because we’re on this goal of wanting to have a baby, but they do make you feel better. And we’re still doing them now. And it’s, you know, my, my little boy even has, I mean, we pulverised obviously, it’s not yet one, so he can’t quite handle all the mixes, but we’ll sprinkle his we call them as baby sprinkles and we put them on his his Weetabix and porridge in the morning. And he’s one of the first foods that he had was sardines, he loves Saudis loves oily fish. And it’s things that were like not in our diets before we had that journey. And now we’re transforming into him. Because that’s just how we eat now. That’s the stuff that we have in our cupboard.

Sandra Greenbank  35:49

Yeah, yeah, it’s so fun. It’s so interesting talking to you. Because there’s all of these things that I’ve always been thinking of coming back to me like when I started out as a nutritionist, like a really long time ago, now. I was like, I want to change public health. And I thought, How am I going to do this, I’m actually going to start because we can do so much to change a person’s future health risk, by working with the parents before they get prep before they get pregnant. You’re so it’s all about the epigenetics and influencing how the genes are expressed in you to improve, you know, risk of heart disease, risk of diabetes. So you’ve done you’ve done a really good thing for savvy where you’ve actually improved his future health into old life.

Stephanie Foxley  36:38

lucky boy,

Sandra Greenbank  36:41

but you know, we can we can prevent allergy or the risk of allergies or, you know, reduce the risk of allergies, reduced risk of metabolic disease. And, you know, this is all in the literature like, this is not sort of not making this up. And the other thing is, when you know what, you know, you know how to play it up now, which is something that we go through with every single client, you know, put get, find your protein, find your fat, you know, what vegetables are going to do what they, you know, leafy vegetables so that you know, how much starch and what colours you’re looking for. And these are the basics that we go through with everyone, but sort of once you know it, you don’t know you can’t unknow it, and so you bring family, and then when your children, you know, hopefully at some someday will have children, they will bring it so that the ripple effect is actually huge. It’s

Stephanie Foxley  37:29

such a good point, it goes right down to like, Yeah, I do love seeing like how, I’m sure he’ll have his fussy eating phase. And don’t get me wrong, he’s still I mean, as much as he has his baby sprinkles in his, you know, sardines, he’ll also go bonkers for a banana or something like that. But it’s, it’s also kind of interesting that like, we’re very mindful of, well, actually, he’s had like half bananas today. Let’s like, give him some thing else that’s makes you really mindful of the variety, for example, because that was something that I think that we spoke about a lot with Jen is so easy to get into food ruts. For example, I think, before we before we were working with her at the beginning of our journey, yes, we had, essentially a healthy diet. But we were really in our food rights. You know, our shopping list every week was the same vegetables. We weren’t mixing it up. We weren’t you know, getting it was this, it was the same. Like you just go in your routine around the supermarket, we weren’t thinking, oh, let’s get some kale this week, or let’s try something kohlrabi this week, or let’s. Whereas now I think so much more mindful of variety and trying to keep it that fun. And that’s great as well, I think when you are starting to win, because you’re just immediately exposing them to more, more stuff, because it’s easy for you to offer. That. If you’re familiar with cooking x y Zed, it’s much easier to bang a bit on their plate as well.

Sandra Greenbank  38:59

And it’s there is some some data to support the idea that what you eat in pregnancy, influences your child’s tastebuds and wanting to eat.

Stephanie Foxley  39:10

Yeah, I did eat quite a lot of ice cream during pregnancy as well as all the healthy stuff. So it was it was pretty hot last year. It was very, very different summer to this year. But yes, I think I’d read that as well. And I do find that quite interesting. And I think this might be an old wives tale, but I also was very mind for them to keep as appropriately active during pregnancy as possible. And Seb is now a very active child and people often say to me, like, Did you exercise a lot while you were pregnant now? I don’t know. I don’t think that I think that’s just a coincidence but certainly, he’s certainly got good energy levels from somewhere. And but I did also enjoy again, I worked with Jen throughout my pregnancy after having a really positive experience with her during conception, I then sort of had a few consultations during pregnancy. And kind of figuring out how to keep those energy levels up how to stay active and appropriately, I again felt like stood me in really good stead for that postpartum period as well, because that’s really hard. Like, I ended up as I say, having a plan. It’s this area and for medical reasons, but I was very lucky to have a pretty straightforward recovery, thankfully, because, you know, you don’t have much time to, although you deserve it, you deserve to have a lot more time than we are afforded to recover from birth, whether that’s vaginal or Caesarean. But yeah, you’ve pretty much just thrown in the deep end and handed your baby like five minutes later and told to crack on. And I’m pretty sure that having maintained my health throughout that journey, as much as I was able to, did ease my recovery and did stand me in better stead for, for the journey as it were ahead. Yeah,

Sandra Greenbank  41:03

I mean, we always say that, as long as mom as well, baby will be fine. So we’ll go after mum, before pregnancy during pregnancy, and making sure that you get everything that you need. Because if you’re deficient in something, generally babies will get what they need as at the expense. Yeah. So making sure that you’re eating really well. And you know, and that can be really challenging when you’re feeling sick, or then later on your stomach squeezed, because your belly so big, or you know, things, you can’t stomach, the smell, or whatever it is, and it’s just making sure again, just finding those little hacks where you’re like, how about you just try this or try that, or, you know, we want to make sure you’re getting all your omega fats for baby’s brain to develop properly, but also for your for you to not get sort of baby brain or lack of sleep. But you know, and making sure that you’re not crashing, because if you if you crash, you know, it’s just going to be an awful time for the rest of the family, including baby and you know, your milk might struggle then to come in. And all of this is really important, actually, to get that support. And I think you’ve done all the things clearly you’ve done all the things right. You know, with your hopefully, decision making, we’re

Stephanie Foxley  42:16

still we’re still also like mad batch kickers, that was my big thing. I always liked a bit of a batch kick. But then I think like, I actually, when I was pregnant, we bought a new freezer, we only had one of those like upright freezers in the pit, I was like, this is not this is not going to hack it. I need a chest freezer. Okay, this is the level of batch cooking, we are going for. Yeah, so we got it. And the only place we had for it is in the shed so hard to get a Purple Heart out as I need this. For my motherhood journey. While I’m about to shed got a chest freezer in the shed, and just that was my version of nesting, I think like I spent several days with hindsight, completely bonkers heavily pregnant, clicking these massive facts basically of right, if you’re going to cook once Cook, double or triple, and just vomiting. And that got us through that postpartum period as well. It was like having, and we still do that I do that now for my son as well like make, it’s like having a ready meal. But it’s done, you know, for yourself. So if I’m cooking something now are free some for us, and then free some mini portions for him as well. Which is, yeah, again, it’s these habits that you when you when you actually form a habit. It sticks with you. And I think we often talk about habits in like bad habits, but actually positive habits stick with you as well. Yeah,

Sandra Greenbank  43:40

yeah. Call it a habit stacking. So like one thing and then another thing, but yeah, you’re right, you know, cooking when you have time, so that you can eat well, when you don’t have time to cook is mainly you know, such a good strategy, and it doesn’t take some planning. But you know, and it can save you money as well, because buying in bulk or, you know, certainly if you’ve got a farmers market near you and going near the end and just buying up like trays of whatsoever, you know,

Stephanie Foxley  44:05

farmers that’s a good idea. I never thought of that. That is Yeah, that’s a good trick. Yeah.

Sandra Greenbank  44:15

It’s so nice to talk to you. So what do you have any advice for somebody who’s kind of maybe where you were at the start of your journey and feeling lost and not knowing what to do? And what would be your advice to form itself?

Stephanie Foxley  44:33

And my advice to someone in that situation would be to try things. I mean, I would, for me, the nutrition journey was excellent. I personally advise that but the at the core of that is find something that you can feel you have control and power over because it can feel like quite a powerless process. So when That’s optimising, like looking at nutrition, looking at your fitness, maybe maybe they maybe there’s a type of exercise that you know, you really want to work on to. Or maybe it’s that you want to start doing some meditation or mindfulness that things like that, that have been shown to have a positive impact on that journey, but that you can actually control outside of the medical setting, find one or many of those, I think can really help. I think speak to experts. And I use the term experts carefully, like proper experts, not not people that think they’re experts do make sure people are qualified. Because unfortunately, there probably are a lot of people throwing around questionable advice. But if if you speak to qualified professionals, there is, it’s good to have diversity of thought and opinion and then make your own judgments. And, and advocate for yourself as well think about what feels right for you. What doesn’t feel right for you. Because it is an individual journey. And, you know, nobody knows you as well as you do. So take on board that advice in the wisdom from the experts, but do take time if you have it to reflect on it yourself and don’t feel like pressured into decisions. Those I think that’s what I would advise. Yeah, yeah, cuz it’s a tough road. It is a tough road, right? We, it’s very easy. I say, very easy, like, now I kind of look back on it, like, quite wistfully because I had such a positive outcome. But actually, when I was preparing for this conversation, I was looking at some of the photos that were taken, because I tried to I tried to keep a record so that one day, when my son sort of asked me, Where do babies come from, you know, I can tell him like, well, there’s lots of different ways that babies made. And, you know, this was how few were made. But it was a sad, it was a hard, sad time, there’s no two ways about it, and trying to try to keep keep yourself strong throughout, that is an important thing to do.

Sandra Greenbank  47:17

Great. Thanks so much. It’s all of your everything you’ve said, you know, makes my heart sing like your journey and your takeaways. And, you know, just so grateful that you’ve come here to talk about your experience working with Jen as well, because the thing that it will really help the people who are feeling how you felt at the time and, you know, I am 100% bias, but I also know that what we do makes an enormous difference. And it’s, you know, one of our main problems is sort of helping people understand what we can do, and you know, that there are ways that you can take control as well. So, it’s, it’s so lovely to hear from your experience, and I’m very, very grateful. Thank you. Oh, it’s

Stephanie Foxley  48:02

a pleasure. I’m glad to share our journey and I hope that yeah, as you say, I hope that it can help some other people that are where we are and helps them reach their happy ending.

Sandra Greenbank  48:18

I really enjoyed this job chat with Stephanie and I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. Please like, share, save and rate this podcast if you find it useful as it helps us reach more people. And if you’re looking for a fertility specialist to support you, our practitioners can be contacted over at www.fertilitynutritioncentre.org. They will offer a free strategy call to help you decide on your best next steps on your journey. Thank you for listening.