Episode 07: How to Handle Social Media with Fertility Challenges

Lexi Chatara-MiddletonLexi Chatara-Middleton

Licensed Professional Counselor and a Registered Dance & Movement Therapist

Lexi is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Colorado and a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist. Her focus and passion are supporting parents who have experienced difficult births. There are all types of parents, all types of births, and all kinds of ways to become a parent. Whether you are the individual who gave birth physically, a partner who witnessed it, a support person who has been affected by a birth, or on an alternate route to parenthood, your story may need to be told, and integrating the experience can help with the transition into parenthood. 

A difficult birth can mean many things and if you feel that your birth experience was challenging for you, IT WAS. From pregnancy, through labor/delivery, to the postpartum period, bringing another life into the world, no matter your role, is an ancient and life-changing occurrence. It is an event that can have tremendous impacts physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Lexi supports individuals wherever they are at in this process. Examples of her areas of focus and events that parents have labeled challenging may include…

  • Premature Births
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unity Stays
  • Medical complications of a person giving birth or of baby
  • Birth Trauma
  • Coming to terms with not having the type of birth that one hoped or planned for
  • Loss of a fetus or baby
  • Infertility & Miscarriage
  • Preparing to give birth again after previously experiencing a difficult birth
  • Processing guilt and shame associated with your experience of giving birth
  • Connecting to your baby after a difficult birth
  • Prenatal (or Antenatal) depression
  • Postpartum depression

Spacious Ground CounselingAs a somatic or body psychotherapist, Lexi honors the knowledge that the body and mind are connected and that what happens in one reverberates throughout the other.  She guides individuals in un-earthing, expressing, processing, and integrating the birthing experience by using both verbal and non-verbal methods. Because birth is such a visceral and body-centered experience, it is her belief that it needs to be processed in the body as well as the mind.  Lexi also bases her work in mindfulness-awareness practices as it is her belief that paying attention to what is happening in the present moment during a session is key to uncovering conscious as well as unconscious material that needs to be looked at and processed in order to let go of what no longer serves us.


Show Notes

Intro: Hi Mamas. Welcome to Balancing Holistic Mamas podcast. My name is Dr. Elyssa Wright , and I am so excited to be here with you today. I work with moms, babies, and mamas to be-covering all types of topics to help make raising a family easier. Whether it be fertility, pregnancy questions about pediatric fevers, or just trying to figure out how to live more holistically. We will cover that and more here on this podcast. I’m a chiropractor and functional medicine practitioner, and I’ve spent the past decade of my life dedicated to helping families live healthy, happy lives. So I can’t wait to get started.

Dr. Elyssa: Hi mamas and welcome to Balancing Holistic Mama’s podcast . I am Dr. Elyssa Wright and it is good to be here with you again this week. So this week we are talking about a piece of the fertility journey journey. I’ve had a handful of moms, a handful of really close friends that have been on the path of how to handle the social media and how to handle the outside sources while dealing with fertility challenges. And I have a special guest with me today, Lexi Chatara Middleton, who is a licensed professional counselor and a dance movement therapist to kind of talk about some of these, really some of these harder things that we deal with throughout the parenting journey. So welcome Lexi.

Lexi: Thanks for having me.

Dr. Elyssa: Yeah. So tell us a little bit about how you got into the work that you do.

Lexi: Yeah. So I am a licensed professional counselor, as you said, and a dance movement therapist. And I began my work as a clinician, not in the pregnancy fertility realm, but working with people at an organization called Wind Horse community services, which works with people in extreme mind states. So more severe diagnoses. Then I had a kid and that was not gonna be feasible for me anymore. So after having my son, he came two months early and we were in the NICU for quite a long time and on that path. And that led me to start looking into what I wanted to do, which was support parents who’ve experienced difficult or challenging births is what I like to say. And that can be anything really, if it was difficult, it felt challenging if it presented a big hurdle, then it’s included in who I’m trying to support. So a lot of people that have experienced birth trauma, hospitalizations, even the loss of a child, a lot of grief work, postpartum, depression, postpartum anxiety. What else? Infertility. I see a lot of people that are on that path, which is why it’s so great to talk about this topic because it definitely comes up.

Dr. Elyssa: Yeah. And we chatted a little bit before today and something that really , hit a chord with me is when you said that, as soon as you make the decision that you want to try to conceive as when your parenthood journey begins. I never thought about it that way, but that’s a big piece, I think, for a lot of these women through this piece of the journey.

Lexi: Absolutely. And I think as soon as you start that seed in your mind and are trying in your body, it becomes real. So it’s important to know that whether or not you have a child yet doesn’t mean you’re still a parent, you still have it in your heart. You’re still planning for it and thinking about it and you’re on that path.

Dr. Elyssa: And the big piece of that path that we’re going to talk about today is the social media piece. So this is something that our parents didn’t have to deal with. And it’s really within, it’s becoming more and more prevalent and more and more overwhelming. And in your radar all the time, what are some important things for mamas and mamas to be, to recognize when it comes to what social media is?

Lexi: So I think one of the first things I like to talk about or point out is the nature of social media. So most social media with the exception of Twitter is picture based. So a couple of things with that one being that we consume it first with our eyes, with our senses. So it’s all visual based. And when it comes to pregnancy and child rearing and all of that, it’s been labor, anything, all these keywords often put in picture form . So that’s what we’re hit with first and picture form, especially with pregnancy and birth and parenting can be highly focused on the body. Social media often is anyway, but specifically with pregnancy and when that flashes into your, into your view, you really, that’s what you’re hit with first, which can bring up a lot of feelings, thoughts about your body and what it can and cannot do. So it’s important to know that that it’s highly picture based except for Twitter. And it’s very visual and that we’re taking that in and internalizing different messages about our body, which can be particularly painful if you’re having difficulty getting pregnant.

Dr. Elyssa: Yup. And from the chiropractic neurological perspective, seeing those pictures and triggering any type of stress or anxiety is also going to do a lot of things within your system itself by increasing some of those stress hormones.

Lexi: Absolutely. And as a somatic psychotherapy, it’s a dance movement therapist working from the body first and foremost, and then into the mind, stress is huge, especially when it comes to fertility can really affect your body and your system and your nervous system. And so working with your stress levels and your nervous system can oftentimes be very important when you’re trying to get pregnant.

Dr. Elyssa: So when it comes to, we recognize that the images may be a trigger and what are some other triggers that can come through this journey and within, you know, the social media and even beyond that piece.

Lexi: Yeah. So, so again, noticing what you’re telling yourself about your body, which for many of us, you know, our body does everything that we want it to do. We go for runs, we do yoga, we eat, we do all these things. And for some of us infertility can be the first time that our body is not doing what we want it to do. So it’s very confusing in terms of shame. Why can’t I do this? Why is it easy for everybody else and not for me. So just noticing any thoughts and awareness that come up around your body and what it can’t do. And then I like to tell people to start thinking about, yes, that’s true. And what can it do so that you’re balancing out the negativity almost. That’s a little bit more. And then other trigger points, or I don’t know if this is a trigger point, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re on social media and you’re on this path of having trouble or complications, is that you’re seeing a very particular moment in time. Somebody is posting something for a reason and they’re making a point or they’re wanting you to see something. So to know that that it’s really, it’s curated and it’s specific to what they want you to know about their life or the topic they’re speaking about. So if it’s about pregnancy or parenting, you know, oftentimes we pick and choose what we want everybody else around us to see, and that can be not always the whole perspective. So it’s really important to keep in mind that what you’re seeing is just one moment and that somebody might not be sharing all the thousands of takes it took to get their kids to sit perfectly.

Dr. Elyssa: Not showing the one ripping the hair out of the other one while the dog is jumping up barking and tail wagging.

Lexi: Or how long it took them to get pregnant or their relationship issues they have with their partner or whatever it is that they might be experiencing in their life. You’re seeing one piece. So to know that as you’re looking and consuming social media.

Dr. Elyssa: The other thing that I notice personally, within social media is how I can feel like it’s just me and I’m alone looking through this phone and just getting stuck in the scrolling thread where if I’m not having a good day, I’m scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and feeling more alone, more isolated, more overwhelmed, that I’m sure you have some to speak towards with the whole isolation component of social media.

Lexi: Yeah. Well even just what you’re saying, Dr. Elyssa makes me think too about the, there’s almost an addictive quality to social media. And I think it can get, even for me when I, this is how I think about it as a somatic psychotherapist, I think about it as it’s like smoking a cigarette, you know, that motion, like people have talked about how bringing that cigarette, holding that position, holding the cigarette, bringing it to your mouth becomes compulsive. So there’s something compulsive in even the movement of scrolling through your phone. It’s like, we’re so used to it and it can be soothing at times. And then sometimes you can get kind of sucked in and then you’re before you know, it , that’s just what you’re doing in the morning. First thing, when you wake up first or last thing at night. And so that’s another thing to think about is to not start and end your day with social media, if it’s been triggering for you, particularly on having trouble getting pregnant and infertility issues. So not doing it at the ends of your day, and it definitely can be isolating and infertility can be isolating. I think that one thing that I often hear from folks is you see so many people having an easy time having a family, and then you feel like you’re the only one that’s not having that easy time. So just to notice if your journey, if your path becomes, I like to say the word precious, like it’s , it’s only, I’m the only one on this path. Nobody understands me. And if you’re getting tunnel vision in that way, it can be a sign that you’re really getting isolated on your journey. So talking to somebody, whether it’s a friend or a family member, a therapist, or this is an instance where, you know, social media works both ways, it can have negative shadow parts of it, and it can have positive and light parts of it. So the positivity of it is that you can connect with people that are on a similar path. So if you’re noticing that your journey feels like it’s just yours, that’s a good sign that you’re really maybe getting isolated in it. And you might want to open up to the idea of hearing from others that have been on a similar journey or even sharing if you’re, if you’re that kind of person sharing your own path. And there’s something about being willing, I think, to do that and help others that can really make a situation that’s painful and filled with grief become something that you can help and connect with others around. And it just lightens it a bit.

Dr. Elyssa: Yep. Finding some community. I know I’ve noticed, I mean, even within the social media, there are huge communities and groups and support systems there. So you have given us some great suggestions already with checking in on how you’re feeling, what you’re telling yourself about your body and to bring some balance with it. What are your top suggestions for women who are dealing with fertility when they are flipping through their social media?

Lexi: Yeah. One, one quick note to just to plug it in there is that there are some people that don’t identify as women that may be giving birth. So just for all of you out there that might be listening, that don’t identify as a mom, but yet you are wanting to get pregnant or you can get pregnant we hear you as well. So I have a lot of tips, one thing in particular, I think that normalizing that any emotion you feel coming up when you’re on social media and that this is something you’re experiencing and fertility, anything you feel is okay. So if you’re on Instagram and you see your friend from high school and they might have three or four kids and they’re pregnant with another one and posting these beautiful pictures and these robes, and you’re like, Oh my gosh, I see one more, half naked belly shot of a friend I might just freak out and throw my phone into the pool. Like, whatever it is that you feel is okay, and that you can be simultaneously happy for somebody and filled with grief and anger and jealousy, and that those, you don’t have, they don’t exclude each other, that it can be all of it. And that is okay . And you don’t have to be ashamed of your feelings cause you’re going through something that’s really, really, really, really hard. And a lot of people don’t have that experience or can’t relate to it. So whatever comes up is okay. And if you were to talk to somebody in a similar situation, they’d probably say, Oh yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I felt that way too. I felt bad about it and I couldn’t help it. So I felt, and that’s okay. So that’s a really big thing that I want to say and to try to notice it, cause you might not even being , be allowing yourself to feel angry or to feel jealous because you’re too busy wanting to push that away and to be happy for somebody, but it’s okay to feel a spectrum of things and they don’t exclude each other.

Dr. Elyssa: Absolutely. I think that’s, we are always all be happy, be happy. And it’s the, Oh, how are you doing great. And we’ve programmed ourselves to not feel our true emotions. So to take the time to tap into all of that is really powerful.

Lexi: Yeah, absolutely. And if you, don’t, it’s getting stored somewhere anyway, whether it’s in your body and your nervous system with stress, which doesn’t serve the purpose of getting pregnant or your mental health. So even the more you can allow yourself to feel and then even express what you’re feeling and all of its pain and glory and richness, then the better that is for you.

Dr. Elyssa: Absolutely.

Lexi: Yeah. And then again, another more tips, just not going on at either end of the day, you’re trying to minimize, cause those are kind of sensitive times anyway, when you just wake up and when you’re going to bed and trying to fall asleep minimizing your use of social media at those points is really important.

Dr. Elyssa: Yep. And I always try to tell my patients to set different rituals, that support relaxation, support getting that nervous system into a restful place. And we’ve talked about things like gratitude, where first thing in the morning, write down what you’re thankful for and start your day from that place or ending your day in that place. Reading a fun book. If you’re a murder mystery person, go for it. Ending on high notes of stuff that really lights you up versus stresses you out.

Lexi: I love that. And I think that when it comes to getting, trying to be pregnant or conceive that if you again it is all about your body and your, your body becomes almost an enemy, cause it can’t do the very thing that you want it to do the most. So it is important maybe for instance, at the end of the day or at the beginning of the day, to identify a place in your body that feels good or strong or flexible or whatever positive words you want to use or to think, wow, I just, I ran six miles today. My body can do that, that it can do. I might be having trouble in this other realm, but I’m strong. I did yoga or whatever it is that you feel good about. Reminding yourself that it’s not just failing you, but there’s actually a lot. That’s also working for you.

Dr. Elyssa: And I love that bringing awareness to your physical body and bringing you back out of your mind out of all of the thoughts that can be spinning around back into your body and thanking it for doing the things you’re doing.

Lexi: Totally. And also, you know, fertility treatments can be extensive. And so checking in if you’re going through an IVF treatment or something like that, checking in to how you’re feeling in your physical being so that you’re not just treating your body like a vessel that can or cannot do something, but paying attention to: I’m doing all these shots. Like I can handle that, my body can handle, that it’s handling the hormones. And really that you’re \doing a lot, even though it’s not doing exactly what you wanted to do. And just paying honor to that in some way, can help the negative negativity that we tell ourselves about our body during that journey.

Dr. Elyssa: And I think it just shifts the whole energy around it, positivity, which is really a great place to be in.

Lexi: Yeah. And that’s easier said than done. A hundred percent when you’re in it.

Dr. Elyssa: Yeah. That’s one of those things where everyone’s like, don’t be stressed, just think good thoughts and then you’re stressed thinking good thoughts. So it’s all a work in progress. And I always say, you know, some days that thing you’re grateful for is that you are done writing down things you’re grateful for and it’s okay. That’s where you’re at that day. So that’s great. Any other suggestions?

Lexi: Yeah. Let me think. I always think about social media as a two way street. So remembering that you can, you can control it. So taking, essentially taking control of your social media. So who are you following? And if you’re going through a particularly hard time and there’s a friend or some celebrity, that’s posting a lot about pregnancy or parenthood, that it’s okay to unfollow, it’s okay to hide. That really you have to do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and that you’re hiding somebody. You can always unhide. You can always re follow, but if you need a break, that’s okay. You can also go off social media and just delete the app from your phone for a little bit, take a break. And a lot of us do that sometimes cause we need to, for our own reasons. Another thing you can do is again, find those people that are on a similar path. There’s a lot of people that actually share a lot around the difficulties of parenting or becoming pregnant. And so finding the people that are flushing out really the whole perspective of what they’re experiencing and not just the perfect good moments. And the people that are specifically talking about infertility can be really helpful in combating the isolation and making you feel like you’re the only one that’s having this problem. Cause there’s thousands, millions of women and parents that have this trouble. It’s important for males too , that are partners that want to have a baby. And you know, it’s also to think about that side of the coin of not having any control over what your partner can and can’t do and really wanting something for yourself and trying to support your partner. It’s very complex. And then there’s men that talk about it too. Yep .

Dr. Elyssa: Yeah. It’s, it’s such a multifaceted situation. There’s, there’s so many different pieces of the puzzle and everyone has different really, really strong feelings. So absolutely making sure that your partner is also supported through the entire journey. Because I know a lot of, a lot of the partners in my practice are always, what can I do? How can I be there? How can I support? Totally forgetting about them.

Lexi: Yeah. Cause it’s hard. It’s hard for people to know how to support somebody going through this and friends as well. You know, so sometimes I hear on Mother’s Day is a particularly hard day for people that want to be in that role or want to give birth. And sometimes friends will send like a message or a text but sometimes on Facebook they’re thinking about you or, you know, you’re on that journey or you are a mom and your energy or whatever people might say, and they might be trying to acknowledge what you’re going through. And maybe that feels good and it might not, you might just be like, leave me the heck alone. This is a really hard day for me. So it’s okay to ask your family and friends not to do that or to do that, to acknowledge the fact that you’re on that path, but having a hard time. So telling the people who know and care about you, what you need and just stating it. And doing it ahead of the days or the holidays that can be hard for you on social media media, or staying off social media on mother’s day or whatever other day might be hard for you. Or if, you know, a friend is going to be having a baby soon, maybe just, if you, if they’re distant enough, you can unfollow them or hide them for awhile . And that that’s okay. It’s okay to do what you need to, you need to do.

Dr. Elyssa: So I gathered some big takeaways here, one to be okay with however you’re feeling and accept those emotions and do what you need to do, whether it be the timing of your social media, getting rid of social media, unfollowing , following, asking for help, asking to be left alone, really taking ownership the social media community. And reaching out and getting help and support to fight the isolation.

Lexi: Yeah. And knowing that again, that social media is a two way street. So you’re consuming it. You’re seeing what others are posting and you can also post yourself. So for some people posting on social media can be a huge way to get your voice heard to say what’s happening in your life to connect with other people. And for some people it’s not what they want to do and they’re more private and that’s fine. So just remembering that if you are choosing to post about your infertility or your parenting journey that it both opens you up to receiving support and helping others and people can also comment and remark . So just knowing that anytime you’re posting about this particular issue for yourself, you’re opening yourself up in both ways, both directions, just to be aware of that. And that I do think with people that I work with that speaking about it and allows them to help others and that, that feels empowering and the situation that can often feel totally helpless.

Dr. Elyssa: Yep. Yep . Absolutely. Are there any other things that you’d like to share with our listeners?

Lexi: I don’t think so. I think again, just what, what you opened with in terms of when you’re starting a family or thinking about starting a family, when you have that in your heart and when it’s happened in your body, even if you had a miscarriage or several miscarriages or haven’t been pregnant at all, that that seed has been planted and that you’re on that path. So being really gentle with yourself and with your heart and with your body and that anything just like you said, anything is, okay, anything goes, any emotion, anything that you need around it in terms of taking control of your social media and that if you’re feeling it, somebody else is feeling it too , or has experienced it. And you’re , you’re not alone, even though it might feel that way.

Dr. Elyssa: Yeah. That’s I think the great, great reminder. Not alone. There is community around, well, thank you so much for being with us today. Is there a way, if any of our listeners have questions, want to reach out contact you website somewhere that they can go to get ahold of you?

Lexi: Yes. So my private practice is called Spacious Ground Counseling, and my website is www.spaciousgroundcounseling.com. And all my contact info is right there. And you can send me a message or a question straight through the website.

Dr. Elyssa: Perfect. And we’ll put all that information in the show notes. So that way it’s super quick and easy to grab for all of our listeners. So this was great. I learned so much and have so many new ideas to also share with my patients. So thank you. Thank you.

Lexi: Thank you again for having me. Yeah. And until next time.

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