Preconception Is About More Than Medicine

Marcellina CokerThere are so many factors that contribute to fertility health and preconception, and particularly for those who want a wholesome experience that looks after all areas of wellbeing, finding a gynaecologist who understands what you are going through and what you need is invaluable.

Marcellina Coker is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist who I have worked with for some time with my clients, and who is very much on the same page as me when it comes to taking care of the whole person and supporting women’s wellbeing before and after pregnancy. So in her own words, I thought you would like to meet her and understand how she works a little better!

What do you do?

I have been a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist for 12 years and I am also a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and a beneficiary of Medical Management Leadership training at Harvard Business School. So my experience in gynaecology is wide reaching, but most importantly it’s patient centred. In recent years I have been increasingly interested in the wider aspects of wellness and its impact on fertility.

Why did you want to be a gynaecologist?

My decision to become a gynaecologist was made at the very early age of 10 when I was inspired by my mother’s female gynaecologist. It was a rare phenomenon to have a woman gynaecologist 40 years ago when the profession was still dominated by men and I have this vivid memory of my mother walking into the house with my youngest sister as a baby and talking about this woman who had helped her. She had so much to say about her and from that moment I thought ‘that’s what I want to do, I want to help women to have their babies safely’. Since then my driving force and my passion has been to help women conceive and deliver their babies safely.

How do you support women when they are preparing for conception?

In practical terms in our pre-conception clinics we look at a woman’s medical history, past surgeries, blood results, current and past medications and optimize that information to ensure that their body is in its best possible condition for conception, which includes starting her on vitamin supplements. Vitamin supplements that can help to keep your body working at its best can even be found in liquid form now on websites like tropicaloasis.com, so if you find swallowing pills difficult, you can still give vitamin supplements a try. However, I really think it’s about knowing the individual woman, getting to know them so that they trust you, and holding their hand through their journey, because it’s personal for everyone and it’s about more than medicine. For example, I have a six year old godchild whose mother is a friend but first came to me as a patient. She had 23 miscarriages and had been through all the medical processes. Eventually she decided to go on holiday and live life happily, accepting that she didn’t have children, and at that point she became pregnant. She chose to do the whole thing without medication – when I asked her what she needed it was simply good old fashioned TLC – sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand and understand.

What are the common concerns and problems that women have with fertility?

The most common conditions impacting on fertility are polycystic ovaries (PCOS), fibroids, endometriosis and tubal blockage. That said, there are a lot of ‘unexplained’ infertility cases which are affected by lifestyle factors and a woman’s inner state – emotional anxiety, stress, nutrition – all the things that are very difficult to measure. In those instances, it’s not unusual for women to conceive, like my friend, when they choose to simply live and enjoy life, embrace every moment and look for the positive in situations.

Is there one piece of advice that you would offer women preparing for pregnancy?

It sounds simple but women trying to conceive must make an effort to avoid stress in their daily life – easier said than done! Research has shown that the stress response process leads to progesterone depletion, thereby reducing the rate of conception in women leading stressful lives. It seems like the most unhelpful thing to say to someone who’s trying to have a baby to relax, but I think trying to enjoy the journey is one of the best things you can do – embrace positive emotions and avoid negative ones.

Are there common errors that women make looking after their health and wellbeing?

All too often I see women resorting to the use of multiple supplements rather than striving to achieve a balanced diet which would readily make essential minerals and vitamins available in their ingestible, natural state, which is more easily absorbed. It’s always best to start with a healthy diet, balanced nutrition, and overall physical and emotional wellbeing.

How important do you feel nutrition and lifestyle are to fertility and why?

Very! Nutrition and lifestyle is extremely important for everyone, but particularly as part of ensuring the body is at its optimum state to nurture and deliver a foetus successfully. It comes back to that overall wellbeing that’s so important – when you look after your nutrition and exercise you feel better, which allows you to embrace more positive emotions and reduce stress – it’s a cycle. Nutrition impacts emotional wellbeing as well as physical wellbeing. Equally, we know that certain conditions are exacerbated by weight gain which will then have a negative effect on fertility. So again it’s about looking after and nourishing the whole woman and understanding the individual and what’s right for them.

At Rock on Divas I work with Marcellina to support clients where it is relevant to their journey and needs both on my regular programs and my preconception retreats. Marcellina will be joining myself and Clare Blake (fertility massage therapist) at my upcoming Thrive Preconception Retreat at the end of April (28th- 29th April) at the Lifehouse Spa and Hotel. This retreat is for you if you have recently decided to get pregnant but want to make sure your body is healthy for pregnancy, have been trying with no luck or about to embark on IVF treatments. Click on the link below to find out more about it and how to book your place – very limited spaces left so hurry and book NOW.

**FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MY THRIVE PRECONCEPTION RETREAT**

2 Comments
  1. I like what you said about how you should make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet. It seems like it would be a good idea to talk to your gynecologist about foods that you should be eating. Do you know what food are good to eat when you are trying to get pregnant?

    • Thanks Emily. Eating a well balanced diet consisting of good sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats is a good idea, as well as including fibre. I’m putting together a 21-day preconception meal plan so keep checking back for when that’s released. Get in touch if you have any more questions.

      Peace & fabulous health!

      Gloria

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