Fertility Foundations: My fertility journey – What I knew then and what I’d do differently now with Samantha Ferguson

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 Samantha Ferguson about her personal experience and challenges.

Throughout the episode Sandra and Samantha discuss their personal experiences and professional insights on addressing reproductive challenges through a holistic approach. They emphasise the importance of seeking professional help, supporting each other, and finding alternative approaches to fertility treatment. They also discuss the connection between nutrition and fertility, the importance of prioritising one’s own health and eating well to support a loved one’s recovery, as well as the need for self-care and conscious choices about diet and lifestyle to prevent long-term health problems.

Find Samantha Ferguson on Instagram here: www.instagram.com/whatseatingher

And find Sam’s website here: www.sam-ferguson.co.uk

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.org and also book in a free strategy call with one of our experts. 

Today I’m speaking to Sam Ferguson about her fertility journey. Sam is our social media manager at FNC and it was a match made in heaven when I found her and you’re about to find out why. Sam is a former corporate banking professional turned online marketer specialising in supporting nutritionists and women’s health experts with their online marketing and content. After nearly two decades navigating intense roles in finance and branding for the international drinks sector, Sam realised her true passion lay elsewhere. It was her journey through autoimmunity and later infertility and IVF that sparked a profound shift in her career trajectory. And once parenthood arrived, she knew she had to make the change and go where her heart needed to be.

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 Sam. Thanks, Sam, for joining me on the podcast today. Thank you lovely to be here. So for those who don’t know you, would you like to just introduce introduce yourself briefly?

Samantha Ferguson  02:30

Yes. So my name is Sam Ferguson. I’m a digital marketer. I specialise in social media marketing. And well, all online marketing really for nutritionists and women’s health experts are here.

Sandra Greenbank  02:41

And so the reason why I asked you to come on the show is because you’re part of my team. And although I’ve been interviewing lots of our nutritional therapists or fertility nutritionists on the podcast, I actually wanted to bring you in as well, because the Fertility Nutrition Centre is a real group kind of effort and everybody’s really working together and singing from the same hymn sheet. And I specifically actually wanted you to come on board because once I found that you’ve had your own experience, and we’ll talk a little bit more about sort of how this, you know, changed how I feel about my business, but so actually, to start with it, would you mind sharing a bit about your own journey trying to conceive?

Samantha Ferguson  03:40

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I have an almost nine year old son, he. So I had IVF treatment to have him. My memory is probably going to be a little bit hazy on some of the details. But I got married when I was 34, started trying to have a baby as you do, you know, quite sort of usual scenario. And after sort of about nine months or so thought, what the hell’s going on here? But, I mean, the thing is, I didn’t ever have any not that I was aware of anyway, any sort of like hormone issues over the years, I’ve always had very regular periods always been quite healthy. And yeah, so it was all a bit of a what’s going on for me everything, everything was quite confusing. I went to the doctor, and they quite quickly got me on to, you know, the road of just the standard tests or remember a hell of a lot of blood tests and things like that. And this went on for quite a while. So it’s probably probably about six months, six months or so sort of testing period. had, which I suppose is probably quite usual, you know, doing all sorts of my husband as well. And nothing was there, there didn’t really appear to be any issues at all. We this, this probably ended up going on for about a year. And I eventually had a laparoscopy and which is quite invasive. And I suppose that was how I was told at the time, you know, this is this is the MOT if we’re going to, we’re going to find something, we’ll we’ll find it by doing this. So I had that, and I woke up from the procedure. And as they do, they come around and, you know, sit by your bed, and basically, the doctor just said, You’re not likely to have children, naturally. And I was like, what, and then he said, that I had lots of scar tissue around my abdomen, and my tubes were blocked on partially on one side, but completely on the other. And that was just, I mean, I didn’t even know what that meant. And it was quite mind blowing at the time. And, and even prior to that, I’m probably jumping ahead a little bit because I, I suppose I was getting frustrated with the weight on the NHS, because you do you are sort of back and forth a whole lot. I remember just in and out of the fertility clinic, it was in St. Albans. And, you know, at one point, even all my notes got lost as well, you know, and I had, you know, sitting waiting in waiting rooms, as you do for consultations and stuff, you know, what’s the next thing we’re going to do? What’s the next thing we’re going to do? But at one, one point along that journey, I did also decide, Oh, I’m just going to try and, you know, find out privately see if I can get things moving along. And I remember going to a doctor in Harley Street, and he was just sort of like, oh, yeah, we’ll test your Hmh. And you know, then we’ll bring you in for IVF. And I remember being like, oh, whoa, that sounds a bit a bit sort of a bit much. You know, what, you know, Is that Is that all you need to do, but anyway, that then I sort of went back and I was sort of on the NHS route again, like I said, the laparoscopy and yeah, I was devastated, obviously. And just everything was just very confusing. I just didn’t understand what what was going on why it was going on. And I didn’t know really where to turn. At the same time, I’m quite a practical person and mind over matter to some degrees. So I suppose I decided we had to accept the situation. And quite quickly, I was put in touch with the fertility fertility clinic in Hammersmith hospital. That’s where I had my treatment. And I remember going there and having my consultation there, and just sort of going through all of my notes and everything. And, and it was basically Right, right. Okay, you’re gonna go and have IVF. So that’s, that’s what happened with me. And then, lo and behold, as well, once once I was sort of on that part of the journey, and I mean, this is a good probably, it’s probably about 18 months since we since we first started trying for a baby. So I remember following the consultation, I can’t remember if there was there must have been some tests and things done at the IVF clinic. I can’t remember specifically, but then I remember phoning up and getting a cancellation that was how, you know, kind of quick then the process happened. And, and yeah, we then we then went for our IVF. And I mean, stressful as it was, I, I got pregnant. First time. So on reflection, and I suppose as far as an IVF story goes, it was quite straightforward. So yeah, and yeah, I have a son now. So but it was, it was just a confusing time overall. And even when I look back now, I think that I, I didn’t really know what was going on, you know, and I just kind of walking away from what’s the point where I was given all my injections and things like that, you know, it was all quite surreal. You just sort of walk away from this clinic and you go home with this big bundle of injections, then all of a sudden, it’s like your, the tops of my legs were numb, you know, you know, once you start the IVF protocol and all of that, so, so yeah, yeah, that was that was my experience. So I haven’t

Sandra Greenbank  09:44

actually heard your entire story. So I’m just thinking about I’m thinking now what would I said to you if you’d come to me and said, I’ve got Scott, you know, I had laparoscopy which is when when they go in with a little camera. Yeah, and I’ve got lots of scarring I’d be you know, I mean, if your tubes are blocked blocked. So from a nutrition point of view, I probably would have, you know, there’s not much we can do in that sense. But I, our approach would be to ask why. Why are you Why is there scarring? Why have they become blocked? I mean, do you have any symptoms of endometriosis? Or did you?

Samantha Ferguson  10:21

I don’t think so. No, I Yeah. I mean, I didn’t ask why a burn off or not enough anyway. I mean, I probably did. But you know, I didn’t. I suppose that’s that’s, that’s how I kind of look back and see the general medical setting that I was in is that you don’t I don’t know that it just to ask why I just didn’t. I never had I had, I suppose I always had quite heavy, I would say painful periods, but because they were quite always quite regular. There wasn’t anything else that seemed out of the norm. So no, I don’t. I don’t think I have I don’t know if there was endometriosis. I did at 1.1 Point during the sort of earlier testing phase, I had a scan and it was actually the sonographer that turned around and said, you’ve you’ve got polycystic ovary syndrome. Oh, oh, oh, okay. But then when I went on to the IVF clinic, they were like, No, you don’t have that. So do you see what I mean? There was just a whole load of unknown but I realised something as well that I’ve just skipped past because like you said, what you what you would say to me, and this was my was talk about this more I know, but I suppose this is the bit that I’m feel bad for myself then. And I’m also a little bit angry as well, because I didn’t know to look for help outside of of normal sort of medical model if you like. And I wish I did, because I feel like that would have helped me a whole lot just psychologically more than anything like I think IVF was a given anyway, but I, the psychological side of it, I could really have done with that support. And what I do remember doing and this was at the point where I was told about PCOS, but like I say, I don’t really know if that was actually the case anyway. But I remember I just started furiously googling. And that’s when I discovered Marilyn Glenville. And I, yeah, I just ordered one of her books, and it was about PCOS. And consumed it, I think I read it in about, you know, a day or something. And I was like, right, okay, this is this is what I need to do. I mean, I’ve always on I thought, I suppose I’ve always understood about food and, and, you know, the sort of eating well for health and stuff like that anyway. So I think just having that having some of that information definitely sent me down my own road of discovery, and even, even the fact that I was doing IVF, I remember thinking to myself, I have to do everything I can now to make this work. Because, you know, I was very aware of the stats and things like that. And I was, I suppose I was 36 at the time. So, you know, I suppose I just said to myself, this has to work. So I have everything. And that goes for Scott, my husband as well. You know, it was it obviously, even with him. I mean, I knew even less about the male side of things. I mean, minimal, but because his tests and things had come back, and he was just told, yeah, everything’s fine, which I suppose I now know, fine. Doesn’t necessarily mean, ideal does it? But he, oh, yeah, he benefited from Maryland liberals teachings as well. So, you know, so I suppose I did what I could. And I mean, in a way, the stuff that I learned then is probably still benefiting me now. And I would say, that’s just where a kind of natural interest came from, as well with like, you know, just nutrition and good health and stuff like that, because I suppose you can, I could feel the benefits. That’s the thing.

Sandra Greenbank  14:16

Yeah. And your partner’s a chef isn’t a Yeah.

Samantha Ferguson  14:21

Exactly. Food was a big part of our life always has been, you know, he I’ve lived with him now for almost 21 years. He’s taught me to cook over the years. So I suppose that made it all. So much more doable as well to, to eat well, so that was, that’s definitely that was definitely an advantage. Yeah. Yeah.

Sandra Greenbank  14:43

So I mean, if you’d have come to me, like I said, you know, scarring, to the point where it’s blocked up the chips, like that’s just one of those things where we go on, you know, it’s, it’s like, I just want and one of the main things that we probably can’t, we can’t reverse the process, but You know, we can look at the underlying factors as to what might be going on, you know, your son ographers said that you’ve might have polycystic ovary syndrome. I mean, you can’t diagnose that from one scan. But, you know, you need to have more than one. You know, you need to have a blood test as well, that would confirm it, or you would have like long cycles, or missing cycles, for example, but you can have cysts, polycystic ovaries without having a syndrome. But, you know, we would look at other things like your family history. Is there any autoimmunity potentially that might be playing into it? Are there any gut issues and you know, any other symptoms like skin problems or anything like that, that could sort of give us some kind of indication that this, you know, where to where to go next, because we have a sort of systems approach, as it were. So we’re looking at sort of, you know, the microbiome, which is all connected throughout the body, or we’re looking at the nervous system, or we’re looking at the hormone, you know, the endocrine system. So, you know, whereas the conventional medical side, they would be looking at your ovaries and going, Okay, well, we’re just going to take the ovaries and treat them completely separate from the rest of the body, which, you know, I think that you’re, you’re coming from the same point of view as us, you know, they’re not separate. Yeah. You know, we’re not, we’re not kind of organs in a set. Like, they’re just not separate entities. They’re all connected.

Samantha Ferguson  16:28

Yeah, yeah, I know, I did I tell you what I did have growing up, I had quite bad psoriasis, which I experienced as I think when I was a teenager, it sort of came on for the first time. And I had that for a long time on and off. But, again, I would never have made any correlation to do with that, that was always just treated in a very sort of, you know, symptom prescription sort of model, obviously. So, yeah, I wonder if there was some autoimmunity issues going on there as well. But so it’s probably quite likely. I mean, it’s quite common, isn’t it? So?

Sandra Greenbank  17:05

Yeah, so it’s just one of those things. I mean, it’s another one of those sort of mysterious things that nobody supposedly knows where it comes from. But you know, it’s something that we see a lot and that we can,

Samantha Ferguson  17:16

yeah, nobody really has it more aware of anyway, so. Yeah, so that’s in the early 90s. All of a sudden, sir, ISIS, what’s this? You know, it was just, oh, I can remember just being given coal tar. To ease in Yeah. Yeah. And then gave me telling of it

Sandra Greenbank  17:40

coming out of that experience that I know, you know, I agree that I think that if you’ve been told that there’s an issue and you’re having treatment, I mean, I don’t know if you were lucky enough to get treatment on the on the NHS, but that was for sure. You can’t you don’t get any now, really, it depends a bit on where you live is a bit of a postcode postcode lottery, but a lot of places now allow you one cycle, which I think you know, it, it’s more likely to not work the first time than it is. And I think that that’s where you really do have an opportunity to stack the odds in your favour. And not just because of the cost of potentially having to pay, but also, you know, the psychological impact and the financial impact. And, you know, the impact on your relationships and your work everything so

Samantha Ferguson  18:33

hard. Yeah, I’ve got feeling going back then. It was there was you three? There used to be three here? Yeah, yeah. But even the thought of doing it more than once, I have to say it’s like, something it’s not, you don’t want to do that, of course not.

Sandra Greenbank  18:51

And now you work with us, or you, we have a social media account, I suppose as the fertility nutrition Centre, which is managed by you, you sort of create all our content and with the help of our practitioners, and there’s about 20 of us a tank. And we also have a Facebook group, which you’re a member of, and we ask each other questions constantly in their Facebook, you know, we support each other every day in there and posting things and you know, obviously, we’re all anonymously. But you know, does anyone know the best consultant for this or, you know, whatever it might be so you’re, I imagine exposed in a way that other people are not and sort of picking up things. Yeah, yeah, maybe it will seeing things so how, what, how sort of your exposure to us and everything that you’ve learned so far, how is that kind of how are you looking back and thinking I might have done something differently now.

Samantha Ferguson  19:48

I think I would have definitely tried to find help a bit sooner. That would have been the first thing and and I Like I said before, I suppose regardless of, you know, me having to have IVF, I think I could have just done with that psychological support the guidance, I mean, like I say, I was doing a load of learning and eating all this wonderful food, but it would have just been so helpful to have a, you know, an, a specialist on my, on my team sort of thing I am, what I realise now is, and it’s not even now, I mean, I realised this, as soon as I started working with you guys, it’s like, Oh, my God, there’s just so much nonsense. Sort of, you know, paraded around online and things like that, I, and I suppose that’s why I love what I do. Because being at that, being in that place, where you’re, you know, that you’re working with the will a the best, but be, it’s, it’s the real deal. You know, it’s like, this stuff is scientific. And that’s, to me, that’s what’s really important. And there’s so much kind of noise in the media or TV shows, you know, forums, oh, my god, don’t even get me started on I don’t know if I should mention the name. But there’s a big forum that I can remember asking questions in all those years ago, and it was very unhelpful. So yeah, that’s, that’s the beauty of what I’m exposed to now. And I, I like to think that that comes out in my work, because one of the things that I feel very passionately about, is, I suppose, is to help my former self, it’s, that’s, that’s who I, I think about myself, a lot of the time, it’s almost a bit selfish, really, you know, I’m, I want to help other women not go through that kind of confusion and just going around the houses when they don’t need to, it’s, the real information is out there, I suppose. And that’s part of why I love what I do. And that’s, that’s what I get exposed to is the real stuff. So, and

Sandra Greenbank  22:04

I think that it’s really interesting that we sort of what you mentioned that because I, you know, you’re not my first social media manager, and we’ve had one or two before, and they would want to put out all this information. And, you know, they would be like, looking at other accounts and taking ideas from other accounts. And I was like, no, but yeah, that got lots of likes, and that’s very popular topic. But actually, it’s, it’s not like it’s not rooted in science, it’s a bit, you know, I don’t even believe that it works. And, you know, and also it was sort of, they were using a lot of exclamation marks. And I was like, you stop using exclamation marks and kind of, can you stop using these kinds of sensationalist sort of ways of writing and it was thought and they were like, Yeah, but that’s what gets the likes. And that’s what gets the follows. And, and I’m like, I don’t want to freak people out. And I don’t want to sort of shame people or frighten people into feeling that they’re not doing enough. And they can only get the information by working with those this, like, I just, it doesn’t sit right with me. And the numbers are not my, it, the numbers are just not a priority for me, I just want to get the right information out there. And, you know, I don’t really know how to kind of explain it, but it was a battle for me, I was like, Oh, God, what did they just put out, and I would have to quickly go in and kind of edit or, you know, and it just felt like clickbait a lot of the time or, or, you know, they would make this sort of dancing point. And I was like, we’re not that type of people. Like we’re serious. We are, you know, we’re not medical professionals, but we work in close closely with medical professionals, and I don’t, I just found that, you know, credibility kind of went out the window for the sake of like an extra, you know, for the numbers. And I think partly also the, in devil Young as well. And that’s great. And their enthusiastic. And they and they really wanted to, you know, they were passionate as well, that they didn’t have, I think with life experiences, particularly with your experience, you have that understanding and the knowledge where this can be really triggering for somebody. So we’re not going to we’re going to change the wording for this. Yeah,

Samantha Ferguson  24:15

absolutely. I remember when we first spoke actually, I always always come back to this sometimes when I’m, you know, if I’m writing for you guys, and you said about, you know, this is like a virtual hug, you know, we want we want people to know that we’re there for them. We want people to know that we see them that we understand them. So I suppose I always tried to convey that because that’s the thing it’s, I mean, I suppose you could say this maybe about many different industries, but unless unless you’ve had experience with something like this, you I just don’t it’s so difficult to understand what it what it feels like to go to any kind of infertility, I mean, I even for me, I look back on my own story and it feels like such a long time. And like I say, even my memory, it’s not something I think about all the time at all, you know, I, my memory is a bit patchy, but when I do think about it, it’s still there. You know, it’s an actually a lot of the emotions that I felt when I was in that that phase of like, am I going to have a baby? Is it going to have happened for me? And why me? And it’s not fair. And I’m the only one all of that stuff? It’s, I mean, actually, I can still feel a bit like that sometimes, which is, so nobody can take that away from you either. But, but yeah, that’s, and then when it comes to the communications and the marketing, I think that’s why it’s so it makes good sense to to work with somebody who’s got personal experience, because it’s such a sensitive thing. It really is. And when it comes to things like the likes and the views, and I mean, this is all just the popularity stuff. And I mean, there is a place for that for certain types of accounts. But that’s not what we’re here to do. What we’re here to do, ultimately, is to reach people and to help them and to understand them and give them something I mean, not, not everybody that we reach is going to necessarily be an FNC client as such, but if we can, if we can help them in some way, I mean, to me that that’s what that’s what matters, rather than just, yeah, the click Beatty stuff. It’s it’s not about that at all, is it? It’s now

Sandra Greenbank  26:43

actually surrounded by that as I know, it can be so kind of really Yeah. Once you start thinking about your numbers, and it’s just, it’s just not good for your body to sort of tone negative,

Samantha Ferguson  26:57

it really is because in the end, it means nothing. You know, when I think about just this whole, I mean, I talk a lot in my my own work about sort of what when I speak to nutritionists, and business owners about trying to sort of take their focus away from those things. Because, I mean, in the end, it’s such low value, that’s how I look at it, you know, or we’re if you’re if you’re running a legitimate business, and you’re providing a wonderful service, like what, what we do what our practitioners do, it’s, you know, somebody clicking like, it doesn’t necessarily mean much, whereas somebody contacting you with a question about something that you’ve posted out, or asking you about, I don’t know, say, like a supplement or something like that, the sorts of questions that we get a lot, those are the things that are important, because that’s what we’re here to do, we’re

Sandra Greenbank  27:54

here to, and not not everyone is able to work with us, you know, an exam one or two to one and on, you know, because, you know, there’s a cost attached. A lot of our practitioners do offer kind of lower cost group programmes, which I think are absolutely amazing. I’ve ran them before myself, and they, it’s incredible. I mean, I was sort of shocked myself with the results that, you know, I was like, I couldn’t believe that I didn’t need to work with people one on one, and they could get this spectacular result. It was just amazing. I haven’t had a chance, I didn’t have time to run it, but a lot of our practitioners do. So that’s another option. But also, I cannot even tell you how many people have contacted me and have said, I follow your advice. I didn’t you know, I started taking vitamin D or check my vitamin D, I cut, you know, I got rid of all the plastics from my house, and I started eating more vegetables, and you know, we’re taking some supplements or whatever, and we’re not pregnant, and I couldn’t, you know, and it’s like, it doesn’t always, it’s not always something complicated. Sometimes it’s the small things and we do put out a lot of information, you know, we’ve got our blogs, we’ve got our social media account, we’ve got our email. And that’s it. It’s just trying to get the information out there any way we can and, you know, be as helpful as we can. You know, and yeah, it’s a tricky, tricky balance, isn’t it? But you know, I just I was just so pleased to have found you. So you don’t only do fertility Anyway, do and you know, I know that you’ve nutrition in general. Yeah.

Samantha Ferguson  29:33

But yeah, I suppose I love the whole fertility thing, but I do work with a few other fertility nutritionists but all aspects of nutrition. I mean, I’m a woman now in my 40s and I’m very much going through perimenopause. So you know even that’s quite big in my world, you know, again, personal experience, I suppose. So, so yeah. I mean, various aspects of, of nutrition, but fertility is just so close to my heart. And it’s interesting, I just wanted to touch on what you said there a moment ago about helping people that even don’t, aren’t necessarily going to become a paying customer. And that’s yeah, I feel that as well. Because it’s not about a transaction is it’s, it’s about, it’s about just reaching as many people as possible, there will be clients, of course, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we could just reach anybody, everybody that needs us anyway, that’s how I see it. So

Sandra Greenbank  30:35

and also getting the getting the word out there. And that was actually one of my main sort of reasons for starting the fertility nutrition centres, you know, making sure that they’re really adequately trained fertility nutritionist out there, because there aren’t any other courses that sort of prepare you and also we, you know, the support for those who decide to join the fertility nutrition centre group of practitioners, but there are other who have also had training, they’re just not continuously getting training. But actually, the work that we’re able to do together in putting the word out there, and really educating the public and, you know, go into, you know, exhibiting in places like the fertility show and making sure that we’re out there together, rather than just sitting alone and working, you know, at home on our own, because it just is so much harder to reach people when you’re just working alone. And you’ve got some other personal experience of other areas of nutrition, that’d be really helpful as well, in your recent this year, I guess, or in the last 18 months or so. Yeah,

Samantha Ferguson  31:38

well, another big thing happened in my life. So on Boxing Day, 2022, my husband had a stroke. And it’s a life changing stroke, he’s, so that’s like, about 14 months ago, now. He’s still in recovery. And I have to say, I, I do feel my exposure to all things nutrition and just holistic health in general, holistic therapies in general, has really helped in how I’ve supported him, but also just how I’ve coped as well, because I mean, it’s quite a crazy story. What happened, really, I mean, yes, he had a stroke, and, but it happened while we were abroad. And he had to stay in hospital in Spain for about six weeks. And I had to stay there with him, obviously, and find a hotel and was just sort of back and forth to the hospital every day. Like, everything just stopped. I mean, it was complete sort of like carpet being whipped from beneath your feet scenario. And, but I feel like my working with nutritionists really helped me and how I manage that situation. I mean, it’s even, even the very first day I was in the hospital and trying to kind of get to see him. And it was all you know, as there is like, visiting, visiting hours weren’t, you know, weren’t, weren’t very practical. And I remember just turning up at the hospital. And then all of a sudden, I was like, when I’m hungry, I need to eat and just being like, well, I need to, I need to make sure I eat the right things. I didn’t really feel myself. And obviously, I was very stressed. It was it was really difficult time. And it was very tiring as well physically exhausting, mentally exhausting. And I suppose I just had that kind of teaching in my head about, you know, just prioritising my own health and eating well, so that then I could do what I needed to do for him. And I really feel like that helped me and also now since we’re home so obviously now this has been well over a year that that he’s home and he’s back in the house and stuff and cooking for him and things like that. So but luckily because he’s a chef and because I suppose our experience, maybe as well with IVF and just eating well in general he’s been very receptive to all of that, but I really believe it has helped him and I think it continues to help him on his recovery but also now because of him having the stroke I suppose my exposure to things around brain health as well and the link between nutrition and brain health I mean, I’ve I’ve learned all sorts and it’s absolutely fascinating and to some degree quite similar to the whole to how I feel about fertility because all sorts of fertility health I just don’t feel that there’s there’s just not enough about this going on in the world. You know, we we don’t look after our brains. We don’t look after our fertility. I mean, neither of those things and other things as well. We don’t look after our guts. You know, we’re in It’s so yeah, that’s been quite eye opening as well. And but I suppose overall, even though that was a really difficult situation and continues to be, you know, it’s a horrendous thing to happen. But I like to try and think that some good stuff has come out of that as well. It’s even just that understanding a bit more about our own health. I mean, yeah, I suppose I feel like my health improved when I went through infertility, but I feel like even now, in this last year, it’s probably improved even more. And actually, I mean, I can I can never prove this, obviously. But my own experience, sort of starting perimenopause as well, I would say, I actually think that’s been impacted as well, in a positive way. And, and probably managing, managing things quite well. So it’s interesting what you say

Sandra Greenbank  35:52

about the brain? And I know, I know that his doctors have been, you know, quite pleased with his progress.

Samantha Ferguson  35:59

Yeah, he’s not double progress. Yeah. So one

Sandra Greenbank  36:04

of the main things that we work on if anybody’s struggling, or if anyone’s periods are not what you know, ovulation is not happening regularly. Or if there’s, you know, a hormone imbalance, it’s actually brain health that we focus on, you might not know that as a client, but we’re looking at what’s going on with the brain. Because, you know, we want to make sure that the brain is always listening is listening to your breath is listening to, you know, everything that is going on, is listening to your thoughts. And, you know, this is, we know this now, that, like the studies that prove this, and what we want to do is send the right signals to the brain to ensure the brain knows that you’re safe. Because if the brain knows that you’re safe, it’s going to put out less stress hormones is going to put out, you know, less prolactin, which means that your your ovaries are then instructed to actually ovulate, you know, because if you’re stressed, and you know, your body has a mechanism of actually protecting you from pregnancy, if it’s not the right time, if you’re in a sort of starvation mode, if you’re very stressed, if you’re running away from a dangerous animal, if you’re, you know, whatever it might be, and, you know, the breath is a signal that we can use the you thoughts or signals that we can use, you know, because your thoughts impact your actions and your and your, you know, your hormone hormone levels. And so that’s actually one of the main focus on and of course, nutrition, you know, the brain is mostly made up of fats, we need to make sure that you’ve got enough omega three fats, and also the gut brain connection, you know, they’re intimately connected. And so, you know, we’ll work on your gut function to ensure that your brain is very happy. And it’s just interesting at all, though, we’re talking about completely different things in our social media. That is one of the main focus of our work. Yeah, yeah. And, yeah, brain health, I think for women, really is something that we should be focusing on in our 30s and 40s, because we’re at risk for dementia, and all of these things, and I think that, you know, the lack of sleep that we go through from just sort of, usually more often than not being the ones to manage the family, or the home or the, you know, any medical, the IVF. You know, whatever it is that goes through, go goes on in your life, a lot of the time is like, we take that emotional, sort of charge, and then we’re the ones who are reading the books, and you know, and that and the impact on sleep and the impact on your, you know, your the hormonal impact as well on what’s happening in later life and your diet as well. Because, you know, we set the stage for lifestyle and diet related diseases 10 years before, you know, before you have any symptoms. So, you know, this is a slow burn. And so I think it’s really important actually, especially for women to really think about their diet and lifestyle and how they live and you know, not becoming kind of obsessive about it. But yeah, you know, we’re not invincible. No,

Samantha Ferguson  39:13

no, exactly, exactly. But I suppose we live in time, things where, you know, we can do it all, we can have all that sort of teaching. And, I mean, my belief and I speak personally, but I think it’s a general thing a bit of a general problem is that we’re just quite disconnected with ourselves, aren’t we? We’re not listening to ourselves. We’re not like, like a bit like what I didn’t all those years ago. We’re not questioning ourselves and there’s a lot to be said for just feeling all right and calm and peaceful, you know, whereas we have have these kind of when I think back to my prior career years ago and working in really sort of fast paced office environments, the stress and you know, everything’s just up and you know you it doesn’t it doesn’t work with health, it’s like you’re, I mean, I personally feel for years that I was just walking around just not feeling great in myself. And I think that’s quite a general,

Sandra Greenbank  40:20

it becomes normal is normalised just like, you know, feeling bloated all the time, I think, thinking back to when I used to have a corporate career, it was just normalised. If you said I’m feeling really bloated, it’s like everyone else is bloated. So is it okay, and you’re thinking, Oh, that’s just normal?

Samantha Ferguson  40:36

Yeah, it’s terrible.

Sandra Greenbank  40:39

But then you don’t you know, means that you do nothing about it. And actually, you know, running my own business, like that’s, you know, that’s stressful to in lots of ways. And I think, if anyone, are you, I know that a lot of nutritionists are listening to my podcast, and, you know, I had a big barrier to break through to actually get help in my business. And getting a social media manager was like this huge barrier, I was like, am I going to spend this money on something I can actually do myself? You know, I can do it. I can do it. But you know, when I tried to do it, I think I posted twice in a year, I can do it, I just don’t have the, you know, I had to realise that I didn’t have the time. And then that’s the

Samantha Ferguson  41:14

whole point is, nobody is what this is, this is the trouble where we’re made to feel like we should be able to do all of these things. And being it Yeah, you can do it. That’s, of course, you can do it. But it’s there’s only so many hours in the day. That’s how I look at it. There’s no G one person has, you know,

Sandra Greenbank  41:36

yeah. And the thing is, as well, you know, I think having you come on board. And you know, when I had the other social media manager, I have to say they actually made more work for me, they were like, go look at the, you know, producers that have a meeting with them every week, it was just like, I was just like, at the end of my tether, and then you came on board. And I was like, sometimes I go a week and I don’t even log into Instagram, and it’s so it’s like it’s life changing is absolutely changed my life and the way it’s freed up so much time for me to do other things. And I don’t have to worry, you know, I just think it’s like, if anyone’s thinking I need help in my business, like, just do it. Because you can go out and earn money doing the things you’re good at. Yeah. You know, if you’re someone looking after the other things, yeah. And also

Samantha Ferguson  42:25

it gets the point where you’re just, it’s like you saying, Oh, I can do it, but you’re just going to be spreading yourself so thinly, then. It doesn’t it just doesn’t work. Separate

Sandra Greenbank  42:37

job. Yeah, it’s actually separate.

Samantha Ferguson  42:40

Even just that flitting from taking off one hat and putting on another I mean, that’s quite hard work quite, quite tiring. Yeah. So

Sandra Greenbank  42:50

when did you change your career them from?

Samantha Ferguson  42:53

Well, I saw I was in banking for an exchange banking. And that was full on say the least. And I had every intention of going back to that. And, and in the end, it was just really practical, sort of practical reasons that I decided not to, because I couldn’t I had to, I mean, I worked with the Asian markets and foreign exchange. I think I just said that. And I had to be in the office in the middle of the city for like, seven 730 in the morning. So

Sandra Greenbank  43:22

that’s really bad for you. That’s really bad for you. I mean, it’s really bad to for your circadian rhythm. Yeah, it’s

Samantha Ferguson  43:30

well on reflection. Exactly. You know, and I’ve liked it. I mean, like I say, I’ve probably always been generally quite healthy. But now I look back, and you can see the things that were dragging you down in a way and that was definitely one of them. I mean, my stress levels. I, I even when I wasn’t seen, like a senior member of staff or anything like that, I’d probably didn’t care, you know, but I just, I can even feel it now thinking about it. Remember, it just used to feel stress in my face, like my skin would be burning every single day. But yeah, so going back to that after having a baby was not the, I can’t say was the most appealing prospect. But you know, I had to work and it was kind of what I expected I was going to do and I didn’t want to go back on a part time basis. But it was just in the end. It was the fact that I couldn’t get out of this being there at that time in the morning and how was that going to work out care? It just wasn’t so in the end, I just I had I resigned and after I resigned so that was so I’d done my years maternity I resigned and I was very very panicked about this situation because like I say I needed to work and I wanted to work you know, I wanted a job but I felt very like as if I didn’t have anything much to offer. It was kind of you know, I was like what am I going to do? I don’t I can’t I can’t just can’t visualise myself going back to it. Anything like that the sort of corporate world it just didn’t, it didn’t feel right. And and at that point, it’s funny how I’ve ended up really doing what I do because I was on no social media. I mean, I didn’t even have I did have a Facebook page from years ago. But I had, you know, disconnected it or whatever, whatever, you know, like it. I wasn’t visible on Facebook even. I’ve never been on Instagram, LinkedIn, I didn’t even know what the hell that was Twitter. Oh, my goodness, you might as well be speaking Japanese. And then I remember a friend of mine said, Well, if you’re going to get a new job, you should get yourself on LinkedIn. And even that, I was like, Oh, my God, what enough photo after photo and she was such himself on there and just fill out your career history. And, you know, you just get you know, just just do it anyway. So I did do it. And that’s all I did. I think I did go for a few interviews. I can’t. Yeah, I can can’t remember that. But I did. But nothing really worked out. And then one day, I saw this ad pop up on LinkedIn, and was like, Are you a mum? It was I can’t remember the exact wording but something like Are you a mum on maternity leave? Would you like to train in some digital skills and you know, chat, you know, have your own business, blah, blah, blah, all this stuff? And I was like, yeah, absolutely. I’ll do that. And you know, you work from home, or, you know, it was just it was the whole picture. I didn’t believe a word of it, I have to say, but I click the button and then read this whole thing. And it was a company called Digital mums. I don’t, yeah, we’ve talked about this before. And digital mums, they don’t actually exist anymore. Wonderful, wonderful people to women, who started up this business to just me for people like me to reach Ray. And yeah, to be able to work for work for yourself and to work from home, and to you know, freelance, all of that nice stuff. And I had to have like a telephone interview. And I remember the guy on the phone, he said to me, this will change your life. I remember thinking, well it will it could it could my life really be changed. And I suppose lo and behold, it has changed, because then I got accepted onto the course it was a six month course. And it was really intensive. And at that point, I had a small, you know, I had a baby, my son was just over a year, I suppose he would have been. And I was studying every night, you know, every time he napped, and I loved it, I absolutely loved it. And at that point, it was just I just had this vision of I can do this, I can work with businesses. And you know, it was learning all this lovely stuff. Social media was very different then as well. So I suppose it’s quite different to what I’m doing now. But I you know, I learned Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, all of the kind of the psychology, the tech and part of how we went through the course was we had to start a like a grassroots campaign, you know, so you actually did it. And I created my, and I chose to I chose to theme mine food, obviously. I mean, everything with me is about food. And, and that’s that’s what I did. And then after I completed the course, I teamed up with another, like a peer. Helen, we’re still very close now. And we very quickly started getting work together. We started our agency some like it’s social, which is what we still were sort of trading as when I first met you as but but since then I suppose I’ve transitioned into nutrition, which is, yeah, which is just where I feel I belong. So but that was sorted with you. So it was I remember when I can’t even I don’t remember who it was. But it was just sort of somebody in my network.

Sandra Greenbank  49:07

I asked somebody actually, have you heard of Santa and Hartfordshire. Santa is like a business support thing. Anyway, I asked them if they knew somebody, they had somebody who did social media, and she said I lost my network. And I think she must have asked on some sort of group. Yeah, yeah. Digital mums group. And I said, Does anybody know anyone who might have who’s a mom or who’s had fertility problems? You know, I just wanted somebody with a bit more life experience than the young ones who had been working with them that I think you were the first person I spoke to, and I was like, yeah, yeah.

Samantha Ferguson  49:44

I remember it well, because I remember when I got your contact details emailing you and you email me straight back, and I can remember what it was. And I was like, this is brilliant. This is brilliant. It was almost like the stars are aligning a little bit for me. So what

Sandra Greenbank  49:58

I find interesting is Well, as of today, I know that you work with some of the other nutritionists or some, some other fertility nutritionists. But actually, all of our accounts look very different online. So use yours, you’re still like, able to really look at who we are as a people separately, and, you know, somehow convey that into whatever then goes out online, which I think is so nice. And so, I’m gonna ask you, firstly, have you got any advice for anyone who’s trying to conceive? And who’s listening and thinking, Where am I going to get? How am I going to find a fertility nutritionist or what? You know, it’s just, I’m so confused about everything that’s out there. What should I do? I?

Samantha Ferguson  50:46

Well, I suppose I can, from the very bottom of my heart, say, please check out the fertility nutrition centre, first of all, make sure but aside from that, there is help out there. And also, I would say as well check the credentials of who you’re looking at. This is the big thing Stop following all of the experts, I’m using my inverted commas when I say that on Instagram and find out who are the people who are credible, and and you know, best, best, best, best suited to help you. And then when you find your practitioner, or when you contact a practitioner, I suppose ultimately work with the people that you that you gel with and you like, but yeah, get those check those credentials, like make sure you’re working with someone who’s registered or certified to help you. I think there’s lots of very well meaning generalists out there. But I think we’d something so sensitive and specific, like fertility, you need to you need to find those the right people.

Sandra Greenbank  52:01

Yeah, I think that’s really good advice. Because there’s so many people out there who have really beautiful websites, and really amazing Instagram accounts. But actually, if you scratch the surface, there isn’t, there isn’t a training, there isn’t necessarily the experience, they might be very newly qualified and have no training. And, you know, I’m not saying that they’re not going to be helpful, but just make sure, because, you know, it’s very easy to not easy, but you know, you can put something out there that looks looks really professional without actually having the credentials behind you. And what about so if the nutritionist and who are listening and thinking, I wonder if I should get some social media advice? What’s the oh, you know, what? How can they? What should they do? What are the different things that you can do to help them? Because it’s not just working one on one with people? Is that sort of managing their account for them?

Samantha Ferguson  52:59

Yeah, I mean, I don’t do so much of that. Now, it’s more of what I do a lot of these days is sort of I work in a coaching capacity with Instagram, because Instagram is our home as nutritionists, I suppose. So I do sort of what I call clarity sessions, which is a 90 minute session where, you know, wherever you are on your sort of Instagram business journey, it’s, it’s a kind of audit, it’s troubleshooting. And it’s getting some strategy in place, and just some general understanding and confidence. I also then can work ongoing with people on a sort of retainer basis as well, following on from that, so again, but very, everything is very bespoke that I do so it suppose it depends on depends on what the individual needs. And just going back to what you said before about how the people that I work with and how every, everybody’s very different, and that’s my, for me, everything is about a relationship. It’s about person, you know, I’m not, I’m not here to just give general sort of blanket advice and knee, you know, kind of like, oh, we need to be doing this, we need to be doing that. I mean, there’s lots of things that yes, we do need to be doing, but ultimately, a service, like being a nutritionist, to me is so much about the individuals. So it’s conveying that expertise, along with that personality and that and it’s an individual. I

Sandra Greenbank  54:40

agree, because they don’t want to be that kind of just Same, same same, you know, even though we’re all saying the same things, but exactly that saying it your way and connecting with your

Samantha Ferguson  54:51

view. Yeah, exactly. And also it’s about saying yes, saying things your way saying saying things clearly. Not trying To be everything to everyone with your Instagram profile as well. And I think that’s what, you know, Instagram is a very noisy place, I would always be inclined to say to people, if you’re feeling a little bit like what do I do or overwhelmed, you know, maybe step away from Instagram a little bit, and get back to you what your expertise are. And think about your clients as well. You know, the people that you work with, how they are, when they come to you, you know, and ask yourself questions like, what do they need to know, what do they need to feel, then obviously, there’s lots of tech and strategy talk and things like that, that can happen after that. But I think getting that sort of what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to, and how you’re saying it established, just with yourself. Foremost is where I would say to start, yeah, but also a little bit like the advice that I said about somebody looking for fertility support, you know, check her check the credentials of who you you’re listening to, or who you’re taking advice from, because, again, you know, with social media, there’s so much noise out there. And I mean, most of it is just, you can just ignore it. That’s why I would say, you know, as long as you’re, you know, how I feel is, it’s more important that you speak to your client, or your potential client, than be being the best on social media. That’s that. That’s my attitude, you know, it’s like, I’m not the best on social media, but, and, you know, cuz, because what, why’d Why do you need to be that that’s, you know, so it’s, yeah,

Sandra Greenbank  56:45

I mean, you know, these are some of the things because I think that if you’re looking and, I mean, if I can give somebody advice, it’s like, stop looking at everyone else. And stop looking at the accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. Because I’m, I, you know, I’m sort of also sort of heading sort of, I think I’m 45 the ship, and I’m thinking, you know, I found myself thinking I’m not, I don’t look like those really pretty young nutritionists. And what have I got to offer, you know, who wants to see my kind of like, saggy face on Instagram, but actually, you know, what, like, I’ve got something to offer. And some always goes, Oh, you put it around. And I’m like, Yeah, I’ve washed my hair today. Able to go on Instagram, but you know, why should we feel that I can only go on there. If I wash my hair. And I you know, and I, I’m so against using filters. So I’m like, I won’t use a filter, because I just don’t want to be one of those people that perpetuates this idea that you have to look perfect. But I still feel inside that. I can’t go on if I haven’t, if I don’t look.

Samantha Ferguson  57:50

Yeah, I’m with you. Yeah, that’s that’s the negative side of that. I don’t know if that I think that exists for for everyone. Really, it’s and these are the things I don’t like about social media. But I suppose I always try to think about, think about the positives. Think about the people that you’re here to help think about the importance of what you’re saying. And you know, and also you have the right to be there, you know, you have the right to be there at that table and promote your business and talk about the wonderful work that you do. Do so. But yeah, it is a Yeah, shut out that noise. I suppose that’s a, that’s a big part of the advice, isn’t it? Because the trouble is, if you just go on to Instagram, I mean, I do it myself as well. And you start the scroll, you know, on the one hand, there will be some nice helpful things that you’ll see or entertaining things, funny things, whatever it may be. But there’s also just an overload of stuff that you didn’t ask for. And I think that that does have a little bit of a negative effect. So that’s really hard. And also, yeah,

Sandra Greenbank  58:59

I mean, I also like on my food photos, don’t look, you know, don’t look good enough, but I’m not a food photographer. Like that’s the job that you have to sort of master before. But you don’t just the social media do you do website?

Samantha Ferguson  59:12

Yes. So I build Squarespace websites and which I love doing actually. So. Yeah, so again, I’ve been doing that for about five or six years. Yeah. Squarespace and that’s sort of self taught as Squarespace is. And I’ve

Sandra Greenbank  59:33

seen a few of them now and they look really good. Thank you. Yeah,

Samantha Ferguson  59:36

I really liked doing it and again, I like the fact that now I suppose I’m I’m specialising in the field where I you know, I just feel so at home and I think that comes through in the websites as well because just understanding language and just what what needs to be there and how and how on how things need to be presented how things need to flow and all of that sort of thing. So, yeah, because Johnny

Sandra Greenbank  1:00:05

Smith Yeah, exactly. So how do people get in touch with you? How can they find you?

Samantha Ferguson  1:00:12

They can find me on Instagram. @whatseatingher is my handle and my website is www.sam-ferguson.co.uk

Sandra Greenbank  1:00:24

All right, thanks so much Sam. I think it’s been such a lovely chat with you know, it’s been lovely like you I really enjoyed this chat with Sam 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.

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The Fertility Nutrition Centre was founded by Sandra Greenbank, an expert in proven nutrition strategies to help couples conceive naturally. After 12 years of helping hundreds of couples successfully conceive naturally, she is making it possible for more couples to receive nutrition consulting by creating a network of nutrition expertswho have committed to a unique and in-depth training program in the field of fertility.