Amira Posner remembers the despair that set in as she and her husband struggled with infertility, trying to get pregnant with Baby No. 2. She would curl up in bed, feeling ashamed and anxious.
“I felt isolated and deficient,” says the 38-year-old Toronto social worker, remembering that difficult period six years ago. “It was all-consuming. It was raw pain.”
Just as she was beginning to lose all hope, Posner discovered a book on fertility that promoted a mind and body connection. Despite several failed attempts with fertility treatments, her faith was restored.
As she prepared to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), with the odds stacked against her, Posner tried hard to block out the negative feelings and thoughts that had plagued her. She focused on listening to that inner positive voice and embraced yoga, meditation and visualization. The IVF worked — she became pregnant with twins.
Her personal experience inspired her to start Healing Infertility Counseling and Support, where she uses the mind-body approach with those struggling to conceive.
“When it comes to infertility, you can’t control what’s going on around you, but you can control your own response,” explains Posner, who runs mind-body fertility support groups at Mount Sinai Hospital.
“The mind-body approach is about refocusing our energy on something we can control ... People need to know that they have more tools in their belt than they think they do.”
That’s why the Mount Sinai Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health is hosting aMind-Body Fertility Conference on Oct. 25 at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel and Conference Centre in Mississauga.
The public event is believed to be the first of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area. It will feature a variety of fertility experts from different fields, including reproductive sciences, psychotherapy, psychiatry, nutrition, hypnosis, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, spiritual healing and naturopathic medicine.
In Ontario, it’s estimated that one in six couples struggle with infertility, according to the Ministry of Health. Beginning in 2015, the province will start paying for one cycle of IVF per patient, but it won’t cover any of the associated drug costs. The IVF procedure involves retrieving an egg, fertilizing it with sperm and then transferring the embryo back into the uterus.
Among the conference’s speakers will be mind-body fertility educator Julia Indichova, whose book Inconceivable is what turned things around for Posner. It’s the true story of how Indichova struggled to conceive her second child and was told at age 42 that her child-bearing years were over — even IVF was no longer an option.
Unwilling to give up, she focused on becoming as healthy as possible. And she got pregnant, delivering her second child before her 45th birthday.
“I attribute it to countless changes that happened inside me that were physical, emotional and even spiritual,” says Indichova in a telephone interview from Woodstock, New York, where she runs Fertile Heart Studio.
“To me, infertility is really not a disease. It’s a catch-all diagnosis. It’s our body’s call for attention.”
Indichova, who will be the conference’s keynote speaker, says she hopes to motivate people to “fully engage with their own healing.”
“I’m going to encourage people to shift their view of this challenge, from seeing infertility as a devastating disease to an immense opportunity for healing.”