Andrew Coutts takes a look at The Feminist Guide to Fertility, written by fertility coach, acupuncturist and naturopath, Nicola Salmon.
For the uninitiated Nicola Salmon is a ‘gentle warrior for fertility freedom’; based on her own experience Nicola has a frank and insightful take on all the trials and tribulations faced by women prior, during and after their fertility journey.
Her Feminist Guide to Fertility hits all the right notes; describing how a woman’s identity and values can take a back seat, be skewed, or even disappear when the desire to become a mum is all encompassing.
At the heart of the Guide however Salmon continually reinforces the fact that wanting a child so badly doesn’t make you a bad feminist. She addresses a number of areas and issues which potentially could have an adverse effect on a woman’s ability to retain her identity and puts forward some very useful, practical activities designed to maintain or reclaim a person’s true self;
“Your values and ideals are a part of who you are and you don’t have to compromise them in your quest to get pregnant”.
Salmon argues, “Your body is exclusively yours”, become your own advocate – you are ultimately responsible for it so step up and equip yourself with the necessary information and skills to maintain good physical and mental health. When others, including healthcare providers, offer an ‘opinion’ – remember it’s just that, it’s an opinion and it’s up to you whether to accept it or not.
Strong stuff – this is really about taking back, reclaiming and owning yourself. At the end of the day the only expert on you, is you. To successfully reclaim, you need to ask questions, consider all the risks and benefits, take a pause, then take a decision from a position of informed knowledge, a place of power. Ultimately its emancipation with a big, fat capital E.
Looking at fertility specifically Salmon points that ‘only one third of infertility issues are related to the woman which means two thirds are directly not’. Take control, she advocates and ensure your partner is tested for any issues – equip yourself with knowledge and power;
“Having as much information as possible about both of your reproductive health is vital to ensure that you are both fully committed to creating this”.
When infertility rears its ugly head the first consideration should be that both halves of any couple understand what is happening and then from a position of knowledge move forward together to address the issue. Simply put, Pause, Understand, Communicate, Compromise and take responsibility equally.
Salmon also considers the practical decisions which will have to be made when we plan, and hopefully, become a family. There are a multitude of things to consider;
“Is your career path or plan hindering your ability to get pregnant? With your partner discuss what happens after the baby is born; are we entitled to paid leave, do we receive any additional statutory financial help, will domestic responsibilities effect my career prospects”
At the same time however, our actions should never be solely ruled by finance;
“Ensure that you make the decision looking at all the factors including how much you each enjoy your work, rather than just the bottom line”
From work to the home Salmon insists on equality; the entrenched societal view is that women are the ‘natural’ homemakers; they are somehow genetically better placed to take over roles such cleaner and cook. Women need to consistently and vehemently challenge this accepted norm which affects behaviour, attitudes, thoughts and actions outside the home and in society at large. Once again, Salmon argues, the principle remains the same – in order for women to maintain, retain and grow their self-worth and identity they need first to take a pause, evaluate, create a ‘plan’ and take responsibility equally with any partner they may have.
“Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it”
As the Guide draws to a reflective close Salmon reiterates, “Chronic stress impacts fertility and has a negative effect on your reproductive system” – we can avoid such stress by being honest about our self; appreciating our worth as individuals; accepting we make a valuable contribution in any relationship and creating an environment where this is recognised and accepted by our partners. With small adjustments we can affect great change – wanting a baby should and does not mean you are a bad feminist, it just means you are a feminist who wants a baby. Simple.
About Nicola (In her own words)
“Nicola Salmon is a gentle warrior for fertility freedom and a proud, fat feminist. Her work as a fertility coach, acupuncturist and naturopath ideally places her to help women in reclaiming their health and fertility.
Her life mission is to change the way that women are supported when they are creating their families. She wants to give every woman the opportunity to embrace their bodies and fertility, messily and without judgement.
Love from Nicola